Five Big Steps to Take Before Senior Year

300x200-Oct-CampusVisitsAfter a busy junior year of high school, you’re excited to relax and get some downtime. But before you head out for your big summer adventure, here are five key steps high school guidance counselors recommend to help you prepare for your college future.

Visit campuses. Don’t just go on the standard tour. Spend time strolling around campus, talking with students there, and maybe check out a college game while you’re there. Think about how you’d like to spend your days and learn as much about those activities as possible. At some schools you can even spend the night in a dorm to get a better feel for the place.

Think about what you want out in a college. Look beyond what your parents want, what’s the highest ranking school, or where your best friend is going. Now that you have some downtime, start to think about what type of college will work best for you. Do you feel more comfortable on a smaller campus? In the city or in a quieter setting? Do you prefer one-on-one attention from professors or like to blend in with the crowd? What qualities are important to you in a university? Some students may want to attend a school that’s eco-conscious while others may want to attend a faith-based school.

Keep searching for scholarships. Don’t end up like the millions of students who are burdened with excess college debt. Spend time researching which scholarships are right for you. There are scholarships available for virtually every type of activity or skill set, so whether you’re an avid runner or a budding artist, you’re likely to find scholarships that match who you are. There are also lots of scholarships for students facing financial hardship or for minority students. Build a solid list of 10-20 scholarships that you’re qualified for. Talk with your high school counselor and the financial aid office at the college you’d like to attend for help.

Try on some different professions. You don’t have to make any big decisions yet, but learn as much as you can about the different types of jobs that are of interest to you. Often you can do this by shadowing someone throughout their day at work, attending an online job fair, or working as an intern. There are also lots of online career communities where you can read about experiences of people in the field you’re considering.

Read the classics. Don’t just pick up the latest paperback when you head to the beach. Immerse yourself in classic novels. Often when you’re in class you have limited time to read a book, and you tend to focus more on memorizing it than enjoying it. Now that you have some extra breathing room, you can start to appreciate these great books!