The college process can be a stressful and exciting time of your life. High school is all about preparing you for the real world whether after high school you get a job, take a gap year or attend college. I know how overwhelming it may feel, that is why I am here to give some advice that will help you navigate through the college process.
1. Visiting Colleges
I recommend you start looking and visiting colleges during the spring of your sophomore year. This will give you enough time to maybe know what you might want to major in or it will give you an idea of what you need to do the rest of your years in high school to get into your top college.
After you visit a college you should write down the pros and cons of the visit. Keep a list every time you visit a college.
Make sure to figure out if you want to visit colleges in your state or out of state.
If you can not afford to visit a college because it is too far make sure to email them. Many universities have programs that may fly you to the school for the weekend.
On your visits make sure to ask questions or write questions down.
2. Make sure you take SATS and ACT
I know Girls and the Letters We Write Project has an initiative that helps you register for the SATS and ACT. I would recommend you take both tests because we all have different learning styles. You can see which test represents you! Many universities are moving into the test optional choice, which gives you the choice to use your test scores. They believe that a test score does not show what a student is capable of. Which means you do not need stress too much about SATS and ACT, but still do your best.
3. College Applications
There is a lot I can say about college applications, but I would say make sure to take your time on the applications especially the essay. The essay is your chance to tell the college about you and how you can contribute and succeed at their school.
I recommend you apply to 5-8 schools ( I applied to over 10 schools because I could not make up my mind, I also took advantage of the HBCU Fair, where they had on the spot admission.)
Make sure you complete your applications a month early, DO NOT wait until the last minute.
I recommend you to start applying to scholarships your freshmen year. College is a lot of money applying to scholarships will help your parents with the tuition. Many students get upset because sometimes it can be hard to win scholarships because everyone is applying. What I tell people is you have to be in it, to win it. You might that win all the scholarships you apply too,but when you do win you will be really happy.
You should first start looking for scholarships in your community many organizations have scholarships available. Then you should look for your state and national ones. Below I will add some scholarships websites.
Get Schooled: Get Schooled has so much advice about the college process, it has scholarships, SAT practice, interview tips and more.
Fastweb: Fastweb is a scholarship website that will help you match with different scholarships
Better Make Room: If you love Former First Lady Michelle Obama, then you will love this website. Better Make Room is Mrs.Obama’s initiative to help students reach higher for education. Better Make Room has so many resources and advice for high school and college students.
Scholly: Scholly is an app that helps you search for scholarships!
5. Community Service
Girls and the Letters We Write Project has many community service opportunities that you can participate in. I would say take advantage of that! I have passion for community service, it has taught me so much about myself and others. My parents instilled in me at a vert young age that volunteering is my duty in life. Colleges wants someone who will stand out and doing community service will help you stand out. You can also receive scholarships for doing community service as well.
I recommend before your senior year to apply or get an internship whether it is during the school year or over the summer. An internship will help you figure out what you might want to major in. I had my first internship during the summer of my junior year, I sent my local politician a quick email with my resume attached, he asked me to come in for an interview and hired me on the spot.
7. Dealing with not getting into your dream college
Getting accepted into college is a great accomplishment, but sometimes you might have to deal with not getting into your dream college. Don’t worry it happens to everyone, whether it is college or a job. It is human to be sad, but do not get too upset. I believe everything happens for a reason. A college does not define you, you will be successful at any college you attend. Brush it off and keep going!
8. Choosing the right college
I was in your situation last year, I will tell you this was the most stressful part. I had a hard time choosing the right college. I actually changed the college I was going to go to at the last minute.
After visiting the school I was going to attend for the second time, I decided that I did not see myself there anymore. I recommend you go visit the school you are deciding to commit to one more time to see if you really see yourself there.
9. Remember to have time to have fun and celebrate all of your wonderful accomplishments.
One of the goals of GIRLS and the Letters We Write Project is to assist high school students in the college application process starting at their freshman year of high school. To learn more about choosing a college, applying for financial aid and applying for scholarships visit our College Prep page.
Zaniya is a freshman at the Catholic University of America. Zaniya has won two national contest within a year. In the summer of 2015, Zaniya was chosen 1 out of 3 student-athletes in the United States to travel with the NBPA and NBA on an amazing community service trip to South Africa. Recently, Zaniya was a co-winner of First Lady Michelle Obama and Seventeen Magazine Better Make Room National Contest. She interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama and appeared on the cover of the May issue of Seventeen Magazine. Zaniya served on the New Jersey National Guard Teen Panel for six years, where she helped to create programs, camps, and trips for military kids. Learn more about Zaniya on the Meet Our Blog Writers page.