Preparing for college is an exciting time in a person’s life. Getting ready for college admissions is an important step for both young people looking forward to moving away from home and experiencing the independence that college has to offer as well as adults heading to college after being independent for some time.
If you’re working on your online high school diploma, you don’t have those daily announcements blaring overhead to remind you about application deadlines and testing dates as you trudge to and from classes. Since you might need some help getting geared up for college, here are some helpful tips from Excel High School to keep in mind.
While you’re still in classes, a good step to take is to enroll in elective courses that might help you decide on or eliminate career options. Whether you think you want to pursue a career related to STEM or creative fields, you can enroll in courses that help you explore whatever pathway you’re interested in. Taking some free online career tests can help you narrow down your options based on your interests and personality, too.
Research Colleges That Match Potential Careers
When you have a general idea about what your career interests are, you can start researching about colleges. Not all colleges specialize in every career path, and not all careers require the same amount of training. For example, if you find that you’re interested in studying to become an electrician, then the colleges you research will be different than if you choose to study to become a teacher. Making sure that you know what schools suit your time schedule, financial situation, and goals will help you narrow your options for college while you’re finishing your high school diploma online.
Get Involved In Activities & Volunteer Work
As you work to complete your online diploma program, you will want to get involved in outside of class activities and volunteer opportunities. This, again, will be dependent on your interests. If you participate in community sports or theater, then your schedule is probably already pretty full. You can add volunteer time at a local food pantry, an animal shelter, or your church to round out your extracurricular experiences. A variety of experiences will help you stand out among other applicants and will help you learn more about yourself and the world around you.
Take Virtual or In-Person Tours of Potential Colleges
As you explore your options, you can take virtual tours of lots of schools now. You might find that big campuses don’t really appeal to you, and you prefer a smaller environment. Or you might be energized by the vibrant energy of a larger campus. Visiting a school online first and then in person is a good way to prepare for college while you’re still in high school. For online students, the flexibility of your courses can give you a jump-start for visiting colleges, so that by the time you’re a senior, you’ll already know what kind of school is going to work best for you.
Investigate Colleges’ Application Processes
No one wants to think about all the work it takes to complete the college application process, but you’ll want to keep track of dates on a calendar and be very organized about it. If you need to set up notifications on your phone to keep your progress on track, then that’s what you should do because the college application process includes knowing when applications are due, but it includes the steps below as well:
- Preparing for and signing up for any required or optional standardized testing (SAT or ACT),
- Requesting letters of recommendation from instructors, supervisors, or other influential adults,
- Planning and writing college application essays, and
- Making sure you have access to any of the fees necessary to submit your application.
Apply for Federal Student Aid
According to the FAFSA site, you should work on financial aid your senior year. They recommend, “As soon as possible after its Oct. 1 release, complete and submit your FAFSA® form, along with any other financial aid applications your chosen school(s) may require. You should submit your FAFSA form by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, usually by early February.” You can work on gathering information for the FAFSA ahead of time by setting up an account and checking to make sure you know what is involved and that you have access to all of the necessary information.
To limit the stress involved in the steps you take while transitioning to college, planning is key. Taking the time to prepare for college while you’re attending online high school is one of the best ways to use the extra time you have and the flexible schedule online school provides.
About Excel High School
Excel High School is an accredited online school that offers high school aged students and adults who want to earn their high school diploma a fully online, flexible, and self-paced program that fits around their schedules, with a support team to help them along the way. If you’re not already a student with Excel High School but would like to learn more, feel free to check out our programs on our website. Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to us by text at 952-465-3700 or call us at 800-620-3844. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you have and guide you to the best program for your individual needs.