5 Ways to Prepare for College Before Your Senior Year

5 Ways to Prepare for College Before Your Senior Year

Sydney Smith, Reporter

 As I have learned very well, senior year is not as effortless as some make it sound. In reality, what some students may consider a “blow-off’ year has turned out to be the busiest, most stressful school year thus far.

I never anticipated how full my plate would be this year with school, work, college applications and extracurricular activities; it can sometimes be hard to not lose my mind. I’ve always thought of myself as an organized, Type A person who always gets my stuff done, but this year has tested my limits.

With that in mind, here is what I recommend doing before senior year to make the college-application process much easier.


  1. Get Involved Early

One myth that many students believe is that all you have to do is get a good ACT score and make good grades, and your future will be golden. While those numbers are extremely important, they are definitely not all that colleges look at. Many schools are itching to give students merit-based scholarships not only for a student’s grades in high school, but also the extracurricular activities and volunteer groups they were involved in. Investing yourself in more than just academics or sports shows to others that you are a well-rounded and valuable student, and that is what will win you more scholarship money.

Almost every school offers clubs such as student council, National Honor Society, or academic team, so get involved as early as possible and your high school experience will be much more enjoyable. Performing well and devoting your time to such activities in these clubs can also help you to build a network, which can valuable to you later when it comes to obtaining letters of recommendation. Get involved all four years because collegiate admissions officers can tell when applicants stack their resumes their junior and senior years. (Plus, you can make lifelong friends in those activities and they can make your high school experience memorable.)


  1. Take the ACT or SAT

A common mistake that many high school students make is waiting until senior year to take the ACT for the first time. That can be a real problem if they don’t end up getting an ideal score. Most of you know that you must have taken the ACT or SAT in order to be admitted to a university, and typically schools have a minimum score that you must receive for assured admission. Most students end up having to take the test multiple times (for me, six times… and counting!) before they earn the score they’re shooting for. I recommend taking your first ACT or SAT after or during your freshman year, or just as soon as possible. Even if you don’t get a great score that first time, it’s still a good opportunity to get a feel for what the test is like. It can be an intense four hours and being as comfortable with the process as you can will most likely increase your chances of performing better the more you take it. Because I’ve taken it so many times, I have become more and more comfortable with the process. You should also consider taking the SAT and ACT at least once each because about 25 percent of students who take both perform significantly better on one than the other. Find which one yields a higher result and take it another time or two.


  1. Go on Campus Tours

Campus tours give students some serious insight about where they see themselves living for four years. Many people say that you will get a special, honest feeling when you find the right school. While it isn’t always quite so magical for everyone, it is true that when you’re at the right school for you, everything does start to click. It’s important to compile a list of the schools you are interested in, and start taking campus tours in between your sophomore and junior years. Some schools even offer virtual tours on their websites that you can check out before planning your trip. Taking those tours can definitely help to narrow down your list.


  1. Make a Resume

A resume is the perfect tool for displaying all your achievements and awards in an organized, easy manner. Almost anything you apply for, be it a job, college or scholarship, will ask you to send in your resume, so starting one early is always a good idea. Keep track of all that you are involved in and all the awards you get starting in ninth grade. If you have a list made, making a resume becomes much easier than attempting to remember everything you’ve ever done. Your resume is also the perfect place to brag, so don’t be afraid. Admissions officers will never know about your greatness if you don’t tell them.


  1. Apply ASAP

Most universities open their application windows just before your senior year, usually July or August. In general, the earlier you apply the better. Applying early and getting accepted early can mean that you have a better slot for applying for housing, and more opportunity to receive scholarship money. College applications can be time consuming, so completing as many as possible before school starts will help. That will give you more time during the school year to fill out applications for scholarships, and to keep up with everything else that senior year entails.