Your high school graduation is an exciting time. You put in the effort and commitment through years of school and have succeeded in your goal to make it the finish line! Now you are ready to embrace the next phase of your life.
What you do after you graduate can make or break your college experience, so choose wisely. Choosing where and what to study for the next several years is a huge decision and should be done thoughtfully. Take the time to do your research and carefully plan out your path for the best experience and most success.
Narrow Down Your Choice of Major
Picking a major can cause major anxiety for a lot of people. Declaring yourself is a statement of intent. It makes it real and is the first step to that scary thing called "real life." The good news is that you are not locked into a major with no escape. If you find that the classes are boring to you, or the workload too heavy and confusing, then maybe this isn't the right path for you and you should reconsider your study focus.
A great way to get clear on exactly what it is that you want to do, is to explore your options so you can eliminate the choices you don't like, and discover the subjects that inspire and speak to you. A wonderful way to experience what's out there and help you decide is to do some traveling before you enter school. You may wonder why take a gap year? Some people may be afraid that the time away will derail their schooling and career plans and make it hard to get back on track. But the opposite is usually true. Travel can revive and inspire you, so you're ready and eager for taking that next step. A gap year is also an amazing way to get a broader perspective on the possibilities. So why not maximize your potential by taking time to figure out who you are and what you want from life?
Consider an Apprenticeship or Volunteer Program
Narrowing down your choice of major can also be accomplished by getting some hands-on experience in your chosen field. Apply for an apprenticeship or volunteer program that will allow you to shadow and observe professionals in the field. This lets you see the day to day tasks that are part of the job and decide if it's appealing to you. You'll also learn to act in a professional manner and develop helpful habits early on that could save you time and make things a lot easier.
Your guidance counselor can recommend businesses and programs to consider that could be beneficial. This is also a great way to make contacts that could be resources for academic help while in school, and an increased chance of being hired after you complete your degree. Having an established relationship with people in your field when you graduate can give you a leg up when finding the perfect job.
Take Admissions Seriously
The process of being accepted into a college or major can be stressful and arduous, but you need to take it seriously. You are applying for the chance to be taught how to succeed in your job of choice, so you need to be thorough and respect the process. Comply with all the requirements to show that you can follow directions and are ready to learn.
If at all possible, visit the school you are applying to in person to make sure it's a good fit for you. You should feel comfortable and at home on campus. A good attitude and feeling of belonging are vital to your success. If you don't resonate with the tone of the school or get along with the staff and your peers, it could put a strain on your academics.
Figure Out the Finances
Paying for college is another major factor to focus on. Schooling can be expensive, and it's important that you consider all the available paths to finance your education so you can pick the one that's best for you. Look into any scholarships or grants that are offered if you have high grades and SAT scores, sports achievements, and other notable accomplishments. If you have completed an internship, check with them as well. They may offer funding for certain candidates that are willing to commit to return and work for them after graduation.
Working through school can help alleviate some of the burden of cost, so check around for a part time job. Try not to overextend yourself as studying should be your primary focus.
If you are still coming up short on the tuition, then education loans are a way to fill the gap and get you the money you need. Carefully read all the terms and be informed before you sign on to borrowing money.
Take the time after graduation to prepare for your college years. This will be a great help to you. Preparation will make you confident in your abilities and choices and ready to tackle this important time in your life.