A new study was released that says the students who are most prepared for getting into and succeeding in college started planning for it by the eight grade. That means that the college game that used to start your junior or senior year of high school is now beginning before you even get to high school! Of course, the survey information was for teachers and parents, but hey, whose life is it anyway? If you plan on doing college, and who isn't, there are things you need to know NOW!
The Old College Game
The old college track was pretty simple. An average student worked pretty hard through high school, got good grades and then picked a college around the time she was graduating. If you had decent grades, getting into a good school wasn't a big deal. And to top it off, college wasn't even required for most of the jobs back then. You could graduate from high school, start work in a good company, and make as much or more money as a college graduate. College wasn't a huge deal.
College today isn't an option, it's a necessity. The only jobs that are still available for people without at least a little bit of college training involve nametags and hairnets. Everything else takes at least a year of college work. Even jobs like photography and writing require some formal training and preferably a degree. Want to work as the manager of a clothing store? You have to have a full four-year degree these days.
What this need for degrees has done is make college much more competitive. The community colleges are taking up a lot of the slack by offering less expensive training and some very basic degrees, but if you are interested in getting a four year degree, you have a much harder path ahead than you parents ever did.
Planning for College
Colleges receive thousands of applications a year and the good schools only take a small portion of those. That means your application has to look really good compared to everyone else's. You might be wondering why this matters now, and that's a very good question. Your college application will include information all the way back to your freshman year of high school, and possibly the eighth grade.
Colleges seem to like certain things. They really like students who commit to certain activities all the way through school. If you are an artist, stick with it for four full years. You might even build a portfolio with dolls you've created like the ones here on the Doll Palace. The same is true for band or choir. Colleges feel like this shows your dedication and perseverance. Colleges also like foreign languages. Take as much as you can stand. (Three years should be your minimum goal.) Volunteering and being active members of clubs are great, too. Don't forget to take a break every now and again. You might be a lucky one who gets all As without even trying. Hurray for you. For the rest of us, the hard work we've been doing for decent grades is about to get even harder. High school work, and those who are already there will probably agree, is much harder than junior high work. Not only are the classes harder, but your grades matter more. Every decision you make about doing your homework or taking an extra science class instead of basket weaving can make the difference in getting into the college you want.
Why start planning now? Those already in high school are probably clued into this already, but if you start on the wrong path or with the wrong attitude on your very first day of high school, it can ruin your college dreams. For a lot of schools, you only get one shot at being accepted. Even little things like too many tardies or blowing off 9th grade English can shatter your plans. Get in the habit of thinking about your future now, before it's too late.