Ways to start prepping for college in high school

 No matter what year in school your student is in, there are a number of ways high school students can begin preparing for college. The following guide can help parents and students starting prepping for college all four years of high school.   Freshman Year    Meet with a college counselor.  Meeting with a college counselor can help them map out a course schedule for the next four years that will leave them prepared to go to college after graduation. Focus on completing general education requirements rather than classes for a specific career; this gives teens flexibility in exploring their areas of interest for different majors or careers during high school.    Get involved.  Encourage teens to try out different clubs, volunteer opportunities, or sports teams. Even if they have a wide range of interests, try to narrow down their involvement to a few favorite activities; this keeps teens from being over-stressed and over-scheduled, as well as lets them get more deeply involved in their chosen groups. Write it down. Make sure to write down activities, awards, and accomplishments for their future resumes!   Sophomore Year    Begin attending college events.  While graduation is still three years away, now is a good time to begin investigating different colleges and universities. Would your teen prefer a large or small school? In state or out of state? Starting now can help students avoid feeling overwhelmed by hundreds of choices during the actual application process.    Take practice tests.  Sign up for practice PSAT, ACT, or SAT exams if possible. Taking the test now can help demystify the testing process and help them feel more comfortable with what to expect when they take these extremely structured exams.   Junior Year    Seek out jobs and internships.  Encourage your teen’s burgeoning independence by helping them find a part-time job, internship, or job shadowing experience. In addition to being great resume builders, these opportunities can also help students explore potential career fields.    Explore scholarship opportunities.  Begin researching local and national scholarship opportunities; some scholarships allow juniors to apply or have deadlines for summer and early fall for seniors. Creating a master calendar or spreadsheet noting application deadlines and requirements is a great way to help teens stay organized without micromanaging them.   Senior Year    Take standardized tests for the final time . If you aren’t happy with your scores, there is still time to take the ACT or SAT one last time. Make sure to register for an early Fall testing date so scores are ready in time for application deadlines.    Narrow down your college list.  In general, students should apply to 6-8 schools: 2 safety schools, 2-3 target schools, and 2-3 reach schools. If your child has their heart set on one specific college, encourage them to apply for early admission.    Enjoy the last few months of high school.  Senior year is equal parts stressful and nostalgic. Make sure to take time to enjoy the last few months together as a family before your child goes off to college!

No matter what year in school your student is in, there are a number of ways high school students can begin preparing for college. The following guide can help parents and students starting prepping for college all four years of high school.

Freshman Year

Meet with a college counselor. Meeting with a college counselor can help them map out a course schedule for the next four years that will leave them prepared to go to college after graduation. Focus on completing general education requirements rather than classes for a specific career; this gives teens flexibility in exploring their areas of interest for different majors or careers during high school.


Get involved. Encourage teens to try out different clubs, volunteer opportunities, or sports teams. Even if they have a wide range of interests, try to narrow down their involvement to a few favorite activities; this keeps teens from being over-stressed and over-scheduled, as well as lets them get more deeply involved in their chosen groups.
Write it down. Make sure to write down activities, awards, and accomplishments for their future resumes!

Sophomore Year

Begin attending college events. While graduation is still three years away, now is a good time to begin investigating different colleges and universities. Would your teen prefer a large or small school? In state or out of state? Starting now can help students avoid feeling overwhelmed by hundreds of choices during the actual application process.


Take practice tests. Sign up for practice PSAT, ACT, or SAT exams if possible. Taking the test now can help demystify the testing process and help them feel more comfortable with what to expect when they take these extremely structured exams.

Junior Year

Seek out jobs and internships. Encourage your teen’s burgeoning independence by helping them find a part-time job, internship, or job shadowing experience. In addition to being great resume builders, these opportunities can also help students explore potential career fields.


Explore scholarship opportunities. Begin researching local and national scholarship opportunities; some scholarships allow juniors to apply or have deadlines for summer and early fall for seniors. Creating a master calendar or spreadsheet noting application deadlines and requirements is a great way to help teens stay organized without micromanaging them.

Senior Year

Take standardized tests for the final time. If you aren’t happy with your scores, there is still time to take the ACT or SAT one last time. Make sure to register for an early Fall testing date so scores are ready in time for application deadlines.


Narrow down your college list. In general, students should apply to 6-8 schools: 2 safety schools, 2-3 target schools, and 2-3 reach schools. If your child has their heart set on one specific college, encourage them to apply for early admission.


Enjoy the last few months of high school. Senior year is equal parts stressful and nostalgic. Make sure to take time to enjoy the last few months together as a family before your child goes off to college!