Some say that college prep can start as early as pre-school, while others say it should start in freshman year of high school. Nevertheless, everyone agrees that good college prep resources are needed in order to adequately prepare for college. College applications have become much more competitive nowadays, so if you want to get into the college or university of your choice, you should make use of all available resources. Lucky for aspiring college applicants, the Internet is full of free college prep resources that can boost their chances of getting into the college or university of their choice.
The Common Application is so far the longest running and the best college prep resources for high school students. Not only do they facilitate college applications, but they also have information about colleges available. For the longest time, students have been applying to colleges through the Common App. However, another organization has opened, The Coalition for College, in 2015. Students can apply to 140 distinguished colleges and universities through The Coalition for College.
Staying updated on changes in application processes, and even college essay prompts, would get you ahead of the game.
Build your list of colleges
Other than the colleges that you really want to get into, you also need to build a list of back-up colleges to apply to. Think of your criteria for colleges that fit your needs. You can easily narrow down your options once you have set this. It’s best to consider the location, tuition fees, courses, and standards of the school. Don’t waste your time and resources applying for schools that don’t offer the course you intend to take or schools that you have no chance of getting into.
You will need to do a lot of research. You can start searching for schools near your house, then check their respective websites for the courses they offer. Alternatively, you can check school rankings.
Colleges and universities hold open houses and college tours that you and your parents can join for free. Take the time to visit the websites of your target colleges and universities. Get to know what they are looking for in students, their application process and other requirements, and finally, their schedule for open houses. These are great opportunities for you to not only learn more about the school and what it can offer you, but to also get a feel for its atmosphere. These should help you decide if you will apply for the school.
College open houses are also the best parent college prep resources out there since they are specifically catered to parents. Tuition fees, dorms, school facilities are often discussed during open houses for the parents’ benefits. So, parents, take notes, ask questions, and look around.
Your college counselor is a well of information about colleges and college application, and even scholarships. They are specifically hired as college prep resources for high school students. They will be able to explain to you the options that best suit your situation and recommend ways for you to achieve your goals.
A word of advice: the best way for your college counselor to help you is if you already have your plans laid out. He/she is not the person to ask what path you should take for college. Rather he/she is the one to tell you the best way to get to that path. So, don’t waste their time. Make sure you know exactly what you want to talk about when you schedule an appointment with them. For example, you can ask for feedback on a draft of your admission essay instead of consulting which prompt to write about.
Look up blogs by students
The art of blogging has been around for a while, and you can trust that most everything under the sun has been blogged about. There is surely a good number of people who have shared their experiences about studying at a particular college. It’s not just students from schools who blog, some students with more specific interests and/or affiliations have blogs, too. Look for these people and their blogs, or vlogs.
Blogs written by actual students can give you unique insights into the college application process and college life. This tip does not have to be done when you have finalized your college list. These blogs can also help you narrow down your choices. Student blogs can give you a more realistic picture or feel of what college life is like in that particular school. Believe it or not, this is an important aspect for succeeding in college. They could even share tips on how to get prep for free college resources.
The Common Application announces their Common App essay prompts ahead of time. This is specifically so that students can have sufficient time to write and polish their essays. If you don’t already know, the Common App prepares 7 different prompts that students can choose from. These questions each focus on a different aspect of student life, so students have the chance to explore their individuality.
I don’t need to talk about the stress that comes with writing one’s admission essay. But I do need to tell you that there are many creative writing resources for college essay prep that can guide you in writing a great essay. Look for tips and articles written by experts in college admission rather than students. Their insight is more valuable as they are the ones actually reading thousands of admission essays and selecting students. They can tell you a thing or two about what colleges are looking for in their students.
If, however, writing is not your strongest suit, know that you can always enlist the help of others. Instead of “how to write a great admission essay,” you can search “write my admission essay now” and you will find services that can help you write, edit, and proofread your essay.
Carefully pick who to ask for a recommendation letter
Colleges and universities typically require 1 to 3 recommendation letters. This can be from a guidance counselor and/or a teacher. These persons should be those who have been able to work closely with you, and therefore know you well. They are the best options not because they are likely to give a good recommendation, but because they can talk about who you are as a person, your potential, and your accomplishments. So, for instance, your varsity coach would have more to say about you than your chemistry teacher.
It’s best to start early when it comes to a recommendation letter. Establish good relationships with your teachers at the start of high school. Don’t take too long in choosing whom to ask for a recommendation letter either. The earlier you ask your counselor or teacher to write you a recommendation letter, the better. They will have plenty of time to prepare and you will get ahead of your classmates. There’s one thing you can tick off your list early.
It’s never too early to start prepping for your college application. After all, the early bird gets the worm, as the saying goes. There are many high school college prep resources available for students nowadays, and it would be a waste not to utilize them.