Your grandparents, or at least your great-grandparents, can probably remember a time when high school was a strictly optional educational opportunity that could prepare students to land a decent real-world job. In this day and age, high school is basically mandatory, and in most cases, its main purpose has become preparing students for college. While it might not seem like it, the classes you take and activities you do in high school play a role in shaping you as both a member of society and as a college applicant. Even if you are planning on attending a community college or a less-selective state college, you will still need to successfully fulfill basic requirements in order to progress to a level of education that can help you achieve your career goals, and if you want to gain admission to highly selective colleges or have a shot at winning scholarships, you will have to accomplish even more.
This doesn’t mean that high school has to be a dreary march of education requirements and mandatory service hours, though. It’s also time in your life to begin exploring options and figuring out who you are and where you want to go. The opportunities available to high school students in even the smallest and most remote school districts are impressive, especially given the increased communication and learning possibilities afforded by new technology. This makes it more possible now than ever before for high school students to find and begin to pursue their passions in life. All you have to do is decide what you want from life and start figuring out what tools are at your disposal to help you work toward your goals.
Whether or not you plan on attending college, high school is a good time to begin to take inventory of your aspirations, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses and start to figure out what sorts of things you might like doing when you’re on your own. You don’t need to have a precise career plan pinned down immediately, but during your first two years of high school, especially, you will want to begin to think about broad categories of education and employment you might want to pursue later on.
As a high school student, research potential scholarly or career interests and find out the requirements for college programs you may want to pursue. Set goals for yourself regarding grades, standardized test scores, and involvement, and work on ways to meet them. Begin seeking out experiences related to jobs you might want to do or subjects you might want to study. Clubs at your school, job prospects in your town, and volunteer activities in your community or others can all help you better explore your interests. If you honestly have no idea what you want to do, consider participating in a wide range of student experiences. These will at least help you beef up the "activities" section of your college applications and they may help you stumble upon your passion in life.
Many students believe that the college application process is part of a student’s senior year of high school, but it actually begins much earlier. While sitting down with an SAT study guide as a kindergartener is a bit excessive, starting to think about getting into and paying for college as a high school freshman is a good idea. Going into high school with college in mind can help you better tailor your high school experience towards college preparation, which can in turn help you achieve your college goals. We’ve prepared high school action plans to help students stay on track with college planning and preparation as high school freshmen, high school sophomores, high school juniors, and high school seniors.
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