Plan For College

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ahead of the Curve: 3 Ways to Prepare for College Classes

You've taken the PSATs, researched financial aid and started college visits, but your college preparation is just beginning. In an environment that promotes freedom and self-motivation, professors, advisors and peers expect college freshman to hit the ground running. Along with the countless new friendships, college also introduces students to advanced academic standards. Rather than badgering students with reminders and deadlines, professors leave students to hold themselves accountable. Rather than collecting homework, they assign reading that is sure to show up on tests.

The personal freedom can test the best of students, leaving them in an academic hole right off the bat. Prepare for the next level of education with these college-centric strategies.

Take AP courses

Senioritis is a powerful force for college prospects, but students who fight off the urge to relax all year can get a head start on their college careers. Advanced Placement (AP) courses give students the chance to earn college credit without setting foot on a college campus. Available in dozens of subjects, including chemistry, calculus, history and psychology, the AP program tests students for proficiency on a scale from one to five at the end of each year. Students can check their AP scores online at, and colleges generally accept of score of three or better as a demonstration of proficiency in a subject.

Not only can you snag a few credits, AP courses also give you a first glimpse at college-level material. Let your friends waste time on the couch — you'll be too busy getting ahead.

Ace Tests

Does this sound familiar? The semester feels like it just kicked off and already you have a test. Rather than studying, though, you're content to give it your best shot and make up for it with small projects and extra credit. That strategy may have earned you As in high school, but it won't fly at the next level, where tests determine whether you sink or swim. Your best bet? Start acing tests now.

That doesn't mean stop doing homework or projects, but don't depend on them to earn your grade. Applying pressure during tests simulates the test anxiety you might feel in college when you're grade is on the line. Instead of half-heartedly filling out that study guide to hand in, learn the material inside and out.

Test taking is a valuable college skill, why not start rising to the occasion now?

Get an Internship

Career opportunities abound as you enter college, and students that have a taste of the real world will have a better idea of what they want to do with the rest of their lives. If you wrote for the school newspaper, apply to intern in a professional newsroom. If you see yourself as a titan of industry, get your suit pressed and find a position filing paperwork at a business. The experience will further reveal your likes and dislikes, and you'll have a better idea of which major path to follow. lists summer internship opportunities for ambitious high school graduates.

Preparation for college classes will pay dividends come the fall semester.


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