Thursday, June 23, 2011

Effectively Prepare College and Succeed!

Preparing for college is a goal that both you and your parents need to work towards. It's vital that you take an active role during this process, to ensure that you succeed! College life presents a number of new challenges for the high school graduate becoming a new college freshman.  Not only will you be living on your own for the first time, in most cases, but you also will be responsible for managing your own time and finances.  At the same time, college entrance is not always a step-by-step process and students and parents must determine the steps they need to take as they go. 

If you have been asking yourself, What steps should I take next to move forward in the college enrollment process?, here are 10 ways to successfully prepare yourself for college:

1. Determine What Type of Education You Want: Students attending college should first determine what type of education they want. The types of jobs that are available will determine which college you choose to attend. There are two basic types of colleges that are available, these include:

. Community, Technical and Junior Colleges

. Four-year Colleges and Universities

If you have a career in mind, be certain to research the exact course requirements that you will need to prepare for within high school as well as early in college. In addition, you will also need to research the type of education that your chosen career will require so that you can select the appropriate type of college to attend.

2.  Prepare for College Academically: While still in high school, it's time to begin thinking about college and how you can prepare academically. There are numerous ways you can begin preparing early in your high school career and these include taking college-level courses and standardized tests as early as possible.

3.  Selecting Colleges Successfully: The type of college you choose is a personal decision that is based on your individual needs and talents. When selecting colleges, it's important that you consider the following questions:

. Why do you want to go to college?

. What do you hope to achieve by going to college?

. Do you have an idea of a career you would like to prepare for?

. Do you want to stay near home, in the same state or move to a different state?

. Do you have a preference of environment, such as urban, suburban or rural?

. Would you be happier in a small college or large university?

4. Prepare for College Financially: There are several costs that are combined to create the final cost of college for a semester. These include:

. Tuition

. Fees

. Other course expenses

There are several ways that you can prepare for college and the first one begins by saving money as early as possible. There are several savings accounts that offer tax benefits that parents can begin early in a child's life. These include 529 College Savings Plans and many states have these available. It is also a necessity that you begin searching for scholarships that you can apply for as soon as possible.

The FAFSA is a very important part of preparing financially for college. The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be filed online at The FAFSA requires that you and your parents have your taxes prepared as early as possible. You can begin submitting your FAFSA January 1st and the deadline is June 30th.

5. Setup A Long-Term Plan and College Checklist: By preparing for college as early as possible, you should be able to set up some long-term milestones that you need to meet as you proceed through the college preparation process.

6. Apply For Colleges Effectively: Once you have narrowed down the college or colleges that you are going to apply to, you need to begin gathering some information that they will require. Applying for college is easy if you fill out your forms correctly, turn them in on time and provide them with the necessary documentation. When you apply for college you'll need to send several items with your application, including:

1.    Official High School Transcript

2.    Application Fee

3.    College Admissions Test Scores

4.    AP Exam Scores

5.    Letters of Recommendation

7. What You Will Need for College: If you are going to live on campus, which is something most four year colleges and universities require for your freshmen year, you will need to bring a list of important items along with you. Here's a list of commonly needed items by first time freshmen:

. TV

. DVD player

. Microwave

. Refrigerator (small combo unit)

. Camera

. Radio/iPod/MP3 player

. Cell phone

. Computer, preferably a laptop if possible with a printer

. 3 prong extension cords and power strips

. Desk lamp

. Alarm clock

. Laundry bag, basket, soap and some rolls of quarters  

. Weather specific clothing.

. Umbrella, raincoat, jacket, shoes, etc.

. First aid kit with pain relievers

. Your health insurance information

. Iron and small ironing board

. Bedding

. Backpack

. Bike with a good bike lock

8. Financial Literacy: Learning how to manage your money and set a budget early in school is essential. This is the perfect opportunity for you to get a checking account and learn how to make smart financial decisions. You should also learn about credit card debt early, prior to engaging in them. If you must have a credit card, it is vitally important that you pay off the card each month and to only use it in emergency situations.

9. Register for College: Finally, the day has come! You have selected which courses you want to take at your new college. First and foremost, you will most likely need to meet with a college advisor. They will be able to guide you as to which courses you should begin with your freshmen year. Your first semester may also be a mix of the basics that everyone has to take as well as certain courses required for your degree.

10. Developing a Graduation Plan: The most important thing once you enter college for the first time is to prepare a 4 year graduation plan. This will ensure that you remain on track to graduation within that 4 year time period. This graduation plan should include both your short and long term goals-for college and beyond graduation.

Following these simple steps, you will be able to prepare for college and set yourself up for success, not only financially but also learn the life skills you will need for when you are on your own at college.

About the Author: Tanya Knight is America's Education Coach. As the acclaimed author of Who Says You Can't Go to College? and founder of the Education Excellence Event. Tanya is passionate about making the dream of higher education a reality for everyone. For more information and resources that will help you get a degree and the career of your dreams, visit

Article by: Tanya Knight

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