College Preparation Tips
Start in your freshman year. You don’t have to know what your major will be or where you are going to go to college, but you just need to keep all your options open. Here are some good general tips:
- Extracurricular activities – no matter how wonderful your test scores are and how strong your transcript looks, if you never do anything else in high school other than academics it will be a red flag to colleges and scholarship committees. Alternately a good strong set of extra-curriculars can help a student overcome mediocre test scores. Four years of a single activity is much stronger than one year each of four different activities. Public speaking activities are something that really stand out on a transcript. If possible, get involved in some activity in which you can earn awards (even group activities – such as Chorale – count).
- Volunteer and serve – colleges want to see that you just don’t care about yourself and your studies.
- Missions trips are great cross-cultural experiences.
- Learn how to write a strong essay – you will need this skill for college, scholarship applications, and beyond.
- Learn how to be organized – if it doesn’t come naturally to you, work on it.
- Learn how to take notes – this is something you will be doing in college.
- Show you can be a leader – this is another plug for extracurricular activities and volunteer activities. If you see something that needs to be done, take the lead and work with others to get it done.
- Don’t just focus on the courses you need to graduate – take some that are unique. Your transcript should show how you are different from and better prepared than the other applicants. Talk to your academic advisor about possibilities. We offer a number of them at MSA but you can also easily design your own courses to do at home. Take advantage of the fact that you are home schooled!
- Care about your grades – a 4.0 GPA is not essential but work hard at keeping your GPA in the 3.0 to 4.0 range.
- Take some classes at a level 4 or 5. If you think you are interested in a science field take your math and/or science classes at a higher level. If you are interested in more of the liberal arts fields try taking Language Arts or Social Studies at the higher levels.
- Take time to do Career Exploration – talk to your advisors; they have plenty of ideas how to do this. Parents – give your students time in their schedule for Career Exploration; it is extremely important!
- Start making a CV (curriculum vitae) – it can help you see what areas of your high school preparation are weak.
- Come to our College Prep workshop (done in the evening every fall).