updated - September 20, 2021 Monday EDT
When you're in high school, you might want to maximize your freedom and put off thinking about college. Maybe your parents are pushing you to do extracurriculars that look good on a transcript or take difficult classes. There are so many ways to prepare for college, but sometimes the high school years are used as a tool for getting into college, making activities unenjoyable. But high school is about more than just getting ready for college, and the good news is you can still have a good time while making the most of your education.
Consider getting a job after school to begin saving for college expenses. College can be expensive, and financial aid such as scholarships might go only so far. Plus, getting a job can look good on your transcript, and you might make new friends outside of school. Put your earnings in a high-interest savings account so you can grow your funds. Consider looking into financial aid options now. You may need to take out private student loans to pay for school. Once you know you'll need to take out loans, you can start searching for the right lender.
If you're hoping to get into a competitive university, it might be tempting to sign up for the most impressive classes since you might think they'll look good on an application. You might feel pressured to sign up for physics, calculus, or a tough language. If you truly feel like these difficult classes might further your career goals, go for them. A few AP classes might look good on your transcript. But by taking classes you dislike, you're setting yourself up for not making the most of your experience.
An easy way of making the most of high school is by talking to the teachers. Did you have an in-depth question about the material? Stay after class and discuss it with them. Or talk to them about a novel you read for class and ask if they recommend other books. Even just talking to them a few minutes here and there can give you greater insight into what you're learning about, and it might make it easier to get recommendations from teachers for college applications later.
One reason college often gets more stressful is that you're on your own. There's no one asking if your homework is done or making sure you wake up in time for class. Since you're more independent, life requires stronger time management skills. You'll have more responsibility, and your parents likely won't be in the same house as you. Time management skills don't come overnight and managing your time now with a calendar is a good starting point. You could use a paper planner and writing your tasks down by hand might make it easier to remember them. But you can also use an electronic calendar to send phone reminders. No matter what type you choose, put important meetings, tests, and other dates in the calendar as soon as you hear about them.
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