In our media-driven world, it’s easy to get lost in all of the college-bound talk.
Television and movies present airbrushed and curated personalities, campuses, and relationships. Retailers tailor their shops and provide lists what of “everyone” should bring to their dorm room. There is always a swirl of news about student loan debt, low percentages of graduation, and psychological challenges. Expectations are inflated, setting up college-bound students for a disappointing start to what could be a positive life-changing experience.
#1. Start early
Just like learning to ride a bike, there’s a process. Before riding a bike, most children ride a tricycle so they can master the basics. Then it’s training wheels. Then the big wheels. It’s a process of improvements. If you were to first put the child on a Harley, you would have a different result.
When kids begin high school they are juggling a lot — the workload, new commute, new groups of friends, and more.
Start the process early with a plan.
#2.) Make high school your own
High school is four years of learning, improving, and dealing with stress — all under a lot of adult supervision. Make it a time to explore. Try new things, pick up a new hobby, or join a club.
3.) Check out the possible directions
Take advantage of your school’s opportunities to explore different career paths post-high school. You can go to college, get a job, join the military, start a business, or a combination of any.
Even if you are nearly positive you know exactly what you want to do, talk to individuals that took a different path than you plan. It’ll be worthwhile to talk to people with different perspectives, especially if you’re unsure.
#4. ) Learn what it means to go to college
If you’re sure you want to go to college, use your time in high school wisely, make choices that will help you get there. (Small Steps Go Places’s programs help students prepare for college mentally and emotionally, learn more)
#5.) Apply to colleges where you will thrive
The college application process takes up a lot of time and energy. Some students, and even their parents connect self-worth with being accepted to certain schools — sometimes without really asking themselves if this is a school they really want to go to, feel comfortable at, or will enjoy attending. Getting accepted to a school and finishing with a degree, a sense of belonging, and accomplishment, are not the same thing.
By making a list of relevant schools, you will increase the possibility for success!
A note from Small Steps Go Places Founder, Genevieve Griffin:
At an event I attended in 2016 at Barnard College, some counselors working with college-bound students pointed out that a lot of time is spent on applying to college, and less on finding a practical connection for students and their family members to understand what being at college is actually like. They observed having real conversations about what going to college means is very important. That is the goal of Small Steps Go Places, ask us how we can help your school.