A solid foundation helps you achieve more when you get to college. You’ll always be grateful for the skills you developed in high school because they will help lead to your future success.
Establish good study habits
Some people fool themselves in high school and skid by doing the bare minimum required to make their grades. The interesting thing is that your success in college depends far less on how easy it was to make grades in high school, and more on how much you challenge yourself and how well you’ve learned to study. These are a few tips to get you started.
- Practice a cram-free life. Last minute project completion and test preparation are not good habits. Plan ahead so you walk into a test well prepared or have time to review your assignments before turning them in.
- Set aside short periods of study time more frequently and stick to them. It’s easier to concentrate when you split up study time rather than doing a marathon.
- Tackle your toughest subjects first when your mind is fresh.
- Read the textbook, even if you have good notes. In college, you’ll need to be able to pick up on important points from the books because your class time notes won’t be enough to cover everything you need to learn.
- You will notice in college that all of your tests fall in the same one- to two-week period. In high school, teachers often communicate and spread tests out. That won’t happen in college, which is why it is important to practice the good habits of staying on top of homework and studying for exams.
Improve your technology IQ
You can drastically cut your workload in college if you have basic technology skills developed before you unpack your bags in the dorm room. Here are a few more things to think about:
Master the keyboard: No more typing only with your thumbs or one finger. You’ll spend a good portion of your time researching and writing emails and papers. The faster you can type accurately, the better.
Learn software basics: Know how to work in Microsoft Office, including Word and Excel. If you understand this program, you should be able to manage most other forms of software you come across.
Know your online resources: What are good websites to use when researching, to review your paper to make sure you haven’t plagiarized or to help you write the bibliography at the end of your document?
Understand security risks: Your computer being hacked can result not only in precious time lost with research and writing papers, but could cost you money or compromise your identity. It’s easy to click here and there without thinking of where it takes you. It’s important you know the reliable sites and the signs of a suspicious email to help you stay secure and prevent being hacked.
Connect wisely: Free Wi-Fi is great, but beware of connecting to public networks that are available at airports, restaurants and stores. You don’t know who set them up or who is connecting to them. When possible, only connect to networks you trust.
Back up your data: More than one student has been in tears because they lost their 40-page paper 15 minutes before they were going to hit “print” or submit it online. Most computers have automatic backup features you can set in case you forget.
Learn some jargon: Understand enough technology jargon to be able to research or ask for help when you have computer issues.
Improve writing skills
Most college degrees require some writing, even if you attend a technical college. If a bachelor’s degree or beyond is your goal, you’ll likely be writing many papers, essay answers on exams and presentations. Like anything else, good writing requires practice.
Most of us avoid things we’re not good at. That’s probably OK if it is singing in the choir or playing basketball; it isn’t OK when it comes to writing. Take the extra English class so you are forced to read and write more. Keeping a journal is another way some people choose to improve their writing. You don’t need to worry about a grade, but it’s an excellent way to practice writing about a topic you know. Taking time to learn the principles of good grammar will also help you write more quickly.
In college, you’ll need to learn new things and write about them. Practice researching a topic you know nothing about, come up with an outline and write about the topic. Along with actually practicing writing, it is important to read as much as possible. Speaking of which, read on to the next point.
Read on and on and on…
When you read, you expose yourself to different writing styles and new vocabulary — all of which makes your writing more interesting. Challenge yourself to read at least one good book every semester in high school, and perhaps a couple during the summer. You’ll learn without even working at it!
When you are in college, you will likely find yourself walking around campus rather than driving. You will meet many new people, and there is a chance you may meet someone you shouldn’t trust. Take a self-defense course, whether you are a male or female. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use those skills, but in case you do, you will be prepared.
Practice time management
College is different from high school, because you spend less time in class and are expected to learn more on your own outside of class. It can be easy to put off reading those chapters and preparing for the exam that is in three weeks because the exam is in THREE weeks. But when you have three exams and two papers due in three weeks, you’ll soon be caught with too much to do and not enough hours to do it well.
Learn how to make good use of your free time in high school, and those same skills will transfer to college. Get to know yourself and what works best for you. Do you play music to help you concentrate? Are mornings a better time for studying, or is it early evening? Run errands or work out when you don’t focus as well and reserve your best times to concentrate for studies. It often helps to keep a to-do list, so when you have time, you can check off something on the list; it will also help you prioritize what should be done right away or what can be started now and finished later.
Should you study?
|Exam||Purpose||When Taken||Subjects Tested||Scoring||Important to Know|
|PSAT (Preliminary SAT)||Qualifying test for National Merit Scholarship||Offered every October. Take during sophomore and/or junior year.||Math and evidence-based reading and writing||Each section is scored on a scale of 160-760. A perfect score is 1520.||Colleges don’t see these results unless you make the top 2%|
|SAT®||Colleges use score for admissions and merit- based scholarships||Throughout the year. Take during junior and/ or senior year.||Math and evidence-based reading and writing||400-1600||Cannot use a calculator on some math questions|
|ACT®||Colleges use score for admissions and merit- based scholarships||Throughout the year. Take during junior and/ or senior year.||English, math, reading, science reasoning and essay (optional)||1-36||Calculator allowed for all math questions|
|WorkKeys||For students planning on going straight into the workforce after high school; can be used to qualify for the CTE scholarships.||During the Junior State Test window in early March||Applied Math, Graphic Literacy, Workplace Documents.||Level Scores are used in hiring and advancement decisions and are listed as <3-7. Scale Scores are used by educators to track growth in skills over time with a range of 65-90.||The WorkKeys test is used to determine workforce readiness.|
Without a doubt, the answer is yes! It is recommended that you start studying three to six months ahead of your scheduled test date and to study three to four hours every week. You could break that up into daily sessions of 30 minutes each or a couple two-hour sessions.
Before you start studying, take a practice test and score it. This will help you identify the areas you need to focus on the most. Depending on what year of school you are in, you may want to adjust your class schedule to take another class in an area of weakness to strengthen your knowledge.
There are a number of resources for study materials. Ask your high school counselor for information on the most highly recommended courses and participate in your high school’s ACT® preparation class if one is offered.
There are no restrictions on the number of times you can take an exam, but you need to pay the exam fee every time.
Listing colleges on the tests
You’ll be asked to list the colleges that you’d like to share your scores with. If you haven’t decided where you’d like to attend, list four to six schools in which you are interested. There is no charge to list the schools on the test.
Check out the schools’ websites or call the admissions offices for their minimum ACT® requirements. This will provide guidance on the amount of time you want to invest in studying.