Preparing for college

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I’m approaching the summer before my senior year of high school, and I’m really starting to feel the push towards college. It seems like high school is centered around college, which I think is a mistake. There are many students who are planning to enter the workforce almost immediately after graduation, and they probably feel left out from all of this college talk and preparation. My personal belief is that high school should prepare the student for whatever step they wish to take next. If that next step is college, than yes AP tests and college prep is the way to go. However if the next step is entering the workforce, we should give them options to prepare for what they wish to do if they already specifically know what that is. And if they don’t quite know what they want to do, we can have classes they can take to figure that out. I think we need more shop classes like repair classes. We should also have more classes that prepare students for work with money, that is essential for almost every job. The point is that not everyone is going to college, and high school can be much more efficient for the students that aren’t.

Teens are under a lot of pressure to make the right decisions for their future. Michael Winerip, who interviews and recommends potential Harvard applicants, wrote in the New York Times, “I see these kids—and watch my own applying to college—and as evolved as they are, I wouldn’t change places with them for anything. They’re under such pressure.” Now more than ever, the years of high school and even middle school are often thought of primarily as years of college prep. Certainly by junior year, if not before, many college-bound students take on a full schedule of AP classes, standardized testing (including SAT or ACT preparatory classes and tutoring), campus visits and interviews, volunteer hours so as to fill out a high school résumé, participation in extracurricular activities and sports so as to be well-rounded, and studying to maintain a near-perfect GPA.

What can be lost in this busy schedule is the fact that adolescence is about so much more than preparation for college. It’s about preparation for the rest of life, including moral, personality, and social-emotional development. I’m in my junior year of high school, and this year has been the busiest year for me in terms of everything I feel I need to do for school. However, I feel like most of what I’m assigned is busy work, meant to weed out those who can’t handle the workload in college. I think that’s a waste of our teen years, we should be allowed more opportunities to find who we are and what we want to do with our lives.

With that said, it’s important to know some ways to prepare yourself for college. This list tells you a few ways to mentally prepare yourself:

  • Maintain your support system- Stay close with your friends and family when you’re away, with visits, facetiming, texting, or calling. It’s important to stay close with the people you were close to before your move to college. This will make the transition easier, and you’ll always have someone to talk to about what you’re going through.
  • Learn time-management- Get organized. Buy a planner, and write down everything you have to do in it, and when you plan to do it. This will help you stay on track when life gets fast. It’s also important to not stress yourself out; make sure you give yourself enough breaks.
  • Know the basics- Before you live on your own, it’s important that you know how to do basic tasks like laundry and dishes. Even things like gaining some technology skills would be useful in case your computer or TV breaks.
  • Be open to new things- Be willing to get to know all types of people. Colleges are usually much more diverse than high schools, and you may be surprised by the types of people you become friends with. But that’s what college is about, broadening your horizons to new people and new ideas.
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