If you’re a soon to be freshman you may be daunted by the idea of high school, or maybe you’re already in the middle of it wondering if you’re doing the right thing. Either way I hope that by sharing my experiences, and what I’ve learned, you can take something out of that. I’ll break things down by each year of high school, because this is a process, it takes time, things don’t magically change at a flip of a switch.
High school? College? Grades? AAAAAAHHHHHHH! Are typically the thoughts of incoming high school fresh man. Relax. Everyone’s confused, but don’t stress you have time on your side. If you’re stressed to begin with, don’t worry about college this year, or what you want to major in. Your job is school, plain and simple. Be nice to others and your teachers, do your best to meet new people and get good grades. I recommend joining some honors classes, work for it. You will want a high weighted GPA later on. You don’t want to regret poor grades 3 years from now, what you do this year does matter, but take it slow and you’ll be fine.
Ah, so you’re back for more? Sophomore year is pretty similar to freshman year but with a few twists. First off, don’t wait to get your drivers permit, looking at you guys. (Girls typically are on the ball) As you’ll have to have 6 months of drivers experience before you can get a license. (Assuming you didn’t take a class, and that’s just my state rules, results will vary) But other than that, keep it up, join a club if you aren’t in sports and can handle the load. Just keep a good weighted GPA, and find a class that doubles as a menu class, aka one that will relieve you of needing electives senior year, giving you half days, which you will want, don’t kill yourself. Most importantly, think about what you’re good at, not what you’re passionate about, but what you’re good at. In the real world you want to follow opportunity and bring your passion with you, Mike Rowe has an excellent video about this here. So just keep school up, get involved and think about what you would excel at in a real world job.
Party time is over, time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. If you know what you’re good at or what interests you, look on Indeed for some real world jobs and what they expect you to have for the job. Next, work backwards, find what education they’re looking for. If an engineering job wants someone with a bachelors in mechanical engineering, then that maybe what you want to pursue. You can always change this later on, just get an idea. Now you really can’t do anything else at the start of the year, so keep focusing on school. (I will beat this dead horse) You MUST, sign up to take a PSAT, ACT, and SAT with essay. (As well as any AP tests) The PSAT will give you an idea of what to expect so you’re not so new to testing when the real deal comes. DON’T wait to take these senior year, you will most certainly regret it. Get it out of the way. The AP tests may help you out if you score well, but they may not. No harm in trying. Also, hold off on a job till the summer, this is the busy year, so don’t let a job make your grades slip.
Finally! This is what you’ve been preparing for! This year will go by fast and slow at the same time. At this point you need to get a job, yes it sucks, stop whining. There aren’t too many options available to you until you’re 18, but take what you can get. Work about 15-20 hours a week, more if you can handle it. I have a post to help you Make a Killer Resume check it out.
So what about college? Well unless you’re VERY articulate with writing essays, odds are you won’t win any 3rd party scholarships. This is just math, if the scholarship is easy, then hundreds of thousands of kids submit and you get .00001% chance of winning. Or if the scholarship is hard, then you get a few thousand entry’s with a higher standard to meet. Still low odds. The best way to get scholarships or grants is from colleges themselves. (Note: the FASFA is a government program which is really just looking at your household income, so if your family makes a lot then you won’t get much. But if not, then it’s worth looking into)
Now here’s whatcha gotta do, find what colleges have your major of choice look into them, they will most likely give you scholarships. Here’s what they look at:
- Weighted GPA
- SAT or ACT scores
- Class rank & class size (possibly)
Assuming you’re not an athlete, I’m not so I can’t speak for how that works, but don’t count that out. But seriously, that’s all. Take some time during senior year to take a school tour and sit down with your counselor and look things over. But you may be surprised at what you’ll get with average test scores. But look into multiple colleges and see what they offer, according to ASU’s scholarship estimator I would receive $8,000 but I looked into GCU and they said they’d give me $12,000. SO I’m going to GCU. That’s just with an 1190 on the SAT and a 3.9 weighted GPA. (My ACT score is trash lol)
At the end of the year you will get what you put in, you need to take time to do this, nobody is going to hold your hand. You don’t need crazy high test scores, although they do help so do your best, to get scholarship money. I’ll have another post with how to save money and pay for college. But if you’re working senior year you’ll be set up nicely. Finally ENJOY the slow year before the craziness begins.