“So, what are you doing after graduation?”
Many juniors and seniors get bored answering that question over and over. Whether your plans include college, heading straight for the workforce, or taking a year off, here are some practical tips to prepare yourself for the journey.
Going to College
Some people know from an early age exactly what they want to be and how they plan to get there. Rachel’s dad is a doctor and his love for his chosen career inspired her to follow in his footsteps. Rachel, who is about to start medical school, said she chose her undergraduate program with the idea of medical school in mind.
Not all of us are so sure of our plans, though, and that’s OK too. Many people start off in a liberal arts program in college and then decide on a major after a year or two. (School counselors say that 75% of students change their majors after they enter college.) School is also not just about careers and getting a high-paying job after graduation — it’s a place for learning about yourself and the world.
Selecting a School
If college is in your future, you need to plan. Which schools appeal to you? How are you going to pay for your education? How do you decide on a school when there are thousands to pick from? Start by asking yourself questions about your preferences:
- What are my strengths?
- Am I interested in liberal arts or science or business?
- What kind of learning environment is best for me?
- Would I be more comfortable in a small school or would I feel confined?
- Do I want to stay close to home or live far away?
- Would I prefer to be in a city environment or a small college town?
- Should I go to a school where athletics are big or where fraternities or sororities rule?
- Do I like being with people who are mostly like me or do I want to meet a diverse group?
Ask friends and older siblings who are in college about their schools and about other schools they’re familiar with. Talk to your school counselor or one of your teachers and go to college fairs when they visit your town.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, ask the schools to send you literature.
Visit their websites. When you’ve whittled your list down to a manageable number, make arrangements to visit. Try to do this when school is in session so you can get a good idea of what life is really like on campus.
And remember: You’re not the only one making a decision. Schools are picking from a large pool of applicants. They want to know how well-rounded you are and what makes you stand out from everyone else. They will look at your grade point average, standardized test scores, class rank, personal essay, and your extracurricular activities — so it’s important to dedicate time and effort to all these things.
To read the rest of this article, check out the inaugural issue of High School Illustrated – USA National Edition for iPad, completely free on the App Store.