I am a senior in high school.

How can I start preparing for college?

Follow these recommendations to guide you to college-ready success.

- Amanda Cantu 

Write your Apply Texas essays

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Essay A: 

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Essay B: 

Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.

Essay C: 

You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

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Narrow down your list of colleges that you intend on applying to

  • Do you want to go to a big school or small school? Do you want to live in Texas or venture out of state? Do you prefer having small class sizes or big class sizes?

  • Take note of admissions criteria, deadlines, etc.

  • The earlier you start your search, the more best match options you will find.

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Prepare for the SAT and ACT

  • It is highly recommended that you take the SAT and/or ACT in the fall semester of your senior year

  • Visit the college adviser at your high school for assistance with registering

  • Some schools require a minimum score for acceptance

  • Get free SAT preparation at KahnAcademy.org/sat

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Attend college representative visits

  • College representatives are a great resource to gain valuable information about schools you are considering

  • It is your job to ask them questions that are important to making your final decision

    • What is the student to teacher ratio in the classroom?

    • What academic resources are offered?

    • How many clubs and organizations are there?

  • Take note of admissions criteria, deadlines, etc.

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Visit the campuses that you are strongly considering

  • Visiting a college campus can help you decide if the institution is the right one for you

  • Take a campus tour, visit with staff and students, but most importantly, ask questions

  • Try to visit more than one campus so you can compare your experiences

  • Take note of admissions criteria, deadlines, etc.​

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Volunteer at school, church, or with local organizations

  • Colleges want to see that you care about your community and are willing to make it a better place

  • Examples of volunteering:

    • Helping at a hospital, pet shelter, library, or summer camp

    • Tutoring students through an official organization

    • Helping at church events

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Become a leader in your extracurricular activities

  • Being involved at your school shows that you are committed to something that you care about 

  • Leadership experience shows that you are a team player, can manage your time well, and care about diversifying your experiences

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Consider participating in academic enrichment programs

  • Academic preparation is a critical part of being college-ready

  • Some high schools have programs like Upward Bound which helps students prepare for college through tutoring and other enrichment events

  • Ask your college advisor if there are any programs on your campus

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Take challenging classes in core academic subjects

  • Talk to your school counselor or teachers about Advanced Placement courses

  • Colleges want to see that you are interested in learning new things and will work hard to excel in the classroom


Update your resume

  • When applying to colleges and scholarships in your senior year, you will be asked to list all of your challenging classes, volunteer experiences, extracurricular activities, and enrichment programs

  • Colleges want to see what you are passionate about and how hard you worked over your high school career

  • Visit the 'Resume ' page under the 'Career Planning' tab for free templates

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Narrow down your list of possible career options

  • What subjects do you like? What makes you happy? What do you enjoy doing with your free time?

  • Searching your career options will help you select a major later on

  • Visit the 'Career Exploration' page under the 'Career Planning' tab for help with searching.

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Analyze your financial aid award letter with a college adviser

  • Once you are accepted into a college and have submitted your FAFSA, you will most likely receive a financial aid award letter showing how much federal, state, and institutional aid you received

  • Compare your aid to the cost of attendance to determine your next steps

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Finalize your housing for next year

  • If you are planning to live on campus, be sure to complete the housing application and any additional requirements by the deadlines given

  • You may need to search for a roommate, which will require you to start communicating with potential roommates

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Start saving money for college

  • Saving money for important college necessities like books, food, dorms, and tuition can be very beneficial if you start early

  • Talk to a parent or guardian about opening a savings account

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Register for New Student Orientation

  • Most schools will have a New Student Orientation (NSO) for all incoming first-years

  • If you do not receive an email from your college regarding NSO, you may have to sign up on your own through the institution's website