The transition from high school to college can be a busy road that will go by fast. It is helpful to start preparing for college early in your high school career. Here are a few tips to help high school juniors get a head start on the college application process.

Talk with your Guidance Counselor

Set up an appointment with your high school guidance counselor. He/she will be able to help guide you in the right direction to make sure you are taking the appropriate classes to prepare you for college. They will also talk to you about your career intentions and what possible schools would best fit your intended major. They can tell you what requirements are needed when it comes to applying to college, such as SAT exams and essay requirements. Your high school guidance counselor is there to help you obtain your future educational goals.

SAT Exams

Most colleges require students to take the SAT or the ACT. These exams help colleges assess a student’s readiness for college-level work. You can prepare for these tests by purchasing preparation books at the bookstore or some high schools even offer SAT or ACT Prep classes so you know what to expect when the test comes. Don’t worry if you get a lower than expected score, you can take the test again. Most schools will take the highest score received.

Visit Colleges

It's never too early to start visiting colleges as you begin comparing colleges. You can attend the college’s open house events or you can call and make an appointment for a personalized tour. This is your chance to ask questions about class size, majors offered, campus life, and anything else that is important to you when selecting a college.

If you can’t visit colleges, then request information from schools you are considering. Every school has a website now and usually you can request an information packet via the web.

College fairs are also a good way to obtain information. These are sometimes held at high schools or other local venues and include representatives from local colleges to answer your questions.

Extracurricular Activities

Be sure to participate in extracurricular activities such as clubs and sports. Believe it or not, these are just as important as the classes you take. Colleges want to see that you are a well-rounded student who can handle classes as well as other activities. This will show that you can be an asset to their school.

Financial Aid

Start thinking about how you will be paying for college. This will probably have an impact on which college you choose. If your parents have already handled that for you, then you have nothing to worry about. However most students apply for federal financial aid, so you may want to start researching student loans for college, grants, and scholarships for college students. If you have questions you can talk to your guidance counselor or attend financial aid events that are sometimes hosted by high schools or other local organizations.

Applying to college can be a long, complicated process, but if you are prepared you can make the application process seamless and less stressful.