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Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

I know you've heard this saying before that "failing to plan is planning to fail", but how true is that statement? When you're in business it's the difference between success and failure. When it's your personal life it's the difference between being constantly stressed and actually loving to go home at the end of the day. When it comes to college it's the difference between getting into the school of your choice, and possibly not getting the higher education you need.

College admission officers carefully assess your high school grades, courses, test scores, essays, activities, recommendations, and interviews, if required. So, how can one ensure their chances of entering into the school of their choice, and not the one that they have to settle on? Let's examine seven essential tips to effectively plan for college.

First, get the best possible grades you can during ALL four years of high school. Grades are extremely important.

Take academically rigorous classes ALL four years. You should carry as many challenging courses as you can handle—college prep, Advanced Placement (AP), honors, and International Baccalaureate (IB).

Try taking both the SAT and ACT. Colleges will accept either test. You may do better on one test than the other. This will boost your chances for admission. Practice taking the tests before the actual exams. You can take the PSAT your sophomore year. Familiarizing yourself with the types of material covered will give you an advantage on the actual tests. You can take the SAT or ACT more than once if you are not satisfied with your scores.

Become involved in your school and/or community during ALL four years and summer vacations. You need to keep track of your involvement in extracurricular and co-curricular activities, sports, and/or volunteer activities in your community. Move up to leadership positions. Demonstrate growth. Develop "soft skills" and learn how to network while in high school.

Ask your school counselor and teachers who know you well for recommendations. Jog their memories by reminding them of your academic accomplishments, athletics activities, and community service and leadership positions. Also, highlight anything special you did during the summer (for example, foreign travel to improve language skills, volunteer work, projects).

Decrease your stress by starting your search for colleges early—no later than the start of your junior year. This gives you adequate for researching colleges, completing applications, writing essays, and taking necessary exams.

Get organized and stay focused. Make a file folder for each college that interests you and put relevant information inside of it (for example, a copy of your application and essay, any materials downloaded from the Internet). Keep focused on your ultimate goal: Getting into the college of your choice.

Use these checklists to plan the tasks you should take to get into the college of your choice.

If you have a plan and a path to follow you will increase your chances of going to Your school, and that alone will make the experience that much better.


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