Surviving and Thriving: A Student’s Guide to College Preparation

Are you a high school student looking to get ahead when it comes time to prepare for college? Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of navigating the college application process? Then, you’ve come to the right place!

This guide will provide you with practical tips and advice on how to not only survive but thrive during your college preparation journey.

Understanding College Admissions

Before we dive into specific tips for college preparation, it’s important to have a general understanding of how the college admissions process works. Most colleges and universities consider several factors when reviewing applications, including:

Academic Performance

First and foremost, colleges will consider your academic performance in high school. This includes your GPA, class rank, and the rigor of your course load. Generally, colleges look for students who have challenged themselves with rigorous coursework and have achieved strong grades.

Standardized Test Scores

Many colleges also require applicants to submit standardized test scores such as the SAT or ACT. These tests are designed to measure a student’s academic abilities and potential for success in college.

Extracurricular Activities

Colleges also look beyond academics and take into consideration a student’s involvement in extracurricular activities. This can include sports, clubs, volunteer work, or any other hobbies or interests outside of the classroom.

Personal Essays and Letters of Recommendation

In addition to the above factors, colleges may also require personal essays and letters of recommendation. These allow students to showcase their unique personalities, experiences, and strengths that may not be reflected in other parts of their application.

Preparing for College: Tips and Advice

Now that you have a general understanding of what colleges look for in applicants, here are some practical tips and advice to help you prepare for college:

Start Early and Stay Organized

The key to a successful college preparation journey is to start early and stay organized. This means creating a timeline for important dates and deadlines, keeping track of required materials such as transcripts and letters of recommendation, and staying on top of your academic responsibilities.

Challenge Yourself Academically

As mentioned before, colleges value students who have challenged themselves with rigorous coursework. Take advantage of advanced placement (AP) and honors courses if they are available at your school. These classes not only show academic aptitude but can also potentially earn you college credit.

You can also enroll in college preparatory high schools, such as those in Salt Lake City, which offer a curriculum specifically designed to prepare students for college. These schools typically have a higher graduation and college acceptance rate.

Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities

Colleges also look for well-rounded individuals who are involved in their communities and have diverse interests. Use your high school years to explore different extracurricular activities that align with your passions and showcase your unique talents.

Seek Out Opportunities for Leadership

Colleges also value students who have shown leadership potential. Look for opportunities to take on leadership roles in clubs, organizations, or sports teams. This can demonstrate your ability to work well with others and take charge in a group setting.

Develop Strong Relationships with Teachers and Mentors

As part of the college application process, you may be required to provide letters of recommendation. Take the time to develop strong relationships with teachers or mentors who can speak positively about your character, work ethic, and potential for success in college.

Visit College Campuses

One of the best ways to get a feel for a college is to visit the campus in person. Take advantage of any opportunities to attend college fairs, information sessions, or tours. This will not only help you narrow down your list of potential schools but also show admissions officers that you are genuinely interested in their institution.


Preparing for college may seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and mindset, you can not only survive but thrive during this journey. Remember to start early, stay organized, and take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the process and trust that your hard work will pay off in the end.

So, take a deep breath and get ready to embark on an exciting and rewarding adventure towards your future.

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