Do’s & Don’ts
Do the right thing for your future.
If going to college is the next big to-do on your list, there are things you should—and shouldn’t—be doing right now to boost you chances of getting into the institution of your choice. Follow our tips to continue down your path to success.
Utilize the following menu to learn the Do’s and Don’ts of getting into school.
Do give your college applications your best effort:
- Pay attention to deadlines. Most colleges will not accept late applications. Plus some applications have different deadlines for different pieces. So get your dates straight!
- Get organized. Keep each of your college and scholarship applications in a separate folder. Make a master list of the tasks you need to complete before applying, and set deadlines for each one. Keep a separate college calendar and use it to post all your deadlines.
- Use an appropriate email address on your applications. If your current email address isn’t professional, create a separate account.
Do keep up the good work:
- Keep your grades up during senior year. Don’t let senioritis affect your GPA. Colleges can revoke your acceptance if they see a noticeable drop in your academic performance.
- Get involved. Whether it’s high school sports, programs, or clubs, participating in activities makes you well-rounded and lets you meet new people. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might discover an activity you love. Or your might find out you’ve got a hidden talent! Your experiences could point you toward a college major that’s right for you.
- Learn more about majors and potential careers. Try to sit in on a job that interests you for a day or two to see if it’s a good match. This can give you great insight into the right major. You can also visit www.bls.gov/oco to check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a guide that includes information on every job in America.
Do keep an eye on the money:
- Apply for scholarships right away. The more time you put into scholarships, and the more scholarships you know about, the more likely you are to get one. To get started, check out our scholarship links.
- Apply for jobs during summer or after school. College admissions officers want to see that you’re assuming some personal financial responsibility in addition to your other activities.
- Talk it over. Sit down with your parents or guardians and have an honest, open discussion about the financing options for your college education. Then start mapping out a plan for paying for school.
- Procrastination never pays. Plan now so you have enough time to take all your standardized tests before applying for college.
- Make room in your schedule for filling out your applications and writing your essays.
- Give your teachers at least a month to write any letters of recommendation you may need.
- College essays and applications take time. So invest it. Make sure your essays reflect your thoughts.
- Get someone to proofread your work. Using the correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation is key.
- Your written application isn’t the only thing you need to apply for college. So make sure you submit all the required components.
- Arrange for your transcript, letters of recommendation, financial documents, and all other necessary information to be sent to the colleges on time.
Don’t drop the ball:
- Don’t take it too easy the summer before college. Your application’s have been filled out. And you’re ready for a break. But staying productive the summer before school can make the transition to fast-paced college life a smooth one.
- Try getting involved in activities you like that can further develop your skills.
- Applying for college is a busy time. But it’s exciting, too! So enjoy the process.
- If you set goals, create a timeline, stay organized, and stay on top of deadlines, you can—and will—get it done.