If you are serious about your education and your future, you have no doubt devoted many hours to preparing for college throughout your senior year. You have studied for the ACT or SAT, found time in your busy schedule to write college applications, and excelled in your classes. As graduation nears, it can be tempting to turn your thoughts to a topic other than college. But maximizing your opportunities during this pressing time and the summer to come is crucial to your readiness for higher education. Here are four tasks to keep in mind:
Step 1: Identify your goals
Decide on what you hope to get out of the college experience. You have chosen a school for specific reasons—keep those reasons in mind as you navigate the distractions your new college is certain to create. The college experience develops your entire person, whether you want it to or not, whether you are ready for it or not—so be ready! Ensure it forms you in the ways you want to be formed.
Step 2: Locate professors who share your interests
Create a plan for your academic growth. Research the professors you will want to seek out once you arrive on campus. A strong relationship with one or two great professors can mean the difference between a mediocre college experience and a college experience that defines the rest of your career. Investigate what the professors in your field of interest are involved with, and register for the classes taught by those professors whose interests you share. Perhaps even email them ahead of time with specific questions about their classes and work. If they feel as though you are genuinely interested, they may keep you in mind for future projects.
Step 3: Browse extracurricular offerings
Research your college’s extracurricular activities, and select a maximum of two. Most campuses will provide more opportunities than you can ever hope to pursue. Do not sign up for every club or sport that appeals to you. Be strategic. Avoid overcommitting during your freshman year. Instead, pick one academic and one extracurricular activity. The leaders of the organizations you choose will appreciate your commitment, and you will not waste time participating in organizations to which you cannot ultimately commit.
Step 4: Read ahead
If you enroll in a class that you are particularly interested in during your first semester, ask your professor for a syllabus. Purchase or borrow the required reading list and tackle it now. Read anything, and read many things. Do not simply read for the sake of reading, but determine what appeals to you and read the experts on it. College will require more reading than you can currently imagine, so prepare yourself to comprehend whatever you read quickly and thoroughly. This will become an invaluable skill once classes begin.