Unasked for tips by an old-ish lady who has been there and done that…for my high school kids.

  1. Take the ACT as many times as you can. *SUPERSCORES* Those are game changers…you never know what score will go up…even a little bit. I have it on good authority that HSU (best school in town) takes changes to ACT scores all the way up until May. On this note: don’t be hesitant to take ACT prep classes. They are worth their weight in gold….they really do help and they give hacks for testing.
  2. Apply for the scholarships…all of the scholarships. Not just the big ones. Those $250 that you think are just a drop in the bucket and won’t help much…they help. Those four hour classes (think labs, biology & chemistry) require more than one book and those books are close to $200 by themselves. So having a couple of unrestricted small scholarships can really come in handy around the middle of August when you are buying all the things for school…including textbooks!
  3. Write yourself two or three essays that you can use for different applications. You can google the most widely-used prompts for writing them and adjust as needed.
  4. Use your network! If you don’t have a network, get one. By network I mean people in your life that can write you references that aren’t your momma’s cousin’s friend’s boyfriend.
  5. ^^To build a network…GET A JOB. I know life is busy when you’re in school, have a lot of extra-curriculars and church but you can always work on the weekends. Babysitting is the first thing that comes to mind, you can work around your schedule, set your own price and pick/choose who you want to work for. If you can care for someone’s child then I guarantee you’ve made a good reference and opened up your circle of networking a little bit more.
  6. Save your graduation money. You reallllllly don’t need a new pair of shoes but you will need a little trashcan for your dorm room…those cost money. Don’t make your momma pay for a little trashcan.
  7. Clean up your social media accounts…believe it or not, people actually look at them.
  8. Make a memory book. Print out pictures, save receipts, make notes of your favorite things & people, and have your friends write notes in it. I know it sounds silly but you’ll really love to have something in your hands in a few years…not everything needs to be virtual.
  9. This is kind of a weird one, but since you’re still on your parents insurance for a while…get the things done. You need braces, contacts, glasses, physicals, counseling etc. do it while they can still help you. Maybe you have great parents who always will but there is a chance that they might not be able to without you being on their insurance.
  10. This is a big one. DO NOT BASE YOUR EDUCATIONAL FUTURE ON A BOY/GIRL. I know you love them and they love you, but I’m telling you what…rarely and I mean rarely do these high school loves transition into good college loves into good marriages. Yes, I know there are some and that’s awesome but basing where you are going to school should be about what makes the most sense for you.
  11. Community colleges are fine, technical colleges are great, vocational schools are the bizness…don’t get blinded by the “you have to go to college” mentality. You do what’s best for your future. I have a cousin who went to lineman school and within a couple of years was making money that some us *cough*cough* ME* would just dream of making and I’m much older than him and went to school for what felt like forever. If you don’t have a lot of scholarships and you can’t afford a state or private school…that is okay and no one thinks less of someone for being practical.
  12. Try your very hardest to not have to use student loans. I am in that terrible statistic about the $1.48 trillion student loan debt right now. No I don’t have that much but it sure feels like it because I’ll be paying on it unit I am 42. No joke, 42. For a degree I don’t use. If that means asking for help, do it! If that means going to a school that’s not number one, do it! If that means working overtime in the summer before it starts, do it! Trust me, student loans are not your friend.
  13. Ask for help, people love to help people. There are whole departments in schools that are actually there to help you with these decisions…and if you aren’t comfortable with them then ask your friends (and their parents) who graduated a year before you. They’ve been there and they’ve done that too.
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