College Readiness: The Importance of Preparing For College While in High School

Reality Changers has a history of helping underserved San Diego-area youth realize their college dreams. Our targeted academic and personal growth model helps students with their college preparation. Students must make sure that they are making the right decisions regarding their futures: financially and career-wise.

In order to optimize your college readiness, it helps to know what skills are necessary for thorough college preparation. We’ll explain which activities, experiences, and skills can make your college experience all it was meant to be – and more!

What is College Readiness?

The term “college readiness” is thrown around a lot during the college search and application process. At first, it might seem like it refers to a general “are you ready for college” kind of question, but the phrase is actually much more specific. College readiness actually refers to the skills, knowledge, and behaviors you should have before entering your freshman year of college. With the right kind of preparation, anyone can find success in the collegiate setting.

Let’s break college readiness down even further. What skills should you have before entering college? What should you know, and what behaviors should you prioritize?

  • Academic Knowledge: The specifics of college-ready knowledge varies slightly from one school to the next. Generally speaking, though, you’ll want a strong foundation in Common Core subjects like math, science, and the humanities. A well-rounded education is necessary, even if you see yourself going into a specialized major or concentration.
  • Skills: Before heading to college, you’ll want experience writing well-structured essays, following mathematical formulas, and useing the scientific method. “Soft” skills like time management, communication, decision making, critical thinking, and networking all come in handy, too.
  • Behavior: College is a chance to mature and grow. Still, there should be a baseline of maturity, reliability, and self-motivation before you ever step foot on campus. Without these behaviors, finding success in college may feel like an uphill battle.

How to Get Ready for College

A little pre-university preparation can go a long way to get you ready for your freshman year. If you’re eager to succeed in college, a preparatory program is a great way to foster the skills mentioned above. Many high schools, community colleges, and non-profit organizations offer college readiness programs. The curriculum is designed to grow the skills and habits required for success in the collegiate setting.

Building connections with mentors can also help boost your confidence ahead of college. When you’re feeling unsure about how to get ready for college, an older, wiser, and more experienced mentor can reassure you and answer questions you might have about the process. Whether they’re a parent, teacher, coach, employer, or religious leader, mentors help us identify our strengths and work on our weaknesses.

Getting organized can also help develop your college readiness skills. No matter where you are in the search and application process, odds are good that you could benefit from streamlining your methods. Spreadsheets are an excellent way to track deadlines, passwords, and your progress on financial aid application websites. This strategy can really pay off in big ways – after all, organization is a crucial skill you’ll use all the time in college.

College Readiness Skills

College preparation for high school students should center primarily around executive function skills. The mental skills we use every day to manage our lives become more important in the college setting. Memory, self-control, and flexible thinking are all essential to collegiate success. While these skills develop at different rates in different people, you can work to set intentions and do regular reflections on how you’re progressing. Journaling can be helpful in tracking your college readiness efforts.

If you’re really looking to put in the work and get a leg up on your peers, work on reading and interpreting a syllabus. This is often one of the first challenges college freshmen experience. From there, build on managing your time effectively, reading and following assignment instructions, and staying on task when working in groups. Don’t overthink the process – there’s no need to reinvent the college readiness wheel. Just being thoughtful about the challenges that lie ahead can be incredibly helpful.

With the right mindset and this “mini-roadmap” in place, college preparation can be productive, rewarding…and even fun!

Reality Changers prepares youth to become first-generation college graduates and agents of change in their communities. If you believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to attend college, you can make a donation today.


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