How Students Can Start Early College Prep

23 Sep

Many students start thinking about college applications only in the 12th Grade. But the more focused and well planned students begin doing their groundwork earlier, in the 9th and 10th Grade. Starting early provides a better understanding of what the entire college application process demands, and prepares students to deal with the experience without getting too stressed. In this article, we explore different things that younger students can do, to create strong college applications in the 12th Grade.

Focus on Academics       

Universities ask for academic transcripts of 4 years (9-12), if not longer; so it is important for students to perform well in academics throughout high school, not just in the 12th Grade.

Understand Yourself

Students should try and discover themselves – their interests, skills, and aspirations. Understanding oneself can help students choose projects and activities they want to get involved in, and self-discovery is also crucial for writing meaningful essays.

Choose ‘Extra-Curriculars’

Universities abroad don’t focus only on grades, they are also interested in a student’s experiences and achievements beyond studies, which reflect their personality. Students don’t always need a long list of extra-curricular activities; just a handful of activities that they are deeply and meaningfully involved in, is what counts. Whether it’s a sport, art, writing, research, or community work, students should have been influenced by their chosen activity.

Read and Write

Being able to write well, read through large volumes of information, and carry out research, are crucial skills required at college. Develop these habits early for long term benefits.

Begin Preliminary Research and Self-Exploration

Begin research on which country or countries you are considering applying to, and what kind of college you prefer. Attend college fairs, speak to friends and family who’ve been through the experience before.

Some students know what they want to study at college, while others are confused. With so many options at your disposal, don’t panic if you are a bit lost – it’s common! Think about what you enjoy learning, as this might determine which colleges you apply to. If you plan to apply to the U.S., many colleges won’t expect you to declare a major in your freshman year – you can study various subjects and decide on a major later.

Prepare for Standardized Tests

Standardized tests (such as the SAT) are important. While students usually take the SAT in Grades 11/12, they can start preparing earlier through options such as the PSAT (Preliminary SAT), a test conducted by the College Board, makers of the SAT. By taking the PSAT in Grades 9/10, students get a real sense of what the SAT is. The PSAT Score Report gives students detailed feedback on their skill gaps – by identifying weaknesses early, students understand what they need to work on most.

Submitting high quality college applications require discipline, hard work, and effort. Making a plan to tackle every component, having a support system to help you through the process, starting early, and doing everything at the right time, will help you enjoy the process and give it your best.

Lisa Jain College Board PictureLisa Jain is the Representative of The College Board in India. In her role, she works extensively with schools across India to support implementation of College Board programs. She also interacts directly with students and parents, educating them about how College Board’s programs and resources (such as SAT, AP, PSAT or Big Future) help in the college application and admission process.

Check out The College Board at

One Response to “How Students Can Start Early College Prep”

  1. Ayushi Aluwalliya November 16, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Getting ready for the college prep is more than just about studies. It also requires you to determine your financial conditions and prepare skills needed for your career accordingly.

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