To maximize students’ college and scholarship opportunities college preparatory actions should begin in the eighth grade. Here are overall guidelines for students in grades 8-12 as well as a year-by-year list of important events and critical deadlines.
Every Year, Students Should…
Strive for academic excellence. Commit to earning the highest grades in the most rigorous, challenging courses offered, including Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Honors courses if available. (See sidebar) Students should seek help when extra academic support services are needed to meet their highest potential.
Imagine a Future. Visualizing and seeing yourself in college and who you want to become, is a great way to stay motivated. We all have some obstacles, but that should not take away from your dream of attending college and achieving your goals. A great exercise you can do is to prepare is create a vision board. Start with a personal statement then develop a collage of your dream school, major, career and how you see yourself on a poster board or in a journal. Then look at the image daily, weekly, and see yourself as a college student, as a graduate, and in your field of choice. This will serve as a reminder of what you are aiming for and will achieve!
Be involved in the community. Improving the lives of others through activities, projects and volunteer work is not only richly rewarding. It shows character, leadership and a commitment to the well-being of others—traits valued by colleges and universities as well as the scholarship organizations. More importantly, demonstrating these attributes is essential to help create and maintain healthy communities.
Be involved at school. Extracurricular activities develop teamwork and leadership skills and enhance a college application—providing the involvement shows consistent, dedicated participation. Whenever possible, students should seek out a leadership role in their school or community organization.
Develop important relationships. Teachers, counselors, principals and other educators are dedicated to their students’ success and usually eager to offer support any way they can. Students should be proactive in fostering relationships with these educational professionals, who can help them develop leadership skills, plan for college, explore scholarship options and potentially recommend them for scholarships. Relationships with community leaders can expand students’ personal and professional perspectives and put them in touch with a possible GMS Recommender.
Some important tips on how students can do this:
- Ask educators and other adults to serve as mentors.
- Keep supporters updated about post-high school plans and goals.
- Write thank-you notes.
- Communicate often.
Make the school guidance office a second home. The guidance office is a college-bound student’s lifeline. Grab hold! Browse literature about colleges and scholarships. Stay informed about crucial standardized test dates. Visit often and take advantage of any resources available.
Begin to research scholarships. Visit free, reputable scholarship websites such as UNCF.org, GMSP.org, FastWeb.com and Scholarships.com.
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