High School Grads: Get a Jumpstart on College

Congratulations to our readers wrapping up their time in high school and anxiously looking forward to whatever the future holds!

Many grads will be off to college in the fall, so the summer is a great time to get a jumpstart on your college career. Connecting with your future roommate and stocking up on residence hall essentials are typical. Take it a few steps further and you’ll hit the ground running once you arrive on campus.

What have others achieved?

Check out university news that shares student accomplishments and learn about different programs, scholarships, activities, research opportunities and volunteer opportunities available to students on your campus. You can’t take advantage of resources you do not know about!

See what catches your eye and make a point to research it a bit to find out how you can get involved or how you can prepare during your first semesters or years on campus.

Student Organizations and Extracurriculars

Similarly, check out which student organizations exist on campus. There will definitely be opportunities to explore these once you are on campus, and it’s good to have an open mind and check out organizations that are new to you.

However, if you know which student organizations exist, you can be proactive about getting more information about them once on campus. Better yet, reach out to organization officers over the summer and ask questions about the club to learn more or find out how to get involved.

Research Majors and Academic Programs

As a first-year college student, it isn’t expected you know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life. Your first few semesters in college can be used to explore. However, it can’t hurt to research your options a little bit.

This research will be especially valuable if you are considering an academic program that requires another application once you are on campus. For example, some universities require a separate application process for entrance to business, engineering, journalism and other programs. Students who are familiar with the admission criteria and what they need to do in order to be eligible to apply will be able to plan for the application process.

Research faculty members in your majors of interest, or if you have no idea what you want to major in or what career path you are interested in pursuing, you can research what kind of resources your university offers for students who are deciding on a major/career.

Set Goals

Ask yourself: What do I want out of college? Sure, most students want to earn decent grades and get a “good” job after they finish. Be more specific than that.

What are your priorities? They could include meeting new people who are different than you, studying abroad, applying your studies to the real world via a service learning course, starting your own business venture, becoming fluent in a language, trying out for a university sports team or performing arts group, honing your communication skills… there are so many opportunities in college. Determine which are most important to you and make deliberate choices during your four or five years to work toward those goals. Of course, revisit this list and tweak or overhaul as necessary.

Any tips from current college students or recent college grads for incoming college freshmen?


Kelly is a career advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she assists undergraduate business students with all aspects of their career development. Connect with Kelly on Twitter, her blog, LinkedIn or BrazenCareerist.

Related posts:

  1. Twitter Tips for High School Students
  2. College grads: Be open to internships, alternative options
  3. Career Lessons from College Homecoming

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