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Tips and techniques for preparing for college

Tips and techniques for preparing for college

With the looming presence of college and universities, students feel pressured to do it all. From extracurriculars to jobs and rigorous courses, students on their final run in high school feel the need for success, but what, many people ask, is the best course of action for success?

Certainly there isn’t a singular aspect of a student that colleges specifically search for, but there are many people and colleges that value a variety of traits. It depends on what the student decides to excel in.

Advice from Jim Zimmer, the MHS transitional education coordinator, notes the impact of “practical education” for students. Practical education involves real experiences, whether it’s interning or a part-time job. He reasons, “By getting a behind-the-scenes look at what you think you might know, students can understand what they’re getting themselves into.”

From Middletown High School, in the past seven years there have been 451 students engaged in any kind of work-study program who have completed over 158,565 hours of work. These students have accumulated over 1 million dollars in earnings. By working, students  have a real impact in the community, especially with the local economy.

As a student, Zimmer participated in a type of work study where he had a job flipping burgers during high school, and, as a college student, he worked as a bank teller. When mentioning work after formal education, he said, “You need to realize that education never stops, you just keep learning about your field  and you learn about yourself.”

Student work shows determination, time management, and provides experience that colleges will value. However, having a job or internship isn’t the only way to be noticed.

Meredith Bagnell, the MHS counselor for students with last names ranging from A-F, stressed the importance of taking rigorous courses and getting good grades throughout all four years of high school.

“School is the most important,” Bagnell reasons, in college, students spend long shifts of time studying for courses, so high school students should start learning study techniques early.

Advanced placement courses help students prepare for college in terms of rigor and time management. They also showcase the academic potential for students.

“Once you get passed the middle of eleventh grade, you start to run out of classes you can take. It’s important that you do have some AP courses as electives versus ‘fluff’ courses,” Bagnell advised. Colleges look for rigor in schedules. A “B” in an AP course or honors will have more weight than an “A” in an elective “fluff” course.

“A lot students overload on AP courses since they feel like they have to and they compare themselves to their friends,” Bagnell said, and “they think that they have to take AP courses in all subject areas, when, if you’re not good at a certain subject, it might not be a good idea to take an AP course in a subject that you struggle in.” Taking a rigorous course in an area where a student excels in should showcase their strengths on their transcript.

Thomas Morris, an MHS senior, is the marching band drum major, National Honor Society President and tops his life off with being an honors student.

Recently completing his college applications, he stresses the importance of time management, especially if a student is loaded with multiple extracurriculars and homework.

Morris recalled talking to his friends in college who spoke about, “…How some people who didn’t participate in extracurricular activities didn’t feel as well prepared for their post-high school careers.”

Morris uses his agenda for more than just writing down homework, he schedules his days and activities in order to make time for his extensive schoolwork. “The nice thing this year is Knight’s Quest. I’ve at least been able to get a good chunk of homework done then,” Morris said.

Due to Morris’ hard work managing his extensive schedule and highlighting his activities and academics, he was accepted into every college he applied to. Currently, Morris said that he is leaning towards Drexel University and Penn State University out of the six he got accepted into. He attributes his success to challenging himself to get good grades and be involved.

Clearly, there is no single way to make colleges notice students, but a multitude of variations a student can use to highlight his or her own strengths. Whether a student is involved in service work, has an internship, takes honors and advanced courses, or has multiple extracurriculars, the key to being the best student one can be is motivation to succeed.

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About the Contributor
Erin Cowan, News editor
Erin Cowan is a junior at Middletown High School and is currently in her second semester of journalism. She lives to write and aspires to improve in filmmaking and broadcast pieces. She plans to embark on the journalism path throughout high school and possibly in college. If she isn’t performing on stage, then she can be found under the sea scuba diving among reef sharks. Erin is passionate about environmental sciences and generally excited about honey bees. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the Earth’s food and attribute to $125 billion of agriculture in the world.

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Tips and techniques for preparing for college