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Considering College? What to Do When You’re Too Young to Apply

Many students dream of attending college long before high school graduation. If your goal is to get a degree – whether from a major university or from a liberal arts college or something in between – but you’re too young to apply, there’s still plenty you can do now to get the ball rolling.

Here are some early-planning tips to increase your chances of getting into the school of your choice. (Plus, they’ll make the admissions process easier when the time comes!)

Choose your courses wisely.

Sign up for classes that are challenging enough to look impressive on a transcript, but not so challenging that you’ll be in over your head. Are you proficient at writing? Take an AP Literature class. Struggling in math? Choose a course that will provide the level of instruction you need to really improve.

Be smart about choosing your electives, too – especially if you already have a general idea about what career path(s) you’d like to explore. Interested in becoming a graphic designer? Sign up for a marketing or art history course.

Apply for a summer job.

In an article for Quartz, education reporter Jenny Anderson makes a case for the summer job. Aside from providing extra spending money, she says, a summer job gives you exposure to people outside of your social circle and offers a chance to see life from a different lens. “Colleges want kids who know who they are and what they want,” Anderson writes. “Jobs can help with that.”

Participate in extracurriculars.

It’s true that participating in activities like sports, clubs, and other student organizations looks good on college applications. But more importantly, they allow you to discover your talents, cultivate your passions, and experiment with civic and leadership positions that will prepare you for life after high school.

Keep an eye on your favorite schools.

Don’t wait until junior or senior year to find schools that interest you. Make a list of colleges you might want to apply to, and keep an eye on them over the next couple of years. Follow them on social media. Sign up for their newsletters. See what kind of events are happening on campus. See if you can picture yourself there.

You don’t have to make any big decisions yet, but this can help you narrow your search early, which will save time and prevent hassle later.

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