College Prep Tips for Teens

Preparing for college is an exciting and challenging experience for teens. It requires hard work, dedication, and the ability to balance academic and extracurricular activities. Below, we explore four key areas for a successful college preparation journey: academics, extracurricular involvement, volunteer work, and scholarship opportunities.

Academic Excellence

Strong academic performance is crucial for college admissions as it is often the first thing colleges examine. To demonstrate intellectual aptitude and dedication to learning, teens should maintain high grades throughout high school. Enrolling in rigorous courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, may strengthen their academic profile. However, it is important not to become overwhelmed by a heavy course load. Instead, students should strike a balance between challenging themselves and ensuring that they can maintain their grades and mental health.

Lastly, preparing for and performing well on standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT, is also critical. Students should familiarize themselves with each test format, identify which exam is best suited for them, and seek out test preparation resources that cater to their learning style. Taking multiple practice exams and using targeted study methods can lead to significant score improvements.

Extracurricular Activities


Aside from academics, colleges consider applicants’ work outside the classroom, including their involvement in extracurricular activities. Teens should participate in clubs or organizations that resonate with their interests, such as sports teams, school newspapers, debate clubs, or community service groups. This not only showcases a student’s commitment to personal growth but also signals that they will contribute positively to the campus community.

Rather than joining a multitude of clubs, students should focus on a few activities that genuinely interest them and demonstrate their potential for leadership. Taking on significant roles within these organizations, such as being the captain of the soccer team or the editor of the school yearbook, shows colleges that the student is capable of being responsible and managing their time effectively.

It is also crucial for students to advocate for themselves and seek out mentors amongst faculty members at their schools. Building relationships with teachers, coaches, and advisors can lead to powerful recommendation letters that give colleges a deeper understanding of the applicant’s strengths and potential contributions to the campus community.

Community Involvement and Volunteer Work

Volunteer work and community service are important aspects of a well-rounded college application. Students who engage in meaningful volunteer experiences demonstrate empathy, social awareness, and selflessness. Colleges appreciate applicants who are aware of the world beyond academics and seek opportunities to make a difference in their community.

Students should seek out volunteer opportunities that align with their interests, allowing them to connect their passions with helping others. For example, someone interested in environmental conservation could volunteer with a local park or nature center to maintain trails or educate visitors. Additionally, some schools have community service clubs that create opportunities for students to volunteer together as a group, fostering camaraderie and teamwork.

Long-term commitments to community service organizations may be more meaningful than short-term projects, as they showcase a student’s dedication and reliability. Therefore, students should strive to maintain their volunteer work year after year, showcasing their lasting impact on the community.

Seeking Scholarships


College can be an expensive endeavor, and scholarships can significantly ease the financial burden. Seeking and applying for scholarships should be a priority as teens approach their college careers. Many organizations, such as the national scholarship society, offer various scholarships based on academic achievement, leadership, community involvement, and even unique hobbies or interests.

To maximize their chances of securing scholarships, students should begin their search early and explore a variety of avenues – from local organizations to nationwide competitions. Additionally, students should carefully research each scholarship’s eligibility criteria and requirements, tailoring their application materials to the specific scholarship and focusing on what makes them a unique and deserving candidate.

To further enhance their academic profile, students may also participate in academic competitions or seek additional learning opportunities outside the classroom. For example, joining a school’s math or science club can demonstrate their passion for the subject. Additionally, embracing a rigorous academic curriculum at institutions with Catholic academics in Paramus, NJ provides a well-rounded education that colleges value.

Altogether, achieving success in college preparation requires a balance between maintaining academic excellence, engaging in extracurricular activities, committing to volunteer work, and actively seeking scholarship opportunities. By focusing on these four areas, teens can pave the way toward a bright and fulfilling college experience.