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10 Things You Need to Know About Getting Into – and Succeeding At – College

Birmingham's Student Connection brings readers 10 tips for making the college application process work for them leading up to a free seminar and panel discussion Sunday.

Getting into college and succeeding is the goal; preparing early and becoming a capable learner is the method.

How do I define “capable learner”? It’s a student who knows how to study and learn — and can show it. 

Here are ten points everyone interested in college should remember:

  1. Start planning early — time is a limited resource. You can not go backwards and add in classes or activities after the fact.
  2. Choose high school classes wisely, both in terms of subject areas and difficulty.
  3. Every year counts — yes, including freshman. But, don’t despair if you did not get off to the best start. Colleges look for trends.
  4. Success on the standardized college entrance exams like ACT and SAT showcase your strengths. The tests take practice and you need to understand what they are looking for.
  5. Be choosy with extra-curricular activities, more is not always better.
  6. Aim for the best college or university possible. Stretch, do not settle just for the “Safe School,” not for prestige, but for success at school and beyond.
  7. Your college resume is a marketing tool to show how a student “fits” a particular program and school.
  8. Picking a school is a family decision. The "right" school includes many more factors than location and price.
  9. No one says you have to head off directly after graduation to a four-year program. There are lots of ways to approach the goal, from picking up credits at a community college to taking a Gap Year break.
  10. Do your home work and learn all you can about the process. Learn about the availability of scholarships to special programs within larger universities or work /study options. Utilize your high school counselors, professionals and alumni, and your own gut when you visit the campus. 

There are many more important things to know. Get the details at a free seminar Sunday at in Birmingham.

"College: Everything You Need to Know (including Stuff You Did Not Know You Need to Know) to Find the Right One, Get In and Succeed" will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at 770 Forest Ave. To reserve your space, call 248-594-3410.

This report was submitted by Carissa Handrinos, a writing and ACT prep teacher at , a Birmingham-based center which offers a variety of academic support programs, test prep programs, college counseling and psychological services for students.

mike schulte April 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Great advice Carissa! I would add that students should take the ACT multiple times, since colleges will take the best score. In additon, taking the ACT at least once during 10th grade is advisable. Becoming comfortable with the exam can eliminate the anxiety that accompanies this critical exam. Good Luck! Mike Schulte ACT Director Brownstown Sylvan

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