“But to me the bottom line is the more education you can give yourself, and the more preparation you can do, the less chance of failing.” Stuart Pearce

The college-bound process is a continuum journey based off of proper planning and adequate preparation. One’s level of success is dictated by how well they prepare. Alexander Graham Bell says it best with one of his famous quote’s “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” As you can imagine, there are many stages in the journey to college and it’s impossible to cover every area in this article. But I want you to know it’s not an impossible journey, it just requires knowledge, a plan of action and I can’t stress it enough – preparation.

You may have started the summer off without investing in the college prep journey, know that there is still time for you to end the summer on a more positive and productive note. Remember, it’s not about how you start a thing, but it’s about how you finish – the key is starting and the goal is to finish strong. To help parents and students with knowing how to properly prepare themselves for this process, below are 5 practical ways to close out the summer strong and set the stage for a productive school year.

1. Select at least 2 books on targeted colleges suggested reading list to read and write a report on it – this helps students build their vocabulary, reading comprehension, and hone their writing skills; as well as get them in the habit of reading, which is a way of life for a college student. With only 29% of the nation’s eighth-graders reading at level, we must encourage students to read more and become more proficient.

2. Identify at least 6 scholarships (locally, regionally, gender specific, race specific and career specific) to apply for. Make note of their deadline, application requirements and past winners to determine how to set you apart when applying. You will be surprised the number of students who don’t apply for scholarships because they are overwhelmed by the requirements, wait too late to apply or didn’t know the opportunity existed. Anything worth having is worth working for. Therefore, don’t let the lack of preparation and knowledge keep you from getting free money for school. The earlier you identify opportunities, the more prepared you become. Early identification also allows students the chance to dedicate the proper time to yield successful results without rushing and making mistakes. Many students get disqualified because of the mistakes they make and their inability to follow instructions. Don’t be this student.

3. Select at least 6 vocabulary words from the SAT/ACT list to study each week (know the definition, root of the word and use of the word). Understanding vocabulary words is only one of the techniques needed for mastering standardized tests and an area student’s tend to fail. When you get to the root of how words are formed, you can properly eliminate definitions even if you don’t know the meaning of a word.

4. Identify needs in your community, church, school and/or neighborhood that can be translated into a community service project. Everyone is getting hip to the need for community service. So, students must get creative in their approach to community service and determine ways they can add significant and measurable value to others that will cause them to stand out. It’s called finding your “unique selling proposition.” This is not a one-time project or a check off the list. It must be a sustainable initiative that shows one’s dedication to serving others without selfish gain.

5. Research potential career fields of interest and identify educational requirements, job forecast, required skills, etc. Then find people in the field of study to interview. The more educated youth become on potential fields of study, the more likely they are to select a career field they are passionate about and graduate with a degree in without changing majors.

6. Visit a local college or university and meet with admissions officers to understand admission requirements and identify things you should be doing to become more competitive. Talk to as many people possible on the campus and build your network. Also, seek information about the process for taking classes while finishing your high school matriculation

Following these steps will help students position themselves to overcome the competitive landscape that currently exist in becoming college bound. The goal is not only to get to college, but to get there with little to no student loan and this requires a game-plan and preparation. With rising college tuition and the increased number of graduates with student loan debt, it is critical for students to have a competitive portfolio that showcases strong academics, test scores, extra-curricular activities with leadership roles and unique community service projects. These 5 Quick Steps will Prepare Youth for their college-bound journey before the summer close out. The time to be ready is not the time to get ready. So, make your move today and take action.

Author's Bio: 

Tameka Williamson, is not only a Best Selling Author, but she is the leading authority on teaching people how to use their WILL to Win in every aspect of life. As a Six Sigma Black Belt in Lean and Process Improvement, she analyzes and creates systems for change. Six Sigma and Lean is about continuous improvement, making things efficient and more cost effective. Tameka is focused on decreasing the clutter and bringing clarity to the chaos, so students, leaders and parents reach their goals faster.
Being a certified speaker and coach for the John Maxwell Team, she has developed a program using Black Belt Strategies around the 6 WILLs that bring positive, sustainable changes in people’s lives, businesses, and education. Winning Intentionally at Leading Life (WILL) is modeled around establishing a vision, creating a plan of action, and then executing it. Having successfully overcome several life changing events and a successful corporate career of driving change for over 15 years in Fortune 100 Companies, Tameka is maximizing her experiences to equip
others with the tools to either avoid the same mistakes or
bounce back quicker and stronger on their journey to
fulfill their purpose.

Committed to developing leaders of Today, Tomorrow
and the Future, Ms. Williamson is passionate and
energetic about helping others be successful.
Everybody has the WILL to Win! They just need
someone to show them the way.

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