Preparing For College

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Once you’ve taken a good measure of yourself, see what you need to prepare for college.

Assessing Your Interests
Assessing your personality, interests, and skills now will help later when it’s time to choose a career.

Set up an appointment with your guidance counselor. They can help you assess your skills and talents and suggest opportunities based on your interests. They’ll talk to you about setting goals and reaching them. In time, you’ll have a better idea of who you are and what you want after high school.

Personality
Your personality traits can determine which careers are best suited to you. For example:

  • Are you shy or outgoing?
  • Patient or impulsive?
  • Good with children or adults?
  • Do you like animals or machines?

Answers to questions like these can help pinpoint careers you might excel in.

Personality Inventories
For a closer look at yourself, take a personality inventory — a questionnaire that asks how you would think, act, and feel in specific situations.

  • The most popular personality inventory is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI). Unofficial versions of this personality inventory are available online and can be completed in 30 minutes. Your answers to the multiple-choice questions will be evaluated and you’ll receive an explanation of your personality type.
  • The official version of the MBTI is available in print. This official test is administered by qualified trainers, and trained professionals evaluate the answers. Check with a guidance counselor to see if this test is available.

Based on what you find in your personality inventory, you might realize that the job of your dreams may not be perfect after all. On the other hand, what you learn about your personality, coupled with your skills and interest, could point you to your perfect role in life.

Interests
What makes you happy? If you had a spare moment, what would you do?

  • Do you like to paint or draw?
  • Take dance classes?
  • Like the mental challenge of chess?
  • Do you love to read?
  • What are your hobbies?

Your answers to questions like these can say a lot about you. Your interests and skills offer additional insight into your personality and what you really love to do. And knowing that is important when you start thinking about your future.

Another way to understand your interests and how they relate to your career is to take the Strong Interest Inventory®. If this is not already part of your high school’s career or college prep curriculum, check with your guidance counselor.

Skills
What are you good at?

  • Do you excel in sports?
  • Do people call you when they’re having computer problems?
  • When it comes to literature, do you see beyond the writing and into the meaning intended by the author?
  • Can you take a motor apart, put it back together, and have no extra parts left over?

Beyond just answering these and similar questions by yourself, you can learn more about your talent for career-related (or “vocational”) skills by taking an aptitude test.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
One particularly thorough test is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). It is designed to measure your aptitudes while you’re in high school. As a bonus when you take the test, you’ll get Exploring Careers: The ASVAB Workbook. It will help you interpret your ASVAB test results.

The ASVAB includes eight short tests that cover:

  • General Science
  • Arithmetic Reasoning
  • Word Knowledge
  • Paragraph Comprehension
  • Mathematics Knowledge
  • Electronics Information
  • Auto and Shop Information
  • Mechanical Comprehension

Note: Taking the ASVAB does not mean you’re enlisting in the Armed Services.

While the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines use the test to place recruits in a military career field, the Department of Defense, in cooperation with the Department of Education, developed a version for high school students.

Many high schools administer this test as part of their college preparation routine. If the test is not available at your school, talk to your guidance counselor to arrange a test date.

TAKING STANDARDIZED TESTS:
Where you apply and where you are in your academic career determine which exams and tests you need. Planning for them need not be stressful. A little preparation goes a long way.

High School Equivalent Test
Certificate of diploma exam (GED): Widely recognized as the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Standardized Tests for College

  • SAT: Tests skill levels in math, vocabulary, and reading comprehension of people planning to attend college.
  • ACT:Tests skill levels in English, math, reading, and science of those planning to attend college. An optional Writing test is also available.
  • TOEFL: Measures the ability of nonnative speakers of English to use and understand North American English as spoken in colleges and universities.

Applying to Schools:
Many four-year colleges and universities receive more applications than they have spots available. This means competition can be tough, especially for the most desirable schools.

Assemble an impressive college application packet.

  • Understand the admissions process
  • What’s important to schools
  • Submitting your applications
  • Making your selection

Now that you have an idea of what you want for yourself and what you want in a school, the next step is getting into the college of your choice. It’s not just private, name-brand, ivy-clad universities that are tough to get into. Some local state colleges have multiple applicants competing for one spot. Your application packet should convince the admissions committee that they should accept you over someone else.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
Your application packet is your key to getting into your choice school. Besides the application, there are important components that shouldn’t be overlooked such as:

  • Requesting letters of recommendation
  • Writing essays
  • Preparing for the admissions interview

Scholarship Search
This list was compiled to help you find other scholarships to fund your education. You should apply to as many scholarships as possible. The Inspire & Achieve Foundation does not have a formal partnership with any of the institutions/websites listed below.  This is simply a partial resource list to help you get started on searching for scholarships and other resources.

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