Life is full of milestones: our first steps, first words, first day of school and first kiss. College is one of the most important landmarks, as it represents entry into adulthood and the real world. It opens doors to infinite paths for a successful future. For many, choosing a college is one of the first decisions they make on their own. Being admitted to your preferred school takes effort and planning, and the earlier you start these preparations the better. Here are 5 key steps to be at the top of your game when higher education calls:

  1. Get good grades: It goes without saying that a high GPA is crucial for college admissions. Even if your grades are inadequate in the beginning of high school, there is always a way to get back on track. Visit your teachers during office hours for assistance with areas you may be struggling, and ask for extra credit assignments to strengthen your grades. Teachers appreciate seeing students make a positive effort, so they might be more inclined to help your cause. For those who already excel academically, consider taking some AP courses (advanced placement). Not only can they boost your GPA, they prepare you for university level instruction and could count toward college credit.
  2. Participate in extracurricular activities: This is another area that is key to college admissions. Your involvement in sports, clubs and volunteer opportunities looks good on your application. It proves that you are motivated and well rounded and shows that you can juggle multiple activities in addition to your schoolwork.
  3. Be organized: College is fun and provides freedom, but it is also full of distractions. Your parents will not be around to make sure you finish your homework, so you are left to your own devices when it comes to time management. Practice discipline and self-control now by setting study schedules and sticking to them.
  4. Take an SAT prep course: If you are looking for ways to improve your chances of college admission, you can take classes to help improve your scores on the required standardized tests. This is beneficial for those who have good grades but struggle with testing. These courses include instruction to equip you with the skills to improve your scores and provide proctored practice tests to prepare you for the real deal.
  5. Talk to your guidance counselor: When you reach your junior and senior years of high school, you will find yourself making more and more trips to your guidance counselor’s office. Take advantage of these meetings, as it is their job to help you navigate the college admissions process. If you have an idea of your chosen course of study, your counselor can suggest schools that provide the best programs for them. He or she will also make sure your applications are thorough and completed on time. Also, do not wait until the last minute to submit your applications. If you do it soon enough, you could be eligible for early admission. Your guidance counselor might also be able to suggest an appropriate online MBA program if you have decided against a traditional 4-year institution.