iPrep for University


Alee Domingue, News/Special Interest Editor

The journey from high school to college is one millions of students go through yearly. It can bring hardship, stress, and confusion. It also can fill your mailbox – both real-life and online – with schools sharing their information with you, in hopes of an application. The journey that one must go through is more than just changing schools, but changing your common surroundings, as well as being held accountable for your own choices. But – let’s just start at the beginning of high school.

For those starting high school this year, or will be starting high school in the near future, your grades actually start to matter more they ever have before. In elementary and middle school, your grades did count; however, when you hit 9th grade, you have what is known as a transcript, which will follow you through high school and college. Normally, you are told grades are key in getting into colleges, but, lately, colleges are looking for well-rounded students. Students who are able to maintain above average grades, but also are able to have outside curricular activities. Whether or not that’s being part of an organization, a sport, or even just volunteering, colleges love to see a student that can balance life.

Before starting iUniversity Prep, I was at an IB (International Baccalaureate) school for my 9th-11th grade years, and the one thing they would constantly tell us, is to go out and do something. They didn’t care what we did, but they wanted us to branch away from our school, in hopes of us being more connected with our community. Having no idea what they meant at the time, I struggled with that. However, I soon found Chestnut Square, where I spent most of my time volunteering. It allowed me to meet incredible people (who, then, in turn, introduced me to other incredible people), and it allowed me to have possible recommendation letters for when I do apply for colleges. Living in a small town, I was able to find opportunities through Chestnut Square – but, for those who live in a larger town, talking with teachers and/or your school is the best place to start. Even if that means starting to volunteer at your own school – it doesn’t matter. That was how I was able to rack up 500 service hours in the 3 years I attended my IB school.

When you reach 10th grade, testing begins. Whether or not that is taking the practice ACT, or the SAT, they’re both right around the corner when you reach your sophomore year. The best thing to do is to start early in preparing for these tests. Many colleges will ask for at least one of the test scores as part of the application process, so it would be best to take both. However, not all colleges require ACT or SAT test scores. Being interested in music, I was able to find colleges that don’t require ACT or SAT, but more focus on music capability and theory scores.

Which brings me to my last point – research colleges as much as you can. Talk with your teachers, family and friends about where they went to college, and what they experienced and why their choice was a good fit for them. The best thing during your 9th grade and 10th grade year is to get as familiar as possible with the colleges out there that you are interested in. One of the best ways to do this is to create guidelines of your needs. So, for instance, small college vs. large, ACT vs. SAT, location, instate vs. outstate tuition, scholarships, and much more criteria.

Prepping for university is a long process, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Starting in 9th grade allows you to take your time finding what you’re passionate about, and deciding on where you want to be in the next 5 years. For some that means community, rather than university. For others, that means straight into school. Even some choose to travel around the world for a while, and then attend college later. It all depends on what you want to do. The best way to prep is to know that, in the end, you have to be happy with the choice you make, and that it is always okay to not know where you want to go right away. That’s why they give you four whole years to figure it out in high school.