High school is a crucial time in a teen’s life that often determines their success once they leave their school campus.
I had the chance to talk with Tameka Williamson, author and certified business and career coach (aka the College Prep Boss), about things a person in high school should be doing to prepare themselves for college.
“The process (college admissions process) has changed dramatically from when I went through it. The things that students need to know and do is so much more critical now than it was back then. They have to really start this process a lot earlier.”
Tameka told me that timing was key when it comes to a high schooler’s decision of going to college. If a student waits until senior year, he or she will be at a disadvantage to the students who started going through their options in freshman year.
The earlier that a student starts preparing for college, the more resources there will be available to them.
Students could learn about the different scholarships and grants they could apply for, they could make connections with school officials who could give them advice on how to smoothly navigate the admissions process, and they could determine the admission requirements for their college(s) of choice.
Tameka stated that she often told students the importance of thinking ahead while in high school.
“One of the big things I would tell students is start thinking about your pathway to college; how you’re going to pay for it, what you’re going to do, the cost of college, and understand the process and system. At a minimum, start thinking of that in the ninth grade.”
As I spoke with Tameka, I mentioned to her that as I reminisced on my high school years, which has been over ten years ago now, I noticed how much more rigorous the college prep process is and how important it is for the students to be strategic in their academic choices.
“Students have to be very strategic, and there are things they have to be able to understand and prepare for from a financial aid standpoint. Decisions made in their sophomore and junior year will impact what they’re able to get in financial aid,” said Tameka. Tameka also explained that there is one common mistake that she sees high schoolers make, which is making emotional decisions on where to attend college.
She stated that many high schoolers she’s helped often chose schools because it was a school advertised to them on tv, or a university that their friend is going to. Also, more times than not, the high schoolers hadn’t done any prior research on the university.
“This is where my friend is going, this is the school I’ve seen on tv, that’s always been my dream school; all those type of emotional decisions; and what happens is the emotions lead them into making a decision that causes them a lifetime of debt; and sometimes a lifetime of debt without a degree.”
In her three “College for Free” signature programs, Tameka gives students the tools they need to be successful and resources on how to attend college without breaking the bank.
After speaking with Tameka, it made me realize how I, too, could have done things differently while in high school. For anyone who plans on attending college in the future, Tameka is, without a doubt, your go-to person.
I recommend visiting her website to learn more about your options for college, and to strive to do your best academic work while you’re in high school to set yourself up for success post graduation.