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Upasana Gupta -

Preparing High School Students' For College

Learn From Students' High School Lessons

Students intending to enroll in college directly following their high school graduation often think getting into a college or university involves scoring high on the SAT or ACT, making campus visits, nailing application essays and getting stellar recommendations. No doubt, these are important areas into preparing for college admissions, but there is so much more outside the required criteria which students' need to pay attention to for ensuring they are on the right track to college success.

(Suggested Read: A Student's Journey into Selecting the Right College; Does College Major Matter?)

Let's spend some time looking at two crucial areas high school students' need to focus when planning for college, which essentially is not part of their regular junior and senior year to-do list.

Use Job Shadow Experience for Selecting a Major: Many high school students' admire a certain field of study or are told by a family member that pursuing a particular major will offer ample career options. But high school students' should not make any assumptions about how a particular career field is without having the evidence to back it up.

Ashwin Tuneja, a junior at Rutgers University, says he regrets not having delved deeper into the finance field before deciding to pursue it. High school students' should make sure to job shadow someone in their desired field.

Job shadowing is a career exploration activity that offers an opportunity to students' to visit a company and an employee who is working in the occupation one is hoping to enter. A student spends time one-on-one with an employee at the workplace. He or she observes daily activities, asking questions about the job and workplace. 

Many high schools and colleges help their students' get placed in a job shadow to narrow their career choices. But students can also be proactive and set up their own job-shadowing experiences via personal contacts and references.

The experience provides students' with a look at the real world and the possible range of career opportunities available to them. Students' can also relate the job shadow experience directly to their career interests, related skills, and education options.

Job Shadowing is one of the most important programs students' can take advantage of at high school. The benefits include an opportunity to:

-Explore desired careers;
-Get hands-on training and experience in a certain career;
-Accompany professionals at their workplace;
-Obtain knowledge that comes only from being in the job setting;
-Determine if your career path is the right one;
-Link textbook knowledge and skills acquired in class and apply it directly to the real world.

Gain International Experience: Another issue high school students' face is not being better prepared for the diversity they typically encounter in the college population.

"You will be forced to work with many different types of people and personalities with different cultural backgrounds in college," says Sucheta Bose, a freshman in New York University Stern School of Business. "Try to expose yourself to new cultures and people in high school so you can be better prepared to handle diversity in college."

Taking a trip abroad, learning a foreign language, engaging in international study abroad programs, volunteer and other opportunities overseas, while still in high school is a great way to overcome this and gain a more worldly perspective.

Practical independence, self-confidence, greater self-awareness, and improved skills for building better relationships with others are just a few benefits young people gain from international educational experiences.

Another very real practical benefit of international study is the fact that colleges and universities place a high value on applicants who have had international education experiences, which opens admission options to the most respected institutions. Once students do go to college, they are more committed than most of their peers, and the demand among many professions for foreign language skills and experience in cross-culture awareness opens doors for more career options.

Remember, college will be very different than high school. It may be more painful in certain areas, but if you are prepared to accept and embrace the change college life offers, the journey will definitely be worthwhile.