You're not supposed to read this post, as you rather talk about the stirring duet performance of Pink and Kelly Clarkson during the recent American Music Awards (AMA) with your friends. You've seen "Coco", the heart-tugging feature from Pixar, as the Land of the Dead seemed to resemble Tomorrowland. (You don't think that it's the best Pixar film, as the thought of Sadness would amuse you.) And you're bummed on the latest news on the DC Extended Universe. (Zachary Levi as Shazam? You don't have a clue. Producers would make another huge risk, without a doubt.) Your mother is reminding you of college, one more time.
The results of the American College Testing (ACT), gathered over the last few years, revealed a troubling trend. A high percentage of high school students aren't ready for college. (If you're a freshman student, if not a clueless teen, then ACT is a standardized examination for high school achievement and college admission in America.) ACT assesses the readiness of high school student in English, math, science, and reading. These are four core subjects, where you'll learn a great deal about one of those fields. Reading might be an exception. (Paper writing requires lots of reading time.) You shouldn't be alarmed about it. On the other hand, it should be a huge mistake if you don't care at all. This is about you, even if (high school) graduation seems like light years away.
It takes four years to complete your secondary education.
Four Stages of Prep
Freshmen. You should be aware of the ACT, prompting you to do your best. Homework must be done diligently. You listen intently during lecture hours, showing your inquisitive side. And you'll try to spend more time on reading the classics. Your friends may not approve of it, as you feel the heat (from peer pressure). You can get along with them without forgetting your goals. (Spend time with them every other weekend.) If you're aspiring for a place in the English Department, then it's time to have your own journal. Write anything, not minding misspelling and misuse of punctuation marks. It's the only way to install a passion for writing.
Sophomores. You're never too young to attend a college fair. You're not almost there, so there won't be any pressure on your part. Don't worry about asking the wrong questions. (You can attend again.) This can be the right time to look for a scholarship and company sponsorship. It will give you ideas on how to apply for it (during your senior year). You must participate in extracurricular activities, where you'll learn the virtues of leadership. Not everyone may be born a leader, but no one likes a passive student.
Juniors. You're old enough to drive a car. Your friends will insist on smoking, but let's look at the good side. You can look for a temporary job during the summer (after your sophomore year), Don't be picky about it, as any (work) experience will be good enough. It can save you money, as you won't opt for a gap year. (Travel goals can be shelved for the meantime. Good things happen to those who can wait for a while.) It will be wise to familiarize with the ACT, even prepare for it. (There are practice books, even mock examinations. There's no excuse for this one.) You might be loaded during your third year, which should keep you from socializing with your friends. Don't fret about it. (You're all in the same boat, more or less.)
Seniors. It's an exciting time, as there are decisions to make during your final year (in high school). You must have a short list of colleges to apply for, and you should do it soon. You must have applied for a scholarship, if not considered by a company (to fund your studies). And you should be ready for the ACT. It's your senior year, which means your (high school) diploma is within reach. This is not the good time for slacking, not even having doubts about your ability to go through it. If you can't count on your friends (for support), then your family will be there. This leads to another important matter.
3 High School Mentors to Count On
Your teacher can guide you on this journey, but it may be wise to pick your instructor on your favorite subject. The reasons are a bit too obvious for everyone. (Your teacher will notice your enthusiasm right away, even recommend reading materials that will satisfy your curiosity.) You must not be worried about being judged on what you don't know. (You're still a work in progress.) If this won't be assuring enough, then you can seek the Guidance Counselor.
An extracurricular leader can be a teacher, who is coordinating your group. It can be an older student, whom you value his/her opinion. It may be your fellow senior student, who has more experience than everyone. (This teenager worked during the summers, even attended many college fairs.) Don't hesitate to approach this person, and bare your thoughts (or feelings) on a college application. Nothing is trivial. You may not seek the solution that you're hoping for, but it can make you feel good about telling it to someone.
A community member is an individual who is not associated with your school. This member has been part of your group, whom you have volunteered during the last summer. This figure has been around for some time, which makes his/her experience valuable enough. However, a community member might not understand your predicament completely. You can only take a chance, as your comfort with the thought that you have more than one mentor to guide you.