Put Your College Cap On


| Alisa Burt

Two students pose by the counselors’ offices with some of the college preparation materials available.

- Yasmin Ruiz, Writer

There are many ways that students can get into college no matter their income, grades, or other circumstances. Although it can be hard to understand the possibilities of college when you are in less fortunate circumstances there is always a way. To begin, keep up with your grades at the start of high school. Grades are very important for getting into college, but contrary to popular belief, grades are not as important as you would think to get into college. They help a lot and are always good to have, but if you are one of the many who do not naturally excel in academics there are a few tips that could help with getting into college which include being involved in extracurricular activities, volunteer work,  good scores on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT, and a good college essay. More and more colleges are leaning away from grades and looking at the student’s ambition and willingness to do more than the standard. By being involved in the school’s club and doing volunteer work you can achieve that. The school has many clubs that are open to anybody at the beginning of the year that could interest you, and if they don’t it is always possible to create a club of your own. Another thing is volunteer work. In clubs, there are many opportunities given to do volunteer work in the community but there are also numerous opportunities for volunteering outside of school that can help your college application. 

Furthermore, getting a good grade on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT can significantly change the odds of getting into college. If you get into the top 1% of PSAT test takers you can be a national merit scholar, which can get you a full-ride scholarship to some universities. SAT and ACT however are what colleges look at the most for general acceptance. This is why they are incredibly important to take them when you have the chance, and can be taken at school for free and then again as many times as you want with a fee. There are many tools to be able to get a good grade and improve your previous grade. Class 101 is a program available through the school that will help prepare you for the PSAT/ SAT. It is 6 classes that have 2 classes for each for writing, reading, and math. The course comes with a textbook with step-by-step studying guides, online practice tests, explanation videos, and trackers to know what your score would be. Although this is not a possibility for everybody since they do charge a fee, there are other tools that can help. If you have taken the PSAT you can create a college board account at https://www.collegeboard.org/. From there, you can access your PSAT scores and sync them up with Khan Academy to have a personalized study guide for future tests. In addition, their techniques you can use in general for better test taking for example: 


  • Annotate the article.
  • Circle the claim.
  • Underline evidence to the claim.
  • Box the counter-argument.
  • Circle words you do not understand, reread the sentence, use context clues to define it, then re-read it again.
  • Mark the conclusion ( What is the main message of the article? What do they hope to gain from writing it? What do they want you to do or understand?).


  • Know your basic grammar, commas, and other punctuation.
  • Use the process of elimination.
  • Circle words you do not understand, reread the sentence, and use context clues to define it, then reread it again.
  • Do the easiest questions first.
  • Informal words such as slang are a giveaway that it is wrong.


  • Do the easiest questions first.
  • Know when they are trying to trick you.
  • Memorize important math formulas.
  • Use the process of elimination.
  • Solve backwards if needed.

There are also many ways to get college credit in high school. You can take AP classes, which allow you to develop skills that will be useful in college, save money by getting college credit for free, and help you stand out on your college applications. OCCC is another college credit opportunity. You can do concurrent and take college classes for a small fee. Depending on your degree, Moore Norman Technology could also be a good option. You can explore career options here https://www.mntc.edu/classes/request-a-catalog/course-catalog. Any of these career paths is a great opportunity to graduate high school with a career or advance in earning college credit.

It is important to form connections in high school and college. Forming good connections with teachers, and other administrators can help you stand out from your peers. You’ll be able to have more personalized recommendations for college. Going on college tours and practicing interviews will also help you in deciding what schools you want to attend and sharpen your skills for the application process. You are able to establish a relationship and show that you have ambition and want to go to college. Although you do not necessarily need to know your college major for sure until your sophomore year of college, being confident and going into a college interview knowing exactly what you want to do will make the college believe in you. They don’t want to accept somebody who is unsure of their path and may not finish it. Talking to your counselor and forming a relationship is also important. You can understand better what you need to do, want to do, and the scholarships that are available. You can also use https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/scholarship-directory, and fill out all of the information to see what you can be eligible for. 

Finally, set goals and make a plan. Make sure you are on top of your work so that you can easily accomplish your goals. Whether that is to make good grades, do at least a couple hours of volunteer work, or join a club, it all makes a difference in the outcome. By having a plan and creating goals you can excel in your academics and increase your ability to get into college. It is never too late to start!