Pre-application information for High School Freshmen
Now that you’re in high school, it’s time to think about what you want and need to do with the next four years of your life.
If college is part of your plan, and if you think UT Austin is one of the schools you may want to attend, here are a few suggestions that will help you to stay on track.
Pre-Application Suggestions for Freshmen
Focus on your studies
During your time in high school be sure to take the classes that will prepare you for further study – which almost always means that you’ll need to take more than just what you need to graduate.
- Talk to your high school counselor; tell him or her that you plan to go to college and that you want to make sure you take the classes you need to make that happen.
- Set up a four-year plan for the courses you’ll take each year. You might need to make some adjustments along the way, but working from a plan can help keep you on track.
- Review UT Austin’s high school coursework requirements with your counselor. Official requirements may change from year to year and vary from one college/university to another. But if you focus on taking the classes that offer you the most academic challenges, you should be ready to go when you graduate.
Work on your writing skills
Writing ability is a big indicator of potential success in college-level courses. To help universities judge writing ability, most universities require applicants to submit one or more essays with their application for admission.
Writing skills are not something that can be learned in a matter of days or weeks, but everyone can learn to write clearly and to make points in their writing – but it takes time.
Start asking your teachers – not just English teachers – for feedback on your writing assignments. Good high school teachers understand how important writing is and how much of a difference it can make in college success. And they’ll be glad you asked for their help.
Most competitive colleges and universities look not only at grades and test scores when making admission decisions. They also look at an applicant’s involvement in extracurricular and volunteer activities. What do you care about? What do you do with your time when no one’s making you do anything?
The key is to find the activities and organizations, whether in school or in your community, that can help you to develop your leadership skills. You may not be an officer your first year, but you can start to volunteer for activities that need hard workers – and hard work can get you noticed and open doors in the future. Although membership is OK in some things, it’s important to find your niche and become a leader.
And remember to keep a record of what you’re doing. Set up a way to keep track of all the volunteer and extracurricular activities that you’re part of. Then when you apply for college admission, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to include something.
Think about your career goals
When you apply for admission to college, you’ll be asked to select a major. In order to make that decision easier, it’s important for you to start thinking about what you’d like to do with your life now. Don’t stress out about it, but start to think seriously about what subject areas you enjoy – and are good at.
Speak with your high school counselor about resources to help you learn more about possible careers for someone with your interest. Talk to your family and other adults, too, about how they decided what career path was right for them.
Take part in UT Austin camps and events
Numerous departments on campus offer a variety of opportunities for students to participate in learning opportunities on campus long before they are ready to apply for admission. Academic departments hold informational events for students to learn more about certain careers and possible majors. Others offer summer camp options related to academic interests; music, theatre, and dance; media and technology; leadership; and more.
Find out which of these might interest you on the Pre-College Camps & Events page.
Talk about your college goals with your parents, guardians, or other adults that you can count on for support. Have an honest conversation with them about what it’ll take to reach your goals and ask them to be there for you when you need encouragement.
Do the same thing with your friends. Finding and staying connected with peers who also plan to go to college can help keep you focused on what matters most. Make a commitment to encourage each other along the way and to help each other stay focused on what’s important to reach those goals.
Consider money issues
Remember to talk about money with your family. How do you plan to pay for college? Should you get a job? Are scholarships something you might count on? What about other forms of financial aid?
In the same way that it’s a good idea to develop a plan for meeting your educational goals early in high school, it’s also a good idea to develop a plan for paying for college.
Find out what contributions your family can make – but don’t let the need for money from other sources discourage you. Financial aid is available in many forms. Scholarships and grants provide free money – that means you won’t have to pay it back. Many students also work part-time during high school and throughout college to help make ends meet. And if you still have a money gap, low-interest loans will also be available to you and your family.