Our neighbor’s daughter is a high school junior who recently applied to college and was accepted. She’ll start at the local community college at the same time that many of her friends begin their final year of high school. Early college admission is not for everyone and there is much work a student must do as they prepare an application.
Speak With Your Parents
If you want to finish high school early, you need to make sure that your parents are onboard. Likely, they’re very much aware of your academic progress and already know whether you are ready for college or not.
Your parents are your most important advocate. They’ll also be required to sign off on related documents your high school requires for early graduation. Have that discussion with your parents sooner, rather than later.
Make an Appointment With Your Guidance Counselor
Your high school guidance counselor is another person you want on your side if you are considering early admission to college. Make an appointment, discuss your desire to attend college early and weigh your options.
Guidance counselors typically work with college-bound high school seniors. Nevertheless, if you have fulfilled or soon will complete your high school requirements, then you can receive assistance too. Your counselor may also provide a blueprint to help you complete your final required courses in time for an early exit from school.
Explore Your College Options
What school do you have in mind for college? Many community and technical colleges accept younger students provided that they are at least 16 years old. You don’t have to be a high school graduate either — dual enrollment is one option; homeschooling is another path some students take.
You may find that taking courses online suits you best, especially if there is a certain program you want to enter and you don’t want to travel far to take them. Begin your college search as any high school student usually does.
Your chances of acceptance at a college are greater if you have simply finished your coursework early. Instead of taking additional courses that ultimately won’t benefit your high school transcripts, a college may encourage you to enroll and begin your higher education courses.
Get Your Recommendations
You’ll need recommendations to forward to your college. The best people to ask are your teachers. Seek recommendations from teachers where you excelled academically or where you accomplished a special task or both. Colleges look for engaged students, individuals who go beyond the ordinary to pursue the extraordinary.
You can also seek recommendations from nonacademic sources. For instance, if you were heavily involved in your church’s teen outreach program and had a leadership position, then ask your pastor for a recommendation. If you volunteered one summer as a camp instructor, took meals to the housebound or helped train a seeing eye dog, you have additional experience that colleges desire. Ask for recommendations from supervisors of these programs too.
Write Your Essay
All college applicants must write an essay for admission. As a younger prospective student you need to demonstrate poise and stability as you write your essay.
The administrators must understand that you have the maturity to attend college one year early, so carefully craft an essay that reflects your readiness.
If you cannot get in to the school of your choice one year early, you might start elsewhere and transfer later. For instance, if you have your heart set on State U. and no seats are available right now, then start your classes at a community college, before transferring the following year.
Chances are when you complete your transfer your credits will be accepted. Moreover, a number of the students you knew while in high school will also be in enrolled, giving you the opportunity to renew those acquaintances.