As you move through high school, you may be anticipating senior year and the pressure of college applications with excitement and dread.
Yes, too many high school students dread the college admissions process because they really aren’t quite sure why they are going to college in the first place, other than it seems like a good path to take after high school. How can you possibly answer those application questions or write college essays if you don’t even know why you are filling it out?
In order to avoid the last-minute panic, take some time during your junior year in high school to answer the following three questions. They are not easy questions, but you can take your time answering them and you will find out a lot about yourself and your reasons for attending college. College application time will then be much easier for your senior year!
No. 1: What are my values and purpose?
Big question! Let’s break it down into easy pieces.
First, values. Merriam-Webster.com defines value as “usefulness or importance.” So, what are your values today? What do you value the most? Spend some time identifying your values. Write them down. Once you know your values, think about how you can live out those values five years from now, or even 10 years from now.
Next is purpose. Merriam-Webster.com defines purpose as “have as one’s intention or objective.” This one is tough, but keep it simple. Just ask yourself, what is my main objective? What would I like to accomplish five or 10 years from now? Write down your purpose.
Look at your values and purpose and you will have a good idea of what you would like to achieve and how you would like to do it. Often, your values and purpose will be very similar. You will want to decide which careers will allow you to live out your values and accomplish your purpose.
No. 2: What are my interests and passions?
This is a much simpler question than No. 1. Identify activities that you have enjoyed in various areas of your life. Divide your life into social, school and other areas (community or volunteer activities, etc.) and analyze what you enjoy the most in each area.
To illustrate this concept, let’s look at your school life. You could ask questions such as: What are my favorite subjects? Why do I like them? Do I enjoy a particular activity or summer program? Why is it so important to me?
Do this with each area of your life. Understand what makes you happy and write it down. You want a career someday that you enjoy!
No. 3: What type of careers might work for me?
Now that you have written down your values, purpose, interests and passions, let’s see how this relates to career choice and college selection. Based upon your answers to Nos. 1 and 2, you should be able to identify some potential career interests. For instance, if your purpose is to serve others, you value time with children and your favorite course is biology, you might want to consider learning more about a becoming a pediatrician or a nurse.
The next step is to research colleges that offer programs that appeal to you based on your career interests.
Once you have answered these three questions and learned more about yourself, you will be ready to move forward and utilize the resources available to you in your college search with renewed confidence and enthusiasm. By the time you are a senior and college application season rolls around, you will be ready!