Entering College as a Top High School Student
So, you were the straight-A’s, honor society president of your high school. College is a new ball game, but that doesn’t mean that your high school habits and accomplishments are worthless. Here are three things you can do to transition your academic achievements into the undergraduate world.
Transfer your IB/AP credits
You already know that if you took IB or AP classes in high school and scored well on the tests, you’re eligible for college credit. But many students get caught up with freshman advisors and class schedules and forget about the courses they’ve already technically taken.
A trip to the registrar’s office should be all it takes to get IP/AB classes added to your transcript. Your college will already have your high school transcripts, but not every school will automatically give you credit for high school exams.
If there’s a class you did well in during high school (or an AP exam you didn’t quite pass but could now), you should also look into CLEP and DSST testing. Using exams to get course credit is a great way to save money and gets you closer to the classes you’re really interested in.
Join the honors program and honor society
Most colleges have honors programs for high-achieving students. Programs vary from school to school, but may include special advanced classes, more advanced components to normal classes, support and funding for undergraduate research, networking opportunities and even special residences. Someone at your school should be able to fill you in on how to join the honors program and what its requirements are.
For advanced students, being a part of the honors program offers a lot of benefits. Obviously, it’s a great resume builder, looks good on graduate applications and will allow you to meet other dedicated students. But it can also give you academic opportunities that you wouldn’t have elsewhere, from specialized course content to better relationships with professors. Honors requirements also hold you to a higher standard throughout your college career, which can keep you from slacking off partway through.
Honor societies, on the other hand, are honors programs’ less-involved cousins. Honor societies are local or national organizations that typically require you to have completed a certain number of semester hours with a certain GPA (for example, 60 hours/junior standing with a 3.5 or higher). Honor societies are often departmental and usually offer membership perks like scholarship and publication opportunities as well as a “network” of former students across the country. Some honor society chapters also function as clubs, holding social and service activities and doing things on campus.
Become a tutor
Some advanced students choose not to work during college, either because their scholarships cover their financial need or because they want to focus on academics. While that can be a wise decision, working or volunteering as a tutor is more than just a job.
Beyond the financial and work history related perks, being a tutor (or related position, like a writing center employee or after school program teacher for kids) can help you to be a better student. On-campus tutors often work under or with professors, librarians and TAs (always good people to know). Tutoring is a straightforward way to give back to your school community using something you’re good at, and a great way to help people who really need it. Tutoring can also keep your skills sharp by keeping the basics at the forefront of your mind and forcing you to articulate ideas in new and interesting ways.
These are just a few of many ways that you can continue to improve academically in college. Getting an internship, taking on leadership positions in student organizations, volunteering and even just being a good friend can help you develop the skills you will need to succeed post-graduation.