Seeking The Similarities Between High School And College: Preparing Organizationally For The Next Level


Planning for College in Minnesota
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Well… that summer season seemed to pass pretty quickly – at least for us. Now we head into a new school year and all of the challenges that belong to it, including the knowledge that each college-bound student is yet another year closer to his or her graduation, and moving on to the next level in higher education! It really does seem to pass faster and faster with each academic year, doesn’t it?

There is so much talk – and yes, we do it as well – about the enormous differences between high school and college, and there is certainly a lot of important truth to be found within that idea.

However, this month we have decided to identify and discuss some of the similarities between high school and college… after all, for college-bound students, high school serves as a preparation period for the advancement to college or university studies. That should hopefully mean that the efforts being put forth in high school have some inherent worth beyond the completion of a high school diploma!

And indeed, that is the case. There are a number of very important skills and habits to be learned during the high school experience, and young people who focus on internalizing these elements that carry over to their college or university experience will usually find that their transition is much easier than some of their peers, and that they have significantly better success at the next level, as well.

With that in mind, here is a list of the some of the most important things to be learned and mastered in high school, along two specific areas, so that your college-bound student is able to perform optimally at the his or her college or university program. Some of them may already be obvious to you, others may require some work, but all of them deserve some focus and attention during the coming year. After all, the more your child is able to implement the important things that will relate to his or her success in the years of higher education, the more likely he or she will be to create a successful experience.


I. Time Management

This is one of the many important lessons that successful people learn in life – and the sooner, the better. Time management is one of those lessons that, if learned early enough, will not only serve your child well in high school but in college and beyond. Managing time wisely can come easily to some but not to others. There are some things that your child can learn during high school that will help to maximize time and also make the most of it.

  1. Know your distractions – Everyone has his or her weak spot. It may be social media. It may be a favorite show. It may be games. Regardless of what it is, it should be identified and managed (or even minimized, as the case may be). That means making sure that when it comes time to work that all of those distractions are not in the vicinity or turned off or whatever needs to be done that will allow you to focus.
  2. Make daily “To-Do” list – It can be really difficult to keep track of all of the things that need to be accomplished every day. Taking the time to ponder and write down what all of the day’s tasks are can make it much easier to get them done. It’s also incredibly satisfying to cross those tasks off one by one! Learn to write down the most important and critical tasks first and work hard to accomplish those before anything else.
  3. Multi-task – We are fortunate to live in a time when it’s become much easier to multi-task. If one can listen to a podcast, lecture or whatever while running errands or doing something else, it allows the opportunity to cross that item off of the list. It’s also the best way to make use of time when waiting with nothing else to do such as doctor’s appointments, waiting for transportation, etc.
  4. Set boundaries – Time is our most important resource. While it can be very rewarding to help other people or do something fun, sometimes we just have to be able to say ‘no.’ This can be hard for some young people to learn, when they are trying to make friends, impress professors, etc. When important exams are coming up or there are projects to finish, the most pressing thing is to focus on them. Students need to have the discipline to tell friends and peers that they are not available.
  5. Know yourself – Not everyone is a morning person. And, not everyone is a night owl. Each individual will come to know which time of day is best for productivity, and allows for thinking clearly and getting the most done. Students can figure out which time that is and focus energy on accomplishing academic (and other) goals during that time.
  6. Dedicate study time – This is absolutely key. Setting aside time each day to focus only on schoolwork is one of the most important things that can lead to academic success. One of the best strategies is for students to treat college like a full time job, attending class and completing studies during the standard workday (8-to-5, or something similar). Students who manage to do this diligently are able to free up their evenings for other activities while still achieving great grades.
  7. Have fun – After consistently reaching the goal of studying diligently during study time, it is also important to then do something fun afterwards! There’s nothing like working hard and then afterwards playing hard. Both the body and mind need to be rejuvenated and that can only come during some well-planned (and utilized) downtime.
  8. Get proper rest – When students are young, some may think that burning the candle at both ends is necessary in order to get everything accomplished. This method will make people burn out fast, however, and will make students less effective. Make sure students learn to take care of themselves, and get the proper rest needed for the body and brain to function optimally.

II. Stay Organized

Organization does not come naturally to everyone. Staying organized, however, does not have to be painful, especially if it is learned during high school. In fact, students who stay consistently organized will be able to find things more easily and help steer clear of mental (and actual) clutter. Here are some tips that will help your student stay organized now and beyond.

  1. A place for everything and everything in its place – Take the time to find containers and organizing tools to keep a designated student workspace neat and tidy. It’s difficult to stay focused on a project when there are papers, pencils and random stuff scattered all over the place. When students are able to take a few minutes each day and put things back where they belong, it makes things easier later… especially the next time the workspace is ready to be used.
  2. Individual notebooks for classes – It might make sense to carry a large binder with tabs for each class but it can get heavy really fast… and it is not feasible in college, either. Having a separate folder for each class (maybe even in different colors) enables a student to grab that folder immediately and run to class.
  3. Use a planner – Planners come in all sorts these days… they may be on a smart phone or even an old-school paper planner. Whatever a student decides to use, it is important to simply (actually!) use it. It will make life a whole lot easier to have all tasks, events and appointments in one place for planning and not losing track of assignments, appointments, classes, etc.
  4. Create a storage system – It will be surprising to see how quickly a student can accumulate papers… all of which can also get damaged and lost easily. Create a filing and storage system allows easily access to the papers for future reference (and for proof in case of grading errors, etc.). Whether it’s dropbox or a binder system, find something that works and can keep everything organized and in one place.
  5. Use alerts – With a smart phone or computer, it is easy set up alerts on both the computer and phone that will serve as a reminder of important dates and events. Taking the time to plan ahead and send those alerts when they are needed the most can be a complete college (and high school) lifesaver.


Implementing these organizational keys for success during the high school years will help students to meet their academic requirements now, and also overcome the challenges at the college or university level. Some of them will be easier than others, and some students may need additional organizational skills to succeed… but that is part of the reason that the high school years can be such a terrific preparation for the college years to come. Make it work now, and it will pay dividends later.

Parents have their own list of organizational responsibilities when it comes to the years leading up to college, and chief on the list is financial preparation for higher education. In this regard, the professional advice of a college funding advisor can be one of the most valuable tools with properly managing the financial costs of college or university studies. Of course, this is exactly what we are trained to do, so we are happy to help. We can assist parents from all sorts of financial backgrounds with our focused knowledge and experience to help make the application, school selection, and college funding processes more streamlined.

We offer a selection of popular teaching methods for providing our vital information to parents and students, and one of the most effective is through the College Funding Workshops. In these workshops we deliver live information to the parents of college-bound high school students, and the messages are provided by some of the best college funding professionals around. The workshops are a great resource for a quality introduction to the college funding information that will be the most vital for parents. These vital preparations for higher education are introduced with a focus on the most up-to-date information for today’s high school students. We would be pleased to welcome you as a guest to a workshop that fits your schedule.

We arrange our workshops to work well with the schedules of today’s parents, meaning that you will certainly find options that include weekend and evening presentations. There is no admission fee required to attend any of our workshops, but because of space limitations and planning requirements, we do insist on parents making a reservation in advance. If you would like additional information about our workshops, or you know that you would like to make a reservation for an upcoming time or location, please make a telephone call to our office staff. One of our workshop specialists will be more than happy to assist you further. The number to reach our office is (651-455-0621).

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