Do your initial research
Once you have decided on the course you are going to pursue in college, do some initial research on it. Remember that many ‘professional’ or ‘vocational’ courses require you to take competitive examinations. Not only must you be aware of the dates of these exams, the registration process, etc., but you should also start preparing for them early on. For instance, coaching for the CET begins when you are in grade 11! Of course, if you are visiting an educational counsellor, she will be able to guide you in this as well.
Enhance your profile
This is an important step, one that will strengthen your college applications. A college is more likely to look favourably on a student who has strengths beyond the academic. Being an all-rounder shows that you can manage and excel in more areas than your academically-oriented counterparts. Hone and strengthen skills that you already have – whether it is playing an instrument, pursuing tennis as a hobby or even painting in your spare time. Keep every certificate, news mention, or honour that you earn.
Of course, building an attractive resume is not just about extra-curriculars. Colleges will appreciate initiative, passion and genuine interest – so if you have your heart set on a particular profession, show that you are motivated enough to build some experience in that area. The summer break after you complete your grade 10 exams is the ideal time to intern in your field of interest. If you want to be a journalist, work with a newspaper, contribute articles to local publications, and submit your video reports to websites. Ensure that you mention bylines and achievements in your application form.
If you are an aspiring architect, make sample drawings, learn to rough out blue prints, get them evaluated and find new opportunities to learn from experts in the field. Take summer courses in essential skills required in your field – computer programming, interpretation of languages, animation, etc.
Shortlist your preferred colleges
You should start thinking about which colleges to apply to as you near the end of grade 11. Here, technology can come to the rescue!
There are countless college ‘matchmaking’ websites that consider your choice of stream, financial status, and location preferences to give you an extensive list of institutions that match your wants and needs. Using these lists, do some online research, send enquiries, talk to former students and teachers and ask around to see if these colleges are right for you.