By StepUp Outreach Coordinator, Richard Gonzalez – March 9, 2017

Regardless of what grade you’re in, there are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for college and your career. You may be stuck trying to figure out what you want to be, but don’t stress. As you work towards becoming a well-rounded student, you may discover you actually like many things you thought you didn’t like before. It’s okay if you change your mind about what you want to be. And yes – It’s even okay to not know what it is you want to be yet!

These ten steps will help you become a well-rounded student regardless of what career path you take…

1. Act the part—Believe in yourself and act like a professional future college student. I don’t mean wear a tie and get all dressed up every day—although that can have benefits. Show everyone around you that you’re serious about your academics. This includes how you present yourself on social media. Have fun, but keep your online profiles clean.

2. Grades are always top priority!—Regardless of what other activities you are involved with, keep in mind that your grades come first. The best way to learn is to teach. Try talking about what you’re doing or what you’re learning about each week. You can try it with your parents, guardians, siblings, friends, and mentors. Also, push yourself with harder classes. Don’t go for the easy A. A good example is to take a 4th year of math during high school or going for concurrent enrollment courses.

3. Get involved—Clubs, sports, and student government are great ways to get involved. You most likely will gravitate towards the clubs that interest you, which is great, but I challenge you to try new things! Trying new activities will awaken new talents and make you well-rounded. Added bonus: The teachers and leaders of these activities may help you with a letter of recommendation later on.

4. Develop your leadership skills—Don’t join a club or organization and call it good there. Get involved during the club’s activities and speak up with your ideas and suggestions. Do the best you can at everything you do.

5. Help others—Volunteer in your community. Community Service is amazingly rewarding! Make it meaningful so you will fully enjoy it. Don’t do it for one day and consider your service done. Get creative with your future volunteer opportunities. For example, try being a tutor. I challenge you to make a list of at least 10 volunteer opportunities in your community, compare the likes and dislikes, decide on one or two, commit, and make the call. There are many great opportunities through UServeUtah.

6. Build a Resume—A resume or portfolio of your accomplishments is a great way to keep track of what you have done and need to do throughout your education and work life. It might look a bit empty now since you’re just starting, but don’t let that discourage you. Build on it and show it to a teachers, parents, or counselors so they can help you.

7. Be a good listener—You have people trying to help you. At times it may sound like they are trying to tell you how to live your life. I encourage you to listen with respect to acknowledge other’s suggestions. Thank them for their help and always follow up—especially if their suggestion helped you.

8. Develop good habits—If you truly understand yourself and your personality, you can be so much more prepared. For example, if you’re easily distracted, control the environment you are in to try and eliminate distractions. If you say you will do something, make a note and do it. And of course, it is wise to turn your homework in on time.

9. Jobs and Internships—Having a job comes with great benefits. It’s not only a great way to save for college and you’ll gain real life experience and skills in customer service, time management, relationship management, and much more. Apply yourself and do your best. Keep in mind that you have a career you’re preparing for. This job is helping you prepare for it. If you’re not old enough to get a job just yet, that’s okay. For now, make a list of places that you would like to work and why. Keep them in mind for later.

10. Finish the race strong! Figure out a pace that works best for you and always do your best to be organized. You can use the calendar on your phone or have notes on the fridge. Keep track of and meet important deadlines. Show initiative and ask for help when you have questions or problems. If you’re a senior in high school, it’s critical that you know your deadlines and required materials. Never assume that someone else it taking care of things for you. Be proactive, have initiative, and call to make sure all of your college application and scholarship requirements have been met.

Richard is an outreach coordinator with StepUp. He previously worked for Utah State University-Tooele as a recruiter.