Navigating the road to college can be stressful, but these essential college prep resources can make it easier for students!

For many high school students, the journey to college is an exciting time! But, preparing for college can also be an overwhelming process, and many students just don’t know where to start. With the right college prep resources, you can set yourself up for success in your future endeavors. Fortunately, there is a wealth of college prep resources for high school students—and many of them are free!

This is the ultimate guide to college prep resources for high school students that can help you navigate the transition from high school to college.

When should you prepare for college?

Early preparation for college can make the process far less stressful than leaving it until senior year! We recommend that students begin setting the foundation for their college future as early as their freshman year of high school, if possible. This early start gives students time to identify their personal goals and aspirations and create a realistic timeline for their college search process.

A realistic timeline for college prep might look something like this:

  • Freshman year: Students become intentional about building their resumes and choosing their courses, extracurricular activities, and volunteer opportunities.
  • Sophomore year: Students identify their academic interests and strengths, which can help inform their choice of college major later on.
  • Junior year: This is the time for students to begin researching colleges, preparing for standardized tests, and building their resumes.
  • Senior year: Senior year is crunch time! This is when students should apply to colleges, identify scholarship opportunities, apply for financial aid, and visit a short list of college campuses.

Don’t worry: It’s never too late to start the college prep process! With the right college prep resources, building your path toward higher education is possible at any time.

College Prep Resources for High School Students

There are endless amounts of resources that can help high school students prepare for college. While some resources may cost money, there is an incredible amount of free college prep resources out there! Here are some of our favorite resources.

Free College Prep Resources

There is an abundance of resources out there for high school students! Here are a few favorites from the Student Research Group team:

Organizational Tools

Perhaps the most important step in the college preparation process is to find ways to set yourself up for success. Free tools like Evernote, MyStudyLife, and Notability can help you take notes, plan your next steps, and keep track of important deadlines. A free proofreading tool like Grammarly is essential; rest easy knowing that your assignments, emails, and application materials are error-free. 

School-Provided Resources 

Your high school can also provide a wealth of free resources including peer tutoring, extra help, and even college prep classes. Your guidance counselor can also be an invaluable resource; schedule periodic meetings to discuss your goals and seek advice throughout the college prep process. Lastly, don’t forget about your teachers! In addition to helping you with your schoolwork, a teacher can provide a strong letter of recommendation that can help you seal the deal with your top college.

Free Online Courses

Looking to expand your knowledge outside of the classroom? Look for free online courses! Coursera, Khan Academy, and offer free courses to help you refine your current skills and learn new ones. You can even use an app like Duolingo to learn a new language or study for a language placement test!

Study Tools and Resources

There are an infinite number of tools available to help you ace your current courses and keep your GPA up! Brainscape and Cram offer thousands of premade flashcards, while tools like Quizlet even provide quizzes and study modules. Lastly, don’t forget about AI! CK-12 and Photomath can assist with your science and math homework and help you figure out how to solve complex equations.

Financial Resources

In addition to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—which determines eligibility for financial aid—research and apply for scholarships based on your academic achievements, interests, and background. You can also consider work-study programs and part-time jobs to help cover expenses.

Comprehensive College Prep Platforms

There are entire websites, forums, online communities, and platforms dedicated to college preparation. An all-inclusive platform like StudyLab can provide you with multiple tools and resources for your college prep process—from free textbooks to personalized college suggestions and more.

Additional College Prep Resources

While there are many free college prep resources available, tutors can be an incredibly valuable resource for students looking to raise their grades in a specific class. And, test preparation classes can be a valuable resource for students studying for standardized exams like the SAT and ACT.

Begin Your College Prep Today!

It’s important to be proactive when preparing for college, and there are incredible college prep resources available for high school students. Take advantage of as many tools and resources as possible, and don’t hesitate to seek support from teachers, guidance counselors, and peers.

With determination, organization, and the right resources, attending the college of your dreams can be a reality. So, start early, stay organized, and make the most of the resources available to you. Your future self will thank you!

Still overwhelmed? At Student Research Group, we’re here to help! Check out the college prep checklist, free courses and textbooks, and personalized college suggestions on StudyLab. Or, use College Finder, an interactive college search tool.  

The Student Research Group blog also provides multiple resources that can guide you in your college search. Here are 3 great resources to get you started:

  1. What Tools Can Help Students Pick Colleges if the USNews College Rankings Go Away?
  2. Top 5 Tips For Choosing the Right College For You
  3. Crafting Your College Journey: 5 Essential Steps to Start Your Search