Freshmen and Sophomores - It's not too early to think about your college plans.

You are a freshman in high school, or maybe a sophomore, and you are looking forward to… what? That first job? Driving? Being able to go to a social event without having to wear a mask? Those are all good things to look forward to, but there is something that should be on your radar and, if it isn't, it's time. College.

College? Really? Now?

Yes. Really. Now.

College is years away; you just got started in high school! And yet now is the time to start planning for college, because what you do today will have a huge impact on where you will go when those years have passed, and they will pass quickly! The bible tells us "The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty" (Proverbs 21:5 ESV). So yes, focus on that first job and safely getting behind the wheel, but also focus on what you need to be prepared for college, and focus on it right now.

Focus, but don't panic. You need a plan today, but you have several years to execute. First, your grades. If you aren't already acing your classes, start acing them. Colleges look at GPAs, and high school GPAs include all four years of school. Just one bad year can make a decent GPA impossible, so get on it now.

Be active in your school. Join a forensics team or a debate team. Attend a mock trial or job interview. Don't join just to join, but if you have an interest in something, chase it.

Take a foreign language and take as much of it as you can. Fluency in foreign languages are big tickets in today's global world, tickets that can get you into the colleges you want.

Get to know your guidance counselor and be sure they get to know you. Work through personality surveys; they will help both of you get an understanding of what you may be interested in. Make sure they know you as someone who is on their game, and ahead of the game.

With all this said about being prepared for college, don't burn out. You want to be prepared for college, but not crushed by that preparation. Give yourself time to play, worship, and chill.

So now that you're prepared, where will you go? Yes, it's years away, but think about what you would like. Do you want to go to college far away and learn more independence, learn a new region and culture? Or do you want to attend college nearby, possibly saving money, and being close to your parents (and the free laundromat services)?

When it comes to choosing a college or university, what beliefs are important to you? Pay attention to the foundational teachings of the schools you are looking at. Choose a school that has the same foundational beliefs that you have. Choose a school that focuses first on God, then on you, and then on the world, not the other way around.

Choosing the right faith-based college or university is a critical step in your life. While you still have years to go, now is the time to make sure your grades and your planning are in place so it's not a tough transition when the time comes. You have time, but not time enough to waste! Proverbs 1:9 tells us "The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps." Start first by bringing your plans to the Lord in prayer so that He can direct you where to go!

By James Pflugfelder - Christian college graduate