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The moment is coming. The anticipation of high school graduation is within reach. It's the ceremony where everyone throws their mortarboards in the air in celebration. Yet after that moment of pure excitement, maybe even mixed with some relief, the reality of college must sink in.

High school students all face the stress that comes along with preparing for college. Whether it's the tuition, adjusting to the thought of living away from home, to dorm or not to dorm, you have to be prepared.

So what is the key to successful preparation for college?

It's a "matter of putting everything together: Do your homework and research. Prepare early and get a head start on asking your references for recommendations," says Kevin Reed, director of admissions at Geneseo State College.

Phil Jackson, admissions counselor at Elmira College, recommends "visiting college websites and understanding the requirements it takes in order to be accepted."

"I suggest visiting as many schools as possible. Seeing the campus firsthand is the only way to get a feel for the college," said Carey Murzynski, a senior at Hamburg High School.

Another factor under the category of preparedness is SATs and ACTs. Yes, standardized testing. Everyone's favorite. Once you narrow down your top colleges, find out the SAT and ACT required score range and STUDY. Get the huge SAT book and open it! It won't bite; the worst is that you could get a paper cut. Do not let the SATs intimidate you.

Looking forward to the fun and exciting opportunities that college can offer also helps to relieve stress for high school students.

Reed and Jackson both recommend taking advantage of the study abroad programs. Students may be able to visit countries such as Italy, Russia, Greece, France the list goes on.

"The goal of studying abroad is to learn about the culture [and] along with that knowledge, you learn more about yourself," said Jackson.

Getting involved in different clubs and organizations is another benefit that college can provide. Business major? Try out a finance club. Communications major? Join the newspaper club.

The mention of majors may send chills down the "undecided" student's spine. But no need to worry.

"On average, college students change their major three times," said Reed.

"Any club that you join that you're genuinely interested in will help you release stress," said Audrey Schiffhauer of Hamburg, a junior at Geneseo. "It takes your mind off of homework, grades and other big stresses students have. A lot of clubs are centered around helping others, so it's nice to be reminded every once in a while that no matter what I'm going through, my burden could always be bigger."

College provides experiences to meet new people, participate in clubs you never heard of in high school and expand your horizons. When the time comes for you to throw your cap in the air, you catch it with the realization that high school is over. So just look forward to college and make the best out of the years in which you will build your future.

"Appreciate your senior year of high school; it's the last year of lockers, bells, lunchtime and lots of other things that seem trivial but are things you're going to reminisce about next year," Schiffhauer said.

Jillian Hammell is a senior at Hamburg High School.