As you approach the finish line for high school and start preparing for the next big step in your academic lives, you undoubtedly start recognizing the importance of advanced vocabulary.
After all, a huge prerequisite for the college application process relies on your proficiency in advanced vocabulary, heavily weighted in entrance exams like the SATs and ACTs.
But the benefits of building and maintaining advanced vocabulary don’t merely stop at getting excellent SAT scores.
Diversifying and consolidating your word bank have plenty of long-term benefits which can impact your overall academic performance in college, in several ways.
Here are 5 ways learning advanced vocabulary prepares you for college.
5 Ways Learning Advanced Vocabulary Prepares You for College
1. Advanced Vocabulary Prepares You for College by Improving Your Reading Comprehension
It refers to your ability to decode text, comprehend its meaning, and create association between what you’re reading and what you already know.
Creating associations between new and existing knowledge is one of the most powerful ways your brain learns and creates long-term memory!
In college, the reading material you will encounter will be a lot more complex and challenging, and likely far more technical than anything you faced in school.
Simply sounding out the words won’t get you anywhere – in order to absorb what you are reading, retain and recall it when you need to, you need to comprehend what you’re reading.
Instead of struggling along cross-checking the glossary or a dictionary every other word, working, over time, to develop an advanced vocabulary bank works a lot better to your advantage in the long-run.
For starters, learning occurs best when you review and recall what you are learning.
Your brain stores new information in pathways created between your neurons or brain cells.
When you review this information at frequent intervals, the neurons involved in that memory keep activating, and therefore keep getting stronger – the way your muscles do when you regularly work out.
On the other hand, if you learn something new – for instance, when you quickly check the meaning of a technical word while doing some assigned reading – and don’t make any effort to encounter the word again, your brain deems this information unnecessary.
Your brain prunes away the related neural pathway or association.
Therefore, the more you review information you have learned, the stronger your memory of it becomes.
The act of consciously retrieving information stored in your brain fires up those neurons involved and strengthens your memory of them.
College also requires you to be a lot more independent with your learning – your success is dependent on your own effort and initiative, rather than your teachers and parents continuously guiding you along.
So, you’re going to have to stay on top of your reading through your own initiative, and strong reading comprehension is going to be critical to keep your grades steady.
Memorizing a bunch of words in the weeks before your SATs, only to forget them later because you did not use a brain-friendly strategy, won’t help.
One organic way of building up your vocabulary naturally is by reading a lot and encountering new words as you gradually progress up the difficulty levels of texts.
Another method, which is in fact optimized for how the brain learns best, is to use gamified vocabulary software, like Vocabulary Quest.
This software keeps track of the words you have learned, the ones you are struggling with, and custom word lists, testing you at regular intervals and ensuring it exercises both your review and recall!
Set in an immersive and interactive fictional universe, learning advanced vocabulary this way is also a lot more engaging and fun compared to memorizing long lists of words.
Along with a lot of reading, you’re also going to be doing a lot of writing in college.
And in order to express your ideas, and reflect your critical, analytical and creative abilities, advanced vocabulary expands the tools at your disposal to do just that.
In classes with hundreds of students, your writing might often be the medium through which you get the opportunity to fully express yourself and your ideas.
Steadily building up an advanced vocabulary and understanding when and where to apply it allows you to be more specific, concise, and effective in getting your point across.
Some essays make the difference between passing and failing a class or set you up for opportunities like further research; this is when your ability to express yourself naturally and smoothly comes in handy.
Rather than stilted and rigid expression because you’re trying to convert every other word to an electronically generated synonym or trying very hard to avoid plagiarism by stiffly paraphrasing information, a great grasp of advanced vocabulary allows your writing and ideas to flow.
And this is something your college professors will pick up on immediately; the more effortlessly you express your ideas, the greater you display your comprehension, understanding and knowledge!
Gamified software like Vocabulary Quest can help you naturally build your word bank, by introducing you to words and their meanings and prompting you to apply them in the right contexts, by matching them to their definitions.
Since progressing through the game is tied to your innate understanding of what the words mean, you engage with them more meaningfully, create associations, and retain and recall them better than if you were trying to commit a list of words to memory!
3. Advanced Vocabulary Prepares You for College with Better Communication
More than ever, you’ll need to communicate.
In class discussions, during group projects, in presentations where you have to defend or back up your ideas, with your lecturers for feedback or to communicate your vision of the direction you want a specific assignment to take – communication is one of the key skills you’ll rely on in college.
Where in high school your teachers may have guided you along, in college, you have to be a lot more involved and actively participate to make the most of every opportunity.
The more ingrained and natural the usage and application of these words are to you, the more effortlessly you’ll find you are able to communicate, with your peers, lecturers, and others.
How you express yourself can make all the difference when you need a testimonial from a lecturer for a job, set you apart as students your lecturers would want to recommend to employers or suggest opportunities to, and in general make your ride through college a lot smoother.
4. Advanced Vocabulary Prepares You for College by Improving Your Confidence
Where before you were a fish in a pond, college often feels to some as though you’ve been plucked out of your small pond and tossed into the sea.
For all the reasons mentioned above, advanced vocabulary can help make that transitioning and adjusting a lot smoother.
With a robust set of foundational learning skills, which include strong reading comprehension and fluency that in turn allows you to tackle challenging texts and express yourself eloquently and effectively in both written and spoken form, you can be more confident in yourself.
Confidence is key to your learning success.
When you aren’t worried about whether you can tackle a body of text, or that essay deadline coming up soon, you are able to engage with learning more effectively, and may even have fun as you do so.
Which leads us to the next point –
5. Advanced Vocabulary Prepares You for College by Keeping You Motivated
In fact, when you accomplish something that is somewhat challenging, your brain activates its reward pathways, and the neurotransmitter dopamine circulates your system.
This chemical messenger creates a sense of satisfaction in you, which your brain begins to crave.
This in turn gets you motivated to try more challenging things, since you anticipate the reward when you accomplish something.
The brain’s motivation powers create the basis for why gamified vocabulary software like Vocabulary Quest are so successful.
You don’t find yourself quitting when playing a good video game, no matter how tricky it gets, right?
If a video game was intensely difficult right from the beginning and made it super difficult for you to score when you start, you likely won’t be motivated to continue.
But most effective video games start by awarding you achievements in the form of levelling up, rank increases, badges, special items and so on, pretty early in the game.
These rewards gradually get spaced out, and the objectives you must fulfil to acquire them get more challenging.
Yet, because your dopamine neurons now expect that sense of satisfaction and reward when you do accomplish your objective, you feel motivated to continue playing and trying even when you fail.
When you start off college with the massive advantage of advanced vocabulary, you unlock some of those rewards early on, especially as in college you will also work your way up the difficulty meter with your classes and assignments.
Performing well and even getting commended for your performance by your teachers all motivate you to keep “levelling up”.
So, even as assignments get more challenging, you will stay motivated to keep learning, just as you can learn advanced vocabulary with vocabulary builders!
As you build your long-term memory of advanced vocabulary, doing so regularly rather than in a rush close to your SATs, you will have a reliable well of words to draw from whenever you need them –
In tests, while writing research papers for college, when your professor calls on you in class to ask your opinion about the topic of the day, and more.
Now that you know about all the long-term advantages of advanced vocabulary to prepare you for college, are you going to trying out Vocabulary Quest yourself to get you started?
Jason Manilla is the Founder and owner of VocabularyQuest.com.
This site is used by both children and adults around the world.
Vocabulary Quest trains learners to master advanced vocabulary through game-based learning.