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College Prep

While you might not be ready to think about college, it’s important to start planning early to avoid major road bumps later on. Understanding your choices today will make choosing a college easier, plus the classes and tests you take now will impact how much scholarship money you’ll be awarded, how quickly you’ll be able to graduate, and which internships you’ll have access to.

Are you ready for what’s next? Take a look at the checklist below and try to implement most, if not all, of these steps into your pre-college preparation process.

  • Have a good relationship with your high school counselor—The more your counselor knows about your goals, the better they can advise you on what classes to take and extracurricular activities to get involved in. However, be sure to take responsibility for your own choices and what’s best for you. Counselors work with many students and the burden can be heavy.
  • Prepare early for the PSAT and/or SAT test—Starting early will give you an opportunity to understand your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to these tests. While it may seem like an arduous process, the more you familiarize yourself with the test and understand the types of questions to expect, the better your scores will be.
  • Volunteer in your community—While all colleges and universities look for stellar academics, they also look for volunteer efforts, which indicate a well-rounded student. Do you need to sleep in every Saturday morning? Wake up and spend some time with local groups that will benefit from your time and you can learn something from the activity.
  • Start thinking about teacher recommendations—Most schools require recommendations from your high school teacher(s) since they know you best academically. Ideally, this is someone who has known you since before your senior year. Typically, most college applications are due during your senior year; it’s difficult for a senior teacher to write a well-informed letter based on your performance as a student. Creating lasting bonds with your teachers from freshman to junior year will be to be an invaluable effort on your part.
  • Know what college(s) you’d like to apply to—Understanding what criteria you need to have to impress the college of your choice will be one of the most important things you can do. The last thing you want is to be blindsided by an unknown requirement that could be the one factor standing between you and an acceptance letter. Being in contact with the school(s) of your choice will also prove to be beneficial as you begin to form a relationship with the admissions office.

Head to the Start Here, Go Places® College Checklist for a more personalized guide through the college process based on your current grade level.

SAT Subject tests