Preparing for College
This page will help you think about the kinds of things you need to be doing in middle school and high school to prepare for college. Much of this information comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Publications Think College? Me? Now? And Getting Ready for College Early: A Handbook for Parents of Students in the Middle and Junior High School Years. This and more information is available on the Think College Early web site, which has a section for students, parents and educators.
GETTING READY: TAKING THE RIGHT COURSES FOR COLLEGE STARTS NOW!
Why it’s smart to take challenging courses
What are the right courses?
Get a “leg up” on college preparation and save on tuition
College Preparation and Test Web Sites
Put together your college support team
Free "Open Courses" at Yale University
Why It’s Smart to Take Challenging Courses
College may seem like a long way off, but you can get on the road toward college. This is particularly true as you select your classes and start planning the courses you’ll take in high school. Now is the time to plan how to meet requirements to get into college.
Studies show that if students take algebra and geometry early – starting in 8th and 9th grade – they are more likely to go on to college than students who don’t. By taking algebra soon, you’ll probably be able to enroll in chemistry, physics and advanced math courses before you finish high school. Then you will have room in your high school schedule to take a second language, art, or Advanced Placement course. Making good grades in these kinds of tough courses can be a big plus in helping you get into college.
What Are the Right Courses?
To prepare for college, you should take the following courses: Math, English, Science and History or Geography. These courses make up the “core” courses you should take every year.
You want to take algebra or geometry as soon as possible. Algebra and geometry are the foundation for many advanced math and science courses (such as chemistry and physics) that most colleges want high school students to take. You should also take the following courses:
History and Geography
2 to 3 years
to 4 years
Visual and Performing Arts
1 to 2 years
1 to 3 years
Research Projects & Independent Projects
3 to 4 years
can help you find more
information and do school
work better and faster.
College course and jobs often
require computer knowledge.
|*Note: Taking Advanced Placement courses and Tech-Prep courses in any of these subjects can give students added skills for college.|
Get a “Leg Up” on College Preparation and Save on Tuition
High school students can also take courses for credit at many colleges. These courses – Advanced Placement and Tech-Prep – are available in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Middle school and junior high students who plan ahead and take algebra, a foreign language and computer courses by 8th grade are better prepared for Advanced Placement and Tech-Prep courses in high school.
- Taking Advanced Placement (AP) Courses. AP courses are college-level courses in 16 different subjects that help students get ready for college during high school. Students who score high enough on AP exams can get advanced placement in college or college credit. Your teachers, guidance counselor, or principal can tell you if your local high school offers AP courses.
- Taking Tech-Prep Courses. Students who want to pursue a technical program at a community, technical or junior college may want to prepare by taking some technical courses in high school in addition to the core courses. Talk to someone at your school or from a community, junior or technical college to find out the best high school courses to take for tech prep involvement. “School-to-work” and “school-to-career” courses can also help connect students to college and the workplace. Work with your school counselor to find local businesses or school-to-work councils that can provide you with these opportunities.
- Getting Ready for College Admissions Exams. Most colleges require students to take either the SAT or the ACT in their junior or senior year of high school. Ask your guidance counselor how you can best prepare for these exams. Check out this list of common SAT words to help jumpstart your college admissions exam preparation.
College Testing and Preparation Web Sites
The creator of the ACT, one of America's most widely accepted entrance exams. They provide information for students, parents, educators, policy makers, adult learners and Spanish speakers on education and career planning.
The college help network. The optimal site for all cultures.
Go to this web site to take a "virtual" tour of many of the nation's colleges and universities.
Buying textbooks can be expensive. Check out this website for savings on textbook purchases and rentals. Chegg.com also provides other student support services such as homework help and course management.
Choose Your Future
The Chicago Public Schools created this site for high school students to help guide them through the process of preparing and applying for college, applying for financial aid and enrolling in college. Don't worry, you don't have to be a student in Chicago to benefit from the info on the site!
The College Board
The creator of the SAT. They provide information for students, parents and educators on college testing, planning for college, preparing for college, finding a college, applying to college and paying for college.
This comprehensive web site provides free materials to students, parents, teachers, career counselors and others interested in helping young people plan a meaningful future.
Here you'll find hundreds of pages of articles about choosing a college, getting into the college you want, how to pay for it, and much more. You'll also find the Web's busiest discussion community related to college admissions, and our College Visits section!
CollegeData.com. CollegeData is an Online College Advisory Service provided for students and parents of students, FREE OF CHARGE by 1st Financial Bank USA.
We provide over 1,500 customized internet Admissions Applications built for college and university programs. When applying to more than one program you save redundant typing. The CollegeNET search engine helps you quickly find the ideal college. Narrow down by region, college sports, major, tuition, and several other criteria.
The trusted source for college information and the official Web site for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Click on the appropriate link above to enter a zone customized just for you (Student, Parent, Counselor, Financial Aid Administrator, Lender or español).
The Common Application (i.e., common college adminssions application) is increasingly being used by more and more colleges. Primarily, this is a resource meant to help streamline the process for students who are applying to a large number of colleges. However, not all colleges accept the Common Application, so be sure to check first!
CSO College Center
CSO College Center is an initiative of Center for Student Opportunity, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote college access and opportunity among first-generation and historically underserved student populations. Center for Student Opportunity was founded by a group of concerned parents, admissions professionals, and nonprofit practitioners who sought to fill the need for greater college counseling and preparation resources for first-generation and underserved college-bound students.
Educational Testing Service (ETS)
We help teachers teach, students learn, and parents measure the educational and intellectual progress of their children.
GoCollege is dedicated to furthering educational opportunities for the youth of America. Find a college, take a tour of that college, find the right scholarship, SAT and ACT practice tests and more!
Mapping Your Future
One-stop site for parents and students with information on financial strategies, career options and college planning.
Find the home page of any college in the United States by state.
Free SAT and ACT test prep on line!
For students and parents: a list of helpful websites that addresses all of your college needs. From financial aid and textbooks to career guidance and entertainment, this site has it all.
For students and parents: prepare for your tests, find the right school, explore financial aid, advance your career.
Explore schools and careers, improve scores and skills as well as find scholarships and aid. For students, parents and educators.
Story to College uses a proven, 3-step process to help high school students differentiate themselves in the college admission process. Visit our site to learn how!
Check out this blog for 12 tips to Ace Your College Application Essays.
Put Together Your College Support Team
You can get plenty of help as you map your way to college. People willing to help you include your parents, teachers, counselors, librarians and MAAX facilitators. All of them can be good resources. But they won’t know you need support and encouragement unless you let them in on your plans. Tell them you’re interested in putting college in your future. Ask them to be on your college support team. Ask for their help.
Ask the folks on your college support team if they know about any programs or activities that can help you reach your goal of going to college. You might ask specifically about:
- A Before-school or After-school Program that’s especially for kids who are thinking about college
- A Mentor Program where you can meet regularly with a college graduate who can tell you what to expect and plan for; maybe you can help tutor a student to read in elementary school.
- Summer Programs, Internships and Advanced Courses Are any of these a good idea for you? If so, which ones? When should you take them?
Take free on-line courses at Yale before you even start college!
Free "Open Courses" at Yale University
Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to seven introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn. Open Yale Courses reflects the values of a liberal arts education. Yale's philosophy of teaching and learning begins with the aim of training a broadly based, highly disciplined intellect without specifying in advance how that intellect will be used. This approach goes beyond the acquisition of facts and concepts to cultivate skills and habits of rigorous, independent thought: the ability to analyze, to ask the next question, and to begin the search for an answer. We hope these courses will be a resource for critical thinking, creative imagination, and intellectual exploration. The courses are introductory courses in Astronomy, English, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology and Religious Studies.