Get Ready for College


Grade-by-Grade Guide

This grade-by-grade guide will help you to know what you should be doing every step of the way in high school to prepare for college.

9th Grade
  • Start to consider your goals and what kind of education you'll need to reach them.
  • Enroll in challenging courses. Get help when you need it.
  • Develop good study habits. Ask your teachers or counselors for hints on how to do this.
  • Take advantage of school programs such as tutoring, writing centers, and summer enrichment programs that can help you be your best.
  • Get involved in school life. Participate in extracurricular activities.
  • Think about the courses you will need to take during high school to prepare for college.
  • Earn good grades. This should continue from 9th grade through 12th grade.
10th Grade
  • Enroll in challenging courses, especially those courses colleges consider for admission. Plan ahead: make sure you will have completed algebra II and geometry by the end of the 11th grade.
  • Stay involved in school life. Participate in extracurricular activities.
  • Volunteer at community organizations and/or faith based institutions; this is a great way to discover your talents, interests, and skills.
  • Start to refine your goals and what kind of education you’ll need to reach them.
  • Take advantage of school and community programs that will help you be the best you can be, such as tutoring and summer enrichment programs.
  • Talk to adults in your school and community about their college experiences.
  • Register to take the PSAT in October. The PSAT is a practice exam for the SAT.
11th Grade
  • Enroll in an SAT prep course.
  • Talk to your guidance counselor about colleges you might like to attend. He or she may have information available to help you develop a plan to get there.
  • Research schools at the library and on the internet.
  • Investigate financial aid opportunities: scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Take the PSAT in the fall for more practice.
  • Take the SAT in the spring.
  • Collect all the information you can from those colleges you are interested in. Attend college open houses if possible to visit colleges in your area. Begin to rank the colleges you think you'd like to attend.
  • Start to put together your resume. Organize the information that is likely to be requested on college applications.
  • Check out the college application process. This summer, start working on any essays you might need to write (it is never too early to start).
  • Continue to do your best in your classes. Enroll in AP courses in your best subjects if they are available.
  • Search for various scholarship programs.
  • Learn about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • Choose courses for your senior year that are challenging and that showcase your academic abilities.
  • Look for summer internships that will provide you with the opportunity to explore your interests and gain experience.
12th Grade
  • Complete college applications in the fall. Be sure to request letters of recommendation and let your guidance counselor know when you are submitting them so he or she can submit your transcript.
  • In the fall, retake the SAT if you think you can improve your scores from last year.
  • Get organized! Set up your own system of tracking deadlines, for making decisions, finishing tasks, and mailing out materials (test registrations, college applications, financial aid forms, etc).
  • Check with your guidance counselor to find out when college representatives will visit your school. Meet these representatives to get more information about schools that interest you.
  • Check with colleges you apply to about their financial aid application deadlines.
  • Visit the top schools on your list. Attend their scheduled "open house" days so you can take advantage of the activities they've planned to introduce you to the school.
  • After January 1st, encourage your parents to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Submit it before March 1st, or earlier depending on the college you plan to attend.
  • Seek out and submit scholarship and grant applications from the federal government, state agencies, private foundations, and individual institutions.
  • As you begin to receive letters from colleges, organize them. Make your final decision.
  • Enjoy your last year of high school!

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