Prepare for College Early

College preparation is about more than just classes and grades. It’s also about developing the skills that will help you succeed in college and life. 

Part of preparing for college is taking the right classes in middle school. Courses such as English, algebra, foreign language, and technology will better prepare you for more challenging courses in high school.

Speak with your school counselor, mentor, or other supportive adults (your teachers, relatives, and family friends) who have interesting jobs.

6-8th Grade

  • Develop strong study habits that help you earn good grades and high test scores.
  • Participate in class activities.
  • Begin taking advanced courses such as Algebra I and a beginning foreign language class. (But, remember, take only the most difficult courses you can handle.)
  • Talk to your counselor or teachers about courses you can take in high school.
  • Get involved in your school or community-based extracurricular activities.
  • Start reading magazine or newspaper articles.
  • Keep a journal to develop good writing skills.
  • Do well on standardized tests.

Plan Your Future

9th Grade  

  • Take challenging core subjects.  Most colleges require four years of English, and at least three years of social studies (history, civics, geography, economics, etc.), three years of math and science, and two years of foreign language.
  • Get involved in school and community based activities that interest you or allow you to explore your career interests.  Consider working and/or volunteering during the summer.
  • Start a list that includes your awards, honors, paid and volunteer work, and extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, theatre, music etc.
  • Begin researching colleges and universities you may be interested in attending.  Find out what criteria is needed to be accepted at the college or university of your choice.

Plan Your Future

10th Grade

  • Meet with your high school counselor or mentor to discuss colleges and their requirements.
  • Consider taking the Pre-SAT exam.
  • Use your summer wisely by working, volunteering, or taking summer courses.
  • Attend a career and college information event.
  • Research majors that may be a good fit with your interests and goals.

Plan Your Future

11th Grade

Learn about choosing a college.  Going to college is a big investment in time, money, and effort. Make sure you take the time to research your options.

Go to college and career fairs.


Take the Pre-SAT (PSAT). You must take the test in 11th grade to qualify for scholarships and programs associated with the National Merit Scholarship Program.


  • Register for and take exams for college admission such as the SAT/ACT. Check with the college or university you are interested in attending to see what tests they require.
  • Research and apply to scholarships.  Some deadline fall as early as the summer between 11th and 12th grades, so prepare now to submit applications soon.

Summer before 12th Grade

  • Narrow down the list of colleges you are considering attending.  If you can, visit the schools that interest you.
  • Contact colleges to request information and applications for admission.  Ask about financial aid, admission requirements and deadlines.

Plan Your Future

12th Grade

  • Work hard all year!  Second semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility.
  • Stay involved in after school activities.  Seek leadership roles if possible.


  • Meet with your high school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and full college admission requirements.
  • Register and take the standardized tests SAT/ACT required for college admission.
  • Apply to the colleges you have chosen.  Prepare your applications carefully.  Follow the instructions and pay close attention to deadline dates!
  • Ask your counselor or teachers to submit you require document such as your transcript and letters of recommendation to the colleges you are applying.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or shortly after October 1 to ensure you receive your financial aid in a timely manner.  To complete the FAFSA go to:  Make sure you pay attention to your college deadline date requirements.


  • Soon after completing the FAFSA you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR).  Review and quickly make any necessary corrections and submit them to the FAFSA processor.
  • Complete any last scholarship applications.


  • Visit colleges you have been accepted to!
  • Review your college acceptances and compare the financial aid offers from each.
  • Contact the financial aid office if you have any questions about the financial aid being offered to you.
  • When you decide which college you want to attend, notify the school of your commitment and submit any required financial deposits.  Many schools require that you notify and make any required deposits by May 1.

Plan Your Future