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Preparing for College

Knowing what will be required for college is important; by taking the right courses and examinations from the beginning of high school, you may avoid college admission problems later on. In order to improve your chances of being admitted to a college of your choice, you should take a solid high school curriculum and perform well, become active in your school and community, prepare for and do well on standardize tests, and pursue extracurricular activities.

In addition, students who do not prepare academically in high school, if admitted for college, may be required to take remedial courses. Most colleges do not offer credit for remedial courses, and students may have to pay for these extra courses and spend extra time in college to earn their degrees.

To avoid possible admission problems, select a topic below to learn more:
Questions to ask guidance counselors.
Take Courses Recommended for College-Bound Students.
High School Courses Recommended for College.
Make Sure That All Courses Meet High Standards.
How to prepare for college outside the classroom.

Questions to ask guidance counselors.
What basic academic courses do they recommend for students who want to go to college?
How many years of each academic subject does the high school require for graduation?
What elective courses do they recommend for college-bound students?
How does a student go about completing recommended courses before graduating from high school?
Can students who are considering college get special help or tutoring?
What activities can students do at home and over the summers to strengthen their preparation for college?
How much homework is expected of students preparing for college?
What kinds of high school grades do different colleges require?

Take Courses Recommended for College-Bound Students.
To prepare for college, there is no substitute for getting a solid and broad academic education. This means you should take challenging courses in academic subjects and maintain good grades in high school. Your transcript will be an important part of the college application process.

A college education builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier years. It is best for you to start planning a high school course schedule early, in the seventh or eighth grade. Students who don't plan ahead may have difficulty completing all the required or recommended courses that will help them qualify for college.

Most selective colleges (those with the highest admissions requirements) prefer to admit students who have taken courses in certain subject areas. For example, many colleges prefer that high school students take at least geometry and trigonometry, rather than only general math and algebra. Basic computer skills are now essential, and some colleges prefer three or four years of a foreign language. Your guidance counselor can help you and your parent(s) determine the high school courses required or preferred by different types of colleges. If you are interested in specific colleges, you should contact those schools and ask about their admissions requirements.

Many high schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams. AP courses are college-level courses in approximately 16 different subjects; they help students prepare for college-level work while they are still in high school. Students who take AP courses are often more prepared for the academic challenges presented in college. In addition, a student who takes an AP course, and who scores a grade of 3 or higher on an AP exam, can often receive advanced placement in college and/or credit for a college course. However, not all colleges and universities give credit or advanced placement for earning a grade of 3 or higher on an AP exam. Write to the admissions office of the colleges that you are interested in attending to find out if they give credit for an AP exam grade of 3 or higher. Ask to obtain the college's AP policy in writing, or look for a discussion of the policy in the institution's catalog.

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High School Courses Recommended for College.

Credit: Preparing Your Child For College: 2000 Edition published by The U.S. Department of Education


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