Early College Prep: Tips for College-Bound Kids

College might seem far off, but it's never too early to start setting goals and mapping out your future. Even if you're still working on middle school, our timeline can help you figure out how you can go to college.

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8th Grade

  • Tell the world, "I'm going to college!"
  • Keep (or start) saving for college.
  • Enlist your family as a support team, and find mentors who believe in you.
  • Make sure the high school you plan to attend is state-accredited and offers a formal college-prep curriculum.
  • Get involved. Take on leadership roles, and volunteer in your community.
  • Read, read, read! Fiction or nonfiction, magazines or news stories on the web. The more diverse your material, the more new ideas and vocabulary words you'll encounter, which will be handy when you take those standardized admission tests.

9th Grade

Prepare for College

Schedule a time to sit down with your parents and school counselor to look at the four years ahead of you. Map out what classes you want to take in high school, being sure that you cover the basic preparatory courses that most colleges require:

  • 3 years of general electives
  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of math
  • 3 years of foreign language
  • 3 years of natural science
  • 3 years of history/social studies

Aim High

Grades are important, but colleges also respect the challenge posed by honors, advanced-placement and college-level classes. Push yourself hardest in subjects you love, since you're likely to do better in subjects that interest you.

Find Your Passions

Preparing for college isn't just about hitting the books. Explore a hobby; try a sport; join an academic club; volunteer for a worthy cause; learn an instrument. Colleges want smart students, but they also want interesting students who love to learn.

Done with your freshman year? Find out what you need to do to prepare for college in the 10th grade.

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