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11th Grade: What You Need to Do to Prepare for College

The first part of high school is over, and it's time to get serious about your college search. Build on what you did in 10th grade to prepare for college, and get ready for senior year.

Students stop for a chat between classes

Get Good Grades

This is the year that college and universities will look at most closely. Even if you aren't thrilled with your academic record so far, college admission officers give points for improvement, so keep at it.

Get Recommended

Toward the end of the school year, ask the adults who know you best if they will be willing to write recommendation letters as part of your college application packets. You can ask teachers, coaches or mentors ... but not Mom and Dad.

College Admission Test Prep

Plan on taking the PSAT again in the fall. These scores can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship program, which can earn you money for college. It's also good practice for other college admission tests. In the spring, register for the ACT, as well as the SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, and any AP tests you want to take. Consider taking a test-preparation class, or invest in an instructional book with practice tests. Some colleges require ACT or SAT scores during the application process, others do not. By taking the ACT or SAT, you'll keep your options open. 

Focus Your College Search

Picking a college or university is similar to tackling a big research project. Keep files on colleges that interest you, what majors they offer, financial aid options and what you like about each campus.

After you take college admission tests, you'll probably start receiving a lot of university brochures in the mail. Request information from colleges that spark your interest. Keep your eyes open for college fairs, and plan campus visits to talk with current students.

Decide How to Pay for College

Talk to your parents about your family's financial resources, and gather information about scholarships, grants and student loans. High-school-sponsored financial aid nights and college financial aid counselors are good sources of information. Some scholarship deadlines are early, so get ready to submit your applications.

Prepare for College Athletics

Want to play Division I or II sports? Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse, and be sure to send them your SAT/ACT scores.

Keep Up Your Involvement

Make the most of your extracurricular interests. Volunteer for leadership roles in your church, activities and sports teams. Consider starting a new club at school. Find out about other high school activities that make you attractive to colleges.

Got all that? You're almost there. Check out how to prepare for college in 12th grade, or get more college advice from Be a Billiken.