10th Grade: What You Need to Do to Prepare for College
Eighth and ninth grades are behind you, and you've got a general idea of what you need to do to go to college after graduation. Here are things you can do in 10th grade to get ready for college and the college search:
Get Ready to Apply
Keep a file with all the materials you might need for future college applications:
- School transcripts
- A list of school and community activities
- Awards and honors
- Paid and volunteer work experience
- A list of adults who know you well and will write recommendation letters
Meet Your Counselor
Have you met your high school counselor? If not, stop by your the guidance office and set up a time to meet. Your counselor can help you review your classes to make sure your high school course load will meet college admission requirements.
Hobbies, sports and service clubs are all important, but start focusing on your passions. It's better to pursue things you really care about than to stuff your schedule just to appear well-rounded.
Some colleges require ACT or SAT scores as part of their application process. Start getting ready for the SAT or ACT during your sophomore year by taking the ACT PLAN or PSAT. (You can take the PSAT test twice; once now and once in your junior year.) In the spring, consider taking SAT Subject Tests and AP exams for courses you took during your sophomore year.
Start the College Search
There are a lot of choices out there! Do you want a big school or small? Will you want to travel abroad? Read as much as you can about different schools. Use online college finders, search top-college lists and check your library for college guidebooks. Make two lists — one of schools that interest you and the other with attributes that are most important to you in a college or university — and discuss them with your parents and school counselor.
Use the Summer
Get a job and earn some cash, volunteer time to a cause you care about, perform in a theater production or take an interesting class. If you do some traveling, try to visit colleges and universities, even ones you don't think you would attend. Every bit of information helps with your decision.
Look for Scholarships
Your PSAT scores could qualify you for a scholarship, so consider taking a test-prep course. Your guidance counselor can suggest other scholarships that might fit your needs, and free online search sites can help find even more financial aid for college. It pays to start looking and applying early!
Finished with your sophomore year? Find out what you need to do to prepare for college in 11th grade.
- 10th Grade: What You Need to Do to Prepare for College
- 11th Grade: What You Need to Do to Prepare for College
- 12th Grade: What You Need to Do to Prepare for College
- Checklist: What to Bring to College — and What to Leave at Home
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- College Majors Quiz
- International Student Checklist: A To-Do List for Students From Outside the U.S.
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