By preparing for college as early as possible, you should be able to set up some long-term milestones that you need to meet as you proceed through the college preparation process. Developing short-term and long-term milestones can help you make wise decisions and choices as you go through high school and consider the colleges you want to attend.
PRE-HIGH SCHOOL CHECKLIST
•Begin by taking challenging courses as early as possible in English, math, science, history, the arts and a foreign language.
•Think about which high school courses are available to you that will help you prepare for college.
•Start saving for college now if you haven’t already!
•Investigate different investment and saving options available to you and your parents.
•Find a mentor who can help you through the college preparation process and will help to answer your questions as you prepare. Unfortunately, colleges don’t really explain what the steps are that you need to take.
•Continue taking challenging courses and look for AP courses if available.
•Get to know your guidance counselors
•Talk to adults in professions you find interesting and ask them what they had to do to prepare.
•Keep saving your money!
•Take AP courses and honor courses if available.
•Become involved in your community and take advantage of extracurricular activities available with your school, church or community. If you can hold a position in these organizations, that’s even better. Colleges like to see leadership roles and teamwork.
•Take the PSAT. You’ll have to register and pay for this test. If you have trouble paying for this test, inquire about a fee waiver with your guidance counselor.
•Take AP courses if available. Think about which courses will help you the most in college.
•Meet with counselors or your mentor to talk about your college options and which schools you should consider.
•Stay involved in activities and your community.
•Decide which colleges interest you the most and begin requesting admissions information from them.
•Visit college fairs if available.
•Visit colleges and talk to students from those colleges.
•Ask others for recommendations, such as teachers, employers and counselors.
•Investigate scholarships and other financial aid opportunities. Inquire if your parent’s employer, labor union or other organizations they are involved with offer scholarships to their children.
•Register for the ACT or SAT and other standardized tests you may be required to take.
•Take AP courses if available.
•Complete all necessary financial aid forms. Encourage your parents to get their taxes done as early as possible; your ability to qualify for financial aid and get aid depends on it! If you have been working, file your taxes as early as possible as well!
•Narrow down the colleges you want to attend and request applications and financial aid information. Be sure to get all deadlines and scholarship applications and deadlines.
•Visit the colleges that interest you the most.
•Register for standardized tests again if you want to improve your scores or have not yet taken these tests.
•Prepare your application early! Follow the instructions and watch your deadlines. You may also be required to write an essay.
•Request transcripts, letters of recommendations and other items the college requires with your application.
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