Once you’ve decided that you want to attend college, it’s very important to consider the many college planning resources available to you.
If you look around, you will realize there are many people, classes, books, web sites, and other resources that can help you get ready for the journey to college.
So where do you start?
Here are five steps to take to make sure you have the right college planning resources at your fingertips.
Step 1: Ask Yourself What You Want Out of College
Even if you’re a freshman, it’s never too early to decide what subject you want to major in. Find an area of study that really interests you and research the types of viable job opportunities connected to it.
Also, figure out what type of college setting suits you: will you be more comfortable attending college locally or out-of-state? Do you want a rural or urban campus? A big campus or a small one?
You don’t need to answer every these questions right away, but knowing the answers will help you with the college prep process.
Step 2: Find People Who Can Help
Talking to school counselors, family members and neighbors can help you figure out which colleges may interest you and what areas of study you may excel in.
If you have questions about a career you may want to pursue, consider contacting an industry professional to see if you can shadow them, ask questions and learn more about her profession. It’ll help you decide if a certain career is right for you.
Step 3: Evaluate Your School and Its Curriculum
According to US News & World Report, two thirds of college freshmen are underprepared for the rigors of college coursework. To avoid playing catch up when you get to college, you’ll want to challenge yourself academically as much as possible. Figure out what your school offers and how to squeeze the most out of it.
Your high school should work with you if it doesn’t offer the type of academic classes you’re seeking. Talk to a teacher or your guidance counselor for information on where and how to enroll. Local community colleges almost always offer entry-level college courses to high school students.
Step 4: Get To Know The World of Standardized Tests
Aside from taking SAT’s, high school students might want to consider taking other college prep tests like the PSAT or ACT.
The PSAT is a test that’s offered to freshmen, sophomores and juniors and serves as a practice tool for later tests. It also gives students a chance to quality for some college scholarships, specifically the National Merit Scholarship.
The ACT exam is used as a measures academic ability and college readiness. Although not as popular as the SAT, its reach is just as widespread.
If you’re serious about planning for college, figure out which exams to take, when they’re offered, and how hard you will find them. Do you need test prep? Should you take classes? Better to know sooner rather than later.
Step 5: Start Preparing for the Financial Aid Process
More likely than not, you will need some form of aid to go to college. While you don’t need to figure out exactly how much right away, you will want to know the ins and outs of financial aid.
Aid comes in three general forms: grants, loans and work-study. A grant is money that doesn’t have to be paid back. Loans are given through a bank and have to be paid back, usually beginning upon six months after graduating college. Work-study is a program designed to give jobs to full-time students so it can help them pay off any school related expenses.
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