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Planning For College

Choosing Your Future

     It is really important that as a student in high-school - you begin planning your college career as early as possible. Some of the decisions that you make as early as 8th grade can have an effect on your college career. They affect how soon you'll go to college, what type of college you'll attend, and even whether you'll go to college at all. Here are some ways to start planning as soon as possible:

1. Get Involved.

     Getting ready for college isn't all work. Find something you really like doing, then dive into it. Maybe you're drawn to sports, student council, music, art, etc. You'll develop skills and show colleges your ability to make a commitment and stick with it.

2. Take Challenging Courses.

     Colleges do look at your grades, but they also pay attention to how difficult your courses are. They want to see that you've challenged yourself. Plus, if you pursue advanced courses, such as AP®, you may be able to get college credit.

3. Get Help.

     Having trouble in a class? Many schools have peer tutors, students in upper grades who'll help you (for free). Talk to teachers or counselors -- let them know you want extra help.

4. Read.

     Read at least 30 minutes every day, beyond study and homework. People who read more know more.

5. Don't Delay.

      You'll take the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior (or even as a sophomore). Most students take the SAT in their junior or senior year. Be sure you're taking the solid math and other courses that get you ready. Talk to your counselor to make sure you're on track.

6. Get Facts about applying for college.

      How can you find out about college admissions, work, and campus life? Ask someone who's done it, such as college students who went to your high school. Get to know your counselors. Ask a career planner at a local college, or a teacher. Do Web research.

7. Involve Your Family.

      When parents or guardians haven't been to college themselves, they may think they can't help you. That's not true. They can talk to counselors and help you stay on the right path.

8. Look for a Mentor.

     Look for adults who can lend their enthusiasm and help you succeed at your goals. If you're interested in a particular subject or activity talk to a teacher or leader who knows about it. Find a counselor or teacher you trust to talk about your goals.

9. Confront Personal Roadblocks.

      If you have a problem that's getting in the way of schoolwork, don't ignore it. Talk to your friends, family, or another adult -- parent, coach, nurse, counselor -- who may be able to offer advice.

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