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Preparing for College

Authored By: 
George Higgins, Headmaster

What does college preparation mean?

Quite simply, it’s being ready to embrace and succeed with the rigors of college by the time you receive your diploma.  That is a four-year process that requires focus, discipline, and planning.  Many students are unsure of how to prepare for college in high school

 

When should you start preparing for college?

The process begins in the 9th grade and continues through your senior year of high school.  Always take the highest level of the core academic courses that your school offers and that you feel you have the educational foundation in which to do well.  That means avoiding AP Chemistry if your strengths are in the humanities.  Most people have areas of strength and weakness.  Unfortunately, you’re still going to have to take some upper-level math classes even if you are a stronger student in English.  Make sure your transcript reflects your areas of strength while continuing to get the highest grades that you can in the subjects that aren’t your forte.  High school preparation for college involves careful planning over multiple years.  When given course choices, choose those that will highlight your interests, career goals, and academic talents.

 

Should you take college-level classes in high school?

There are several options for college level classes in high school.  Many schools offer AP exams, which means that the advanced work you do during the school year can earn you college credit, depending on how well you score on the corresponding AP exam.

Another option is to take IB courses, although they are less common.  An International Baccalaureate course is similar to an AP course in that they are both advanced, college-level work and colleges like to see that on your transcript, but only if you have the ability, discipline, and drive to apply yourself.

Some colleges now offer courses for high school students who qualify.  These are generally availably to 11th and 12th grade students who can meet specific course requirements.   Often, these are offered during the summer months.  Contact a college directly to learn more about available programs and the enrollment prerequisite.

There are also many online courses available; however, I would not recommend enrolling in these and hoping that the college you attend your freshman year is going to honor those credits.  If you plan to utilize this option, contact the admissions office of the college that you are planning to attend and ask what their policy is about online course credits.

 

At the end of this process, colleges will ask for your senior year mid-year grades (7th semester).  Once your college guidance counselor has sent those, relax and wait for your decision notices which should all be sent to you by April 15th.  At that point, relax and look forward to your graduation ceremony.