College Planning Checklist
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Specific things need to be done each year of high school to plan and prepare for college. Use this college planning checklist to keep track of your progress for freshman year.
- Plan challenging high school courses
- Find out why you should go to college
- Become familiar with college entrance requirements
- Take PSAT 8/9
- Review PSAT 8/9 results with your parents and school counselor
- Think about your reason for attending college
- Join/continue extracurricular activities--Colleges would rather see you passionate about a few worthwhile activities than marginally involved with a number of clubs
- Attend summer camp at a college to experience a college-like atmosphere
- Continue/Start saving for college
- Research college costs
- Meet with your college/career counselor at least once a year
- Explore careers on the Internet by using DISCOVER® (www.act.org)
What is FAME? Freshman Achieving More Excellence
- Freshmen gather in the gym 4 times/year as Mr. Walter walks them through the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.
- FAME is mandatory for all freshmen.
There are 3 phases to the FAME program:
- How to Get Good Grades in Ten Easy Steps by Woodburn Press--information shared at the Freshman Success Seminar located at the Tomball Community Center.
- BACK PACK, Jimmy Cabera talks about packing for success.
- Sean Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens will be covered during FAME Thursdays beginning at 7:45.
***FAME Dates for 1st semester: Sept. 14; Sept. 28; Oct. 19; Oct. 26
Checklist for Making the Most of High School
- Take classes recommended for college preparation. Talk to your counselor.
- Use testing information. Examine your scores and take extra courses or get tutoring assistance for weaker academic areas.
- Establish goals for each school year. Talk to your counselor about what you should be doing in light of your college and career plans.
- Explore careers through research and experiences. Use a career counseling program and job shadow or do internships in careers you are interested in pursuing.
- Surf the internet for information on education and career planning.
- Never stop learning. Education is a lifelong pursuit.
- Utilize Family Connection and College Board (www.collegeboard.org) in this process.
Plan Your High School Course Selections
- Electives are courses students may select to meet total graduation requirements.
- Colleges care about which courses you're taking in high school.
- The courses you take in high school show colleges what kind of goals you set for yourself. Are you signing up for Honors, Pre-AP, AP or Dual Credit classes? Are you choosing electives that really stretch your mind and help you develop new abilities? Or are you doing just enough to get by?
- Colleges will be more impressed by respectable grades in challenging courses than by outstanding grades in easy ones.
- Each college and university may have different high school course requirements. Be sure to check with the colleges you're interested in to see what they recommend or require.
High School Academic Performance
GPA is computed by finding the average of all GPA points earned in each course (generally, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0).
Everyone knows you need good grades to get into college. If you're a high school freshman or sophomore, keep in mind that the grades you're earning now will affect your overall GPA just as much as your later grades will. Don't wait to start buckling down! Although a good GPA is important, don't believe the GPA Myth and take easy classes just to pad your GPA. Most colleges require completion of certain high school courses for admission. Make sure you are taking the right courses so you'll be considered for admission to the school of your choice.
The GPA Myth
"It doesn't matter which classes I take in high school, as long as my grade point average is high." If you're playing the GPA game and taking a light schedule that isn't challenging, it will catch up with you at the college level very quickly. One of the things admissions officers pay attention to, besides GPA, is course selection throughout high school and especially senior year. They like to see students have momentum going into the freshman year of college. If you sit back your senior year, it's hard to recapture that momentum. Course selection can also affect admissions test scores. If you just go for a good GPA, you'll be less prepared for college and will score lower on entrance exams.
Why Go to College?
Whether you are uncertain about going to college or you just need some reassurance you're on the right track, here are a few reasons to go to college:
- Every bit of education you get after high school increases the chances you'll earn good pay. Most college graduates earn a lot more money during their working years than people who stop their education at high school.
- The more education you get the more likely it is you will always have a job. According to one estimate, by the year 2028 there will be 19 million more jobs for educated workers than there are qualified people to fill them.
- Continuing education after high school is much more important for your generation than it was for your parents' generation. Today most good jobs require more than a high school diploma. Businesses want to hire people who know how to think and solve problems.
- Education beyond high school gives you a lot of other benefits, including meeting new people, taking part in new opportunities to explore your interests, and experiencing success.
What do you want to be when you "grow up" and how will college help you get there? Although college cannot be all things to all students, with proper planning it can meet your needs and expectations. High school is an excellent time to identify what you expect from college.
Use your interests, abilities, and preferences to help you choose a career and plan your education. As you decide which schools and major(s) interest you, keep your long-term goals in mind. Decisions about school are part of the career planning process.
For example, if you like planes and want to design them, look for a strong aeronautical engineering program. Decide what you want from life and use college as a tool to help you get there.
Become Familiar with College Entrance Requirements
While particular requirements vary, every college sets some standard for evaluating prospective students. Even colleges with an open admissions policy will look at your high school record and other factors to decide which courses you will be allowed to take. So it's worth knowing about admissions requirements before you start applying to colleges.
Build a College Resume
Your involvement in school activities or other related organizations starts NOW! Colleges/Universities want to see you committing to activities you enjoy. If you are going to play a sport, play it for 4 years. If you are going to volunteer your time at a nursing home, do it regularly for 4 years. Colleges want to see commitments. Quality vs. Quantity. Spend a lot of time doing a few things vs. spending a little time doing many things. Check out the links below on how to start building your college resume in Family Connection.
Standardized Test Scores
Because grades may not tell the whole story about your academic ability, nearly all colleges will also ask you to submit scores from a national standardized test. The ACT and SAT are the two national exams used for this purpose.
Admission Essay, Interview or Other Requirements
Particular colleges may have additional entrance requirements such as admission essays or interviews. These additional requirements help the college decide how likely you are to fit into their campus community and succeed in their academic program.