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Tips on How to Prepare for College

  1. The Money Discussion. The earlier you start to prepare for college, the better. Talk to your parents about the cost of college and how you and your family will pay for it. Save as much as possible and be sure to explore all of your grant and scholarship options.

  2. Start Talking. Meet with your guidance counselor as early as possible (9th grade) to discuss how to prepare for college. Be sure you are taking classes that will help you meet these goals (including college preparatory courses and/or AP courses); also talk about your college major interests.

  3. Get Involved. It's important that you get involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, volunteering, student government, clubs or part-time work. These are important things to include on your college application, as schools take them into consideration when selecting applicants.

  4. Put Yourself to the Test. When preparing for college, make sure you sign up and prepare for all of the necessary standardized testing. The PSAT (taken at the beginning of sophomore year) helps you to prepare for the SAT and establishes your eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship competition and other select scholarships. Your SAT score is used at most colleges as part of their admissions requirement.

  5. Utilize Your Resources. Be sure to attend college fairs and financial aid nights at your high school. Continue to talk to your parents and guidance counselor about your college interests and how to further prepare for college. Research colleges to determine which ones you are interested in. Request catalogs from the admissions offices of the colleges you would like to attend.

  6. Apply Yourself. When you are ready to start applying to college (end of junior year/beginning of senior year), gather all of the necessary paperwork from each college you are interested in. Be sure to keep track of all important deadlines.

  7. Get the Details. When it comes to preparing for college there a lot of things to think about. Make sure you start early and gather all of the necessary information. For a detailed list of things to do to prepare for college, check out our Countdown to College checklist.

Get more information on preparing for college

For more information on how to prepare for college, visit our online student financing resources.

View and print a PDF version of these tips for students preparing for college.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

Sorting Through College-Related Mail
Choosing the Right School for You
Starting College: Where Do I Begin?
What to Look for on a College Campus Visit


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