Start early

In our survey of close to 5,000 high school students, 86 percent said that conversations about college began early and came to a peak in sixth through ninth grades. However, they also said they received little advice or support in the critical early high school years. They wished their schools had done more to get them thinking about college their freshmen year.

They start us on college too late. We should start a lot of things in ninth grade. Honor classes, we should have been taking those in ninth grade. You can’t just throw a child in  an AP class in twelfth grade and expect them to pass that exam.” - Carlos

All high schools should start getting students thinking about college in freshman or sophomore year. If not, they’re going to think what most of us thought, like, ‘We have two or three more years. We’ll be fine.’ Then, last minute we’re, ‘Oh, I need to do five or ten of these scholarships’ or, ‘Oh, I should have done better in that class. I needed that credit.’” - Melinda

At our school, they have an ACT prep class but you can't take it till your junior year. If they were to start with freshman, helping them get ready for the ACT, by their sophomore and junior years they’d have a feel for how it is. The more times you take it, the easier it gets, because you know what to expect.” - Gustavo

Begin forming your own path freshman year

“Freshmen and sophomore you hear about it. Junior year, you start hearing about it more towards the end. But senior year, it hits, everything at once.  You have your deadlines, your applications—not to mention your senior stuff like prom and yearbook. The best thing is as a freshman, talk to the teacher that inspires you and just ask her what are some small things that you can do now.” - Jazmin

You should start freshman year. Things are easier when you think ahead of time: ‘Okay, what does it take for me to graduate from high school, what does it take for me to get into college?’ Then ask,’What are some possible colleges that I can get into?’ The earlier you start, the easier it is for you to be picky, to choose something that you really like. You want to have a list of what it is you’re going for in a school, so you can rule out schools, as much as pick schools you like.” - John


Build your own college portfolio

We have created planning checklists for each high school grade, which you can use to build your own college portfolio. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE LISTS, GRADE BY GRADE. 

Here’s how our Grade 9 checklist begins:

✴	 Let your teachers know that you plan to go to college.

✴	 Are your courses considered “college prep”? If you don’t know, ask your guidance counselor to make sure they are.

✴	 Let your teachers get to know you better. For a start, write down the names of the ones you trust or admire most.

✴	 Do you know other students like you who are planning to go to college? It helps to share your ideas and plans with them. Write down the names of the ones you trust or admire most.

✴	 Read as much as you can this year. It will give you new ideas, make you a better thinker, and build your vocabulary. Start a list of things you enjoy reading.

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