Get a Head Start on College

Building a Strong High School 4-Year Plan

Take calculated steps to prepare for college during high school.

College is a huge investment of your time and money, which is why preparing for college during high school is so important. Successfully preparing for college requires making solid, well-informed choices that prepare you to attend a university.

Planning for college during high school includes getting good grades, being as well rounded as possible and consulting with school counselors and teachers to ensure that you are on the right track. It means paying attention to where you thrive compared with where you struggle, in witnessing which subjects come easiest.

First Step in Planning for College: Build and Maintain a High Grade Point Average (GPA)

Colleges and universities consider your GPA when determining your admissions status, as it is an indicator of how well you are likely to perform at the college level. Courses of study and classes will be more demanding in college, so colleges look to your high school progresses to guestimate how well you will handle university curriculums.

You can increase your chances of having a high GPA by:

Studying hard and practicing what you learn. Ask for tutoring if your grades are slipping.

Improving your attendance. Try to avoid missing any tests, work or projects, especially those that count toward your GPA. If you miss tests due to illness or unforeseen circumstances, schedule a makeup test time with the instructor right away.

Taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Many AP classes are weighted, meaning that they count significantly toward improving your GPA and can even push it above the coveted 4.0. Plus, they give you the opportunity to earn college credit while you’re still in high school.

Check with your high school to see if the International Baccalaureate-IB program is offered. Like AP courses, most IB courses are weighted and can earn you college credit before you even enroll!

Make Sure Your High School Classes Prepare You for Your Desired Major.

Meeting high school graduation requirements doesn’t necessarily mean you’re prepared for your desired college major. Some things to consider when choosing high school classes:

A four-year college will probably want to see three or four credits in all of the core courses (English, math, social studies and science).

Four-year colleges may also wish to see two years of a foreign language.

Certain courses may be required for your particular major: (such as, physics and calculus for engineering programs). Ask your guidance counselor, and go to the websites of the colleges you’re considering to find out if there are any high school course requirements for the majors and programs you’re most interested in. You can also request information from the school using Campus Explorer’s School Request Information Form.

Ideas into Action: Implementing your High School Plan for College Admissions

After you’ve begun the process of preparing for college, begin instituting your plan into your daily habits. Here’s how:

Develop good study habits. Be honest with yourself. If 10 hours a week of studying doesn’t achieve the learning and recollection of information needed, then bump it up to 15. Not only does this prepare you for college studying, but it will also increase your GPA and prepare you for healthy self-evaluation in all areas of living.

Meet with your school counselor or college admissions representative to ensure you’re on the right track. You should do this when setting up your course schedule before each semester, and whenever you have any questions about how your path towards a good college is progressing. Keep a list of questions handy in a notebook, so that you can review everything at once and not forget key points you want to discuss.

Keep moving toward your goal. Take more courses related to your intended major, and do more activities that will appeal to colleges, such as taking AP classes, participating in extracurricular activities and doing community service or seeking out internships. Remember that it’s not entirely about grades. An impressive array of activities and examples of initiatives taken can give a boost to a transcript that is not elite from an academic perspective.

Tips and Tactics: More Ways to Prepare for College in High School

Develop a network of support with other students who are college-bound, and hold each other accountable. Share information, tips and advice with one another while you all implement your four-year college plans. Sometime when we seek to help or teach others, we end up telling ourselves what we most needed to hear to move forward.

Do you have a unique skill or a cause you’re passionate about? Start your own after-school club, or organize a community service project. Pursuing your talents and taking initiative to support a meaningful cause will help your college application stand out. It will also give you the unique opportunity to treat that project or group as a try out. This will teach you if you truly enjoy doing the tasks that job or interest involves doing.

Write down your goals and refer to them often. This will help you remember them, while sparking new ideas for making them happen. It also creates a time line so that you can look back to where an idea started, and where you want it to continue going. Doing this in an organized fashion creates a way to access counsel from your own mind.

Eligibility for College

Parents and students should be aware that completion of the A-G requirements does not guarantee admission to a university. A student’s grade point average and test scores will also factor into admissions decisions. In order to be competitive, students should plan to take higher levels of courses that exceed the A-G requirements. Students should consult their counselor for guidance in this area. Parents and students can log onto to see a list of A-G courses offered at each high school.

Various essays are required by some schools to demonstrate why a student wishes to attend, and to help them stand out. APEX helps its students learn self-awareness and real-world comparisons in lessons so that they are capable of handling all of the tests and tasks required in the process of applying to and being accepted in to college. Our students have attended universities and schools across the country successfully, and we expect that time-honored tradition to continue.