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College probably seems a long way off. But you can get on the road toward college. This is particularly true as you select your classes and start planning the courses you'll take in high school. Get ready by planning to take college-prep or tech-prep courses in high school. Now is the time to plan how to meet requirements to get into college.

I started taking Spanish this year. I'll take algebra next year. Getting ready for college is kind of like checking off things on a checklist.”  --Lindsay W., 7th-grade student

Studies show that if students take algebra and geometry earlystarting in the eighth and ninth gradethey are more likely to go on to college than students who don´t. By taking algebra soon, you´ll probably be able to enroll in chemistry, physics, and advanced math courses before you finish high school. Then you will have room in your high school schedule to take a second language, art or Advanced Placement course. Making good grades in these kinds of tough courses can be a big plus in helping you get into college.

Here are two of the most important things you can do right now to prepare for college:

  • sign up for the right courses, and
  • work hard to do well.
To prepare for college, you should take the following courses: Mathematics, English, Science, and History or Geography. These courses make up thecorecourses you should take every year.

Types of classes:

Algebra I


Algebra II




Types of classes:






World Literature

Types of classes:






History or Geography
Types of classes:


U.S. History

U.S. Government

World History

World Cultures



Take algebra soon.

Take algebra (beginning in eighth grade) and geometry (beginning in ninth grade).

You want to take algebra and geometry as soon as possible. Algebra and geometry are the foundation for many advanced math and science courses (such as chemistry and physics) that some colleges want high school students to take.

Foreign Language
(two years are recommended)

Language skills show that you can learn basics and you're preparing to work in the global economy. Many colleges require high school students to take at least two years of a foreign language, and some prefer three.

Arts Courses
(take the arts as an essential part of your education)

Arts courses broaden your understanding and appreciation of the world and develop your skills to see differences, figure out patterns, and examine how you make decisions.

Types of classes:

  • Art

  • Dance

  • Drama

  • Music

Computer Science
(take advantage of all opportunities)

Computer technology can help you find more information and do schoolwork better and faster. Also, more and more college courses and jobs require a knowledge of computers.

Other Challenging Courses
Types of classes:
  • Economics

  • Psychology

  • Statistics

  • Astronomy

  • Research Projects and Independent Projects

  • Oral and Written Communication

You can get plenty of help as you map your way to college. People willing to help you include your parents, teachers, counselors, and librarians. All of them can be good resources. But they won't know you need support and encouragement unless you let them in on your plans. Tell them you're interested in putting college in your future. Ask them to be on your college support team. Ask for their help.

Ask the folks on your college support team if they know about any programs or activities that can help you reach your college goal. You might ask specifically about:

  • A Before-school or After-school Program that's especially for kids who are thinking about college;

  • A Mentor Program where you can meet regularly with a college graduate who can tell you what to expect and plan for; maybe you can help tutor a student to read in elementary school; and

  • Summer Programs, Internships, and Advanced CoursesAre any of these a good idea for you? If so, which ones? When should you take them?