- Take challenging classes in core academic subjects. Most colleges require four years of English, at least three years of social studies (history, civics, geography, economics, etc.), three years of mathematics, and three years of science, and many require two years of a foreign language. Round out your course load with classes in computer science and the arts.
- Work with one of your parents to estimate your financial aid using FAFSA4caster and be sure to save for college.
- Get involved in school- or community-based activities that interest you or let you explore career interests. Consider working, volunteering, and/or participating in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops, and camps with specialty focuses such as music, arts, or science. Remember—it’s quality (not quantity) that counts.
- Ask your guidance counselor or teachers what Advanced Placement courses are available, whether you are eligible, and how to enroll in them.
- Use the U.S. Department of Labor’s career search tool to research your career options.
- Start a list of your awards, honors, paid and volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Update it throughout high school.
- Check out KnowHow2Go: The Four Steps to College, which suggests some actions you can take as you start thinking about education beyond high school.
- Learn about managing your money.
- Explore reasons to consider college and don't be afraid to ask for help from your parents, school counselor, and older students as you prepare.
- Talk to your child about college plans as if he or she will definitely go to college.
- Keep an eye on your child’s study habits and grades—stay involved.
- Encourage your child to take Advanced Placement or other challenging classes.
- Add to your child’s college savings account regularly; and make sure you are fully aware of the provisions of the account.
- Explore resources that help parents plan and pay for college.
- Read “Parent Power” to access ideas for remaining involved in your child’s progress.