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College Readiness

Article by Dr. Alisha Broughton

Recommended College Prep Courses


English Four years of English
Mathematics Three years of mathematics, including rigorous courses in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II
Natural Sciences Three years of science, including rigorous courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics
Social Studies Three years of social studies
Additional Courses Some colleges and universities require other classes as prerequisites for admission, such as two or more years of the same foreign language or courses in the visual arts, music, theater, drama, dance, computer science, etc.
*Specific high school course requirements vary from institution to institution. Be sure to check with the schools you’re interested in to see what they recommend or require.


Checklist for Making the Most of High School

• Take classes recommended for college preparation. Talk to your counselor.
• Use testing information. Examine your scores and take extra courses or get tutoring assistance for weaker academic areas.
• Establish goals for each school year. Talk to your counselor about what you should be doing in light of your college and career plans.
• Explore careers through research and experiences. Use a career counseling program and job shadow or do internships in careers you are interested in pursuing.
• Surf the Internet for information on education and career planning.
• Take a college entrance exam during your junior year.
• Never stop learning. Education is a lifelong pursuit.
What do I need to do to attend college?
A. Start applying for scholarships in your ninth grade year. Look online for scholarships, or check with your schools guidance department.
B. Make a list of the top five schools that you wish to attend, and contact the
Admissions office to schedule a visit and for an application.
C. Take Your SAT’s (several times)
D. References
E. Written essays
F. Acceptance Letter
G. Recommendation Letters from guidance department/teachers


Questions to Ask on a Campus Visit

• What activities and services are available to help students get settled (academically and socially) during their first year?
• How big are the classes?
• (Ask students) How easy is it to meet with faculty?
• (Ask students) Are you able to register for the classes you want?
• What is the total cost of attending the college?
• What types of financial aid does the college offer and how do I apply?
• Are all freshmen assigned to an academic advisor?
• Where do most freshmen live?
• Can I take a tour?
• What activities are available for students?
• Who teaches the courses for first-year students?
• How successful are the college’s graduates in finding jobs?
• What services (such as transportation and shopping) are available locally?
• What is there to do on weekends? Do most students stay or leave campus on weekends?

Apply to “Choice” Colleges

Before you start applying to schools, find out the application deadline and fees for each school you are considering.
The application process at each school is unique. You’ll find different requirements, prerequisites, and levels of selectivity. Some things remain consistent though, and we have advice to help you through the application process.
Start early.
It takes time to get ACT scores tabulated and sent, and it takes time for school counselors and others providing references to gather information.
Follow the instructions and proofread.
The application form is often an admission committee’s first contact with a prospective student. Make a good impression with a neat application free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Work with your high school to send transcripts & test scores.
Go to your school guidance office for help getting all necessary transcripts, records, test scores, and applications sent to prospective schools. If you decide to apply to schools that have not already received your ACT scores, you can ask ACT to send your scores to that college.

Make the most of personal references.

• Ask people who know you and can support the recommendation well.
• Prepare a neat and legible reference form.
• Give your references plenty of time—a school counselor isn’t likely to write glowing recommendations for last-minute requests! Allow at least two weeks before application deadlines.
Write an outstanding essay.
Most college applications require an essay, so spend time crafting a good one. A great essay probably won’t get you into college if you don’t meet the other academic requirements. But if a student is a “possible admit”— one of the “maybes” the college may admit—it can move him or her higher up on the list.
Be ready to interview, audition, or submit a portfolio.
Some colleges also require a personal interview or examples of work in special areas such as art or music.

Keep a copy of all your application materials.

Identify Important Factors in Choosing a College
In choosing a college, the first things you’ll probably consider will be the type of academic program and the availability of the major or majors—you are most interested in.
Here are some other things to think about as you compare colleges. How you rank these other factors will depend largely on your personal preferences and needs?
Number your top five factors by importance below.

• distance from home

• type of school (2-year or 4-year)
• school setting (urban, rural)
• location and size of nearest city
• co-ed, male, female
• religious affiliation

• enrollment
• physical size of campus

Admission requirements
• deadline(s)
• test(s) required
• average test scores, GPA, rank
• special requirements

• majors offered
• special requirements
• accreditation—recognized by regional or national accrediting bodies as meeting its

• student-faculty ratio
• typical class size

College expenses
• tuition, room and board
• estimated total budget
• application fee, deposits

Financial aid
• deadline(s)
• required forms
• % of student population receiving aid
• scholarships
• part-time employment opportunities

• residence hall requirements
• availability
• types and sizes
• food plans

• academic
• recreational
• other

• clubs, organizations
• sororities/fraternities
• athletics, intramurals
• other

Campus visits
• when to visit
• special opportunities

Tips for College Readiness/Schools, Colleges

Are your student’s college-ready? Here are Top 10 Tips to improve college-readiness and create a “college-going culture” at your school:
1. Leadership: Your school’s approach to “Career and College Readiness” should be led by your principal and leadership team: develop a strategy, allocate resources, and implement your plan.
2. Universal Messaging: Once you have a plan (see Tip #1): make sure it’s being implemented at all levels (administrators, teachers, parents, and students). For example, have teachers explain how their classes relate to specific college majors and career paths.
3. College-Going Culture: Having a “college-going culture” at your school means there is an expectation that students will apply to and attend college. Appoint specific staff members to help upperclassmen apply for college and scholarships.
4. Extracurricular Activities: Encourage students to participate in and document their participation in extracurricular activities. Teachers and guidance counselors help students understand why a well-rounded résumé matters and guide them toward suitable activities.
5. Homecoming Day: Bring back graduates and have them present to different grades, individually and on panels, giving students the opportunity to ask graduates questions. Teachers can share their college experiences and/or conduct workshops focused on different aspects of the college process, and graduates and faculty can connect during a meeting or lunch.
6. College Shirt Day: All staff members wear an item from the college they attended. If students have any college items from family or friends, they can wear those as well. Throughout the day, create opportunities for students to have dialogue with teachers about the colleges they attended.
7. Parent Workshops: Invite parents to participate in an ongoing conversation about post-high school opportunities. For example, have a Family Conference on a weekend and invite parents to come, with their children, to a series of college-related workshops. Invite college students to be workshop facilitators and/or present on a panel. Invite parents of graduates to speak with parents of students who have not yet gone through the application and matriculation process. Take advantage of other events, like talent shows or sports events, to share critical information with parents and build awareness among families.
8. Distribute information about the college process and services at your school at this event.
9. Career Fair: Invite adults from different fields to come to your school for a career fair. This can be structured in a variety of ways: with representatives speaking to individual classes or with reps sitting at different tables and students going around with a guide and set of interview questions. All visitors will speak about the educational pathways they took to their professions.
10. College Fair: Invite local colleges to set up tables at your school and speak to students. Invite graduates attending nearby colleges to represent their colleges at the fair. Create a guide so students can make the most of the day.

Contact Dr. Alisha Broughton at


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