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College Planning

En Español: Planeando para los estudios superiores 

Planning for college begins early, ideally even before high school. By the time a student chooses courses for the freshman year of high school, both parents and students should be aware of the high school courses required for college entrance.

The best preparation for college is a strong curriculum that is challenging and emphasizes academic courses such as English, foreign language, math, science and social studies throughout the four years of high school. Keep in mind that colleges list only the minimum requirements for admission; taking an additional year of math, foreign language, and science can give a student a competitive edge. While it is important to take the most challenging curriculum that you can handle, be realistic in deciding how much challenge is right for you.

Choosing electives wisely can also make a student more competitive for college admission. Electives provide an opportunity to explore interests and enhance the core curriculum. If you have an interest in an elective not taught at your school, consider taking a course at a community college or on-line.

Involvement in extra-curricular activities provides another way for students to broaden their horizons. Volunteering in the community and participating in school clubs, music, drama, forensics, student government, and sports provide opportunities for well-rounded students. Showing commitment is much more important than a long list of activities.

Students should take the the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in October of the junior year. This is in preparation for taking the SAT I.

Most four-year colleges require applicants to have taken either the SAT I or the American College Test (ACT). The best preparation for these tests is long range: read, read, read, take rigorous courses in high school, and achieve high grades in them. These tests should be taken during the latter part of the junior year and/or no later than December of the senior year.

Many colleges also require three SAT II tests which include tests in English, math, and in one area which the student chooses.

Preparing for colleges also includes learning about colleges. College representatives visit high schools; attend these presentations. If at all possible, visit the campuses of colleges in which you have an interest. Tours on-line are also available.

Attend the annual Kern County College Night held at the Bakersfield Convention Center in September. Be aware of timelines and deadlines. Most high schools publish a bulletin which gives information important to planning for college. Read this bulletin regularly.

GET TO KNOW YOUR SCHOOL COUNSELOR. BECOME FAMILIAR WITH YOUR CAREER/COLLEGE CENTER. These are valuable sources on information about college.