Start preparing for college
It’s never too early to prepare for success in college, and the earlier you begin, the less you’ll have to scramble later. Get ready by working hard in your classes in middle and high school. Get involved in extracurricular activities both at school and in your community; explore your interests and develop your skills. View the high school timeline.
- Four years of English (with an emphasis on writing)
Reading nurtures an appreciation of people and ideas, expands vocabulary and enhances understanding. Clear and persuasive writing shows that you can think critically, interpret text and put it into context, solve problems and express information and ideas to others.
- Three or more years of mathematics
Understanding concepts, carrying out procedures and employing mathematical reasoning is applied in courses like biology, economics and psychology. Proficiency in algebra, geometry, data analysis and probability is necessary for college-level work, regardless of your intended major.
- Three or more years of science (including at least one year of laboratory science)
Familiarity with the basic principles of chemistry, physics and biology are the base for advanced scientific knowledge and important for understanding the relationship among science, technology and society.
- Three or more years of social science
The social sciences — economics, psychology, political science and others — increase understanding of the political, cultural, social, economic and geographical forces that produce changes over time.
- Two or more years of a world language
Studying another language provides practical skills for living and working in a diverse world. It enhances understanding of your first language, facilitates acceptance of cultures and aids cognitive development.
- Several courses in the arts
Music, theater, dance and studio art facilitate deeper insights into our world and stimulate creativity and imagination.
Participation in extracurricular activities is more than just fun; it demonstrates a broad range of interests and the ability to manage time — both keys to a successful college experience. So get involved. Participation in team or individual sports shows persistence and discipline. Involvement in community service or volunteer work shows willingness to contribute to the well-being of your neighbors. Involvement in a religious group, the school newspaper, special interest clubs, the debate team or band demonstrates commitment and develops your talents.
Talk to your parents and counselors
Take advantage of opportunities to talk with your parents and school counselor about your interests and goals. They can help you make the connection between your interests, education and career options. They can also help you meet deadlines for entrance exams and applications.
Begin exploring your career options
LinkedIn's field of study tool is a handy way to explore the wide range of career options based on what you might want to study in college — although you do need an account to use it. Initially, LinkedIn will suggest a field of study based on the information entered in your profile. From there, it will draw on information from ALL LinkedIn members to generate a list of:
- where people with that major often work
- the types of work they do
- which school they attended
- where they currently live
Click on one or more of these elements to narrow the results. Or enter a keyword in the search box. Use the "explore more" button to select or search for a different field of study.
Except for professional careers that have a very specific career path (like those in medicine, law or engineering), you’ll quickly discover that each major can lead to many different types of careers.
By saving and budgeting now for college, you can limit spending and borrowing during the college years. Talk with your family about making it a priority.
Earn credit in high school
Read our information about earning credit in high school.