Choosing a college could be the most important choice a high school student has ever made. Knowing what to expect and being prepared are vital for a more seamless transition on the road to higher education.
We’re here to help. Here are 10 important steps high school students can take to be better prepared for college.
1. Challenge yourself. High school students who take Advanced Placement classes can use AP test scores to waive English and math college assessment tests, notes Jessica Yakou, acting student success coordinator at Cuyamaca College. Likewise, getting an `A’ or `B’ in Algebra II at the high school level means no math assessments before going into college.
“The other advantage is that challenging yourself in high school will better prepare you for college,” Yakou said.
2. Think community college. At $46 per unit, courses at Grossmont or Cuyamaca College are a fraction of what you’ll pay at a UC or CSU campus. Why throw money away on expensive general education classes at a four-year university when you can take those same requirements in a more personalized setting at community college?
3. Apply Early. Not only does it relieve the stress of last-minute applications, but you'll have plenty of time to take assessment tests and develop your educational plan for college.
4. Explore whether the college has a program that helps first-year students succeed. Cuyamaca College has the First Year Experience program, while Grossmont College has the Freshman Academy. Both programs offer support and counseling to students to learn study skills, understand college resources, and plan their future schedules.
5. Take your assessment tests seriously. That goes for high school juniors preparing for their Early Assessment Test. These tests will determine whether you’ll be placed in remedial, basic skills courses at college. Free test prep resources abound. Take advantage of them.
6. Keep your options open. “Sometimes your original plan doesn’t work out, and it’s good to have another option in place to fall back on,” Yakou said. If you initially thought you might want to attend a four-year university, you might find that community college is a better fit for you.
7. Apply for scholarships. “There are so many out there that you can qualify for,” Yakou said. In fact, you can earn a scholarship for just about anything. Here is a sampling from Grossmont College. And here is a sampling from Cuyamaca College.
8. Visit the campus. Both Grossmont and Cuyamaca College are easily accessible. Schedule a tour. Talk with students. Ask them how much they love the school.
9. Consider the Grossmont Middle College High School Program. If you’re still in high school, you may want to consider this option as a great precursor to college. Grossmont Middle College High School is open to high school juniors and seniors who have the opportunity to complete graduation requirements while simultaneously earning college credits on the Grossmont College campus.
10. Check out the resources for future college students. Those considering Grossmont College as a first step in their higher education journey should visit the Prospective Students page on the Grossmont College website. Likewise, prospective Cuyamaca College students should check out the Future Students page on the Cuyamaca College website.