What Does It Mean to  be College Ready?

College readiness refers to the set of skills, knowledge, and behaviors a high school student should have upon graduation and entering their freshmen year of college. It’s all about the ability to find success while studying at an institute of higher learning.

ACT defines college readiness as the acquisition of the knowledge and skills a student needs to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing, first year courses at a post secondary institution (such as a two- year, four-year, trade school, or technical school) without the need for remediation.

High School Planning for College

9th Grade Goals:

  • Start planning early so that you are better prepared.

  • Begin a college savings account.

  • Keep track of courses and grades.

  • Be mindful that colleges will look at grades from 9th-12th grades.

  • Learn about college entrance requirements.

  • Create a file for report cards, awards, honors, school and community activities, and volunteer work.

10th Grade Goals:

  • Prepare to take the PSAT test.

  • Get involved in clubs, sports, community service, and other extracurricular activities.

  • Consider the reasons you like different colleges such as programs, location, cost, size.

  • Tour colleges of interest.

  • Consider taking more challenging courses such as honors, advanced level courses, and AP.

11th Grade Goals:

  • Be mindful that colleges look closely at junior year grades.

  • Challenge yourself academically.

  • Take ACT/SAT http://actstudent.org;  http://sat.collegeboard.org

  • Attend college fairs.

  • Visit colleges to tour their campus and learn more about program offerings.

  • Know admission requirements to colleges of interest.

  • Find a summer job or internship in field of interest.

12th Grade Goals:

  • Review courses, graduation requirements, and scholarship information with your school counselor. 

  • Update resume.

  • Write college admissions essays early to be reviewed by teachers.

  • Ask teachers and counselors for letters of recommendations.  

  • Make transcript request early and follow up. 

  • Complete college applications

  • Be prepared for Early Decision Replies Dec. 1-Dec. 31.

  • Complete the college financial aid application and FAFSA between Jan. 1-Feb. 15.

  • Make sure your parents have completed their income tax returns.

  • Be prepared to hear from colleges by Spring.

  • Decide on a college and accept before college deadline. 

  • Prepare to take exams for AP and college-level courses.

  • Determine when fees for tuition and room and board are due and how much they will cost.

  • Learn about student health insurance in case of an emergency.

  • Prepare for college placement exams.

Choosing and Applying to College

Choosing a college that is right for you, your learning needs and career goals is one of the most important decisions you will make in deciding your future success.  It is important to do some research and visit the institutions you are interested in.  In these uncertain times of COVID 19 you may not be able to do an in-person college tour.  The WCPSS CDCs have put together a virtual college fair for you to explore some of the more popular post-secondary and Military options.  Click here to view the Virtual College Fair.  Contact Ms. Ward if you need additional help or information.

Applying to College:

  • Check to see if your colleges use the Common Application- nearly 700 schools do, but some only have applications through their school website

  • Start early- this will give you plenty of time to go back and make revisions as needed

  • Make sure you are putting activities in order of importance

  • You only have 150 characters to describe each extracurricular activity- make each word count

  • Don’t work on your essay in the Common Application- type it up in Microsoft Word and then paste it over when you are ready.

Essay Tips:

  • Start in the summer- many schools release their essay topics during the summer, so start writing before senior year starts. Your future self will thank you.

  • If you get to choose between several prompts, pick the one that speaks to you the most

  • Write with personality- this is your chance to show a part of yourself that the rest of the application can’t

  • Keep an eye on your word count

  • Don’t stress- college admissions will look at more than just your essay, so write as well as you can, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Letters of Recommendation:

  • Try to choose someone that knows you well and will have lots of positive things to write about

  • Give your recommender a resume or “brag sheet” to remind them a little about yourself and your interests

  • Don’t be afraid to follow up- if it’s been two weeks and you haven’t heard anything from them send a polite email reminding them of the deadline

  • Give thorough information on how to submit the letter- does it need to be submitted online or do you need a physical copy?

  • Be sure to send a thank you note

Additional Resources