No matter where you are in your education, it is never too early to start thinking about college and planning for your future. Don't feel like you have to crack open the ACT practice test just yet though! Consider the time you have before taking that next step and what makes the most sense for you as you begin researching colleges and future careers. We have put together some recommendations for where you should begin this process.
Preparing for College
6th and 7th Grade
You have so many things to choose from when it comes to your future career! This can be exciting and scary all at the same time and it may be hard to decide what is best for you. When it comes to the question of, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” here are some other things you should ask yourself.
- What are my interests?
- What subjects do I like in school?
- What do I like to do in my spare time?
- What do I do to have fun?
The answers to these questions will help you figure out the major in college or career path you want to take. Talk with your school teachers and school counselor to see how to get on the path or ideas that you may have.
What should you be doing now?
Develop Good Study Habits
- Creating a schedule to organize how you study will help you prepare for high school and, ultimately, college as well. A study schedule allows you to practice your time management skills. Managing your time will help you plan ahead and prioritize, important skills for your future success.
Focus On Your Interests
- What excites you? Use your interest as a starting point in order to find the path that you should be on throughout high school and college.
Work Hard In School
- Your academic preparedness now will set you up for success in high school and college. Pursue your interests, but don't forget to focus on your core academics. While colleges do not see your grades now, it is a good start to be prepared for high school.
Start Making Your List
- Have a list of three to five college majors that you are interested in. This list may change and that is ok! Start exploring the academic programs available at the University of Cincinnati and learn more about what it means to be a Bearcat.
Now that you have devised your list of three to five college majors you are interested in, you can begin thinking about how high school will prepare you to pursue one of these. It is time to begin considering potential high shcool course schedules and figure out what classes you will need in order to graduate from high school and be prepared for college. Your high school guidance counselor will help you but it is never too early to do your own research.
At the beginning of high school, you have the opportunity to start fresh with your grades! Keep in mind, this GPA will be the one you send to colleges. It is important that you develop a good study plan and study habits in order to keep your GPA high. When applying to college, those schools will see all your grades from 9th to 11th grade. Start strong and finish strong.
What should you be doing now?
Do Research About Colleges
- This is a good time to start thinking about what colleges you may be interested in. You should consider the following:
- Program of Study: Look at what programs are offered at the college and determine if they are programs that interest you.
- Campus Size: Consider what size college would meet your needs and make you feel most comfortable. Is the college campus you are looking at small, medium, or large? What size would you prefer?
- Campus location: Think of the location of the college and the area surrounding the campus. Is it urban, suburban, or rural?
- In-state or out-of-state: Be sure to consider the overall location of the institution and whether or not it is in your home state. This may affect how far you have to travel as well as cost or types of scholarships available to you.
- Type of school: 2-year and 4-year schools offer students very different experiences. What are you looking for in your university experience?
- Requirements: Look into the requirements for the program to which you wish to apply. There could be classes you may have to take before being considered for the program.
- Having a good GPA and test scores is a good start, but to make your application more well-rounded you should be involved in extracurricular activities. Playing sports, working part-time, shadowing someone in the professional field you might pursue, or volunteering are all great ways to build a resume of extracurricular activities and strengthen your time management skills.
Get Accustomed to High School
- Your first year in high school may be an adjustment year. Get to know your school, the structure of classes, the teachers, and your counselors. Knowing all of these things will help you find the resources you need to succeed.
Know Your Requirements
- Depending on where you live, your state high school graduation requirements may look different than other states'. Knowing what the graduation requirements are where you go to high school will help you sign up for the right classes in the right order.
You have made it through freshman year of high school successfully, but now what? As you settle into your high school community, be thinking about how to set yourself up for success when you apply to colleges during your senior year.
What should you be doing now?
Continue Researching Colleges
- Your opinions and preferences may change as you move through high school. You may even learn about new academic or job fields that interest you. Continue to research your college options and regularly revisit the questions about academic programs, campus size, and campus location.
Get To Know Your Teachers and Counselors
- This may not be at the top of your to-do list, but keep in mind that you may need a letter of recommendation from one of your teachers or counselors for your college applications. Getting to know your teachers or counselors now will help them write a sincere and honest recommendation letter when it comes time to apply.
Research the ACT and SAT
- At this point, you may or may not have heard about these two standardized tests. Both the ACT and SAT are tests that students may take in order to apply to an institution of higher education. You are likely to only have to take one of the two tests, but please refer to the college you are interested in to see if they prefer one over the other. You may want to take one or both of these multiple times in order to get the highest possible score.
Refine and Master Your Study Habits
- As mentioned in the freshman year strategies, developing good study habits will help you prepare for college. Good study habits require time management, prioritization, and discipline. You are more likely to finish your work and excel if you plan your day out. These are skills you must master to be successful in college.
Research Different Careers and the Required Degree for Those Careers
- Not every career will require the same type of college degree, which is why you should start your degree research by looking up the career(s) in which you are currently interested. By knowing the career path and what is required, you can tailor your college search to the majors and programs that are associated with your interests.
- Some careers will require that you obtain an advanced degree or a professional degree. Here are some examples of careers and their associated degree requirements:
- Nurses – Certifications (RN) or Bachelor’s degree + certification test (BSN
- Medical Doctors – Bachelor’s degree + Medical School (MD,DO)
- Lawyers – Bachelor’s degree + Law school (JD)
- College professors – Bachelor’s degree + Graduate school (Masters/Doctoral)
- Teachers – Bachelor’s degree + Graduate school (MS)
Consider Attending a Summer Program at the University of Cincinnati
- The University of Cincinnati offers a variety of recreational and educational workshops or day camps for high school students. This is a great way for you to explore your interests and learn more about what the University of Cincinnati has to offer.
By the time your senior year rolls around, you will be ready to begin your college applications at the institutions you have narrowed your search to. Put your best foot forward by using our Application Tips and Resources.