Preparing for College

No matter what grade you are in, 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 prep book just yet though! We have put together some recommendations for where you should begin this process.

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

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 at the same time and it may be hard to decide what is best for you. As you try to answer the question, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” here are some other questions to 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 teachers and school counselor about your ideas and what it will take to get there.

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.

8th Grade

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 school 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.

Freshmen in High School

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 environment would be best for you?
  • 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 from your college experience?
  • Requirements: Look into the requirements or recommendations for the program to which you plan to apply. There could be classes you may have to take before being considered for the program. What are the recommended or required classes?

Get Involved

Having a good GPA and test scores is a start, but colleges will be looking for other qualities in applicants down the road. To make the most of your high school experience and to help develop various skills such as leadership, communication, and time management, we recommend students get involved in school or community 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 various personal 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.

High School Students

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.

  • please be advised, the University of Cincinnati is offering test-optional admission to students applying for the fall 2021 and fall 2022 terms
  • an SAT or ACT score will not be required for applicants who wish to be considered for these upcoming semesters
  • FAQ regarding test-optional

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 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

The University of Cincinnati offers a variety of recreational and educational summer 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.