Students and Parents

Preparing for College

Education after high school doesn't just mean getting a bachelor's degree at a college or university. It can mean anything from training at trade schools to a degree in law or medicine.

But getting more education after high school gives you a better chance at getting a good job, making more money, and having a fulfilling life.

Don't let doubts keep you from pursuing the education you want. Some students put obstacles in their own way by thinking:

My grades aren't good enough for college.

Your grades are important. They can help you get into certain programs and qualify for more financial aid. But grades and ACT/SAT scores aren't the only things schools look at. Even if your grades aren't the greatest, you should be able to find a school that will fit your needs.

I can't afford it.

Not many people can pay for trade school or college out of their own pockets. Most students have to rely on some type of financial aid. You can learn about the different types of aid on this website. Plus, some schools don't require you to pay for everything up front. They offer payment plans to make it easier for students to get an education. Talk with your school counselor and the financial aid offices at the trade schools or colleges you're interested in.

I don't know what I want to do with my life.

You're not alone, and that doesn't happen only to young people. You probably have older relatives and friends who changed careers sometime during their lives. Many students — anywhere from 10 to 40 percent, depending on all sorts of factors — change their majors while in college.

Here's the good news: if you decide to get a two-year or four-year degree, you'll have to take a lot of the same classes no matter what your major is. Most colleges require all students to take courses in English, social studies, humanities, math, natural science. You can get those classes out of the way while you decide what you want to major in.

I don't know what type of school I need to go to.

Talk with people — parents, relatives, teachers, counselors, friends. If you have a field that interests you, ask someone in that field how they prepared for it. Read Getting In, which is available on this website. It can help you answer such questions.

Once you decide what general career direction you want to pursue, meet with your counselor to discuss what classes to take to fit into your higher education goals.