Ready : What You Need to Know
College will be a great chance to really figure out who you are, what you are great at, and even what kind of people you want to be friends with.
There are a wide variety of options when pursuing higher education. Whether it’s community college, a four-year university, a technical or vocational school, or a certificate program, choosing to go to college is choosing to improve your life. By the time you graduate from high school, most jobs will require a college degree. If you want to be able to support a family, and have the things you want in life, like a home and a car, then earning a college degree is your best option.
Colleges don’t just look at your grades. College admission offices (they decide who gets in to college) like to see that you have been involved in activities, have challenged yourself, and have some leadership experience. You will also need to have letters of recommendation for your college application, so make sure your teachers, advisors, and coaches get to know you and see your commitment to your education and life goals. This will help them write your letters of recommendation.
Think “big picture.” Your college applications will be a snap shot of who YOU are; what do you want colleges to see in that snapshot? You can always add or remove things to that picture, and you can get started now!
You might be worried about money and paying for school, but don’t let that stop you. There are a ton of opportunities for financial aid and scholarships—if you really want it, you can make it happen!
College Credit in High School
In some cases, students can receive course credits based on college-level knowledge and skills gained outside the classroom (or from non-college instruction programs), including employment and military training and service. Identifying prior learning that is eligible for college credit can make a student’s education more affordable and reduce the time to a degree or certificate. Below are a few of the most common ways to earn college credit in high school.
Advanced Placement Programs
Advanced Placement programs enable students to take college-level courses while in high school. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) maintains a comprehensive Advanced Placement website at the link above. Interested students should check with their school counselors about the availability of these programs.
Other Dual Credit Programs
Other dual credit programs allow high school students to enroll in college-level courses, either at their own school or at their local community college. Check the OSPI Dual Credit website link above for comprehensive information or visit the program links below. As with AP courses, not all schools offer these options. Interested students should check with their high school counselor.
International Baccalaureate Programs
High-quality programs of international education are offered to a worldwide community of schools. Three programs for students ages 3-19 help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn, and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Check availability with your high school counselor.
The Running Start program in Washington allows 11th and 12th grade students to take college courses at Washington’s community and technical colleges and at Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, and Northwest Indian College. For some students, this is a great option because you can take the classes for free or nearly free while you attend high school. Many students will continue to take some classes at their local high school and attend classes on a college campus part-time. It is even possible to earn your two-year degree at the same time you graduate from high school. You will need to take a placement test to qualify for Running Start, so you want to be sure your math and English skills are sharp. For information on Running Start, contact your school counselor or your local community college.
College Admission Standards
New minimum college admission standards for students seeking admission to a public, four-year college or university went into effect in fall 2012. An academic road map for middle and high school students, the new minimum standards do not guarantee admission but do establish a foundational level of academic achievement needed to do successful college work. More information available on the Washington Student Achievement Council website.
Check out our dual credit lookup tool to find out how your AP, IB, or Cambridge test scores apply as college credit.
Your residency and citizenship status can have an impact on things like financial aid and the cost of tuition.