College Readiness Resources

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Pursue College Education with Confidence

Discover articles, information and resources that will help equip students with the knowledge needed to confidently select, prepare, apply, enroll and succeed in college.

Graduation Caps

A Video from Michelle Obama to Families & Students

Here's a special message to parents and families from Michelle Obama, courtesy of our friends at Reach Higher.

Don't miss their helpful family resources where you can find additional information about applying to college, understanding financial aid, and learning more about fee waivers.

Choosing the Right School

College Visits

Get the Most Out of Your College Visits - College visits are probably the most informative part of the college application process. When it comes to researching potential schools, there’s no better place to start.

10 Tips for an Effective College Visit - For students who are in the process of researching a variety of colleges and universities, admissions professionals recommend scheduling campus visits to get a better feel for the schools.

Campus Visits: Before You Go - Exploring campuses is well worth your while. You don’t have to travel far — visiting local colleges can be just as valuable -if you’re prepared.

College Visit Guide - College visits can be a crucial and eye-opening time in a student’s life. It’s a time when the idea of college starts to become real for most visitors – “Wow, that could be me.”

Don’t Visit Any Colleges Without Reading This First - The most important information you need to know in order to map out college visits that give you a chance to really get to know your colleges of choice.

Finding the Right Fit

Colleges and Universities: Choosing the Right Fit - School culture matters. Figuring out what’s important to you will help you narrow the field and you may discover some options that hadn’t even been on your radar!

Finding Your College Fit - There’s no magic formula for choosing a college, but there are steps you can take to find a good fit. Use this tool to start your journey.

Top 15 Mistakes to Avoid in Choosing a College - Choosing a college is stressful and making sure you make the right decision can often feel like a daunting task. To help out with the process, here are some common mistakes to avoid along the way.

College Match: Getting Started with College Raptor - Try this college match calculator.

Compare Schools Here - Wavering between different options? Take a look at this school comparison tool!

Preparing for College

Taking AP Classes and CLEP Tests

CLEP Exams: How to Get College Credit & Graduate Faster - For more than 40 years, College Board has been providing the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam series to help students earn college credit with their existing knowledge. Learn more here.

Save Time and Money with CLEP Exams - CLEP exams cover intro-level college course material in 33 subjects. A passing score on a CLEP exam can save you hours of class time and significant tuition costs.

5 Benefits of Taking AP Classes in High School - Why take an Advanced Placement class? Here are five ways AP classes can be a smart choice.

A Parent's Guide to AP Classes - What are AP classes, and what do you and your teen need to know about them? Education Matters spoke to a number of education experts to learn more.

Full List of AP Subjects - There are 38 AP subject exams. Not sure which AP subjects are right for you? Learn how to choose AP courses.

Preparation Timeline

Academic Preparation: Information for Students and Their Families - A guide for parents and students as they prepare for the transition to college academics.

What High School Classes Do Colleges Look For? - Colleges care about the classes you take every year until high school graduation, so should you sign up for AP Calculus and AP Physics the same year? Or, take it easy early on, and then pile on the challenging work junior year?

Prepare for College - Explore this information to help you prepare for college.

10 Ways to Prepare for Your Freshman Year of College - Follow these steps to make sure you're ready when classes begin.

College Planning Timelines - Whether you’re a student or parent, these college planning timelines will keep you on track and in the know throughout high school. Helpful, step-by-step tips cover everything from taking the right classes to filling out college forms on time!

For Parents - Find out how you can help your child prepare for college, explore majors and careers, pay for college, and more with our easy to follow action plans.

A Middle School Parent’s College Prep Guide - You and your child should start planning for college no later than middle school. Here are seven steps your child and family should take.

A Parent’s Guide to College Planning - There’s no one right way to handle the college planning process as a parent. Your ideal level and type of involvement in preparing your child for college will depend on your child’s individual needs. However, students definitely benefit when their parents play an active role.

Taking the SAT/ACT

When Should You Take the SAT or ACT? - Debating when you should take the SAT or ACT? Your perfect test date comes down to scheduling and planning-start here!

College Readiness: Taking the Test - Everything you need to know before you walk in to take the SAT.

Essential Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Taking the SAT and ACT - Looking for study tips to help you on the SAT or ACT? You’ve come to the right place. This list of test-taking strategies will prepare you for either test—and boost your scores.

18 ACT Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Score - Looking for some quick fixes to improve your ACT scores? Look no further. In this article, we give you several tips and tricks for the ACT so that you can get your best possible scores on every section.

12 Benefits of Taking the ACT - Can’t make up your mind about taking the ACT test? Don’t throw in the towel just yet. There are valuable benefits of taking the ACT, so it’s actually worth the effort.

Getting the Most Out of College Fairs

College Fair Checklist - A college fair is a gathering of college representatives who are looking for the right students for their institutions. They’re there to spread the word about their college to high school students — and they want to talk to you.

College Fairs: How to Get the Most Out of Them - Every year, there are college fairs across the country. These fairs can be valuable tools to help you as you try to figure out which colleges you want to apply to, and eventually, which college you want to attend.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of College Fairs - Whether you’re narrowing down your list of colleges or just starting your college search, college fairs are an excellent (and usually free!) resource to take advantage of to gather information about schools you’re interested in and get a feel for them without having to visit each campus.

Applying to College

Talking to Admissions Counselors

How to Talk to Admission Officers in Person and Over E-mail - How are you supposed to talk to admission counselors—they might hold your whole college future in their hands? Luckily, they’re usually really nice, and it’s not that hard to chat with them in person or send them an e-mail.

Top 10 Ways to Annoy Admissions Counselors - Here are the top 10 ways to annoy the admissions office. Consider this list a guide of what NOT to do when you apply to college.

Insightful Questions to Ask an Admissions Officer - Here’s more advice on good questions you can ask college admissions counselors, as well as questions for your tour guide or any other students you meet on campus.

How Much Should You Communicate with Your Admissions Officer? - Whether you are an underclasswoman with a top choice college already or a senior who just got deferred, knowing when and how to communicate with the admissions office can directly impact your admissions decision. Sometimes a short email at the perfect time can seal the deal.

Filling Out College Applications

Applying 101 - It’s easy to get stressed out about college admission. But try to keep things in perspective. Here are some points to think about as you go through the process.

Get Tips on Navigating the College Applications Process - While the application process may seem a little overwhelming, you can use the following information to get ready and figure out your next steps.

A Complete Guide to the College Application Process - Here's what prospective undergraduates need to know about completing a college application.

Filling Out the College Application: Common Application Walkthrough - Each college has its own specific application process.  Some have a unique form, while others rely on the Common Application.  Included is a step-by-step walkthrough of the Common Application to give you a sense of what is included.

Undergraduate Application Guide - If you're a high school junior or senior, this guide will provide you with clear explanations for each of the key components to a successful college application.

Paying for College

How to Afford College for Your Child

Parent’s Finance Guide to a Child’s Education - Tips on saving, paying, and borrowing.

7 Ways Parents Can Help Pay for College - From cosigning a student loan to using retirement money to cover college expenses, there are several strategies parents need to consider before the college year begins.

What to Do if You Can't Afford to Put Your Child Through College - Your child gets into college — maybe even their top choice — and you are thrilled. There's just one problem: you don't have enough saved up. You want to help pay for their education but can't afford to. What options do you have?

5 Overlooked Ways to Pay for College - Paying for college is a challenge for most families and often involves pulling from a variety of sources – from financial aid to savings.

Help, I Forgot to Save for College! - How to pay for higher education when you don't have much time to plan.

Financial Aid Resources

Federal Student Aid - While the application process may seem a little overwhelming, you can use the following information to get ready and figure out your next steps.

College Financial Aid 101 - Choosing the best college to attend is hard, but paying for college is an entirely new test. Our tips, tools, and expert advice can help students navigate student loans, scholarships, grants, the FAFSA, and overall financial aid planning.

10 Tips for Getting Financial Aid for College - Tight economy. College tuition increasing at 6 percent a year. More and more, the ability to go to college depends on how much financial aid you can get.

7 Things Students Should Know about Student Loans - Taking on any debt isn't ideal. However, student loans may be the one thing that will make your collegiate dreams possible. Therefore, it bears getting to know student loans now so you can decide which solutions are best for your situation.

Financial Aid Toolkit - The official site for Federal Student Aid.

Finding Scholarships and Grants

Find and apply for as many scholarships as you can—it’s free money for college or career school! - Scholarships are gifts. They don't need to be repaid. There are thousands of them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations.

Find Grants and Scholarships - Use this to help you search for grants and scholarships!

Scholarship Search Engine - Find all of your scholarships here!

Where to Find College Scholarships - The government, colleges and private organizations provide money to help students cover college costs. This financial aid comes in several forms. One form is scholarships — gifts of money that does not need to be paid back.

Succeeding in College

Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

Should Students Consider Taking a Year Off in between High School and College? - Read what some experts have to say about it here.

Pros and Cons of Taking A Gap Year Before College - While taking a gap year may be the right choice for some students, it could have negative ramifications for others. Before you take the year off it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of your decision and the effect it may have on your college application.

Pros and Cons of Gap Year - Before deciding on a year off before college, it’s important to assess your reasons for the change and to make sure you spend your time in an engaging way that meets these aims.

Making the Most of a Gap Year Before College - For some high school seniors, putting college on hold could be just the right thing.

The Gap Year Experience: A Life-Changing Opportunity - A gap year is a year spent taking time off between life stages. Learn more about the what and why.

Helpful Tips and Advice

Real-world wisdom: Advice for high school and college graduates - We recently asked readers to share their best piece of advice for those graduating from high school or college, and we received dozens of responses via e-mail and social media.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before College - Here are those nuggets of sisterly advice, good for any student embroiled in the college search or already moved into the dorms.

42 College Tips I Learned Freshman Year - Here’s a collection of college tips and bits of info.

20 Helpful College Search Tips from a High School Senior - A lot of factors go into the college search, so where do you start? Here are 20 things that really helped me in my college search and on my path of choosing a university.

How to Get the Most Out of College - They’re privileged, pivotal years. Navigate them with as much care as you did the path that got you there.

Motivating and Talking to My Child About College

How Early Is Too Early? When and How to Start Talking to Your Child About College - The top three college-related conversations parents should have with their students in middle school or as they transition to high school. 

How to Help Your Child Get Motivated in School - Here are a number of things parents can do to help motivate kids to try harder.

When Your College Student Is Struggling or In Trouble - Here are a few things to think about.

Seed Parent Training Module on Integrity-  one of Seed Trainings' most popular courses and it's a surefire way to stimulate more meaningful conversations with your kids.

Additional Resources for PTA and PTSAs

Share these resources with parents and students to help them identify options for future success in post-secondary institutions.

  • College Essay Tips – Use these tips to write an awesome college application essay.

  • How College Ready Are You? - Listen to this National PTA Notes from the Backpack podcast episode to learn concrete strategies and essential information to help you make smart college decisions.

  • SAT Subject Test Prep – The SAT Subject Tests can be tricky. Check out these tips on how to prepare.

  • ACT Test Prep – Use tools like this free online tool to prepare for the ACTs.

  • College Navigator – Use this tool to find the right college for you.

  • Campus Visit Guide – Before going on college visits, check out this guide for tips on things like when to go, what to pay attention to, and how to prepare.

  • FAFSA Parent Guide – Avoid issues with filling out the FAFSA by reading this guide.

  • Financial Aid Parent Guide – Learn more about how to plan for getting financial aid.

  • Parent Guide to College – Check out these resources for parents on how to support your students in applying, paying, and preparing for college.

  • College Degrees Online – Use this database to look for online degree programs.

  • College Guide for Low-Income Students - This guide offers in depth information for low-income students including information related to FAFSA, housing, nutrition, academic, and health resources. Also included are specific grants and scholarships, a list of colleges that offer free or reduced tuition for low-income students and organizations that help low-income students apply to and succeed in college.