Some high school students may find applying to college overwhelming. Different colleges each seemingly have different requirements that can make the process confusing. However, there are common requirements that are typical in any college such as core courses and standardized tests. Knowing these requirements can save a lot of time and make the college application process as smooth as it can be.
College Core Units
In a sense, college units are already taken during high school. Core courses such as English, Math and Science that are taken at a preparatory level fulfill the prerequisites for applicable college courses. For example, English 101/1A in colleges typically requires 4 years of high-school level English. The same applies for basic college math (Algebra, Geometry) and general science (Biology, Chemistry). Colleges note these requirements in either years of education or equivalent college units. In addition, 3 to 4 years of foreign language education is a common requirement among colleges.
Most colleges require high school applicants to take standardized tests such as the SAT Reasoning Test or the American College Test. Colleges usually require the SAT as a standard with the ACT as a substitute for missing SAT requirements. There are no designated scores to pass or fail the SAT or ACT in themselves; different schools require different minimum scores. Additionally, although there are many services that attempt to coach students on the SAT, experts maintain that the SAT is not coachable. In a study conducted by the College Entrance Examination Board, coached students only got 1 more question correct than un-coached students in language and math, for 25 to 30 extra hours and 8 extra hours of study, respectively.
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Students must have a dependable source of financial aid to pay for tuition and cost of living in college. These costs are typically paid upfront early in a school year. The most common way for students to pay these costs is by obtaining financial aid in the form of grants and loans. These can be provided directly by the school or through the government. While school grant and loan conditions may vary, government aid is standardized through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a form for students to apply for aid from the U.S. Department of Education. Grants and loans are given out based primarily on financial need; however, additional grants may be procured with a good academic standing.
Expert Insight: College Summer Programs
Colleges typically have summer programs that show prospective students what they can expect from college. Colleges give informational sessions, which explain admissions requirements and also the option to take some classes. These classes are structured to simulate the typical class environment, explain the requirements to take each class, and offer insight on what types of degrees each class supports. Getting into these programs may bring the student closer to successful entry to that particular school and even secure some financial aid upon admission.
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