How to Prepare for College in 10th Grade: A Quick Guide


10th Grade College Planning Checklist

  1. Start Thinking About Your Future
  2. Take the PSAT
  3. Get Involved in the Community

College prep isn’t something that starts in junior year. Younger students, including 9th and 10th graders, can (and should) be taking steps to prepare for college. How to prepare for college in 10th grade starts with thinking about your intended future, taking the PSAT, talking to parents about finances, and staying involved with the community. Let’s explore in more detail.

Start Thinking About Your Future

While you may not have a bead on what you’d like to do just yet when it comes to your educational future or career, this is the perfect time to start thinking about your wants, needs, dislikes, and likes. You should have already given thought to this in 9th grade, but if you haven’t, you should be considering:

Careers that Interest You

Now’s a great time to start thinking about the things you like, and the things your really DON’T like. Get to know yourself and use that knowledge to start make a running list of careers that might interest you. Then look into the necessary requirements to enter that field. You may find that some require a PhD or Master’s or only require a certification.

You should also look into realistic explanations of jobs that you’re considering. Media has a way of romanticizing careers, for example, and what you see on the TV is likely not an accurate depiction of the professional’s day to day. You may find the “real” description is not something you want to do with your life.

How You’ll Pay for College

Have you had the conversation yet with your parents about college and the cost? Some parents may have a 529 plan or other option available to you, while others may not have given much thought to it or want you to pay for it. Go over options with your parents and your own finances. The steps you take depends on your financial situation, but you should

  • Talk to your guidance counselor about loans
  • Apply to scholarships
  • Research the true costs of college. Many schools have large financial aid packages for their students
  • Save any gift money or job money to put towards school

Take the PSAT

During sophomore years, students should expect to take the PSAT. While this is often thought of the “practice SAT,” it is actually much more. Students that do extremely well on this exam can qualify for the National Merit Scholarship competition and win money for college! You should absolutely take time to prep for the PSAT and treat it like the real deal.

Stay (or Get) Involved with your Community

If you haven’t already, now is the time you should be getting involved with your community or school. You could look into volunteer opportunities, athletics, extracurriculars, after school clubs, and more depending on your interest. Colleges want to see more than just grades on your applications; they want to see you involved in your community in some way.

While you may not have to have a complete list of colleges you want to apply to or a decided major just yet, 10th graders should at least begin to start thinking about their educational future and goals after school.

Want to get a head start on locating colleges that fit your goals? Check out our free College Match tool.

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