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College advice for your senior year

Are you a junior in high school waiting impatiently for your senior year? Are you absolutely terrified because you don't know if you have all of your required courses? Does the idea of filling out scholarships frighten you? In this article, you will find some information to make senior year a little easier for you.

Every school has a specific number of credits in required courses you have to complete. At Valley, our required courses are English, math, science, history, physical education, health, art, keyboarding and a foreign language.

It's a good idea to ask your guidance counselor for a copy of your transcript, so you can see what credits you have and what ones you still need. Make sure you know what classes you've passed and if there are any you will need to retake next year or in a credit recovery/summer school program.

In high school there are two different tracks you can take: professional and vocational. Professional gets you ready for college, and vocational focuses more on preparing you for a trade. Bother are beneficial for your future, but they each require different credits for graduation.

You also have some great academic opportunities in high school like advanced placement classes and the National Honor Society. Valley High School counselor Matthew High says you should take advantage of those.

"AP gives you the chance to earn college credits, and National Honor Society looks good when applying to college," he said.

Taking AP classes in high school is a good way to earn college credits for less. You will usually have to pay to take the AP exam (unless your fee is waived or the school covers it), but it costs much less than paying for the class in college.

When applying for college, you will need to have taken the SAT and/or ACT. The SAT is given in October, November, December, January, March, May and June. The ACT is given in September, October, December, February, April and June.

These tests can be overwhelming, and you're going to have to study. You can find questions online at www.sat.collegeboard.org and www.actstudent.org. You can also talk to your counselor to see if he or she has handouts available for you.

Different colleges and programs will require different grades, but it's a good bet you'll be safe if you get at least a 3.0 GPA. When it comes to your major, don't worry if you don't know what you want to do.

"A person in college in their first year is more likely to change their majors twice before deciding," said High.

Both the SAT and ACT websites have sections for college planning where you can see advice on choosing and paying for college and more. They also have checklists so you can make sure you're doing what you need to be doing every year.

Scholarships and financial aid are important if you're applying for college. You can talk to your counselor for help with both of these. Also, for more information on scholarships, look on the Internet at a site like www.fastweb.com. For financial aid, visit www.fafsa.gov.

High also had some words of advice for seniors who are college bound: work on getting organized over the summer.

"You don't know how many kids go to college and begin failing classes just because they're not organized," he said.


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