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2 You say: It’s too early to think about college! We say: The steps you take now will determine your college options later. Start planning now! You say: No one in my family ever went to college. We say: Be the first! Set a good example for others to follow by meeting people and learning interesting stuff in college. You say: I can’t afford it! We say: The U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid (and others), can help meet the cost. Almost two-thirds of college students get some type of financial aid.

3  Myth #1: Only students with good grades go to college  Reality #1: Good grades and high test scores can definitely help when applying to college. But college admissions staff also take into account your background and school- or community-based activities.  Myth #2: College will be the same as middle or high school.  Reality #2: College is much different from middle or high school. Making new friends, choosing your own schedule, and possibly living away from home are all part of the college experience.  Myth #3: I can’t go to college because I don’t know what I want to do with my life.  Reality #3: Most students decide what they want to do during or after college.  Myth #4: I need to get a job as soon as I graduate from high school.  Reality #4: Sure, you can get a job with decent pay after your high school graduation OR you can invest in your education to have a great career with better pay later!

4 Unemployment rate in 2009 Level of education completed Mean (average) earnings in 2009 14.6%Less than a high school diploma $28, 496 9.7%High school graduate, no college $40,352 8.6%Some college, no degree$46,800 7.0%Occupational program (trade/vocational school) $46,696 6.8%Associate degree$48,308 5.2%Bachelor’s degree$71,552 3.9%Master’s degree$82,628 2.5%Doctoral degree$113,308 2.3%Professional degree$114,712

5 People with a college education typically earn more money during a shorter span of time. Buying Groceries  Terry is a dental assistant (two years of college). Terry generally will earn enough money to buy groceries for a week after working only one day.  Sam is a high school graduate and works as a salesperson in a department store. To buy the same groceries, it generally takes Sam three days pay. Buying a TV  Jamie is a college graduate and works as an accountant. Based on his salary, Jamie could buy a large screen TV using less than two weeks pay.  Chris never went to college and works as a waiter. Based on his salary, Chris will have to work five weeks to buy the same TV.

6  People with a college education generally have more jobs to choose from.  Also, people with degrees are less likely to lose their jobs (something to keep in mind when you have to pay your own bills someday)!  Take action! Speak with your school counselor or librarian and other adults (your teachers, relatives, and family friends) who have jobs you find interesting.

7  As a college student, you’ll experience freedom as you never have before, by  studying more on your own instead of in the classroom,  meeting people from all over the country and world,  studying abroad (it pays to learn a foreign language), and  choosing your own unique courses such as, Biology of Extinct Animals, Music and Your Brain, Television in American Culture, Forensic Science, or Computer Graphics.

8  Now is a great time to start!  Go to Career Cruising  See your counselor for the username and password and complete the career search inventory

9  College is an investment.  has information about federal student aid programs.  has a great scholarship search.  See your counselor about various scholarship opportunities.

10 Getting ready for college may seem like a lot to handle, but you don’t have to do it alone!  Parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, and friendly folks from your community or place of worship are all good people to go to if you have questions. Think of them as your college support team.  Any adult with whom you have a connection is a good addition to your college support team. If they don’t have the answers themselves, they may know where to look.  Take action! Start discussing your plans for college today with your family and with people at school. They will not know you need support and encouragement unless you let them in on your plans. Once everyone knows the plan, you can work together to reach your college goals.

11 College preparation is about more than just classes and grades. It's also about developing the skills that will help you succeed in college and life. Here’s what you can do NOW to get ready for college:  Take challenging and interesting courses—Part of preparing for college is taking the right classes. Courses such as English, algebra, foreign language, and technology will better prepare you for more challenging courses.  Do your best in school—Develop strong study habits that help you earn good grades and high test scores, not only in high school but also in college!strong study habits  Know your options—Investigate which programs will most benefit your future interests. In addition to core courses, find out what electives are offered at your high school.core courses electives  Get involved—Look into school- or community-based extracurricular activities that let you explore your interests and make new friends. extracurricular activities

12  Talk to your guidance counselor or teachers about challenging courses. Find out what courses are available, whether you are eligible and how to enroll in them.  Start planning for college and thinking about your career interests.  Make a list of your awards, honors, paid or volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Consider participating in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops, and camps with specialty focuses such as music, arts, and science  Explore for some reasons to consider college and ways you can get

13  Meet with your school counselor or mentor to discuss colleges and their requirements.  Consider taking the PSAT.  Plan to use your summer wisely: work, volunteer, or take a summer courses (away or at a local college).  Go to career information events to get a more detailed look at career options.  Explore the differences between grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships.

14  Thinking ahead doesn’t mean you have to know right now what you want to do when you grow up. Its okay not to know yet.  Even if you’re not sure, keep exploring careers, school choices, and financial aid options and be ready!

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