The choices you make during high school will make a big difference in the rest of your life. That probably sounds like a lot of pressure. But don't worry. The fact is that by preparing for college now, you'll have a clear picture of what you need to do during high school to attend college. First, let's start with some simple questions:
Why should college be your goal?
More Job Opportunities
More and more jobs, especially the high-tech industry, require more than a high school diploma. A college degree gives you more career choices, and makes changing jobs or careers easier.
People who go to college usually earn more than those who don't. If you graduate college, you can expect to earn almost twice as much as someone with only a high school diploma over a lifetime of work. If you earn a professional degree, such as a doctor or lawyer, you can make almost four times as much! (This is based on the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, 2011, 2012, and 2013.)
It's a fact: A college education will help you understand the world around you, think critically, express your thoughts clearly, and make smarter decisions.
College gives you more opportunities to explore your interests, learn new and interesting things, and develop your goals in life.
What should you do next?
Okay, so you're sold on college. What should you do next? The most important thing you can do in high school is to take rigorous courses that will prepare you for college. They provide the necessary background for a college education.
Foundation High School Program
The State of Texas has developed the Foundation High School Program (FHSP) as the "default curriculum." In other words, it will automatically be chosen for you unless you have parental and counselor approval to select an alternative in a Texas public school. Be sure to talk to your parents, teachers and counselors about the recommended courses AND the courses you plan to choose. Download the Graduation Toolkit (TEA) to find out all you need to know to prepare yourself while in high school.
Distinguished Level of Achievement
Interested in going beyond the Foundation High School Program? To best prepare yourself now for the transition to post-high school education or quality workforce training, choosing and taking the right classes is essential. The Distinguished Level of Achievement will ensure the best preparation for your future. By taking these courses, you'll meet or exceed the course requirements for admission to Texas colleges and universities.
You are also able to earn one or more endorsements as part of your graduation requirements. Endorsements consist of a related series of courses that are grouped together by interest or skill set. They provide you with in-depth knowledge of a subject area. You must select an endorsement in the ninth grade. Visit your counselor to learn more about your options. You can earn an endorsement by completing the curriculum requirements for the endorsement,including 4th credit of math and science and 2 additional elective credits.
If you'd like to earn college credit for academic courses while you're in high school, be sure to talk it over with your counselors. Many schools and districts have agreements set up with nearby community colleges and universities that allow you to enroll in courses to earn both high school and college credits.
Advanced Placement (AP)
Many schools also offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses. In these college-level courses, you may have the opportunity to earn college credit. AP courses are available for most subject areas and can help you save college tuition money and get a head start in achieving your goal of a college degree. Contact your school counselor to find out if your school offers early college credit courses.
International Baccalaureate Program (IB)
IB credit is awarded by colleges similarly to AP credit. Texas public colleges or universities must award college credit for a 4+ on an IB exam. Visit https://www.texasibschools.org/ for more information on IB.
Interested in a community college technical program that will lead to a job or can be transferred to a four-year degree program? Check out Tech-Prep Articulated Programs. These programs are designed to fulfill the requirements for associate's degree programs and may transfer to state universities. Some examples of these programs include nursing and other medical fields as well as engineering. Check with your counselor about the requirements.