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In High School

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.

More Money
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 Lifetime Earnings Estimates in 2000.)

Greater Knowledge
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.

Increased Potential
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 take college preparatory courses. They provide the necessary background for a college education.

The State of Texas has developed the Recommended High School Program (RHSP) as a guide for students planning to attend college. By taking these courses, you'll meet or exceed the course requirements for admission to Texas colleges and universities.

The RHSP is currently the "default curriculum." In other words, it will automatically be chosen for you unless you have parental and counselor approval to select a less-rigorous 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.

Interested in going beyond the Recommended High School Program? The Distinguished Achievement Program includes some additional requirements. 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.

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.

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. Tech-prep students are required to complete the Recommended High School Program, but may be able to substitute classes directly related to their area of interest. Check with your counselor about the requirements.

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