Preparing For College
High school grade point average (GPA) and success within a college preparatory curriculum are the most critical indicators of college success, admissions counselors agree.
- The college preparatory curriculum establishes an appropriate foundation for college course work.
- A solid GPA in a college preparatory curriculum demonstrates to potential colleges and universities that a student is capable of being academically successful in challenging courses.
- A sound GPA in a high school college preparatory curriculum demonstrates that a student has initiative and persistence.
- Completion of a college preparatory curriculum with an appropriate GPA maximizes a student's possibility of gaining admission to the institution of his or her choice.
Admissions counselors recommend pre-college testing in the high school student's junior year.
What is pre-college testing?
The SAT and ACT are the most common standardized tests used by U.S. colleges and universities. Scores on these tests are used to evaluate a student's eligibility for admission to college, as well as for scholarships. The tests consist of verbal, math and writing sections.
Your child probably receives training for these tests in high school, but most students find it beneficial to receive additional preparation for this exam. This is particularly important with increased competition at the college level.
How can you help?
Numerous books and Web sites are available to help you and your child prepare for these tests. A few examples:
- The Official SAT Study Guide, by The College Board
- Kaplan 12 Practice Tests for the SAT, 2007 Edition, by Kaplan
- The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests, byThe College Board
- The College Board's Web site
- The ACT (American College Test) Web site
How can CSU help?
CSU's Continuing Education division offers review courses that will help your child prepare for both the verbal and math portion of the SAT. CSU's Testing Center is a test site for the SAT and offers relevant information.
For more information on study classes at CSU, call 706-507-8070 or visit Continuing Education online.
Your child should follow a basic college prep course of study to help ensure admission into college. It is important that you are aware of your child's course selection beginning in middle or junior high school. High school course requirements will vary according to each college.
An important tip for college success: Taking AP (Advanced Placement) courses in high school will better prepare a student for college courses. AP programs allow high school students to study college-level subjects and receive advanced placement and-or credit upon entering college. Parents should meet with school counselors and also attend high school college preparation meetings when making decisions about these programs.
Basic guidelines on what your child should be studying:
Middle school or junior high
- Foreign language
- Computer science
- The Arts
Minimum of four English courses, chosen from:
- Advanced Composition
- Literature (American, English, & World)
- Grammar and Usage
Minimum of four mathematics courses:
- Algebra (if not completed in eighth grade)
- Algebra II
- Advanced Math beyond Algebra II
Minimum of three social studies courses, chosen from:
- U.S. History
- World History
- American Government
Minimum of three science courses (including at least one lab), chosen from:
- Earth Science
- Physical Science
Minimum of two courses in the same foreign language, chosen from:
Minimum of one visual or performing arts course, chosen from:
Minimum of one to three electives, chosen from:
- Computer Science
Activities outside the classroom are also recommended for college preparation, including:
- Participation in school clubs, student newspaper, athletics, musical activities, art, drama
- Skills instruction in computer technology and-or typing
- Reading fiction, non-fiction, magazines and newspapers
- Summer jobs and other work experience
- Tutoring, volunteering and other forms of community service
College can be expensive! But help is available. Early preparation is recommended.
Typical costs include:
- Tuition: The charge for courses your child will take. Costs are generally based on the number of hours per course. For example, some courses are three hours long while others may be one hour. Each college usually posts a chart of tuition charges. Warning! Be sure to check the difference between in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition. In-state tuition is charged if you are a resident of the state where your child applies to attend school. Out-of-state tuition is higher and can be a surprise!
- Fees: These are the charges for health services, athletics, technology, parking, etc. Plus, many courses, such as science labs, charge extra fees because of extra costs.
If your child plans to live on campus, you will need to be prepared for these expenses:
- Personal expenses
Need to find help?
Multiple sources of financial aid are available. Programs are based on academic merit, financial need and other criteria. Programs are offered on the federal, state and university level.
General categories of financial aid include:
- Grants: Aid that does not have to be repaid, usually awarded to a student for reasons other than achievement. One example is the Pell Grant, awarded only to students who have not received a bachelor's or professional degree.
- Scholarship: A type of aid that is awarded to a student based on academic merit or achievement. Scholarships do not have to be repaid. It's important that your child is active in your community while in high school. A solid resume with community and school involvement plays a key factor in scholarship award decisions.
- Parent and student loans: Need-based or not based on need-based. A variety of lenders make loans to students and parents.
- Student employment: On-campus student assistant jobs that can help with finances. Students should visit the school's career center for more information about available jobs.
- Federal Work Study: Jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for educational expenses. Payment depends on when the student applies, their level of need and the funding of the school.
The sooner students begin the process of applying for financial aid, the better their chance of receiving funds in a timely manner. For more helpful information on understanding financial aid, estimating the costs of college and how to apply, go to the Georgia College 411 Web site.
It's not unusual for college students to be undeclared or undecided about a major or career. Plus, most freshmen who believe they have decided on a major will change their minds. Strategies for strengthening your child's ideas about a major or career:
- Encourage your child to volunteer at businesses or companies that offer careers in their area of interest. For example, if he or she is interested in being a nurse or doctor, a great start would be a visit to the local hospital or a doctor's office.
- Talk about careers while your child is watching television or reading books about occupations.
- Talk to your children about their favorite academic subjects and how they relate to careers.
- Explore Georgia College 411, a great place for career exploration that will help your child match occupations with academic skills, interests, likes and dislikes.
Important concepts to remember:
- Students are not choosing what they have to do for the rest of their lives!
- There is no “perfect” or “right” major or career.
- There is no magical test that will help students choose a major.
- Career exploration is a process. Students shouldn't expect to choose a major or career overnight.
Process for choosing a career:
- Step 1: Research, explore and collect information about self, careers, majors and minors.
- Step 2: Evaluate information and make decisions.
- Step 3: Take action and re-evaluate each decision.
When should I take my child to visit colleges?
A campus tour can give you first-hand experience with a school. You should get a chance to meet with professors, staff and current students. Most colleges send invitations to students in their junior and senior year for college visitation days. College Web sites are another easy way to find out about visitation days and, in most cases, you can register to attend such days online.
What if I want to visit CSU?
There are two ways to visit CSU: on a campus tour or during Visitation Day.
For more information about our tours, please see our visitation page.
Top 10 College Majors
- Computer Science
- Government/Political Science
- English Language and Literature
- Chemical Engineering
— The Princeton Review