If you are aiming for a two- or four-year college degree, or an industry training program, then you are probably aware that you will have to fork over a substantial amount of money to get that additional education. You can do a lot NOW to control the amount of money you will spend – and reduce the time it takes to earn the degree or credential you want – by working hard in high school.

If you enter college with the academic background you will need to enter credit-bearing courses (courses that count toward the credits you will need to earn for graduation), you will be able to most efficiently get through your college years. If you are not academically ready, you will spend thousands of dollars (and years!) trying to catch up. If you are not ready for college-level work, you will have to begin your college career by taking make-up (remedial) courses that are not free. These courses are expensive — they cost as much as regular credit-bearing courses but won’t count toward your degree. Sadly, what you will learn in most remedial courses is the same material you could have learned in high school for free!

Similarly, many industry training programs are very rigorous and require a high level of high school knowledge for trainees to be successful. If you are not academically ready, you may have to repeat the training. That will cost you a lot of money on tuition and postpone  your ability to start earning an income.

Now here’s the catch. You may actually think you have the knowledge you need. But don’t base that assumption on the grades you get in class. Grades can vary widely based on what individual teachers choose to emphasize and how they score their tests, quizzes, and the material students submit throughout the school year. One teacher may be an ‘easier grader’ than another. If you can, select a class in which you know the teacher will make you work hard.

Ultimately, there is only way to be sure you’re ready for college or work, and that is to take the standardized tests that are given to thousands of other students. Whether that be your state’s standardized test or a private standardized test given by your school district, focus on that information as a better indicator of your readiness. Of course, you could wait to see you scores on the SAT or ACT ‘college entrance’ examinations, but that might be a bit too late to catch up on what you don’t know.

If fact, take every test that is offered to you and use it as a benchmark to gauge your readiness to compete in the worlds of higher education and work. Remember, virtually all employers require tests at the point of hire, often at the point of promotion, and to maintain professional certifications such as real estate licenses, certified public accountants, home health care aids, and many more. So you need to embrace tests. GEMESA

Be ready for college. Take the challenging academic courses you will need to enter credit-bearing courses from the first day of your college career.



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