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Are You Ready for College?

written by: William Springer•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 10/16/2012

You've graduated from high school, but are you ready for college? College will take much more work than high school, but it is worth it to achieve your goals. Learn what you need to succeed.

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    Should I go to College?

    These days, the mantra in education is that every student can succeed and go on to college. Whether or not that's true, it overlooks an important point: not everyone should go to college. Is college right for you?

    Does the career you want require a college education?

    Face it: these days, a bachelor's degree is often required to get even an entry-level position. However, for many jobs (particularly "hands-on"-type jobs), a technical school is a better bet than a traditional university. Technical schools offer job-training programs that provide practical skills for many blue-collar jobs.

    Does this mean you should only go to college if you know your job will require it? Not at all! These days, most people will have multiple careers, and often employers are satisfied with a degree in an unrelated subject, as it shows that you have the ability to learn. Additionally, many people really don't know what they want to do with their lives, and taking a variety of college classes is a good way to be exposed to various subjects and find out what interests you.

    Are you ready to put in the effort that college requires?

    For many people, going to college means time to party. These people are the reason why senior-level classes have many fewer students than freshman-level classes. College can be fun, but if you're not prepared to work it can also be a waste of money.

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    Will I be Accepted?

    Entry requirements vary from school to school; at the low end, community colleges are open admission and will take anyone over 16; other universities, of course, are very selective and extremely difficult to get in to. However, even community colleges require a minimum standard of work in order to graduate; students who aren't prepared will need to take remedial courses before they can satisfy the degree requirements.

    In high school, you should have passed algebra and should be able to read for information and write a legible essay. If your transcript doesn't satisfactorily demonstrate that you can handle the coursework, you'll likely be asked to take a placement exam to determine whether remedial courses are needed.

    Four-year colleges want to see a course of study that demonstrates the student's ability to be successful. What courses are required varies by school, but a typical request might be for four years of English and two years each of math, science, and foreign language. (That means having passed that many courses, not just taken them!) Other factors include your grade point average and standardized test scores, as well as the personal essay. No one of these factors tells the entire story, and colleges look at all of them in an attempt to determine whether a potential student will be successful.

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    Am I Ready for the Work Load?

    Starting college can be scary, but if you took college-prep courses in high school the level of work isn't all that different. If you didn't take college prep, you'll need to be prepared to work a bit harder, but there are many resources available to help. Before starting college, ask yourself

    Am I ready to put forth the effort to succeed academically?

    College classes build on each other; you can't expect to slack off for a few years and then "catch up" and get your degree. Be ready to work!

    Do I have time management skills?

    Probably the biggest change in college vs high school is that you get to schedule your own classes, and you're expected to do most of your work outside of class; traditionally, you should plan on spending 2-3 hours on homework for every hour you spend in class. If you tend to goof around a lot, you may have trouble keeping up. Additionally, many teachers don't take attendance and there's usually nobody to nag you if you don't show up for class; you have to take responsibility for your own education.

    If the answer to these questions is yes, then congratulations! You're ready to face the world of higher education!