Academic Building Blocks

Plan for College Now!

7th Grade

  • Tell your parents and school guidance counselor that you plan on going to college. Ask them to help you prepare.
  • Take challenging classes in English, math, science, history, etc.
  • Develop good study habits and strive to maintain an A or B average all through school, especially in college preparatory courses.
  • Get into the reading habit and ask your teachers to recommend books.
  • Start to study with a group of friends (create a study group).
  • Work with a representative from MESA programs to get support in meeting your goals.

8th Grade

  • Continue to participate in MESA at all grade levels.
  • Continue to participate in study groups and read, read, read.
  • Take pre-algebra or algebra, and if possible a foreign language course.
  • Ask your counselor or MESA representative about summer academic enrichment programs.
  • Make sure your 9th grade class schedule includes algebra or more advanced math and/or foreign language classes.
  • Sign-up and take the American College Testing (ACT)-Explore preparation program or the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment test (PSAT) for practice. It is extremely important to work with your counselor or MESA representative so they can help interpret your scores.

9th Grade

  • Make sure your class schedule includes appropriate college preparatory classes all through high school.
  • Actively participate in MESA and develop your four year academic plan.
  • Continue to strive for the highest grades. If you fall behind, see your teacher for suggestions and get afterschool help or tutoring.
  • Explore a variety of careers by talking with professionals. Find out what education level is required to pursue your field of interest. Have a career assessment done in your school Career Center .
  • Create and maintain a personal college file that includes copies of report cards, diplomas, awards and certificates. This will be useful when you apply to college.
  • Take the ACT-Explore/PSAT as a practice test to improve your ACT and SAT scores. In addition, spend time familiarizing yourself with these tests. It will help you determine what coursework you need to increase your scores.

10th grade

  • Make sure your class schedule includes appropriate college preparatory classes all through high school.
  • Actively participate in MESA and develop your four year academic plan.
  • Continue to strive for the highest grades. If you fall behind, see your teacher for suggestions and get afterschool help or tutoring.
  • Explore a variety of careers by talking with professionals. Find out what education level is required to pursue your field of interest. Have a career assessment done in your school Career Center .
  • Create and maintain a personal college file that includes copies of report cards, diplomas, awards and certificates. This will be useful when you apply to college.
  • Take the ACT-Explore/PSAT as a practice test to improve your ACT and SAT scores. In addition, spend time familiarizing yourself with these tests. It will help you determine what coursework you need to increase your scores.

11th Grade

  • Attend college fairs, visit colleges (in-person or on-line) and continue to work closely with your guidance counselor and MESA representative to ensure you are following your academic plan.
  • Keep those grades high!
  • Continue involvement in extracurricular, community service and leadership activities.
  • Begin now to work with your MESA representative to develop your personal statement for college applications.
  • Research scholarship and financial aid opportunities with school counselors and your MESA representative.
  • When completing an AP course, follow up by taking the associated AP exam.
  • Take the PSAT again in October. This may qualify you for the National Merit Qualifying Student Test (NMQST) Scholarship program.
  • Take the ACT/SAT Reasoning Test in the spring or summer to earn a higher score.
  • Take the SAT Subject Tests upon completion of the appropriate courses.
  • Continue to participate in summer academic enrichment programs. Many campuses offer opportunities to experience college life and boost academic performance.
  • Explore the student perspective by talking with college students about their experiences and suggestions.

12th Grade

  • As soon as school begins, review your plans for college with your school counselor, family and MESA representative. Be certain you meet all eligibility requirements listed in your Individual Academic Planner (IAP).
  • Narrow down the list of the colleges that interest you and be sure you understand their admission requirements and application deadlines.
  • Make your senior year academically challenging and maintain a high GPA. Avoid “senioritis” which could jeopardize college admission.
  • Obtain several strong letters of recommendation.
  • Polish your personal statement. Ask your teachers and counselor to review it for clarity, content and grammar. Tailor your statement to the question or prompt you are addressing.
  • Use your updated college file to complete your college and scholarship applications.
  • File college and university applications by their respective deadlines. Apply online whenever possible.
  • File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between January 1 and March 2. Apply online, if possible.
  • Continue to research and apply for scholarships throughout the year.
  • Maintain copies/files of your college applications, financial aid and scholarship materials.
  • If you need to improve your scores, take the ACT/SAT Reasoning Test again by December. Also take SAT Subject tests as appropriate by December.
  • Enjoy your graduation and plan for a wonderful college experience!

You earned it!