Project Opportunity: Access to Washington's Colleges'

“The teachers and staff at Gonzaga University have opened my eyes to the real issues of the world and have empowered me to believe that I can do something about them.”

— Zachary Oliver
Gonzaga University


For High School Freshmen

Meet with your guidance counselor and career specialist:

  • They can be a tremendous resource over the next four years, so make an effort to meet them and make a good impression.
  • Make sure they know that you plan to apply for college.
  • Talk with them about the classes you should take. Make sure you organize your schedule so that you will have taken all the required courses before you graduate. This is called your academic plan.
  • Find out if there are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses you could take for potential college credit. Not all schools accept AP or IB classes for college credit, so check with each school you're interested in.
  • If you haven't started already, begin to study a world language.
  • Learn about the Running Start program and consider whether it would be a good choice for you. Running Start is not a good option for everyone, and not every college accepts the credits towards college graduation. Explore this option carefully. Talk to your counselor about whether this option is a good one for you.

Get involved with your school and community:

  • Participate in school orientation and learn about the different kinds of activities available to you at your school. Focus on academics, but also learn about other extracurricular activities. Colleges want to admit well-rounded and active students.
  • Learn about community service opportunities in your area. These extra activities not only help you stand out to college admissions officers and to scholarship committees, but they also enrich your life. Seeking out extracurricular activities can help you find what you're passionate about.
  • Begin collecting material for your portfolio and to add to your resume.

Talk with your family:

  • Make sure they know that you'd like to go to college after high school.
  • Paying for college is an important investment; you should have a conversation about how you plan to pay for college. There are many funding options.
  • Do you have a social security number? If not, you'll need to apply for one.
  • Go over what classes you plan to take to during high school with your family.
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Start thinking about colleges and careers:

  • Begin to think about what characteristics you are looking for in college.
  • Begin to check out colleges.
  • Evaluate your skills, talents, and interests.
  • Explore occupations, salaries, and requirements. If you're curious about what jobs are in demand right now and would be more likely to provide you with a good living and job security, check out CareerOneStop.
  • For a good source to learn more about a wide variety of jobs, look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This online source will tell you what kind of training you will need to get the job you want.
  • You might consider taking ACT's EXPLORE program. See your school counselor for test dates offered at your school.

Get organized:

  • Start a file of college related materials:
    • Financial aid information
    • College information: view books, application requirements etc.
    • Build your portfolio for scholarships. You might include these materials in your resume as well:
      • Awards
      • Letters of recognition and recommendation
      • Programs from concerts, plays, or other events you participated in.
      • Announcements for community service activities you participated in
      • Pictures of events, projects, activities
      • Examples of creative writing, artwork, or other school projects
    • Think about how you appear to colleges over the internet. Remember that colleges and jobs may look at Myspace, Facebook and other online profiles. If your page contains inappropriate material, either clean it out or set it to private. Also make sure you're using an e-mail address that reflects well on you.

If you want some more resources for getting ready for college look at Gear Up and the College is Possible site. Both these sites have lots of valuable information. And remember you can always contact college admission and financial aid offices and ask whatever questions you might have.

Funded in part by a grant from
the Ben B. Cheney Foundation
published by Independent Colleges of Washington