Preparation

Picture of students in a row, studying.Overview
When it comes to being college and career ready, students should focus on getting the best education possible first--starting in elementary school--and then applying that education to the career of their choice as they near graduation. The goal is to graduate with as many college and career opportunities and options as possible. In addition, in our rapidly changing world, students need to be flexible and adaptable, ready for a wide variety of careers and career challenges. A solid and broad education can do that for students. To graduate with the most college and career options and the most scholarship money, see below:

Classes
The higher the goal, the more taking advanced classes matter. At a minimum, students should take 1-2 advanced classes every year, starting in middle school. For the most selective colleges, 7-14 AP or IB classes is the average.

Grades
To get into some colleges and careers, students need to earn almost straight A's. To have the most opportunities for college admissions and scholarships, students should aim for a 3.75 GPA or higher.

Test Scores
Proficient isn't good enough. Barely advanced isn't really good enough. Top students earn the highest scores on almost every test they take, starting in elementary school. That means in at the top of "Exceeds Standard" on the CAASPP, perfect or almost perfect scores on the PSAT and SAT/ACT and mostly 5s on the AP exams or mostly 6s/7s on the IB exams.

Extracurricular Activities
Students need to show that they're interested in others, pursuing their academic and personal passions, and demonstrating leadership and intellectual curiosity. For more information and an insightful video, check out our Extracurricular Activities page.

Seeing the BIG Picture
Students sometimes think about the minimum level of education needed for an entry level job, but think very little about the eduction they may need after that, the education they will need for their boss's boss's job. Which they can often get before they graduate from high school--for free.

Going Above and Beyond
Top colleges don't want students who've done just what they've been told or assigned. That's just a start. Top colleges and programs want students who've pushed themselves--not students who've been pushed.

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