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How should I get ahead?

I'm just starting High School, and I'm in the most advanced classes I can be, yet I feel like I can progress even farther, faster; I would like to know if there is any way to get credit or get ahead for high school or even college, I know that' sort of vague- but I'm at a pretty vague place in my life: I don't know where I want to go career-wise, and I feel like I might need some direction before I do anything.
sorry for the paragraph.

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Kristen’s Answer

Taking advanced classes is a great start to getting ahead and being on track for college. Even asking the question of how to get ahead is a great start, as many students are only trying to get through high school or just qualify for college at all. So you are setting yourself up to be in a good place if you start taking action and asking questions like you are now.

First things first make sure you are getting good grades in those classes and keeping your GPA up. If you feel like you are not overwhelmed sometimes community colleges offer inexpensive classes you can take for credit. But make sure those credits don't expire before you graduate and also not all colleges accept credits from certain types classes, from other states, etc.

Then a good place to start to move ahead would be finding out what clubs your high school offers, and not just joining the club but taking a leadership role in the club. Can you be the president, treasurer, event planner or anything else? One of my best friends joined the Student Body Leadership Club and became secretary, this helped her get into UC Santa Barbara.

Definitely start thinking about what career paths you might like. Not all career paths need to be decided before applying to college, or even for the first couple of years into college. I was two years into my four year university before I decided to choose Marketing Management as my major. I don't even do that for my career now but i'm doing great and working for a sports team!

Good luck

Kristen recommends the following next steps:

Keep your grades up, study for SATs and other college qualifying tests - you have to get into college before you can pick a major
Look into community college classes for credit - but make sure that credit will count at the college you want to attend
Think about career paths and if you need to be enrolled in that major from the start or if you can take basic classes and start the career specific classes later on
Have a little fun, don't forget to research what else the college offers other than school like sports teams, greek life or other important extra cirruculars
Join a club, and move into a leadership role when you can

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Lakesha’s Answer

I would first reach out to your guidance counselor to see what programs your school is offering. My daughter High School in Virginia offers Dual Enrollment classes. In those classes your credits are going towards a college degree. The classes are actually being taught through a community college. She graduated in 2018 with her Advanced High School Diploma along with a Associate of Science Degree. She is only required to compete 18 months at her current college to graduate with her Bachelor's Degree.

I would first come up with a plan with your counselor in order to stay on track during the years you are attending High School. I would also spend some time in researching your areas of interest during your down time. So far you are on the right track to advancing your studies while you are attending high school. My only advice is to take advantage of all the programs you qualify for. It will make the process easier during your college years.

Thanks so much for the words of advice! Liam M.

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Haylee’s Answer

When I was in high school I felt the same way and that is when I knew I had to go to college early. PSEO (post secondary education options) is something that most schools will support but because it costs the school money they may not always tell you about it. Your high school may pay you to go to college (not just community but almost anywhere). I graduated with a 2 year AA degree and my high school diploma at the same time. This allowed me to have two degrees and 3 years of job experience by the time I was 23. Do you have a school counselor? I would go ask them about PSEO options and your desires to go beyond your current state.

Haylee recommends the following next steps:

PSEO Options
Talk with your HS Counselor
Don't forget to do what you love

That’s really good to know, thanks a ton, and I’ll be sure to check in to ask about the PSEO options. Liam M.

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Veronica’s Answer

Hi Liam,

It is great that you are thinking ahead already. As other members have mentioned already those advanced courses can become college credits if you get a C or above. Also, if you take community college courses while in high school, that even puts you ahead of the game with credits as well. Besides credits, you should also focus on getting involved with clubs, doing community service and getting into a community-based organization if you can. They are usually college-access programs and they help you become better prepared when it comes to applying for college. You can check out the link and see if they are any close to your city.

If you can't find a community-based organization, then you can potentially find an internship, in something that you are interested in. Internships can definitely help you gain work experience and determine if you want to work in a specific area, job sector. Plus, it looks great in your college application.

I hope this helps. :D

Thank you Veronica, I have been thinking about internships for the future, so I will be sure to check some out Liam M.

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Aicha’s Answer

Hi Liam!

You seem as though you have your priorities figured out and that is step one to wanting to get ahead. A lot of young students are not there yet, but it seems like you are! Taking advanced classes are great because they do prepare you for college and they look good on your resume. I would say to just keep up your grades. If you are taking AP courses make sure you look at what scores your college of choice wants you to have for each class that way you will receive a college credit. Also, dual enrollment is such a great program to be in as well. It will definitely get you to move through college at a faster pace.

I also want to say it is ok to take it slow sometimes too. Don't try to rush through everything especially college. Take some time to enjoy yourself and make new friends. Take some time to get to know the people around you in order to network with them.

You sound like you are already in a good place so just keep working on that and you should be good!

I hope this helps!

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Cindy’s Answer

Definitely agree on the clubs and on club leadership! Often when I am hiring someone who is more entry level, what we look for is potential. And one way to show that is through student leadership. If you are the leader of a student org - likely nominated or voted on by peers, you can get things organized, you can motivate others, you know how to do a lot with a little. If you were on a sports team - you likely are a team player and can work with others. If you play an instrument - likely are internally motivated and knows how to learn new things. If you ran a marathon - definitley have internal drive and can get things done. All of those are intrinsic skills that are hard to teach but show that you have a lot of potential to be successful in whatever you do.

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Rick’s Answer

Study Math and science classes you will have to take. Learn formulas and how to apply them.

1. Take Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced Placement or “A.P.” courses are college-level courses that a high school offers to students who wish to earn college credit while still attending high school. Students who take these courses have the option of taking an “A.P. Exam” towards the end of the regular school year. Depending on the results of their exam, students may receive college credit from certain schools.

For example, if a student has an interest in writing they may sign up for their school’s A.P. Language and Composition class. If they take the test and pass with a 4 (exams are graded on a 1-5 scale), they can receive three English college credits at most colleges and thus not be required to take a core English class in college.

This provides a student with three main benefits.

1. They have more room in their college schedule to take classes they are interested in
2. They are one step closer to earning a college degree
3. They have saved a significant amount of money. An A.P. Exam costs around $92 to take. The average college course at a 4-year, public university (for a student taking 30 credits a year) costs approximately $939.

2. Dual Enroll

In addition to A.P. courses, many high schools also have Dual Enrollment programs. These programs allow high school students to enroll in college courses prior to graduating. Unlike A.P courses, a student participating in dual enrollment takes an ACTUAL college class at an ACTUAL college, instead of taking a college-level class at their high school.

Students participating in these programs have the opportunity to see what a college course is like before becoming a college student. They are able to observe the differences between high school and college class structures and high school and college teachers. In addition, they can fulfill their high school graduation requirements while earning college credit and exploring college programs. Since most high schools cover the cost of dual enrollment, students save money earning credits early.

3. High School Summer Programs

Many colleges have summer programs specifically geared towards giving high school students a look at the college experience. During many of these programs, students are able to explore their areas of interest while meeting other high school students who have similar passions. Through these programs, numerous students are able to solidify their major choice, as well as hone in on things that are important to them in a college.

The curriculum and price of a summer program varies from college to college, but some give students the opportunity to take courses and earn college credit.

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Eric’s Answer

This is all great advice! Right now is a great time to start trying to get ahead. There are many sites that allow you to take college prep courses and even classes that give you college credit! Sites like offer self paced, college level (pass/fail) courses that can be used towards college credit through the American Council of Education (ACE). Taking these courses would help you satisfy your needed graduation requirements similar to AP courses. My younger sister is currently taking courses with to finish her general education credits.
Right now through July 31, is offering these courses for free to help students get ahead during these so students can still get ahead in school and save money in the process. I know this sounds like a huge ad for, but it definitely is worth looking into.

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Cindy’s Answer

I think that taking the advanced classes is an awesome way to prep for college, especially if the teacher offers them as advanced placement classes where you can test afterwards and get college credit. Definitely make sure you are learning good study habits in high school as they won't give you as much leeway in college.

If you are interested, a lot of schools allow you to do Running Start with a local community college. This will allow you to get college credit and take classes on the campus while in high school and the school pays for it. Great way to save money if you are not sure how you are going to pay for college or if you think you might be pursuing an advanced degree to get some of it out of the way with someone else paying. I would also recommend looking at the softer classes in high school too - take a computer science class, take a business class, take an art or creative writing class, see what one grabs your interest. Do volunteer work - it can also help you see where your passions may lay and help you to know where to drive your career.

Cindy recommends the following next steps:

Look into Running Start
Do volunteer work

Thanks a ton, Ms. Bowlin- I will be sure to look into those programs and continue volunteering where I can! I wasn’t completely sure about this site, but your answer helped quell my reservations, so again, many thanks. Liam M.

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Kim’s Answer

Hi Liam,

I think you have gotten a lot of good advice. I recommend you spend some time on the district's website, and the school's website, to see what you can find out. It would really help if you had a general idea of what programs you might be interested in prior to talking to a counselor. Don't be afraid or ashamed to take a notepad with questions, so you don't forget anything, and can write down whatever they tell you! Also realize there are "magnet" schools that might be an option.

Freshman year is pretty young for most people to be thinking about the future, so congrats on being ahead of the game. Do you have a general idea of where you are headed? For example, STEM programs? Law School? IT? Military Academy? Make the most of Career Day at school. If you are possibly interested in going to a Military Academy, there is a lot you need to start doing at a young age. They offer an orientation. If you are interested, I'll try to find it (I honestly don't recall where I saw this, perhaps on a Congressional website).

Also, the one thing I STRONGLY encourage you to do: Find the one thing you are most afraid of, and tackle it head-on. Things like a fear of public speaking can seriously hold you back. Never run from your fears. Fear of failure kept me from challenging myself. As did fear of public speaking. But, with age, comes wisdom (sometimes). And, when I found myself in a position as an Airport Police Officer, and was required to learn to cross runways and communicate with the tower, I was terrified! I had been only minimally trained. I practiced and practiced and practiced. The result? All new officers were required to undergo airfield training with me!

Best of luck!

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Gina’s Answer

Advanced classes are a great start, but you may be able to find even more help with general life experiences. Trying a part-time job, clubs, volunteer work and sports. My grades were great in high school, but I feel I really excelled once I got to college. The social interaction shaped me so much. I was on the tennis team, did internships for my major (communications) and joined a sorority. While in the sorority we did a lot of philanthropy work, which afforded me to experience many different life situations and meet so many people. Those things you just can't measure.

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Carla’s Answer

At the branch of a university in my city, high schoolers can take a college class at the university with college students and it would count towards your high school diploma and give you college credit that can transfer even you don't want to continue your college career at that university.

Carla recommends the following next steps:

Talk to your school counselor about options to take college classes (you may have to be 16 years old or a junior in high school)