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Applying to College

When should I start thinking about applying for college?
  • The process for applying for and being accepted into a college of your choosing begins in middle school. Academic preparation in middle school leads to future academic success in high school -- the key to achieving entrance to the college of your dreams. Once you are in high school, planning your course load and academic achievement become increasingly important. The actual process of researching colleges, taking college entrance exams, and applying for college can begin as early as junior year and will conclude in spring of your senior year.

Is there a minimum grade point average to get into college?
  • Most students worry about not being good enough to get into college. The truth is there are many options for college and each present a different set of requirements. For instance, students choosing to pursue a certificate or degree at an Oregon two-year community college take a placement examination prior to college enrollment. Whereas, a minimum grade point average is needed to be accepted to a four-year university but it varies by institution. For example, the minimum grade point average (GPA) needed to be eligible for Portland State University (PSU) is 3.00; the minimum grade point average needed to be eligible for Oregon State University (OSU) is also 3.0. If you are planning to apply for entrance to a competitive major or limited enrollment program, these may have unique requirements which must be met prior to admission. Check with your institution for program specific requirements.

Are there high school course requirements for admission to college?
  • College includes professional/technical certificate programs, 2-year and four-year degree programs. As such, there is no single academic path that all students should follow. An ideal four-year preparatory program includes four years of English; four years of math including algebra and geometry; six semesters of science with labs: biology, chemistry, physics; six semesters of social studies: U.S. history, U.S. government, economics, and world history or geography; and two to four years of one foreign language depending on your college. Students who want to be accepted into the nation’s top tier universities should plan to take the most rigorous secondary school curricula available to them. While students who want to demonstrate a well rounded high school experience may choose to include the arts, computer science, independent study and up to four years of a foreign language.

Is College expensive?
  • College is one of the best investments that you will ever make. Financing a college education involves three elements: tuition and fees, books, and daily living expenses. Last year the average annual cost of attending a public four-year university was just under $7,000 and a public two-year school was just over $2,400. With this as a starting point, recognize that there is more than $180 billion available nationally for college financial aid. Each year, many states actually fail to give away all of the money available in the form of financial aid and scholarships. Depending on you and your parent’s income, you may be eligible for financial aid, which can take many forms including federal or state aid, scholarships, or loans. While you will want to get a start on forecasting the cost of college, your next step is to determine the resources available to you for college financing. A good place to begin is by talking to your TRiO ETS transition specialist who has received extensive financial aid training.

How do I find out about the requirements for my college?
  • There are many resources available to assist you. You can:
    1. Visit the college in which you are interested. Many colleges have Preview Days or may also accommodate you on an individual basis.
    2. Research the admission requirements in your college’s catalog or on their website. While there, research the requirements for your major.
    3. Attend events sponsored by your college at your local high school or attend regional college fairs hosted at RCC campuses every year.
    4. Talk to your college counselor or TRiO ETS Transition Specialist.

Will volunteer work and extracurricular activities help me to get into college?
  • The good news is that colleges pay attention to your life both inside and outside the classroom. According to College Board, your academics probably come first, but your activities reveal a great deal about you, such as:
    1. How you've made a meaningful contribution to something.
    2. What your non-academic interests are.
    3. Whether you can manage your time and priorities.
    4. What diversity you’d bring to the student body.
  • Colleges are not interested in seeing you get involved in everything; they just want to see that you have a range of interests and can demonstrate a long-term commitment.
  • It’s good to get involved in extracurricular activities early. Check out opportunities at your school, through your church or community.

What is a Major and what role does it play in high school?
  • A major is associated with college and is a primary focus of study. A minor is your secondary focus of study. For example, you could major in Economics and minor in Spanish. It is helpful to start thinking about your career interests and goals as early as your freshman year. By the end of your sophomore year, you will want to identify majors you are interested in that match your career goals. In this way, you can begin to research majors and colleges to determine whether there are additional courses or activities you will want to undertake prior to graduation from high school.

Oregon public universities, colleges, and private universities

Federal funds have been allocated for the TRiO Educational Talent Search program. 100% of this project is financed through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.