How to Start Getting Ready for College in 9th and 10th Grade

Start where you are

If you're just starting high school, you can do some things now to help get ready for college. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Read every day

People who read more know more. Read at least 30 minutes every day, in addition to studying and doing homework. This habit will pay off when you take tests with timed reading sections, like college admission tests.

Get involved

Getting ready for college isn't all work. Find something you really like doing, and then dive into it. Maybe you're drawn to sports, student council, music or art. Join a school group or club, or find other ways to follow your passion. You'll develop skills and show colleges you can make a commitment and stick with it.

Involve your family

If your family members haven't been to college themselves, they may think they can't help you with college planning. That's not true. They know you well and can help you make good choices. Have your family members work with your teachers and school counselors to get you on the path to college.

Find a mentor

Look for adults who can support you and help you reach your goals. If you're interested in a particular subject or activity, let a teacher or school counselor know about it. Find someone you trust to talk to about your goals.

If a problem comes up, ask for help

If you have a problem that's getting in the way of schoolwork, ask someone you trust and respect for advice or help—whether it's a friend, family member, coach, doctor or teacher. If you're having trouble with a class, talk with a teacher or school counselor about what type of tutoring or other assistance is available.

Take challenging courses

Take available advanced courses. Colleges look at your grades, but they also pay attention to how tough your courses are—they want to see that you've challenged yourself. Also, if you take college-level courses, such as Advance Placement classes, you may be able to get college credit.

Get ready for the SAT

You can get on track  for the SAT while you're a sophomore. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, or PSAT 8/9 is a great way to practice for the SAT. And taking the PSAT/NMSQT again as a junior, can help you qualify for scholarships. Ask your school counselor if you can take it at your school. Remember to sign up for Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy®, so you can access free, personalized study tools to help you get ready for the test.

Talk to people in the know

Find out about college admission, academics and campus life by asking someone who's experienced it, such as students from your high school who are now in college. Ask your school counselors and teachers questions and learn about their experiences. Talk to a college professor or administrator to get more information.

What now?

Want to know why you should be thinking of college? Visit College: What It's All About and Why It Matters.

Sign up for Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy at

Thinking about your future? Read 5 Ways to Find Career Ideas.