College Prep

There is no reason to delay!

No matter if you are in middle school or high school, it isn’t too early or late to prep for college.

  • Prepare academically
    • Minimum preparation: Take courses to meet high school graduation requirements.
    • Better preparation: Meet graduation requirements early so you can take advanced classes.
    • Best preparation: Earn college credits through dual credit at a college, university, or through Advanced Placement (AP) courses online or at your high school.
  • Commit to earning a high GPA
  • Get involved in your community

So, what can you do today to prepare?

If you are in 8th grade, click here.

If you are in 9th grade, click here.

If you are in 10th grade, click here.

If you are in 11th grade, click here.

If you are in 12 grade, click here.

8th Grade

Take courses that will increase your opportunities to take more advanced classes in high school. This is especially important in mathematics: you need four math courses before graduation, beginning with Algebra I, to be prepared for most colleges.

Enroll in:

  • Pre-Algebra or Algebra I.

Outside school: Participate in summer camps, workshops, after-school programs and other fun opportunities that will increase your exposure to different technologies, college campuses, college students who are near-peers, college professors who could serve as future resources, etc.!

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9th Grade

Academic preparation: Check with your high school counselor or advisor to make sure you are taking the necessary courses to graduate.

Enroll in:

English 9
Algebra I or Geometry
A foreign language: Many universities (including NMSU) require at least four- or six-semesters of one foreign language for admission and/or degree requirements, and some high schools also require a language.
Outside school: Get involved in extracurricular activities. Many scholarships consider community involvement in their awards, and very selective colleges and universities require more for admission than just good grades and test scores.

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10th Grade
Academic preparation: Check with your high school counselor or advisor to ensure that your science classes will meet graduation and college eligibility requirements.

Enroll in:

English 10
Geometry or Algebra II
Science (NMSU requires two years of science courses such as biology, physical science, anatomy, and physics).
Standardized tests. Ask your counselor or advisor about taking ACT and SAT preparation tests and courses. Your guidance office will have registration packets in their office at the beginning of the school year, or register on-line at and Complete the ACT or SAT between 10th and 11th grade.

Career preparation. Begin researching careers and majors for college. Start by speaking with your counselor about your interests. Talk with community members to gain a better understanding of their profession. Visit colleges in your community and become familiar and comfortable with the campuses.

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11th Grade
Academic preparation: Set yourself a high academic challenge. The difficulty and the number of courses you take are important when colleges make admission decisions. Consider taking Advanced Placement (AP) or dual-credit classes if your school offers them. These are often taught at a college level and are excellent preparation for college. AP courses offer an optional test that could earn you college credit, depending on your score and the college or university that you attend. Dual-credit courses are free for high school students, and are an ideal way to earn high school credit while becoming familiar with the college academic process! See your advisor for a list of dual credit classes.

Enroll in:

English 11
Math (Algebra II or above)
Other science, social science, language and elective courses necessary to graduate.
Pursue a serious look at the possible majors in college.
Get to know your target colleges/universities, and start narrowing down your choices. Start a “Top 10 List,” and get to know their admission requirements. What are the minimum test scores? How many letters of recommendation will you need? When are the application deadlines? If you are looking to travel east for college, their deadlines are usually in December and January of your Junior year! If you are looking to stay in the southwest and west, most university admission deadlines are March 1st. But it varies drastically! Do your research!
Talk to friends and family members about what they majored in and why. Ask LOTS of questions!
Visit and become familiar with the deadlines to submit your application for Student Federal Financial Aid.
Standardized tests. Take the SAT and/or ACT this year and again the summer between your junior and senior year. Some colleges require a minimum SAT or ACT score for both acceptance and scholarships. Do your research!

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12th Grade
All ready for college?

See your guidance counselor to ensure you meet graduation requirements.
Take the SAT or ACT at least once in the fall.
Review our admission guidelines to be sure you are on track to attend NMSU or the college of your choice!
Submit your FAFSA at The deadline is March 1st of every year, and the earlier you submit, the better! Federal Financial Aid is based on first-come, first-served basis, and requires extensive documentation for eligibility. This also means your parents will have to complete their Federal Income Tax forms prior to this, because you will need the information for your FAFSA application. It is truly an easy process, once you have all of the information you need to gather!
Questions? NMSU Admissions and NMSU Financial Aid offices can help!
NMSU Admissions:
NMSU Financial Aid:
Don’t take it easy this year. One of the best predictors of success in the first year of college is the momentum a student carries through their senior year. Continue to take academic courses and challenge yourself!

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