Tips for Success

College is possible for all students. Get on the path to success now!

4 Ways to Earn College Credit in High School

Your high school may participate in concurrent enrollment, advanced placement, postsecondary enrollment or career academy opportunities which, in most cases, allow you to earn both high school and college credit. These programs are typically offered at no cost to students (with a few exceptions). Talk to your counselor or AP coordinator to learn more.

    Community college courses often taught at the high school where students earn both college and high school credit.
    College-level courses taught at the high school. Many colleges grant credit, advanced placement or both to students who take and earn high AP exam scores. The Iowa Online AP Academy offers AP classes to students whose high schools don’t offer on-site classes.
    Courses taken through a college where students earn college credit as well as high school credit for those courses that meet district graduation requirements.
    Programs in specific technical fields at community colleges that prepare students for entry and advancement in high-skill career fields. Students may earn both college and high school credit.

How to Rock College Visits

  • Some colleges may be too far for an initial visit. Start by taking virtual campus tours. Check the college’s website or look into online sites such as eCampusTours and
  • Take a campus tour, check out different housing options and tour the surrounding area.
  • Schedule a visit with the financial aid office to discuss costs and financing options.
  • Get a feel for college life by eating in a campus cafeteria and staying overnight in campus housing.
  • Sit in on a class that interests you.
  • Talk to a professor in your intended field of study or major.
  • Ask current students about campus life and what they do on the weekends.
  • Read the campus newspaper.
  • Visit with advisors and members of activities and clubs that interest you.
  • Document each visit, including any feelings you have during the visit, to help you find the right fit.

Choosing A College

Choosing a college is an extremely personal decision. A good starting point is to identify colleges that offer programs and majors related to your career interests.

    Start by listing colleges that offer the major(s) that interest you and that meet other factors you find important.
    Gather information about each college by talking to your school counselor, attending college fairs and visiting college websites. Many colleges offer virtual campus tours so you can get an idea of the look and feel from your computer.
    Visiting several colleges is important because it will help you determine which college fits you best, both socially and academically. If possible, try to visit when classes are in session. Prepare specific questions to ask at each college. Make a list of college characteristics that are important to you and check off items offered by each college. The tips in the box below provide a starting point to help you make the most of your campus visits. Don’t forget to contact an admissions representative to schedule your visits!
    The research you have done and the college visits you have made will help you determine which colleges you are interested in attending. Make sure you know the application requirements and deadlines for each college before you apply. Some colleges may require essays, personal interviews or letters of recommendation. Knowing what is expected ensures you have plenty of time to prepare. Make sure you apply to at least one college where you are confident you will be accepted, but don’t sell yourself short either!

Myth vs. Reality

Myth: The best time to visit a college is after you have been accepted.
Reality: It’s best to visit potential colleges before you apply. Being on a college campus is the best way to get a feel for the college and help you decide if it’s the right fit for you. If possible, visit again after you have been accepted. If you can only make one visit, make it before you apply.

Myth: You should know what you want to do for the rest of your life before choosing a major.
Reality: While it is important to start exploring careers at an early age to fit your interests and talents, an estimated 20% to 50% of students enter college undecided on their major. Additionally, 75% of students will change their major at least once before graduation.

Myth: Learning is hard for me, so I probably won’t get into college.
Reality: Learning study habits that work best for how you learn and believing you can improve will help you do better in school. We all have subjects we’re good at and ones that are more challenging. It’s okay to ask for help. Also, there are different types of colleges and majors. It’s all about finding the best fit for your skills and interests.

Matching Study Skills with Learning Types

Study skills are the strategies used to study and learn well. GEAR UP Iowa encourages you to take the learning styles inventory. Understanding how you learn will help you develop effective study habits. Here’s a few study skills from to try:

Auditory: Auditory learning is based around sound

  • Ask the teacher’s permission to record the lecture so it can be listened to later
  • Students should sit where they can hear their teacher best
  • Make flashcards to read out loud when studying
  • Read assignments out loud and “whisper read” questions during a test

Visual: Visual learning is based around sight

  • Students should sit where they can see what the teacher is doing
  • Highlight or use colors to organize assignments and homework
  • Visualize or imagine what they hear or what is read to them

Tactile: Tactile learning is based around touch

  • Students should participate in activities that involve touching, building, moving, or drawing
  • Use flashcards to arrange in groups to show relationships between ideas
  • Encourage your student to take frequent (but not long) breaks during reading or study periods

Turning Passions Into Future Plans

With hundreds of college majors and career options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed planning for your future. With the support of your family, teachers, counselors and GEAR UP, you can discover what you’re passionate about and figure out how to turn those things into a lifelong career. Passion is at the heart of choosing what a person wants to do each day in their life after college. If a person truly loves what he or she does, it won’t feel like work.

If you can figure out your passion as well as your talents, skills and values, you can look for opportunities to further develop them. GEAR UP Iowa encourages you to try a variety of extracurricular activities or volunteer experiences at school or in the community. Then, reflect on what you liked or didn’t like about each. Some questions that will help you think about your passions include:

  • What makes you happy?
  • What motivates you?
  • What do you like about your favorite classes?
  • Who do you look up to (friends and family, historical figures or celebrities)? Why do you look up to them?
  • What accomplishment has made you most proud and why?
  • If you could do any job for a day, what would it be and why?

Connect with a college student or other adult mentor with similar passions to learn more. If you can determine a passion for what you’re doing and studying, you’re more likely to stay involved and succeed more in school. That success increases the chances of graduating college and finding a satisfying career!