Although college may seem light years away to freshman and sophomores, in reality, it will be here before you know it!  If you want to go to college, it’s never too early to begin the college planning process!  For example, there are classes you’ll need in grades 9-12 to qualify for college admissions, things you can do now to help you earn scholarships, and it’s a great time to think about career options.

When we say “college” we mean any type of education/training after high school that will help you land a job in your chosen career and earn a decent living.  Watch this video to learn the “5 Ways Ed Pays,” and follow the four KnowHow2GO steps below to get you there!young_student

Step 1: Be a pain – in a good way!

Find an adult you can talk to about college – your parents, teachers, relatives, mentor, coach, school counselor, etc. – and ask them to help guide you on your path to college.

  • Sign up for Countdown2College to receive monthly college planning emails.
  • Think about career options.
  • Find ways to save money for college.
  • Sign up for classes you’ll need to qualify for college admissions.

Step 2: Push yourself!

If you want to go to college, you’ll have to push yourself in high school!

  • Take challenging classes to help you prepare for a rigorous college curriculum.
  • Get good grades so you can compete for academic scholarships.
  • Get involved! School activities, honors/awards, volunteer work or community service and work experience are other great ways to be awarded scholarships.
  • Track your awards, jobs, and activities with Activities Resume.

Step 3: Find the right fit!

Thinking about your career interests is one way to find a college that’s the best fit for you.

  • Take a career assessment at your school or at
  • Check into job shadowing opportunities in a field that interests you.
  • Start researching colleges that fit your interests with College Profiles.
  • Attend events at colleges in your area or go on a visit to experience a campus environment.

Step 4: Put your hands on some cash!!

  • Visit to learn about financial aid and use online tools.
  • Create a profile on ScholarshipQuest to find scholarships that match your criteria.
  • Learn to budget as you start earning money from a part-time job and save half of your pay for college.
  • Ask your parents to consider the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST).

Starting high school is an exciting time in your life, but before you know it you’ll be a senior and facing many decisions about what to do after you graduate.  It’s helpful to get started with the college planning process now, while you have time to map out your future plans and enjoy the ride!  Don’t forget to ask for help from your school counselor and EducationQuest to stay on track!

Here are the other blogs in the series: