How To Begin Planning for College


As you enter the latter part of high school, you sense that change is in the air. You’ll be exploring what your future holds and this can be exciting and intimidating: After all, this time is wrought with questions, some of which you still can’t answer for yourself! What do you want to do? Will you get accepted to your first-choice college? How will you afford the cost? Do you even know how to do your own laundry?


As you start pondering these questions, it’s important to take a deep breath. There are many resources available that will help make the transition period easier for you.


Make a plan. Okay. You can stop laughing now. Telling someone to “make a plan” when they don’t even know where to start is like telling someone to find a needle in a haystack. That’s the beauty of College Foundation of North Carolina’s website. At, you’ll find all sorts of tools to help you with everything from exploring career choices to financial aid options. A great starting point is the College Planning Timeline. It’s sorted by grade year and it works as a checklist that will help you organize and prepare for the transition ahead.


Share your plan. Make sure people around you know that you are planning to go to college. Inform everyone — from family members and teachers to counselors and friends. These people can provide support when you’re feeling uncertain, and they can offer a wealth of advice on everything from career choices to financing.


Push yourself. Even if it’s early in your high school career, spend a few minutes finding out about the entrance requirements to a couple of colleges you may be interested in. This will help you double check that you’re taking the high school classes you need in order to apply for college. For example; you may not need four years of math to graduate high school, but some colleges require it. Challenge yourself with Honors or Advanced Placement courses. At, you’ll find an entire section designed to help you track and plan your high school courses to align with your academic goals.


Find the right school. When it comes to advanced education, there are a lot of options: Public or private? Large or small? Home or away? The choices can be overwhelming when you’re not even sure if you want pizza or a hamburger for lunch! Getting an idea about what you might want to focus on career-wise can help narrow the field and make the decision a little easier. The CFNC website has many career planning tools to help you figure it all out. You can search careers directly or use the interest profiler to gain a better understanding of careers that you may want to explore.


Think green. No, we’re not talking about the environment. We’re talking money. Navigating the maze of grants, scholarships, and loans can feel overwhelming. The Financial Aid Primer can be a huge help in understanding the many options that will help make your college dream a reality. For information on savings plans to repayment options, the CFNC website can be a huge help.


Get started. Taking that first step is usually the hardest, but not in this case. Help is as simple as creating an account at You’ll have full access to career and college planning tools. From exploring college choices to career investigations, it’s all there. You can even complete college applications online when the time comes. As for your laundry, well, that’s something CFNC can’t help you with.