Grades and test scores do matter, but colleges look at other things too.

You’ve heard that good grades and money will help you get into college. But it’s important to remember that everyone has different strengths and different goals. Plus, not everyone has a lot of money. Once you get the facts straight, your options become clear and you can start planning your future.

Consider these common misconceptions that many students have when thinking about their plan for college:

Fiction – Colleges only accept students with the highest grades.
Fact – Colleges don’t usually have a firm "cutoff" for grades or test scores. Some colleges only require a high school diploma or GED certificate. In most cases, colleges look at the whole you, including your transcripts, activities, family situation and potential for success. If you take the right courses, do your best work, focus on learning, get involved in activities and plan ahead, you can go to college.

Fiction – College just isn’t an option if your family doesn’t have the money.
Fact – You can afford college. It isn’t free, but if you qualify for admittance, financial aid will help cover the costs. You and your family are expected to help pay for college, BUT the amount you pay is based on what you can actually afford. When a family has done all it can, the government, colleges and private groups offer financial aid to help.

Fiction – Going to a four-year college or university is the only way to continue your education after high school.
Fact – “College” means any kind of higher education. This includes any training program or school for high school graduates or people with GED certificates. Two-year colleges, voc-tech programs and trade schools count too. The school or program you choose will depend on your individual abilities, interests and goals.


Fiction – You have to go to college straight out of high school
Fact – Worried that you’re not quite ready for college? Colleges don’t usually hold time off against you. They know that breaks can give you time to work, explore and mature. Students who start college later in life are often more dedicated and serious too.


However, you do take a risk when you take time off. Some students never go back to school or find it is tougher when they return. While you’re out of school, you can forget things or slip into poor study habits. And many returning students have added responsibilities like working full-time or caring for a child. This can make it harder to focus on school. If you do take time off, be sure and have a plan for continuing your studies.