Statistics show that an American's wage-earning capacity grows with each level of education, so preparing for college is a wise investment in your future.

Iowa's admission counselors suggest these tips:

Talk to members of your family about what you are thinking about doing after high school. Your interests, and the type of career that appeals to you, will help you decide which courses to take—in high school and in college. You can even go online to find job descriptions and salary ranges to see if those match your skills and goals.

Talk with a guidance counselor to make sure your course work includes the typical curriculum for a college-bound student. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, which governs Iowa's three public universities (including The University of Iowa), has a helpful guide called Building Your Future (PDF) that outlines the academic preparation you need to be admitted into one of Iowa's Regents universities. Review this brochure even if you aren’t sure that you want to attend a traditional four-year college after high school. Pursuing the recommended academic track will give you the most flexibility when it is time to decide whether your future includes college.

Keep your grades up. Remember that the work you do now is laying the foundation for your future study habits, so work hard! Focus on core subjects like reading, writing, and math.

Try to complete Algebra I and a world language class this year. Tackling these pre-college course requirements now will give you more flexibility in course selections during your senior year in high school.

Go online in your spare time to visit the web sites of colleges that interest you. Review each school's degree offerings and admission requirements, and look for summer programs that could give you firsthand knowledge of the college's campus, residence halls, and faculty.