According to the “Choosing A College” guide from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, the best way to academically prepare for a four-year college or university is for students to challenge themselves while in high school by taking rigorous courses in core subjects. Even if students have completed the high school’s graduation requirements, it will increase chances for success in college by taking more advanced mathematics, science, English and social studies courses.
Most four-year colleges and universities require the following, at a minimum, for admission:
- Four years of English (including studies of writing and literature)
- Three and one-half years of social studies (including one year each of U.S. history and geography)
- Three years of mathematics (including two years of algebra and one year of geometry)
- Some colleges are now requiring four years of math (such as U of M Twin Cities, Dulth, WI colleges, etc.)
- Three years of science (including one year each of a biological and physical science)
- Two years of a single world language
- One year of either world culture or fine arts
Public two-year colleges accept all high school graduates and GED holders. However, some programs offered at these schools are more selective and have higher admissions standards and waiting lists to get in. Some students find they must spend a semester or even two just getting ready to enter a two-year career program by taking basic required courses they could have taken in high school. That is why high school preparation is so important. Students who master core subjects while in high school save money and time in college.
Associate degree programs require the equivalent of two years of full-time study. They are designed to either prepare individuals for an occupation, or to provide a foundation for the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Some general education courses are included in associate degree programs such as English and mathematics.
All baccalaureate or bachelor’s degrees require the equivalent of at least four years of full-time study. The degree includes both general courses and advanced course work in a defined area of study, typically called a major. There are hundreds of programs of study that lead to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), or discipline-specific bachelor’s degrees such as the Bachelor of Music or the Bachelor of Fine Arts.
College Entrance Exams
Most four-year colleges in Minnesota require that students be in the upper half of their graduating class and perform satisfactorily on an entrance test such as the American College Test (ACT) or Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
Lakeville North High School's testing code is 241-325
The ACT tests the four areas of English, math, science, and reading. An optional 30-minute Writing Test was added to the ACT Assessment. Students may register for the Writing Test when they register to take the ACT. It is not possible to register for a separate ACT Writing Test; it must be taken in addition to and at the same time as the ACT Assessment. Students should check if the writing portion is required for admission to their potential college.
More information about the ACT Assessment and the Writing Test is available at ACT.org.
The SAT contains three sections: critical reading, math, and writing. The mandatory writing section includes a multiple-choice component and a 25-minute essay component. The addition of the writing section increases the total possible score from 1600 to 2400.
More information about the new SAT is available at College Board.org.