Although academic requirements differ across colleges, the admissions requirements
listed below are typical of 4 year colleges. The specific classes listed here are
examples of the types of courses students can take.
English- 4 years
Types of classes: composition, American literature, English literature, world literature
Mathematics- 3 to 4 years
Types of classes: algebra I, algebra II, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus, calculus
History and Geography- 2 to 3 years
Types of classes: geography, U.S. history, U.S. government, world history, world
Laboratory Science- 2 to 3 years
Types of classes: Earth and space science, life sciences, physical sciences
Foreign Language- 2 to 3 years
Types of classes: French, German, Spanish, Latin, Russian, Japanese
Visual and Performing Arts- 1 to 3 years
Types of classes: art, dance, drama, music
Appropriate Electives- 1 to 3 years
Types of classes: economics, psychology, statistics, computer science, communications
Colleges look for breadth as well as mastery of basic science and mathematics. Among
your electives, you should consider taking additional foreign language, world history,
drafting, computer programming, international studies, economics, and art. In addition, participate in extracurricular activities that enhance your learning and provide
Take all of the important exams that colleges require:
PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)
Taken your sophomore year, it will give you practice for taking the SAT and ACT.
SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or
ACT (American College Test)
Taken your Junior and/or senior year, colleges use these tests along with your grades
to judge your application.
High scores on these exams plus high grades may allow you to win a National Merit
Scholarship (for outstanding high school students) or a National Achievement Scholarship
(especially for outstanding African-American students).
PREPARATION IS THE KEY
At the very least , to do well in the career of your choice, you must prepare yourself
in the following areas:
Mastery of skills. You will need to master the skills required by the courses you
will be taking to get a college degree. The type of degree you are seeking will
determine the subject areas you must concentrate on, as well as recommendations for
elective course work.
Computer skills. You should have the ability to work with spreadsheet, graphs, and
word-processing software, as well as a familiarity with using the Internet and electronic
Good writing skills. This ability cannot be emphasized enough. You need to write
well to get good jobs, to communicate with the people with whom you work, to write
papers for publication, or to perform any number of other important activities that
your job will require.
Effective oral communication. As with good writing skills, your ability to communicate
effectively cannot be emphasized enough. You must be able to communicate your thoughts
and ideas clearly, and in a variety of settings, such as meetings, formal presentations , or lectures.
There are two basic types of colleges that offer academic programs:
Two-Year Colleges- These schools offer 2-year programs leading to a certificate, an
associate of arts (A.A.) degree, an associate of science (A.S.) degree, or an associate
of applied science (A.A.S.) degree.
Four-Year Colleges and Universities- These schools usually offer a bachelor of arts
(B.A.) or bachelor of science (B.S.) degree. Some also offer graduate and professional
Colleges look for breadth as well as mastery of basic mathematics, science, English,
computer studies, and communications skills. Among your electives, you should consider
taking more than 2 years of a foreign language, world history, international studies, economics, art, public speaking, writing, and other humanities courses.
4 Years of College
Choose a technical major: physics, chemistry, mathematics, pre-medicine, engineering,
computer science, but take full advantage of the other disciplines. Most colleges
require knowledge of pre-calculus before they permit you to take the scientific subjects. They also require that you have progressed through algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
Understanding these subjects is essential for mastery of college science courses.
As a college graduate there are many things you can do in education, government, and industry:
Teacher- Help students learn science and mathematics.
Electrical/Mechanical/Aerospace Engineer- Design experiments and hardware such as
space propulsion systems.
Systems Programmer- Design, write, and maintain computer programs for scientific
analysis or for controlling a telescope in space.
Systems Analyst- Improve the performance of complex systems such as making it easier
for astronauts to conduct experiments on board a space station.
Laboratory Technician- Prepare and run experiments like drop tower tests to simulate
Research Technician- Assist scientists in analyzing detailed experimental data such
as studying changes in an astronaut's heart rate in space.
Planetarium Assistant- Help prepare educational shows about astronomy for students
and the public.
Technical Writer- Write articles about space science for newspapers, magazines, and
2 to 3 Years Beyond College
Research Associate- Participate in rocket experiments or build new spacecraft. Assist
in analyzing data for research projects such as mapping the planets and their moons.
Microbiologists- Engage in the search for microscopic evidence of the possible existence
of life elsewhere in the solar system.
Statistician- Gather and analyze for large research projects, such as the study of
Electronics Engineer- Design instruments and spacecraft systems for the harsh space
4 to 7 Years Beyond College
University Professor/ Research Scientist- Teaching and research. Conduct space experiments
to study the origin, nature, and future of the universe.
Science/ Engineering Manager- Manage large technical projects such as deep space
probes and lead teams of scientists from universities and government laboratories.
Research Engineer- Develop new space and aeronautics technologies like those needed
for an aerospace plane.
Applied Mathematician/ Computer Modeler- Develop mathematical models such as those
used to simulate the behavior of an aircraft in flight or of a planetary atmosphere.
At your school or local library, explore career books or look at the following web
sites to help you discover the many careers open to you. Can you list 10 different
careers in the area that interests you?
Some Internet sites that contain useful information as you proceed with your career
plans in the areas listed above are:
General career information can be accessed by using web search engines, such as: