No matter what career path you plan to pursue after high school, there is a good chance you will need some form of higher education. By 2020, nearly 66 percent of all jobs in Missouri will require a two- or four-year degree or professional certificate.

It’s never too early — or too late — to decide to go to college. But when it comes to planning for higher education, the sooner you start, the more options you may have. Get started on your journey today!


Three steps will put you on the path toward earning a college degree or certificate:


Step 1 : Apply

The best time to apply for college is the fall of your senior year. Think about the kind of degree you want to earn and the type of school you need to attend. It can be a good idea to apply to more than one college before you make a final decision.


Apply Missouri

Many high schools host Apply Missouri events in September and October. Take advantage of Apply Missouri, if offered at your school, to submit applications to the colleges you are interested in attending. Each college has its own admission and scholarship deadlines, so be sure to research those dates and mark them on your calendar.


Step 2: Fund

Knowing how you will pay for college is just as important as knowing where you will attend. College costs can vary depending on the school you attend and the type of degree you are seeking. Many students receive financial aid to help fund their education. Be sure to fill out the FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is required for most federal, state and college financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans.


FAFSA Frenzy

Get help completing the FAFSA at a FAFSA Frenzy event near you. Events are held at high schools, colleges and other locations in Missouri October through January.


Seeking out other scholarships and part-time job opportunities also can help with college costs.


Step 3: Decide

There is no magic formula for choosing the right college. Knowing yourself — your abilities, interests and goals — can help you decide on a college that is the best fit for you. Once you have been admitted, you are ready to enroll in classes, finalize funding, and arrange for housing and transportation. Be sure to meet all deadlines set by your college so you are ready to go when the semester begins.


Decision Day

Many high schools throughout Missouri host Decision Day events on or near May 1 to celebrate seniors' plans for higher education or military service. Celebrate your decision on social media by sharing your decision using the hashtag #MoDecisionDay.


If you have not applied to college by the end of your senior year, it is not too late. Talk with your high school counselor about opportunities that are still available.


For tips on planning and paying for college follow Journey to College on Twitter and Facebook.