A Complete Guide To College Prep Courses

Staying Ahead of the Curve

College Prep Courses 101

If you’re at school in the United States or are the guardian of someone who is, you may have heard about college prep courses. Designed to ensure that you have the best possible chance of succeeding during your college years, these programs are great for students of all ages and abilities.

This article will explore what college prep courses are and why they’re useful to future college students. We’ll then identify the best college prep courses on offer in the US today. Let’s find out more in this college prep guide.

What Are College Prep Courses?

College prep classes do exactly what you’d think - prepare you for the challenges of college. While high school continues to teach you your usual syllabus, college prep courses specifically focus on the skills you’ll need for college life.

College is very different from high school. Most students find it harder, noting that expectations are different. This can be challenging for many students who find the jump unmanageable. With college prep courses, you’ll be in a better position when you arrive at college.

There are different types of online prep courses, as well as some brands that offer a variety of skills in a single place. One type focuses on practicalities, such as how to apply to college, what you should include in your application and how to understand the college financing system. Here, you’ll learn how to get financial support and stand the best chance of being accepted onto your college course.

The other type of college prep course focuses on the type of work you’ll undertake. These programs talk you through coursework expectations and focus on core subjects, including science, math and English.

College prep courses tend not to offer college credit, so don’t think of them as a means to advance yourself in that way. Instead, they offer advice, information and a taster of what’s to come.

Why Would I Take a College Prep Course?

As outlined, college is very different from high school. While high school requires you to learn facts to recall during exam papers, college students will need to have more critical thinking skills. This skill set develops from discussions, debates and engaging with big ideas. A college prep course will help you master these skills early in your education.

College students also have a lot more responsibilities than their high school counterparts and balancing these can be tricky. With a college prep course, you’ll learn how to create goals and reach them, meet deadlines and find support when you need it.

There are also stricter rules at college. Papers need to be free of plagiarism and must follow clear moral and ethical guidelines set out by your college. Test prep through a college preparation course will introduce you to these guidelines to ensure that you are well-prepared for exams, tests and essays.

Which College Prep Courses Are Best?

With so many high schoolers moving on to college, there are lots of great college prep courses on the market today. With so much choice, you can select one based on whether they have admission requirements, whether they’re in person or online and whether they’re affordable. Here, we’ve listed a few of our favorites.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit college prep course that’s available online. This makes it easily accessible for high schoolers across the US. There are many courses to choose from, including math, reading, science, computing, history and economics. Plus, there’s specific advice and resources for tests, including SAT and MCAT courses.

For those looking to develop life skills for college, there are subjects covering emotional learning, internet safety, college admissions, careers and financial literacy. The resources available on Khan Academy are available in 36 languages, supporting more students than many of their competitors. There’s an app, too, meaning you’ll love learning at home and on the go.


Founded by Harvard University, edX delivers online learning platforms to over 78 million people across the world. As part of its mission, edX offers young people the chance to better prepare for college with college prep courses. These courses have been designed by professionals in the academic industry - and it shows.

Courses at edX include “How to Write an Essay,” “English Grammar and Style,” “College Algebra” and “How You Say It Matters: A Toolkit for Improving Communications About Academic Standing.” Each course will help you on your way to more prosperous college years.


The next stage of your education can be daunting, but it doesn’t need to be with StraighterLine. Offering great courses, including “Developmental Writing,” “Student Success” and “Introductory Algebra.” StraighterLine is affordable and includes textbooks free of charge.

With StraighterLine, you can work at your own pace and complete your college prep course exams whenever you’re ready. Courses can be finished within 30 days, making this a fantastic solution for future college students.