College & Career Readiness
College and career preparation begins early in high school. In addition to completing an academically rigorous schedule, students need to become involved in school courses or community activities that interest them or let them explore career interests.
Your school counselor can answer questions about what classes to take, how to sign up for standardized tests, how to choose and apply to colleges, and where to get money for college. The counseling department provides classroom presentations and evening workshops that will assist students and their families in preparing for college and the application process.
Check out KnowHow2Go: The Four Steps to College, which suggests some actions you can take as you start thinking about education beyond high school. www.knowhow2go.org
Naviance Student is an online career and college readiness program available to all students. Students may research careers, maintain a portfolio of skills and activities, and research, compare, and apply to post-high school programs and colleges. A direct login link is available on the school’s website and students and parents may obtain their personal login and password from the school counseling department.
Utilize the college search and interest inventory on College Board to help select schools, programs, and opportunities that best suit your individual interests, talents, and needs. College Board also provides free test preparation for Advanced Placement and SAT. www.collegeboard.com
The following timeline provides general suggestions for students who plan to apply for college. It is important to inform your school counselor of your intent and seek their advice and direction for specific information to assist and guide you.
- Complete college preparatory courses with good grades. Utilize tutoring or teacher assistance when necessary. An online tutoring resource is www.khanacademy.org.
- Begin thinking about your career interests and possible majors. Complete an interest inventory or personality profile to help you.
- Begin a resume of your awards, honors, paid or volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Consider participating in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops, and camps with specialty focuses such as music, arts, and science.
- Meet with your counselor to select appropriate courses. Consider honors or Advanced Placement courses in your areas of interest.
- Continue to investigate your career interests by attending career fairs, job shadowing, or interviewing friends or family. www.cacareerzone.org or www.humanmetrics.com or www.careercruising.com.
- Begin searching for colleges and universities that have programs that interest you. Get to know the admission requirements and make sure you are taking the right courses to meet them. Register on www.collegeweeklive.com to receive online college updates and visit virtual college fairs.
- Take a practice SAT or ACT.
- Use your summer effectively. Work, volunteer, or take a summer college course.
- Keep your grades high.
- Take the PSAT in October. This test will prepare you for the SAT and qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
- Attend a college fair or visit colleges in the local area to help you identify qualities you seek in schools or programs that you would like to attend. Prepare a list of potential colleges to which you’d like to apply.
- Participate in a test preparation workshop or class, if necessary.
- Complete an SAT and/or ACT in the Spring. www.collegeboard.com or act.org.
- Get a financial aid pin number at www.pin.ed.gov. You will need this to apply for federal or state programs and scholarships. Learn more about financial aid at www.finaid.org.
- See your counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements.
- Complete another SAT and/or ACT in the fall, but no later than December.
- Keep your grades high. Although many universities and colleges will make an admission decision before seeing your senior grades, it is not uncommon for an admission decision to be rescinded following receipt of a final transcript after graduation. Keep your grades high!
- Finalize your list of colleges and universities. See your counselor to complete a college information form and resume. Notify those people from whom you will need letters of recommendation as soon as possible but no later than November 1.
- Follow all application deadlines and respond to requests for information immediately! Unless you plan to apply for early decision, Cal States and UCs are due by November 30, and most private, independent colleges are due by mid December. Find the CSU application at www2.calstate.edu/apply and the UC application at www.universityofcalifornia.edu.
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in October at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Check with the counseling department for local scholarships. Research scholarship opportunities through your local service organizations, Chamber of Commerce, or www.fastweb.com.
- Apply to community colleges by April 1 for priority enrollment.
- Visit the colleges to which you have applied. You may visit in person or virtually online. Check with the colleges’ admissions office to learn more.
- Contact each school’s financial aid office to learn about each school’s individual financial aid opportunities. Get to know the financial aid staff early.
- Notify your selected college or university of your intent to enroll by May 1.