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What do I need to do to get ready for college?

The high school I go to now is all about college readiness, but they focus more on ACT scores so I am not entirely sure what to do when it comes to scholarships, registering for classes, and how long after scholarship deadlines can I expect the outcome?

#scholarships #myfuture #readiness #register

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Subject: Career question for you

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Isela’s Answer

It's important to think more than just test scores when planning for college. Colleges looks at the whole picture and a lot of schools do not emphasize that enough. The application and research process for college is not an easy one for a first-time college applicant. Luckily, there are resources and support to receive when continuing that process. I would recommend speaking to your school's academic advisor and ask any questions you have pertaining to your career goals. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and ask for the help you need. Your advisors are there to help and guide you through your journey. If your school does not have a college/career advisor, then I suggest going to your schools general guidance counselor. The counselor will provide you with the help you seek and resources for you. With the help of someone at your school, they will provide you with the steps for applying such as: financial aid, personal statements, tuition, etc. Lastly, don't be scared to do your own research on different schools, programs, internships, careers, etc. It's NEVER too early to start planning for your future; Best of luck!
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Timothy’s Answer

Syndi S.

Great questions that all young people should be asking as they transition from high school into the workforce. Yes, workforce, because your educational choices will influence your success in landing a job that will provide an income, but more importantly serve as a building block to your career.


Step 1 – be sure that what you are planning to study is something you are interested in doing. Take the time to do a bit of career exploration. Free online services such as My Next Move or career assessments from your local Department of Labor will help you identify careers that align with your personality. It is easy to say that you want a high-tech job because the pay is good, but if it does not align with your personality, the chances are you will be adequate at the job, at best, and miserable in it at the worst. Set yourself up for success from the start by identifying potential careers that align with your personality.


Step 2 – Is college the right next step? Shocking to hear that college may not be the right move for you; however, depending on the career interests you have, it may be better to go to a technical school or find an apprenticeship. If college is the way to go, don’t be seduced by the big named universities. Look for the schools that have good job placement records within the industry you will be looking for work in when you graduate. Also, look for schools who have partnerships with industry leaders and who provided internships with companies in your field. Adding experience to your resume while you are in school only makes you more attractive when seeking your first professional job.


Step 3 – Seek professional organizations in your chosen career field and join as a student. Many professional organizations offer student and college level memberships. This is a great way to learn about scholarships that are related to your field. It narrows the field of candidates and increases your chances of success. Leverage any diversity that describes you. Many fields have a poor showing by women and people of color, and often have scholarships targeted at diversity groups or give preference to them. Also, if the professional group(s) you belong to have conferences in your area, or reasonably close to you, volunteer to help at a conference. It is a great way to network with people in your field, learn about scholarships and job opportunities, and get in for free.


Step 4 – Never be shy about asking for help, the worst that can be said is “no.” When you figure out what you want to do and the schools or programs you want to attend, call up the admissions office and ask for a counseling appointment. Let them know that you have done your research, your area of study, and ask them about financial aid assistance, scholarships others in that area have received, and how much help they are willing to provide you through this process. You have power in this process too, as much as they will be choosing you, you will be choosing them. This is the same for the internship and job interviewing process. If anything in your gut tells you that the school is not a good fit, don’t waste your time and focus on the other candidates.


Step 5 – Informational interviews are very important. You have decided on your field of study, seek out people in your area, or experts in your field and ask if they will give you 30 minutes to talk about what it is like to work in that field. People love to talk about what they do, and you may find it easier than you think to get two or three people willing to talk to you. Come up with five questions and send it to them ahead of your meeting. This gives them time to prepare and shows them you respect their time and effort. Ask about the best ways to get started in the field, the schools with the best programs, and any professional organizations and scholarships they may know about. Be sure to send them a thank you note, not an e-mail or phone call, but a hand-written note. Who knows, they may offer you an internship or job if you make a good enough impression.


Step 6 – They will all want to know why. All scholarships and degree programs will ask you why them, or why that field; be prepared with an answer. Go ahead and write up a few essays about why you want to be in your chosen career field in 250, 500, and 1,000-word versions. Get an English teacher to read and critique them. Get them perfect now before you need them, it will be easier to adjust them to meet the required specifications later.


Step 7 – You have submitted your scholarship requests and school requests; and now you wait. Each Submission has its timeline and usually will state in the application process when a decision will be reached. Give them two weeks after that date to send out confirmations or regrets. If you do not hear something in that period, do not lose heart, someone may not accept, and it may fall to you. If you do not hear back within two weeks of the deadline, it is fine to send an inquiry. Each submission is an accomplishment so reward yourself. Remember, a rejection letter feels personal, but it is not personal. It is not a judgment about you; it is a process of them selecting the best candidate from the very talented pool of which you belong. You may get multiple yes’s, be sure to be quick and thoughtful in your decision process because others will benefit from those you turn down. 


Step 8 – You have been accepted and have the funding to go to school, and now it is time to register. Usually, there is a required orientation and registration is handled at that time. For undergraduate classes, you often start with the required core classes, and it may be a couple of terms before you get into your major classes. Depending on the school, registration is usually first come, first registered. Get there early on the first day and get what you need.


Step 9 – Take advantage of every opportunity while you can. Keep looking for scholarships, just because you have started doesn’t mean you can’t improve your situation. School is expensive and getting someone else to pay for it means being able to take advantage of other opportunities such as taking a term off to intern, or studying abroad, or going part-time while your work within your industry. You are young, and it is possible for you to survive on ramen noodles and coffee 😉.  


Step 10 – It is ok to change your mind. You may get into your major classes and think, oh boy I have made a huge mistake. Core classes transfer, major classes fill up elective slots, and education is too expensive to get stuck with a degree you will never use. The steps that go you here will help you get to the next career choice. Never say to yourself, I put in so much work that I will be a failure if I change now. You will never be a failure in an occupation that you are happy in.


I hope this answered your questions.

Thank you comment icon I 100% concur with Timothy's response! And, I'll also add that it is wise to fill out your FAFSA (starting in the fall usually), which will very likely assist in getting some financial aid. I would also recommend taking a look at your local community colleges as well. They are much more affordable, and you can do a direct transfer toward your bachelor's degree. And, if college is not for you, as Timothy stated, apprenticeships (on the job paid training) are a great way to go. You can simply google apprenticeship programs, and there are plenty of them out there. Teri McAllister
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Alexis’s Answer

I recommend going to your guidance counselor to get information on scholarships. You can review the list and see which ones you can apply to. The scholarship information should provide details on being accepted and the steps to taken thereafter. In addition, there should be contact information to email or call a support number to obtain additional information on steps to take once the application is submitted.


As it relates to registering for classes, once you’ve been accepted into a college/university, your academic advisor can help you with choosing classes. Class choice will be based on your major, therefore, it’s important to have an idea what you want to major in. Choosing the right classes are imperative so you don’t take courses that aren’t beneficial to your academic success.


Alexis recommends the following next steps:

Speak with your guidance counselor to get information on scholarships that are available.
Apply to for the scholarships.
Follow-up on the scholarships you have applied for.
Submit applications to the colleges or universities you want to attend.
Apply for Pell Grant.
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