The recommended sites for exploring careers are www.pacareerzone.com
. These sites also help the user find schools that offer training programs matching one's desired career.
The following is the recommended sequence for students in grades 9 - 12 to keep on top of their career planning.
- Continue to think about careers as well as college or other post-secondary options.
- Make sure you schedule the appropriate college-preparatory or tech-prep courses that will best meet your needs. Language is a good choice for college-bound students. Colleges want to see two years of the same language.
- Get off to a good start with your grades. The grades you earn in ninth grade will be included in your final high school GPA and class rank.
- College might seem a long way off now, but grades really do count toward college admission and scholarship opportunities.
- Explore your interests and possible careers.
- Get involved in extracurricular activities (both school and non-school-sponsored).
- Talk to your parents about planning for college expenses. Continue or begin a savings plan for college.
- Look at the college information available in your counselor’s office and school and public libraries. Use the Internet to check out college Web sites.
- Tour a nearby college, if possible. Visit relatives or friends who live on or near a college campus. Check out the dorms, go to the library or student center, and get a feel for college life.
- Investigate summer enrichment programs.
- In October, take the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test for practice. This is mandatory if you think you may participate in dual enrollment classes in 11th grade.
- Keep your grades up so you can have the highest GPA and class rank possible.
- It’s not just grades that matter. Get involved in activities outside the classroom. Work toward leadership positions in the activities that you like best. Become involved in community service and other volunteer activities.
- Read, read, read - read as many books as possible.
- Work on your writing skills; you’ll need them no matter what you do. Find a teacher or another adult who will advise and encourage you to write well.
- Continue to explore interests and careers that you think you might like. Also continue your search for colleges and other post-graduation choices. (www.pacareerzone.com ; www.collegeboard.com).
- Become familiar with general college entrance requirements.
- Begin zeroing in on the type of college you would prefer (two-year or four-year, small or large, rural or urban).
- If you are interested in attending a military academy, joining a military branch, or entering an ROTC program, now is the time to start planning and getting information.
- Write/email colleges you may be interested in and ask for additional information. Create a personal email account to communicate with and request information from colleges.
- In the spring, schedule courses that will best meet your future school and career goals (academic math, English, science, and foreign language).
- Consider Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment courses to earn college credits while still in high school.
- Visit college campuses and read all of the mail you receive from colleges. You may see something you like.
- Keep putting money away for college.
- Get a summer job.
- Check your class rank. Even if your grades haven’t been that good so far, it’s never too late to improve. Colleges like to see an upward trend.
- Sign up for and take the PSAT/NMSQT.
- Make sure your post-graduation plans will allow you to meet your career goals.
- Make a list of colleges that meet your most important criteria (size, location, distance from home, majors, academic rigor, housing, and cost).
- Speak to college representatives who visit your high school.
- If you want to participate in Division I or Division II sports in college, start the certification process. Check with your counselor to make sure you are taking a core curriculum that meets NCAA requirements.
- If you are interested in one of the military academies, the application process starts now!!!
- If you are interested in an ROTC program, the application process starts now!!!
- Collect information about college application procedures for those schools that interest you. Review these colleges’ entrance requirements, tuition and fees, room and board costs, student activities, course offerings, faculty composition, accreditation, and financial aid opportunities. The Internet is a good way to visit colleges and obtain this information. Begin comparing the schools by the factors that you consider to be most important.
- Begin narrowing down your college choices. Find out if the colleges you are interested in require the SAT I, ACT, or SAT II Subject Tests for admission. Most four year colleges require college readiness exams.
- Register for the SAT and the ACT for one of the spring or summer dates available. This information can be obtained in the Guidance Office. SAT registration: www.collegeboard.com. ACT registration: www.actstudent.org. Begin preparing for the tests you’ve decided to take. Preparation materials can be found online and are available in the Guidance Office.
- Have a discussion with your parents about the colleges in which you are interested. Examine financial resources, and gather information about financial aid.
- Set up a filing system with individual folders for each college’s correspondence and printed materials.
- Make sure you are making appropriate senior-year course selections and on-track for completing graduation requirements.
- Discuss the college essay with your guidance counselor or English teacher.
- Stay involved with your extracurricular activities. Colleges look for consistency and depth in activities.
- Consider whom you will ask to write your recommendations. Think about asking teachers who know you well and who will write positive letters about you. Letters from a coach, activity leader, or an adult who knows you well outside of school (e.g., volunteer work contact) are also valuable.
- Inquire about personal interviews at your favorite colleges. Call or write for early summer appointments. Make necessary travel arrangements.
- Begin saving to pay for college application, financial aid, and testing fees in fall.
- Request applications from schools you’re interested in by mail or via the Internet.
- Visit the campuses of your top-five college choices. Submit applications early to those competitive college programs. Submit applications early for Penn State.
- After each college interview, send a thank-you letter to the interviewer.
- Talk to people you know who have attended the colleges in which you are interested.
- Continue to read books, magazines, and newspapers.
- Practice filling out college applications, and then complete the final application forms or apply online through the Web sites of the colleges in which you’re interested.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Compose rough drafts of your college essays. Have a teacher read and discuss them with you. Proofread them, and prepare final drafts. Proofread your final essays at least three times.
- Complete the required shadowing experience for your Senior Project.
- Request your letters of recommendations to be sent with your college applications and transcripts.
- Transcripts should be requested to be sent through the guidance office.
- Continue to take a full course load of college-prep courses.
- Keep working on your grades. Make sure you have taken the courses necessary to graduate in the spring.
- Continue to participate in extracurricular and volunteer activities. Demonstrate initiative, creativity, commitment, and leadership in each.
- Begin or continue to work on your Senior Project.
- To male students: you must register for selective service on your eighteenth birthday to be eligible for federal and state financial aid.
- Talk to counselors, teachers, and parents about your final college choices.
- Make a calendar showing application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.
- Check resource books, computer programs, and your guidance office for information on scholarships and grants. Ask colleges about scholarships for which you may qualify.
- Give recommendation forms to those individuals you have chosen. Providing them with stamped, self-addressed envelopes is courteous if they will be sending these letters directly to the colleges. Be sure to fill out your name, address, and school name on the top of the form.
- Complete Transcript Request Forms for those colleges to which you are applying. These forms can be obtained in the Guidance Office. If you are sending other information along with your transcripts, please have this additional information ready to go when you request your transcript.
- If needed based on your junior year scores, register for the ACT, SATI, and/or SATII exams. Have these newer scores sent directly to the schools to which you have applied or plan to apply.
- Understand early-admissions and early-decision commitments. Mail or send electronically any college applications for early-decision admission by November 1.
- If possible, visit colleges while classes are in session.
- If you plan to apply for an ROTC scholarship, remember that your application is due by December 1.
- Print extra copies or make photocopies of every application you send.
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA worksheet to prepare for the completion of the FAFSA can be found online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov . The FAFSA cane now be completed October 1st using the prior-prior year tax return.
- Attend whatever college-preparatory nights are held at your school or by local organizations. This should include your attendance at Financial Aid Night.
- If needed, request that your midyear grade reports be sent to colleges. Continue to focus on your schoolwork!
- Mail or send electronically any remaining applications and financial aid forms before the holiday break. Make sure you apply to at least one college that you know you can afford and where you know you will be accepted. This should be a PA state school. A list of these schools can be found at www.passhe.edu.
- Follow up to make sure that the colleges have received all application information, including recommendations and test scores.
- Check with your counselor to verify that all applicable forms are in order and have been sent out to colleges.
- Watch your mail between March 1 and April 1 for acceptance notifications from colleges.
- Watch your mail for notification of financial aid awards between April 1 and May 1.
- Compare the financial aid packages from the colleges and universities that have accepted you.
- Make your final choice, and notify all schools of your intent by May 1. If possible, do not decide without making at least one campus visit. Send your nonrefundable deposit to your chosen school by the specified deadline. Request that your school counselor send a final transcript to the college following graduation.
- Be sure that you have received a FAFSA acknowledgment.
- If you applied for a Pell Grant (on the FAFSA), you will receive the Student Aid Report (SAR) statement. Review this Pell notice, and forward it to the college you plan to attend. Make a copy for your record.
- Complete follow-up paperwork for the college of your choice (scheduling, orientation session, housing arrangements, and other necessary forms).
- Receive the orientation schedule from your college.
- Get residence hall assignment from your college.
- Obtain course scheduling and cost information from your college.
- Congratulations! You are about to begin the greatest adventure of your life. Good luck.
For additional career exploration and planning websites and resources, visit the "Guidance Sites" page of this website.