Who and what do you want to be when you grow up?
Below are the most common options that you have after graduating from High School…and some things to think about when deciding if it’s right for you. No one way is the right way because every person is different…we have different personalities, interests, gifts, talents, and goals, and we have different ways of learning.
Post Secondary School (University or Community College) – If you did reasonably well in high school and are comfortable learning in a traditional setting this may be the right path for you. This is a good choice if you’re sure you want to continue your education and have a career goal in mind, or even if you’re not sure about your career goal.
Vocational School – This is a setting where you learn a particular trade or craft, such as auto mechanic, heating and refrigeration, electrician, cosmetology, culinary, etc. You will learn the skills required for your chosen trade, take a written/practical test, and then become an apprentice. This is a good path if you thrive in a hands-on learning environment and are sure of your choice of career.
Military – You can join the military at any time after you turn 18. All branches of the military have opportunities available to help you pay for college, or you may choose to learn a specific trade while serving your country. If you thrive in a strict and very structured environment, are interested in adventure, and like to travel, this could be your path.
Straight to Work – You find employment right after high school or continue doing a job you had during high school. There are several reasons you might choose this path…to save for further education, take time to decide what you want to do with your life, or you see growth potential in the job you have.
Remember a “career” has components that a “job” doesn’t…advancement potential, increased earning potential, and personal satisfaction/pride.
What Should I Choose for a Career Goal?
Your Career Goal should be something you are passionate about…and can earn a living doing. Things to consider when searching for a career goal are: What do you like to do in your spare time, do you like helping people, do you like children, do you like working with your hands, are you artistic in nature or more technical oriented, etc. There are numerous interest assessments available to help you find where your interests lie. The two we recommend at Agua Fria:
Arizona Career Information System (AZCIS) – Log in at www.azcis.intocareers.org (username and password available from the Career Center or your Guidance Counselor), create a portfolio, and take the “Interest Profiler” Assessment.
Bridges Navigator -
Once you have some careers that you are interested in visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/a-z-index.htm and explore those occupations. Here you will find the job outlook, the pay scale, how much education is required and other information you’ll need to make an informed decision.
How Do I Choose a College?
First thing is to rephrase the question…"Which college is right for me?" There are many things to be considered when choosing a college. “Because my friends are going there” is not one of them…neither is where it ranks on the list of top colleges. Neither of these takes into account who you are now or who you will become. You should look for a good “fit” which will require a lot of thoughtfulness.
You will need to examine yourself (and your motivations for going to college) before you start your search. Why are you going to college? What are your abilities/strengths…and what are your weaknesses? What do you want out of life?
There are many things to consider when choosing a college, including (but not limited to): First and foremost does the college have your intended major, how long will it take to complete your degree, and how much will it cost? Do you want to attend a large or small college…why? (A small college offers more personal attention, but a large college generally has more resources), in a big city or a small town, close to home or far from home (keep in mind the cost of travel when you want to make a trip home), average class size, extracurricular activities, campus safety, academic support, housing, health/counseling availability, dining resources, transportation, cultural/ethnic diversity, etc. Remember the people who know you best can help you explore these issues.
Visit as many of the colleges on you list as possible. When you visit, ask to sit in on a class and visit a dorm room. Eat in the dining hall, hang around in the student center, explore a building that you know you’ll have classes in, investigate the areas surrounding the college campus, talk to a few students and ask if they would make the same college choice if they had to do it again. Meet with coaches and professors in your areas of interest. The idea is to imagine how you will fit into that college community.
The transition from High School to College is difficult for some. It’s important to attend a college where you will be comfortable and where you will be motivated to achieve your goals… a college that fits you!
Visit ACT.org for the following helpful info:
Important factors to identify when choosing a college: http://www.actstudent.org/college/factors.html
What questions should you ask on a campus visit?
WHAT IS FINANCIAL AID?
Financial aid is intended for all students who need help in paying for their education. There are two major types of financial aid available to students today, scholarships and Federal Aid in the form of grants, work-study employment and loans.
Scholarships do not have to be repaid and can be need based or merit based. Many are based on academic merit, but others are based on leadership, community service, athletics, artistic or musical ability, dance and even such specialized activities such as cheerleading.
Scholarship opportunities are available from colleges, private clubs, fraternal organizations, national, state, and local governments, private businesses, parent support groups, alumni organizations, religious organizations, high schools, etc.
The three types of aid available through the Federal government are grants, work study programs, and loans…
Grants do not have to be repaid. There are several types of Federal grants for families who are eligible due to “financial need”. The main ones are:
Federal Pell Grant – usually awarded to undergraduates. The amount you receive will depend not only on your financial need, but also on your costs to attend school.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) – available to undergraduate Pell Grant recipients who have “exceptional” financial need.
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) – available to undergraduate Pell Grant recipients who successfully completed a “rigorous” high school program.
Federal Work Study (FWS) Programs offer part time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.
Federal Student Loans must be repaid. Federal loans are the most accessible and affordable loan resources now available to students. There are several types of federal loan programs available nationally. The two main student programs, the Stafford and the Perkins, both provide interest-subsidized, payment-deferred loans that borrowers can repay after their enrollment ends. Federal Parent Plus Loans are available for parents of undergraduate dependent students.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID?
Available scholarships can be found through college web sites, internet search engines (www.fastweb.com, www.collegeboard.com, www.collegeanswer.com, etc.), high school counselors, high school web sites, personal internet searches, employers, etc.
Review the scholarship requirements carefully and apply to only those you are qualified to receive. Comply with all application requirements, be neat, be honest, and be on time. (Scholarships have deadlines)
Federal Student Aid is applied for using the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”, most commonly known as the FAFSA. You may apply online (most beneficial method) at www.FAFSA.ed.gov or submit a paper version. Be prepared to provide extensive information about your family’s income and income taxes from the previous year, assets, family size, number of family members attending college, etc.