Students and Parents

Preparing for College

Education past high school can be as much or as little as you want! Trade schools and two-year or four-year colleges are all options past high school.

Going to school after graduation may be the last thing you want to hear about. But attending college after you earn your high school diploma increases your job opportunities, your earning power and your ability to enjoy a better life.

Pursuing more education or training can mean more money in salary over your lifetime. So what else is holding you back from a plan for your future? Maybe you've said some of these things:

My grades aren't good enough for college.

Good grades are important. Better grades can mean a better chance to get into the school and program of your choice. Good grades can also mean money for college.

But colleges don't just look at grades and test scores when making admission decisions. Extracurricular activities, talent in arts or sports and community service can also play a part in their decision.

I can't afford it.

Most college students and their families don't write a check for their college education. Financial aid is available and is based on your family's ability to pay for college. Besides, after looking at how much more an education can pay you over a lifetime, how can you NOT afford it? Talk with your high school guidance counselor.

I don't know what I want to do with my life.

If you know what you don't like, chances are you know what you DO like. Talk with people whose careers or jobs interest you, asking where they went to school and what they thought of the program they took. Ask your parents, guidance counselor or librarian for help. Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook at www.bls.gov/ooh/.

I don't know what type of school I need to go to.

Again, talk with your parents, guidance counselor or anyone in a career you think you'd like. Ask what school they attended. Develop a list of schools you are interested in and contact them for more information. What tests and qualifications are required for admission? Know your options!

Every plan has to have its first steps. Once you decide what general career direction you want to pursue, meet with your guidance counselor to discuss what classes to take to fit into your higher education goals.

You should be familiar with your state's high school graduation requirements. These may be different depending on whether you plan to go to a community college or attend a four-year college.