Preparing for college can be a scary endeavor for some students and families. On this page, I am going to try to give you some guidelines that will help you stay on track in getting ready for the future. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that if you "missed" any of these steps, it is never too late to backtrack and catch up. This is only a suggestion guide that may help the process be a little easier.
PLEASE NOTE: While this page is primarily geared toward the college application process, I am not the kind of Guidance Counselor who feels that "college is right for everyone." In fact, statistics that we are seeing indicate that 50% of students who start college end up dropping out, and 50% of those who actually finish college do not find jobs in their intended field. While additional education after high school is very important to finding good employment, trade schools and technical schools are excellent ways to achieve this training.
9th GRADE & 10th GRADE:
These years are primarily about career exploration and taking the "core classes" and electives that will set students up for the future. This means taking challenging classes that will prepare you for the rigors of college. These classes are also the "building blocks" that will help students be able to move on to AP classes, Dual Enrollment classes, or college-in-the high school classes that are offered through BAHS in future years.
Extracurricular activities and community service activities teach students "time management" skills, help bolster their resumes and college applications, and also set students up to be much stronger candidates in terms of scholarship applications.
Students should plan to take the SAT or ACT Exam at least once during their junior year. Classes should still be geared toward the most challenging schedule that the student can take. A "job shadow" can be arranged to help students refine their career search. Students should also continue exploring various colleges, universities, majors, and professional fields. Later in the junior year, and during the summer between junior and senior years, students and families should start visiting various college campuses to get a "feel" for the campuses where the student can envision him/herself attending.
11th grade is a prime year for students to consider "dual enrollment" classes or "college-in-the-high-school" classes. These are opportunities to accumulate college credits at a significantly less expensive rate than after high school.
This is the big year, and often students and families get overwhelmed by everything that they face. Hang in there... it's temporary... and many, many people go through this process. Make sure that the SAT or ACT has been taken. Refine the college search and narrow down the options of schools and majors. Ideally, the application process will begin early in the senior year, but kids apply all year long. Remember to notify the Guidance Office to request transcripts when you apply. In OCTOBER, the FAFSA becomes available. FAFSA is the biggest and best financial aid resource available to families, and opens the door to potential grants and loans through the Federal and State government. Some national and regional scholarships become available early in the senior year, but most local scholarships don't get advertised until Spring of the senior year.
These are some random thoughts for the entire process... 1.) Students hoping to play sports in college need to be aware of very specific course requirements mandated by the NCAA. 2.) There are frequent visits from college admission representatives to the BAHS Guidance Department. Students should take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about specific colleges and programs. 3.) FEE WAIVERS are available for the SAT Exam and ACT Exam for students who participate in the free/reduced lunch program. 4.) Some colleges will waive the application fee (usually $25-$50) if the student is involved with the free/reduced lunch program and a Guidance Counselor writes a letter to the Admissions Office. 5.) There are usually Free FAFSA Completion Nights at some of the local colleges (PSU-DuBois and Clarion). College financial aid experts will help families get their online application completed correctly. 6.) While the Guidance Counselor will help families throughout this process, it is very important for families to utilize the various college admissions offices and financial aid offices for more expert advice/opinions. 7.) Prior to filing the FAFSA -- or going to one of the "Free FAFSA Completion Nights" -- you will need to get a FSA ID Number from the FAFSA website. This will have to be done at least several days prior to a financial aid night. You cannot show up without the ID number and expect to have your FAFSA completed.
By Ray Doolittle