Myth #1 Links: Career and College Choice
If you are one of those juniors who doesn’t know what you want to be (and that is most of you), please relax. You can go to the California Career Café www.cacareercafe.com and look around. The site is billed as “A Virtual Career Center for California Community College Students” but it has some great stuff for high school students as well. Be sure and watch my favorite video entitled “Identify Your Strengths and Talents.” Other places to do some research include College Board which offers MyRoad, CollegeEd and BigFuture at www.collegeboard.org. If you have an idea of what you want to major in in college go to www.assist.org and click on “Explore Majors.” That is another site designed for use by community college students but has info high school students can benefit from. In the counseling office we have two helpful books, Book of Majors 2013 by College Board and Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger.
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) – This is the same aptitude test given by the military for qualification into the military and can give you information about what you might be good at.
Myth #2 Links: Good Colleges
I suggest starting a file (if you haven’t already done so) with information about schools that you might be interested in. You need to know if you are competitive for the schools you are interested in. Check out U.S. News and World Report; America’s Best Colleges magazine that you can find at Barnes and Noble or the library. Rankings of schools are in the first half of the magazine by types of schools and listed in the back by state showing how selective a school is and gives 25th – 75th percentile of SAT scores and percentage in top 10%, 25% and 50% of admitted freshman. There is more to read at www.usnews.com/education. Also go to College Board’s College Search – www.collegeboard.org. Check information under “Applying,” which gives application requirements, high school course requirements, and high school rank, GPA and mid-range SAT/ACT scores of admitted freshman.
Start an account at CSU Mentor, www.csumentor.edu, and click on “Explore Campuses” and “Plan for College.” You can start a high school planner on the site.
Anyone interested in attending a University of California is advised to go to www.universityofcalifornia.edu and click on “Students and Parents.”
Additional places to look include Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 by Edward Fiske, The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges by Yale Daily News Staff, Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting into College by Springer, Reider and Franck, Four-Year Colleges 2013 by Peterson’s, College Guide for Visual Arts Majors by Peterson’s and www.ruggsrecommendations.com.
Also check individual college websites. Google names of colleges and look under “Admissions”, “Prospective Students”, etc. Look for college catalogs and check what is required to get a degree in what you are interested in and see what it required to apply.
Myth #3 Links: Community College Information
California Community Colleges’ Chancellor’s Office maintains a website with information on the 112 community colleges in California at www.cccco.edu. It is amazing that we have so many choices!
Also go to individual community college websites like Santiago Canyon College www.sccollege.edu, Orange Coast College www.orangecoastcollege.edu, Fullerton College www.fullcoll.edu and Irvine Valley College www.ivc.edu.
www.assist.org – used by the community colleges for course credit transfer and university majors at UC’s and CSU’s.
Myth #4 Links: Preparing for SAT and/or ACT from free to expensive in ascending order:
1. Do the Official SAT Question of the Day every day – http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question
2. Use your PSAT Score Report which will be returned in December with test booklet and correct answers to study from.
3. Get an SAT or ACT test prep book from the library, bookstore or purchase online.
5. Take classes or work with a tutor through a private test prep company such as Elite, Eureka, Ivy West, Kaplan and Princeton Review.
Myth #6 Links: Paying for College
Ask your counselor about fee waivers for the SAT, ACT, AP tests and college admission based on family income. If you receive free or reduced lunch, you are already eligible.
There is both need based and merit based financial aid for college tuition. You will apply for federal student aid as a senior by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (www.fafsa.ed.gov) between January 1 and March 2, 2014. Also as a senior, our registrar, with permission from your parents, will send your GPA to the California Student Aid Commission (www.calgrants.org) in order for you to be considered for a Cal Grant.
Colleges have their own scholarships and financial aid that they award when they accept a student for admission. They will inform you of this aid after they have accepted you in the form of a financial aid letter. This is where they tell you what they have awarded you and how they think you are going to pay for college and will include what is called the expected family contribution as well as scholarships, loans and work study. Information on CSU and UC financial aid is available at www.csumentor.edu (click on “Financial Aid) and the University of California, admission.universityofcalifornia.edu (click on “Paying for UC.”)
Luckily, the community colleges also have individual school scholarships that you can get each year you attend and when you transfer. Check with individual school financial aid offices and pay attention when you are a senior because most have a March or April deadline.
If you want to use financial wisdom and avoid going into too much debt paying for college read the following chapters in the following books, Chapter 10, “College Funding: Make Sure the Kids are Fit Too,” in the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and Chapter 51, “How to Pay for College (Really!)” in The Truth About Money by Ric Edelman.