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Career & College Readiness

Guide to College & Career ReadinessTop of Page

Guide

Your Guide to College and Career

As you make your way through middle and high school, you will face lots of deadlines, responsibilities, and decisions. Don't worry! By planning ahead, you can make the transition from middle to high school to college and careers a lot smoother. 
 
Using the tabs above, select your grade level, and discover how you can prepare for your future now!

Seventh Grade

Seventh Grade 

CONNECT WITH AN ADULT

Connect with adults/organizations that can support you:
  • Seek an adult that can help you with your goals. This can be a counselor, teacher, parent, or mentor.
  • Attend parent-teacher conferences.
  • Connect via zoom, email and phone calls.
  • Ask your teacher or counselor about free high school and college prep programs you might qualify.
  • Join a study or homework club or ask your teachers for additional support.
 

PLAN YOUR GOALS

Think about the future. What do you want to do? How will you get there?
  • Ask your teacher or counselor to get you started with career planning tools like cacareerzone.org.
  • Talk to an advisor or counselor in middle school or the start of high school to create a plan to meet the A-G requirements.
  • Attend college and career fairs at your school
  • Visit local colleges and universities, CSU Chico, Shasta College, Butte College, and local trade schools.
  • Talk to adults you respect about their careers and trades.
  • Once you have an idea what you want to do, think about how you will get there and what you need to do to get there.
  • What education does your career or field require?
  • Will employers look for internship or apprenticeship experience?
  • Will you need to take specific classes in high school? Are you aware of what the A-G requirements are?
 

LEARN IN CLASSES

Take the classes that support your plan and keep your grades up:
  • Make sure your class schedule includes a solid set of academic classes (English, math, science, history). 
  • Be familiar with the A-G requirements.
  • Take foreign language, performing arts, career technical education (CTE), or other classes that support your plan.
  • Enroll in advanced math classes or sections.
  • Use your school library to study.
 

EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS

  • Learn more about yourself, what you love, what you enjoy and what you're good at.
  • Try out different sports and/or join clubs that interest you.
  • Think about what you intend your future lifestyle to look like and what careers will help you get there.
  • Join a summer enrichment or pre-college program offered at a local university, such as EXCEL for Youth or Academic Talent programs at Sonoma State University.
  • Go to summer camp or find an internship in an area that interests you.

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

CONNECT WITH AN ADULT

Connect with adults/organizations that can support you.
  • Talk with a counselor to see what classes you need to take this year to prepare for high school.
  • Utilize any and all resources available to you.
  • Join a homework club or other support group.
  • Start having conversations about your future with adults you look up to. 
 

PLAN YOUR GOALS

Think about your goals and how you'll reach them.
  • Use a career/academic planning tool to set a six-year plan. Your counselor can help you.
  • Ask about your high school's career pathways programs, core academic programs, and/or small learning communities.
  • Visit local colleges and trade schools.
  • Visit a parent or adult you respect at his/her career field that interests you and ask questions like how long it took them to become that job title or what their income looks like. 
 

LEARN IN CLASSES

Take the classes that support your plan and keep your grades up.
  • Make sure you're taking the academic classes (English, history, science, and math) you need to be ready for high school.
  • If attending a four-year college or University is something you want to get the opportunity to do,  you will need to meet the A-G requirements. 
  • You will want to see what classes you need to take to prepare for a-g classes, such as algebra or advanced math.
  • Take foreign language, performing arts, career technical education (CTE), or other classes that support your plan.
  • A-G requirements must be completed with a grade of C or better to be minimally eligible for admission to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU).
 

EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS

Learn more about yourself, what you love, and what you're good at.
  • Get to know your personality, your core values, identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Think about what motivates you and research information about the work that you might like to do.
  • Visit workplaces where workers do things similar to what you like to do or think you want to do.
  • Join a program like Bridge to College and Career where you can learn your personal strengths, develop and achieve your goals and find the most efficient and economical path towards achieving them.
 

PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

Set yourself up for success in high school at the end of your eighth-grade year.
  • When you sign up for high school classes at the end of the year, make sure the classes support your goals.
  • Make sure you discuss your goals with your counselor so that you are on the right track. 
  • College-bound: a-g classes and advanced placement classes
  • Career-bound: career pathways/CTE classes
  • Learn how many credits you need to graduate high school.
  • Attend freshman orientation at your high school. Find the school office, counseling and career center, etc.

Freshman Year

Freshman Year

Becoming a high school student can feel overwhelming, but there's no need to stress. Your main job is to get used to high school and start to form a plan with your counselor for your next four years. Remember, freshman year matters. Work hard to build good habits like time management and becoming more responsible. There will be many distractions in High School therefore, setting goals will really benefit you. Check out this website for more planning resources: bigfuture.collegeboard.org.
 

Fall

  • It’s never too early to begin researching what colleges you might be interested in and develop a plan to meet your a-g requirements for college admission with your counselor. Figure out which of these requirements you can fulfill your Freshman year. 
  • Your grades matter and passing all of your classes with a “C” or better should definitely be the goal. It will always be easier to maintain a good grade than to have to raise it back up. 
  • The goal is to not have to retake a class. 
  • Highschool usually brings more homework, including multi-step projects that will require some planning so make time for homework and studying.
  • If you want to focus on a specific career, talk to your counselor about career training opportunities like academies and pathways. If you're not sure what you want to do, begin exploring your options.
  • It’s not too early to start attending college and career fairs at your school.
  • Explore sports, clubs, and activities that interest you because they really help in keeping you motivated.
  • Join a program like Bridge to College and Career where you can learn your personal strengths, develop and achieve your goals and find the most efficient and economical path towards achieving them. 
 

WINTER

  • Review coursework from your first semester and ask teachers what you can do to improve in the second semester. This is good to do every year!
  • Freshman year is the best time to start developing relationships with your teachers, counselors and mentors because when applying for college or a part time job, you will need letters of recommendation and references. 
 

SPRING

  • Choose courses for the next year. Check with your counselor to be sure your choices are preparing you for your goals. Keep this up each year!
  • Look for interesting summer experiences like jobs, camps, internships, or summer enrichment programs that give you exposure to colleges or careers you’re interested in. 
 

Summer Tips

  • Keep your brain working and up your reading, both with school book lists and books or magazines that interest you.
  • Begin exploring job possibilities by talking to adults you know.
  • Start researching fields and careers that may interest you and the colleges and universities that offer those degrees or certificates.
  • Visit nearby colleges, junior colleges, and technical schools to get a feel for them. 
  • Have fun but stay focused: find volunteer opportunities or internships to add to your resume.

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year

FALL

  • All of your highschool years are important but colleges DO look at Sophomore year, so make the most of it! Be sure you are taking at least 4-5 solid academic classes (and pass all of them with a “C” or better) if you’re planning to attend college and make sure your course selections are keeping you on track toward your goals.
  • Sign up for the Preliminary SAT (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship and Pre-ACT exams, which check your college readiness. It's great to get an idea of how you will score and plan if you need to retake any of those exams. 
  • It is a great idea to research the requirements for the College or University of your choice.
  • Join clubs, play sports, or volunteer and try to stick with your commitments! Colleges and employers look for students to have a good work ethic AND be well-rounded.
  • Explore your options: Attend a college/career fair at your school, visit colleges, or shadow someone on a job that interests you.
  • Make appointments with your counselor to touch base and ask questions.  
  • If your school is offering the ASVAB test, take it. It’s an aptitude test that measures your strengths and potential for success in military training.  
 

WINTER

  • Review PSAT scores and work on skills that need practicing before taking the SAT or ACT. 
  • Review coursework from your first semester and ask teachers what you can do to improve in the second semester. Keep this up each year!
 

SPRING

  • Research majors and visit colleges for inspiration.
  • Find out when the SAT/ACT will be offered and consider signing up for practice.
  • Think about signing up for a summer program offered at Shasta or Butte college.
 

Summer Tips

  • Continue utilizing your brain by reading school books and books or magazines that interest you.
  • Begin exploring job possibilities by talking to adults you know.
  • Visit nearby colleges, junior colleges, and technical schools to get a feel for them.
  • Have fun, but stay focused: find volunteer opportunities or internships to add to your resume.

Junior Year

Junior Year

FALL

  • Review your transcript with your counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate on time. 
  • Whatever career you plan to follow after high school, take college entrance exams now. Along your career path you may find a job you want but it requires more education than you currently possess. So prepare now while everything is fresh in your mind. 
  • Visit colleges and meet with college admissions counselors.
  • Take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) in October, if you didn’t take it as a sophomore.
  • If qualified, register to take Advanced Placement exams in May.
  • Use the Junior checklist to track your College application process. Download the College Planning Checklists from the California Career Center. The URL is https://www.calcareercenter.org/Home/Content?contentID=379. 
  •  If your school did not offer the ASVAB Career Exploration Program in the 10th grade, check with you local Military Entrance Processing Station* to see if they can offer it to you. The ASVAB offers general career information as well as information about military careers. The URL is http://www.mepcom.army.mil/meps/losangeles/mets.html. 
  • Research postsecondary educational programs that support your career goal. It is critical you understand the educational needs for your chosen career before you start looking for the right educational program. Why? Because you could complete a program that does not meet industries standards or earn you the correct certificate or license, you will have invested a great deal of time and money and find yourself needing to invest more. Learn as much as you can about programs that will support your career choice. Examples of information to gather include: 
    • Program 
    • Program length (one, two, three, four or 5-years) 
    • Program Prerequisites* 
    • If applicable, major(s) that support your career goals 
    • Cost (to do a cost/benefit analysis) 
    • Financial aid 
    • Employment services 
  • Programs and majors within colleges and universities may have requirements in addition to the basic admission requirements. Contact the program office for information. 
  • Educational options to consider include technical schools, vocational programs, apprenticeships, the military, two- or four-year colleges and universities, and national or state service opportunities. 
  • Look for programs offered by your school or district that can help you develop work skills. Get a work permit from your school if you plan to work during high school. Programs that help develop work skills include: 
    • California Partnership Academies 
    • Career Technical Education courses 
    • Work Experience Education 

WINTER

  • Winter break is a good time to visit nearby campuses and technical schools.
  • Review your PSAT scores and look into registering for the SAT/ACT.
  • Register for and take entrance exams for four-year colleges.
  • Attend any financial aid workshops your school offers.
  • Register with FastWeb or use your career plan account to begin searching for scholarships.
  • Make an appointment to meet with your counselor in the Spring so that you can ask any questions you may have. 
  • Check with your high school to see if your district has an agreement with the local community college that simplifies the application process. 

SPRING

  • Take the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT in the spring of your junior year. 
  • Take the AP tests for any AP classes you have completed. 
  • Be prepared for the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) tests for English and Math. CSUs and community colleges use results to determine Early Assessment Program (EAP) status.
  • Plan your senior year! Work with a counselor to make sure your courses match entrance requirements of your college choices.
  • Bookmark online applications for your top choices.
  • Start connecting with mentors and give them a heads up that you will be interested in using them as references and for letters of recommendation.
  • Take the ASVAB in spring of your junior year for practice. http://www.asvabprogram.com 

Summer Tips

  • Visit campuses. Try to choose your top six. Bookmark their online applications.
  • Build your resume and experience through a summer bridge program, volunteering, or part-time job. This will be great to add as job/volunteer experience to your resume. 
  • Continue looking for and applying for scholarships.
  • Start thinking about your college essays/personal statements.
  • Develop a list of options and plan your application strategy. 
    • Develop a list of 5 to 10 educational options that interest you and support your career goals. 
    • Visit the organizations that offer the educational options you are interested in pursuing (colleges, businesses, unions or military recruiters). 
    • Sign up for a tour so they’ll know you are interested in their programs! 
    • Finalize your list of programs. Be sure your list includes Match, Reach, and Safety schools. Request application and information packets from each program.

Senior Year

Senior Year

FALL

  • Plan your application strategy
    • Meet with your guidance counselor to be sure you are meeting your postsecondary deadlines. 
    • Application processes vary from institution to institution. Learn the application process for the institutions to which you are applying. Get started on the applications now! Start writing your application essays. 
    • Update your resume with your senior activities. Your resume will help you complete your applications. Also, you’ll need to share it with people who are writing letters of recommendation for you. 
    • Ask teachers, counselors, coaches, or employers for letters of recommendation. Give them plenty of time. Make sure you give them a copy of your resume plus the recommendation form and a stamped envelope (if needed). 
    • Be sure to write a thank you letter to each person who writes you a letter of recommendation!
  • Review your SBAC test scores with a counselor to see if you will need to take extra courses this year in order to be prepared for college.
  • Sign up to meet with a community college counselor for admissions information.
  • Visit your college/career center.
  • Meet with college reps.
  • Narrow down your college choice list.
  • Write down important application deadlines.
  • Start or continue personal statements/college essays.
  • Get necessary recommendations.
  • Make sure you have completed your a-g requirements, if needed..
  • Take required entrance exams: Depending on your plans and the requirements of your chosen program, register and take one or more of the following tests. Talk with your guidance counselor or contact your post secondary choices if you need more information. Make sure your scores are sent to each of your programs: 
    • Take the SAT again if you think you can raise your score. 
    • Take the ACT again if you think you can raise your score. 
    • Take the ASVAB if you did not do it earlier. 
  • Set a grade-point average (GPA) goal.
  • Begin early decision applications no later than October. Applications are due in November. FAFSA Application opens October 1.
  • If you’re considering the military, sign up for the ASVAB test.
  • If you think college athletics might be in your future, talk to your counselor about becoming NCAA certified.
  • Look for private scholarships and apply early.
 

WINTER

  • Complete your applications 
    • Complete all required parts of each application, either on the Internet or on paper. 
    • Submit each application on time. Look at deadlines carefully, especially if you are applying for Early Decision or Early Action. Proofread each application before you send it and print a copy for your files. 
  • See a counselor to review graduation requirements and ensure a certified transcript showing your GPA is sent to the California Student Aid Commission. 
  • Set up a WebGrants account: www.webgrants4students.org.
  • Attend a Cash for College workshop: calgrants.org.
  • File for FAFSA, California Dream Act, and Cal Grants by March 2.
  • Have first semester grades.
  • If qualified, register for AP exams: www.collegeboard.org.
  • Apply for local and national scholarships: www.fastweb.com. Complete any other scholarship and financial aid forms required by schools/programs you are applying to and submit them before the deadline. 
  • Be sure to file for merit- and need-based financial aid.
  • If you haven’t already, sign up to meet with a community college counselor for admissions information.
  • Sign up for English and math placement tests for CSU and/or SRJC.
  • Complete a CSS PROFILE form if required by your colleges. Check college deadlines carefully, as the PROFILE may be due before January 1. 
  • Close the loop on your applications 
    • Follow up with your programs to be sure they have received all necessary materials from you. Submitting everything doesn’t mean the program received everything—check with them. 
    • Have your school counselor send your first semester grades, if required. 
    • Don’t get senioritis! Colleges and programs will want to see your second semester grades, too. 
  • Close in on your career goals by checking employment, the military, and/or national service 
 

SPRING

  • Consider college acceptances and weigh costs in making your decision.
  • Send deposit by deadline.
  • Make your decision Educational Option
    • You will start receiving admissions decisions and financial aid awards. Read everything you receive carefully and discuss it with your family. If a document requires a response from you, respond as quickly as possible. 
    • Make your decision and mail the enrollment confirmation form to the school you select before the deadline (May 1 for most schools, but may be earlier for Early Decision or Early Action). Be sure to check with the school to find out if you need to include a deposit check with your enrollment confirmation form. 
    • Notify each school to which you were accepted but will not be attending so that your spot can be freed up for another student on a waiting list. 
    • If you are on a waiting list, contact the Admissions Office and let them know if you are still interested in the spot. If you are still interested, call Admissions again and give them an update on your spring grades and activities. 
  • Direct-employment Options 
    • Review the career information you’ve collected thus far, review the applications you’ve submitted and determine where you want to focus your energies. 
    • If you filed applications and haven’t heard back, contact the employer/institution. 
    • Be sure to get your letters of recommendation before you leave school. If you need them during the summer and don’t have them, you’ll be stuck. 
    • Pay attention and promptly respond to any communications you receive about options you are interested in pursuing, don’t lose out because you didn’t respond. 
    • You may start hearing about opportunities that can begin as soon as school ends, or you may have summer to fill. Make plans for both possibilities. 
  • Finish the school year in style! 
    • Thank everyone who helped you with your references and applications. 
    • Have your counselor send your final transcript to the educational institution you will be attending. It is a good idea to get a copy of your transcripts for your records. 
    • If you plan on competing in Division I or Division II college sports, have your counselor send your final transcript to the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse. Contact the eligibility clearinghouse to verify they received it. 
    • Make your final financial aid decisions. 
    • Get ready for summer whether you’ll be working, heading off for a National Service experience, traveling, or starting an internship.
 

Summer Tips

  • Request that final transcripts be sent to your college.
  • NCAA athletes must also send transcripts to NCAA: ncaa.org.
  • DO a resume building summer activity.
  • Take a college class at your local community college.
  • Get a summer job/internship.
  • Get involved in your community.
  • FInd a job shadowing opportunity
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