It’s been a long journey, but that next road is on the horizon: College is up ahead, and we’re here to help keep you prepared.
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PREPARE FOR LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
It is never too early for students and families to plan for the future and prepare for life after high school. Students can begin to explore their interests, abilities and career goals by meeting with school counselors, starting in middle school. They can also get more information on what school programs and courses are available to help them reach those goals.
Many resources are available to help high school students with career research and college planning. School counselors are your go-to source of current information on employment and colleges. Taking a little time to meet with a school counselor can mean a lot of help with job ideas, assessments to gauge your career interests, vocational/technical schools and much more. Your school or local library is another helpful free resource for your future plans.
- Graduation Requirements — Minimum requirements for high-school graduation are set by the California Legislature and can be found in California’s Education Code. But students also need to know the graduation requirements adopted by their local school districts. With this information, students can better plan to enroll in the courses that they need to graduate.
- Career and Technical Education and Linked Learning — Opportunities for students to take career and technical education classes start at the middle-school level. These classes often reinforce the academic curriculum and prepare students for post-graduation options such as apprenticeships and formal employment training. With this approach, students follow industry-themed pathways in a range of fields such as engineering, arts and media, biomedicine and health to connect learning with students’ interests and career aspirations.
- College Entrance Requirements and Tests — Many colleges and universities require students to take an entrance exam such as SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Testing Program) as part of the application process. It is possible to take college entrance tests as early as junior year in high school. Note, most community colleges don’t require the ACT or SAT, but most require on-campus math and English placement tests. Go online to college websites to learn more about their entrance requirements and application process, including deadlines.
- College Research Resources —
- Application and Testing Assistance —
- University of California entrance requirements
- California State University entrance requirements
- ACT test information*
- SAT test information*
- National Merit Scholarships PSAT/NMSQT
*Community colleges don’t require the ACT or SAT, but most require on-campus math and English placement tests.
SAVING FOR COLLEGE & CAREER COSTS
California State PTA and ScholarShare are teaming up to raise awareness about the importance of saving for college. Here are a few steps you can take to develop a college savings road map for your child:
Start Small and Early
The task of saving for college can be overwhelming, but the sooner you get started, the greater the likelihood that your child will go to college and have the funds to pay for it. Various studies show that a child with a college savings account is 6 to 7 times more likely to attend college. The key is to get started.
Review Your Finances
Saving for college can be daunting. That’s why it’s important to take a careful look at your finances and identify any available funds that you can regularly contribute to your college savings. No contribution is too small. Every little bit helps.
Define Your Goal
Paying for 100 percent of a child’s future college expenses may not be a realistic goal for some parents. Fortunately, the share you save is only a part of a larger strategy to help pay for college. Define a goal that makes sense for your family and plan accordingly.
Understand Your 529 Plan
A 529 plan is a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged savings plan designed to help families save for college. The State of California offers the ScholarShare College Savings Plan. In addition to the many benefits, you can open a ScholarShare account with just $25.
Benefits of a ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan:
- 100% tax free growth – pay no state and federal taxes on funds used toward qualified expenses
- Low cost – less than half the national average
- Go anywhere – use at any accredited school in the U.S. and abroad
- Investment choice – flexibility with professional management
Learn more about ScholarShare 529 at www.scholarshare529.com.
FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS
Does your child want to go to college or technical/career training someday? For many families, the decision may come down to how much financial aid will be provided and how much students will need to contribute. It’s never too early to learn about the financial-aid process.
There are a number of ways that students can obtain financial aid. Students should work closely with high-school counselors as well as college financial-aid offices to explore all possibilities for student support for career training, public and private colleges.
Funding For Your Future —
- National Merit Scholarships PSAT/NMSQT
- Federal Student Aid
- FAFSA: Free application for federal student aid
- California Student Aid Commission
- California Chafee Grants for Foster Youth
- Sallie Mae College Answer financial aid tools
- I Can Afford College!
- Fin Aid Guide to financial aid
- College Board financial aid tool
- The Campaign for College Opportunity
- Latino College Dollars
- Resources in Spanish
- United Negro College Fund
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- California Dream Act Application
And graduating seniors: Don’t forget PTA’s popular scholarship program! Graduating high-school seniors who also are PTA members are eligible to apply for the $750 Volunteer Service Scholarship and the $500 Dr. Ralph E. White Scholarship for medical-field education.