College Preparation & Planning

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Am I taking the right classes?

Do you know if you're on the right path to college or career? Find out with a few helpful tips.

What can I do to get prepared and ahead for college and career?

Whether you are in middle school or high school, there is so much you can do to get ahead and be prepared.

Don't Leave it Up to Chance

Don't miss the opportunity to learn everything you know about paying for college and applying for the FAFSA.

Does a degree equal higher pay?

Career exploration is vital when making decisions regarding your future. Now is the time to look at what you love to do, what you're passionate about, and how you can make a living. There's alot to think about!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

12th Grader College Prep Timeline - Fall 2013

I'm going to be a high school senior this year, what are somethings I need to do this fall semester as I prepare for college next year?

  • Take full load of college prep courses
  • Meet with school counselor or college advisor to review HS /college require
  • Complete College Profile Packet Applications
  • Narrow your list of colleges (8 to 10)
  • Share your list of colleges with your parents, involve them in the process!
  • Develop a calendar of application due dates for private/out-of-state schools
  • Identify majors that most interest you!
  • Re-take / REGISTER FOR SAT or ACT
  • Create a list of whom you will ask to write letters and find out if HS has request process
  • Create organization system for your college application materials
  • Create professional e-mail address
  • Mark calendar with dates/deadlines
  • Continue participating in extra-curricular activities
  • Make copies of EVERYTHING and file!
  • Keep up your grades! Colleges do not accept D or F grades!
  • October 1st: Begin CSU application
  • Some private colleges require forms prior to application – submit if necessary Personal statement
  • Request letters of recommendation forms
  • Scholarship search and applications begin 
  • Develop a calendar of application due dates for scholarships – apply!
  • Male students applying for Financial Aid (FAFSA) must register with Selective Service -
  • Visit College Campuses & websites
  • Attend College & Transfer Fairs
  • Make a pact with a friend or two to help each other get through the college application process together!
  • Keep up your grades! Colleges do not accept D or F grades!
  • Nov 1st: Begin college applications
  • Find 1-2 people to review Essays
  • Send test scores to ALL universities or systems you applied to
  • When you send final SAT or ACT test scores, all of your past test scores will be automatically sent Letters of recommendation
  • Request letters of recommendation forms
  • Remind recommenders of due dates 1-2 weeks prior Scholarships / Financial Aid
  • Continue the Scholarship search
  • Continue applying!

11th Graders College Prep Checklist - Fall 2013

I'm going to be a high school junior this year.  What can I do to prepare for college?

  • Meet with counselor and other college resources available to discuss college plans
  • Update your Graduation/Academic Plan
  • Sign-up for credit recovery courses
  • Create professional emails for college exploration purposes
  • Continue exploring college exploration and planning tools online like those found on the
  • Make a file to manage your college planning data
  • Register for the October PSAT
  • Take on leadership roles the extracurricular activities you most care about
  • Attend college fairs / meet with college reps
  • Talk to your counselor about financial aid and college application deadlines

10th Graders College Checklist - Fall Semester

I'm going to be a sophmore in high school this fall, what can I do to prepare for college?

  • Get to know your counselor and other college resources available
  • Sign-up for credit recovery courses
  • Create professional emails to use for all college exploration purposes
  • Explore college exploration and planning tools online
  • Talk with family members, counselors, teachers and mentors about their college experience
  • Find peers that also want to go to college and help each other out!
  • Explore your career interests via the career planning tools
  • Register for the October PSAT
  • Become more involved in extracurricular activities you most care about

9th Graders College Checklist - Fall Semester

What can I do this year as a high school freshman to prepare for college?

  • Get to know your counselor and other college resources available
  • Ask family, teachers and mentors about their college experience
  • Find peers that also want to go to college and help each other out!
  • Create professional email to use for all college exploration purposes
  • Visit and explore its college planning resources
  • Explore your interest and skills
  • Participate in extracurricular activities
  • READ as much as you can!  It will help you develop new ideas, build your vocabulary and help you become a better thinker.

You Can Go to College - Part I

We believe you can!

Did you know that for every 100 students in the United States who begin ninth grade, 67 of them will finish high school in four years, 38 will go to college, and only 18 will earn associate degrees within three years or bachelor’s degrees in six years!  So, are you asking yourself how we can turn the numbers around?  The teachers and staff in SBISD know that all students are capable of realizing their dreams, and we want you to believe that too. 

Do you believe that you can go to college?  If you answered no, think about why. 

Maybe it's finances, or maybe you don't feel like you can't leave your family to attend school.  Whatever the reason is, write it down.  Sometimes just identifying why you think you can't go to college is the first step in finding a way to turn that no into a yes.

Now that you've identified why you think you can't go to college, let's talk about finding solutions to those challenges.  What steps can you take today to help yourself, to not only graduation for high school, but go on to college and thrive?

Believe in yourself!

The first step is to believe that the dream of college is possible!  If you want to earn a two-year or four-year degree or technical certification, you can and will.  Think about your answers to the following questions:
  • Who in your life do you turn to for advice, support or guidance?
  • What is your least favorite thing about school?
  • What is your most favorite thing about school?
  • What do you wish was different about your education?
Now, think about your answers. 

First, know that everyone faces challenges in their life.  That's part of the journey and process and facing these challenges is how we grow.  It's normal to feel confused, stressed or even overwhelmed sometimes.  Just remember you are not alone and you have a wealth of resources you may not even realize you have.  Mentors, parents, teachers, peers, and other trusted adults in your life are great resources for advice, support and guidance.  Talk to them!  Make a point to take time to foster these relationships. 

Knowing Yourself = Finding the Best Choices

What do you like about school?  What do you find interesting or call your passion?  Maybe it's playing a musical instrument or painting.  Or, maybe you had a blast building a robot with your science class last school year.  By targeting your interests, you're defining what you're passionate about, and focusing on potential areas for your college and career goals.

Maybe you prefer hands-on labs or interactive projects verse research projects or class lectures. By thinking about what you like and don't like you can better define what will work for you as you progress on your education and career pathway.

The better you know yourself, your challenges and your resources, the more prepared you are to make sound choices about your future! 

It's never too early to start college prep!

Students in 8th grade will soon be leaving middle school and looking forward to a relaxing summer before they start high school in the Fall. The last thing on their minds will be looking beyond high school to college. But there are smart moves families can take this summer to make the college applications process go smoothly.

It may seem like a long way off, but, ask any Senior, time flies when you're having fun in high school! Summer is a time to relax, a time for fun. No one argues with that. But summer is also a great opportunity to find something that is both fun and can be a stepping-stone to the future.

Families should help students find at least one enjoyable activity during the summer vacation before high school. Experiment with a number of summertime activities This is a good summer to try a variety of activities. Take time to thoroughly explore each before moving on to the next.

Be creative. This is where you sow the seeds for an activity you can become proficient in over the next four years. If you are doing an activity you love already, stay the course. But this is also a great time to explore new things. For example, you might sign up for two or three weeks swimming classes, followed by a week or two at a summer camp.

Focus on what you love to do!  Whatever you do, make it something focused that can grow into a meaningful extra-curricular activity. When it comes time to fill out college applications your passion for a hobby or sport can make a big difference. Colleges love to see commitment in both your academic and non-academic pursuits.

This summer is a great time to focus on an activity like competitive swimming, horseback riding, ballet or volunteering. Enjoy the summertime without wasting the opportunity by sitting around the house.

Have a fun and productive summer!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

20 Tips for Young Professionals

1. Establish your personal brand. Decide what you want your reputation in the workplace to be, and let your actions define you. Keep promises, and make deadlines. Under-promise and over-deliver. Avoid behavior in your personal life that could hurt your professional life (even more true today with all the risks of social media in the mix). Remember that details count, especially when getting the details right sets you apart from others.

2. Seek out a mentor. I'm guessing many busy professionals may say, "I don't have time to be a mentor," but most mentor relationships happen naturally rather than being established formally. Be on the lookout for them. I bet my best mentors probably don't know they even served in that role.

3. Keep up with the news every day. Read the paper, check news websites and blogs, listen to NPR on the way to work. Know what's in the news about your organization or industry before your boss or client asks.

4. Get away from your desk, and walk outside. Even if it's just to walk around the block or grab a sandwich, at some point during the day your brain needs natural light and a whiff of fresh air, and your body needs to stretch.

5. Plan the work before you work the plan. Having no plan gets you nowhere. Plans will change either by force or circumstance. Be flexible, but have a plan regardless of whether it's a work project, a trip, a major purchase, or an important life decision.

6. Don't pass up a chance to learn. Find out what your boss or leaders in your profession are reading (books, professional publications, websites, etc). Seek out professional development opportunities; pay for them yourself, if necessary. Join professional organizations, and get involved.

7. Go to your boss with a solution, not a problem. Your boss is solving problems all day. Make her life easier by presenting a solution when you present a problem. Even if it's not the solution that ultimately solves the problem, it keeps your boss from dreading the sight of you at the door.

8.Write thank-you and follow-up notes (handwritten, not emailed). Collect cards from people you meet at events, in meetings, or just out and about. A handwritten "nice to meet you" note will set you apart and help the people you meet remember you. Technology is good, but the personal touch still matters.

9. Travel any chance you get. Travel to small towns and big cities across the country and around the world. Don't put off travel. You'll never tell your grandchildren about that great trip you didn't take because you were too busy at work.

10. Be interested and inquisitive. Ask good questions, and ask them often. Young professionals have a great deal to offer a work environment. Speak up when you have something to offer, but remember to balance your enthusiasm with senior-level colleagues' experience.

11. Remember that everyone carries their own sack of rocks. You never know what type of personal issues the co-worker who missed a deadline is dealing with at home or with his family.

12. Create your own personal style. That doesn't mean wearing flip-flops in a formal corporate environment. However, you can set yourself apart from the pack with a twist on the ordinary. To each his own, but just find your own.

13. Stay in the loop, but avoid the gossip. Be a "boundary spanner"—someone who is respected and trusted by people in all parts and at all levels of the organization.

14. Look for "reverse mentoring" opportunities. You can be a resource to your older colleagues. Seasoned professionals can learn a great deal from their younger peers.

15. Looking busy doesn't equal being productive. The co-worker who crows about his heavy workload and long hours is probably much less productive than the one who is organized and prioritizes his days.

16. A good editor will make you shine. Don't look at having your writing edited as you would look at a teacher correcting a paper. Editing is a collaborative process, and there's always room for improvement in your writing.

17. Don't come to work sick. No one appreciates the stuffy-nosed martyr. That's why you're afforded sick days.

18. Cultivate contacts outside work.Your next job will probably come from someone you know through church, nonprofits, alumni groups, friends, and professional organizations.

19. Take risks. It's OK to mess up occasionally. No one can expect perfection. You can often learn more from mistakes than successes. Yes, really, you can.

20. Strive for work/life balance. The "balance" will probably fluctuate daily, but creative outlets, exercise, and hobbies make you a more valuable (and saner) employee.

Reprinted from About the Author: Reba Hull Campbell promotes the interests of South Carolina cities and towns as deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Plan for Your Future Wisely

A recent study released by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce examined starting salaries and unemployment rates for college graduates ages 22-26.

From their work, the report identifies the best and worst paying college majors. Careers in the science and math fields, or STEM, have higher starting salaries than those in the arts fields.  This report also indicates that the starting salaries for graduates in some of the arts or soft science fields are just about equivalent to those for a high school graduate.

Career exploration is vital when making decisions regarding your future.

Take advantage of any opportunities provided by schools, programs, and companies to increase your awareness/exposure to the vast array of career opportunities before you. Optimize your time in college.  College courses cost money so plan wisely!

Now more than ever it's important to have a plan and know what areas of study you are interested in before you enter a college or university.  Many students go into college "undecided" about what major they will select.

The tremendous burden of student loan borrowing levels should be taken into consideration when you're planning for a college and career choice.  Remember, when you graduate you will probably have students loans that need to be repaid. 

Upcoming College Planning Events - 2013/14 Academic Year

Save the dates on your 2013-2014 calendar and make plans to attend! 
  • Spring Branch ISD College Nights on October 8th and 9th, 2013 at Spring Woods High School
  • NACAC College Fair on Thursday, Februay 13, 2014 at the Reliant Center
More details and information to follow.  Book mark this site!