Preparing for Higher Education

Think about careers and skills Youth in Care

It's never too late to begin preparing to go to college. But, the sooner you start, the better off you will be.

Career Inventories & Skill Assessments

Before you can really decide on where you want to go to college, you need to have an idea of what you want to do in the future. Exploring your talents and interests while you are still in high school can help you get an idea of what to study in college. Knowing this will help you pick a college that meets your needs and will help you achieve your goals. Tools such as career inventories and skill assessments can help you figure out what you want to do in the future. There are several web sites that can help you build college and career plans, including:

  • Career Zone is the New York State Department of Labor's place to explore careers related to your strengths, skills and talents.

New York State Office of Children and Family Services web site has two directories to assist you:

The College Experience: Where can I go for help?

Once you figure out what you might want to do in your future, there are several things you'll want to think about and do when preparing to go to college. These include taking the right classes so you can graduate from high school, choosing the right college for you, attending college fairs, visiting college campuses, taking college entrance exams, etc. Some people who can be of help to you may be:

  • Your caseworker
  • Caregivers or Foster Parent(s)
  • Youth Care Worker
  • Educational Specialist at your agency
  • Life Skill Coordinator
  • Counselor or Clinician
  • High School Guidance Counselor
  • Tutorial Services
  • Teachers
  • Older Peers in Care
  • Coaches or other supportive adults

Choosing the Right College for You

Choose the college that is right for you Former Youth in Care

It's important to take your time and research different college options so you can find the one that will provide you with the educational opportunities you're looking for to help you achieve your lifelong goals.

Attending College Fairs

College fairs give you the opportunity to speak to college admissions representatives about things such as campus life, academics, financial aid, and admissions requirements. You can find a college fair calendar on the HESC web site. Talk to your caseworker or other supportive adults about your interest in attending and any needs like transportation.

Visiting College Campuses

If there is a college you are interested in attending, talk to your high school guidance counselor or contact the school and make arrangements to go to the campus and take a tour. When making arrangements for your tour, you might even want to inquire about an overnight visit. It is important to talk to your caseworker about this as there may be required permissions or arrangements that need to be made ahead of time. This way you can see firsthand what academic programs the college has to offer, what extracurricular activities are available on campus, what the campus layout is like, and what the student body makeup is like. You can see the academic facilities as well as the living arrangements and really get a feel for what the campus is like and if it will be a good fit for you.

Asking Questions to Narrow Down College Choices

Ask yourself some important questions such as: Does the college offer the major I want to study? Do I feel more comfortable in a more rural or urban setting? Do I achieve better grades in small classes with more personal attention or larger lecture halls? 

Entrance Exams

Many colleges and universities will ask for standardized test scores as part of the application process. Two of the most popular tests with colleges and universities are the SAT and the ACT. There is also the PSAT which is the practice test for the SAT. There are fees associated with taking these tests; talk to your guidance counselor because they may be waived.


Diplomas

Generally, colleges are looking for students who have either a high school diploma (Regents or local) or a GED.

Some students are offered the opportunity to graduate from high school with an Individual Educational Plan diploma (IEP diploma). A student who graduates with an IEP diploma is likely to be significantly limited in his/her postsecondary educational opportunities, employability, and earning potential. An IEP diploma is not a standards-based diploma and is not recognized in New York State as equivalent to a Regents or local high school diploma. Regardless of the type of diploma you will be receiving, talk to your guidance counselor/caseworker to make sure you are on track.