High school students and parents are barraged with college and career-planning information via the Internet and social media starting on their first day of high school (if not earlier). It can be a challenge for families in Los Angeles schools to sort through these resources, and not all information is equal.
I recommend three must-have tools that will help guide students through their high school careers and plan for their futures.
Campus Steps: This L.A.-based tech platform (available via the web and mobile devices at www.campussteps.com) is interactive, engaging and helps high school students think about how their choices affect their access to college and career options. The program is free. Participating students create profiles by entering their current courses and grades, then answering a few questions designed to match them with colleges that best fit their needs – from four-year universities to trade schools. The profile and goals grow and change with the student over time. Students may also invite their counselors to see their profiles, allowing for personalized guidance, emails/texts and easier scheduling of meetings to discuss goals and plan classes.
Method Test Prep: Online programs can help students prepare for PSAT, SAT and ACT exams, and in many cases, increase scores. Method Test Prep (www.methodtestprep.com) is well respected in the industry. The company has both free and pay options ranging from a daily self-paced online program to webinars or in-person tutoring (private or small-group). Students should plan to take the PSAT in October of their sophomore and junior years and the ACT and SAT during sophomore and/or junior years, depending on the level of math and English courses they are taking.
FastWeb: For students looking for college scholarships, FastWeb (www.fastweb.com) should be their go-to online resource. FastWeb is a database that matches students’ profiles against more than 1.5 million scholarships – which translates to more than $3.4 billion of available funding. The site will suggest scholarships based on a student’s strengths, interests and skills. FastWeb also provides resources for students looking for additional sources of financial aid.
College and career planning can be fun and engaging, and foster new connections between parents and their teens. The process also teaches teens valuable life lessons of responsibility, resilience and independence.
Stephanie Burns is executive director of GuidanceMasters.com, where she conducts seminars and workshops to help parents and students with educational planning, college applications and overall personal/professional aspirations. She has more than 20 years of experience helping students prepare for post-secondary success as a guidance counselor at El Segundo High School.