Sonoma County Office of Education

College/Career Guide

About

Your Guide to College and Career

Two students discuss a book together.

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. To help you plan, high school students from Windsor High School designed this guide in collaboration with the Sonoma County Office of Education.


STARTING OUT STRONG

Imagine your future self. What do you dream of doing? It might seem a long way off, but middle school is the best time to start thinking about the education and career you want. Planning now can make your life a lot easier in high school. It can set you up for success in college and career.

Sury Vega"You've got to be your own motivation. Find motivation everywhere you can. Don't worry when you make mistakes. They will help you in the end."

—Sury Vega
Sonoma County high school student, age 17.

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CONNECT WITH AN ADULT

Connect with adults/organizations that can support you:

  • Find an adult who can help you with your goals. This can be a counselor, teacher, parent, or mentor.
  • Attend parent-teacher conferences.
  • Ask your teacher or counselor about free high school and college prep programs you might qualify for: AVID, California Junior Scholarship Program, and more!
  • Join a study or homework club

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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 Kuder Navigator, Naviance, and cacareerzone.org.
  • Attend college and career fairs at your school
  • Visit Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma State University, and local trade schools.
  • Talk to adults you respect about their careers.
  • Once you have an idea what you want to do, think about how you will get there.
  • What education does your job require?
  • Will employers look for internship or apprenticeship experience?
  • Will you need to take specific classes in high school?

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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).
  • 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.

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EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS

  • Learn more about yourself, what you love, and what you're good at.

  • Try out different sports and/or join clubs that interest you.
  • 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.

Martin Flores"Have a plan, and be ready to take all the opportunities you can during your freshman year. The first and second year of high school set up how you will finish high school."

—Martin Flores
Sonoma County high school senior, age 17.

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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.
  • Join a homework club or other support group.

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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 the Sonoma County College & Career-Ready Fair in September at Windsor High School.
  • Visit a parent or adult you respect at his/her job.

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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.
  • Ask about a-g classes. If you want to go to a four-year college, you will need to take these. 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.

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EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS

Learn more about yourself, what you love, and what you're good at.

  • Explore interests through camps, internships, clubs, and sports.
  • Read about work that you might like to do.
  • Visit workplaces where workers do things similar to what you like to do.
  • Join a summer enrichment or pre-college program at a local university, such as EXCEL for Youth or Academic Talent
  • programs at Sonoma State University.

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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.
  • 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.

Starting high school 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. Work hard to build good habits and don’t lose track of your goals with all the social distractions that come with high school. Check out this website for more planning resources:bigfuture.collegeboard.org.

Ariana Aparicio"My biggest advice is to start building relationships with your teachers and counselors. They will be your greatest supporters and allies when it comes to providing you with opportunities that help you accomplish your goals."

—Ariana Aparicio
Local graduate who earned B.A. in sociology from Sonoma State University (SSU) and works as an Academic Advisor at SSU.
Graduating GPA: 3.5

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Fall

  • 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.
  • 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.


Winter snowflake iconWINTER

  • 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!


Spring leaf iconSPRING

  • 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. Keep this up each year!


Summer sun icon Summer Tips

  • Keep 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.
  • 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.

Laura Calleja"In high school, I really didn't think that school was 'my thing.' It wasn't until I joined the military that I gained the confidence in myself."

—Laura Calleja
Sonoma County graduate who attended Santa Rosa Junior College, majoring in American Sign Language, before starting a career in the Air Force.
Graduating GPA: 2.3

Fall leaf icon FALL

  • Colleges DO look at Sophomore year, so make the most of it! Be sure you are taking at least 4-5 solid academic classes 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.
  • Santa Rosa Junior College classes are FREE to high school students.
  • 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.

Winter snowflake iconWINTER

  • 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 leaf iconSPRING

  • Research majors and visit colleges for inspiration.
  • Consider signing up for the SAT/ACT for practice.
  • Think about signing up for a summer program at a local college.

Summer sun icon Summer Tips

  • Keep 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.
  • 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.
Mark Henry"The three best ways to show that you are smart and get things done are, in no particular order: a degree, work/internship experience, and a portfolio of things you have made, in school or in your own studies."

—Mark Henry
Sonoma County graduate with B.S. in Software Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, working for Salesforce
Graduating GPA: 3.67

Fall leaf iconFALL

  • Review college requirements with your counselor/ sign up for the best courses for your goals.
  • Consider taking advanced placement math, science, English, foreign languages, etc.
  • Visit colleges and meet with college admissions counselors.
  • Attend the Sonoma County College & Career Fair at Windsor High School and other college/career events at your school.
  • Take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship test to help you prepare for the SAT and ACT.
  • If qualified, register to take Advanced Placement exams in May.

Winter snowflake iconWINTER

  • Winter break is a good time to visit nearby campuses and technical schools.
  • Review your PSAT scores and look into taking an SAT/ACT prep class.
  • Register for and take the SAT and/or ACT.
  • Attend any financial aid workshops your school offers.
  • Register with FastWeb or use your career plan account to begin searching for scholarships.

Spring leaf iconSPRING

  • Attend the Spring College Fair at Sonoma State University.
  • 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.

Summer sun icon 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.
  • Continue looking for and applying for scholarships.
  • Start thinking about your college essays/personal statements.
Amber Oughin-Doll"Never doubt what you're capable of."

—Amber Oughin-Doll
Sonoma County graduate getting masters in anthropology from Humboldt State
Graduating GPA: 2.91

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FALL

  • Work with counselors to create a college application game plan.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Registration for the SAT/ACT is in September/October. November is the last opportunity. Consider doing optional writing section, which is required by UC schools.
  • Attend any financial aid events your school offers.
  • 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.
  • Begin SRJC application process in October, especially for JumpStart program.
  • 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 snowflake iconWINTER

  • Complete online applications for colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeships. Keep a copy of all information submitted.
  • See a counselor to review graduation requirements.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Spring leaf iconSPRING

  • Consider college acceptances and weigh costs in making your decision.
  • Send deposit by deadline.

Summer sun icon Summer Tips

  • Request that final transcripts be sent to your college.
  • NCAA athletes must also send transcripts to NCAA: ncaa.org.
Female graduate faces the sunset

Free Online Planning Tools

Explore careers: cacareerzone.org
Explore colleges: bigfuture.collegeboard.org
Plan for high school and beyond: mappingyourfuture.org


Testing

PSAT: collegeboard.org
ACT: actstudent.org
SAT and Advanced Placement: collegeboard.org
ASVAB (Military): official-asvab.com
Test Prep: Khanacademy.org



College Research

Community Colleges: cccco.edu
Independent CA Colleges: aiccu.edu
Western Undergrad Exchange: wiche.edu/wue
UC: universityofcalifornia.edu
CSU: calstate.edu
CA Colleges: californiacolleges.edu
Web Grants: webgrants4students.org


College Applications

commonapp.org


School Code

You can get this from your counselor or at www.actstudent.org/regist/lookuphs


Financial Aid & Scholarships

CalGrant: csac.ca.gov
Dream Act/ California Dream Act: dream.csac.ca.gov
FAFSA: fafsa.ed.gov/
National Scholarships: fastweb.com


Santa Rosa Junior College

Concurrent Enrollment | admissions.santarosa.edu/high-school-concurrent-enrollment-students
Admissions | admissions.santarosa.edu/apply

Following are some words and terms that are helpful to know as you go through school.

Advanced Placement (AP) Classes: AP classes give students the chance to tackle college-level work while they're still in high school and earn college credit and placement. Learn more at the AP website.

A-G Requirements: A series of15-18 high school classes that prepare students for college. If you complete these classes with a grade of C or better, you'll be ready to advance to the college or technical school of your choice. The classes you take in middle school provide the foundation for the high school a-g classes. See the required a-g classes here.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) : Many schools in Sonoma County offer AVID programs, which provide academic and social support to qualified students to help prepare them for acceptance to and success in college. Ask your teacher or counselor if your school has an AVID program.

Career Technical Education (CTE): CTE refers to courses that focus on academics as well as technical and job skills. These courses are meant to provide students a path to post-secondary education and careers. Learn more at the CTE Foundation of Sonoma County website.

Grade Point Average (GPA): Your GPA is a numerical average of the grades in all the classes you've taken. Most colleges and trade schools consider this important number when reviewing your application. Your GPA ranges from 0 to 4, with 4 being the best.

Kuder Navigater: An online tool that many schools use to help students explore careers and plan for college or trade school. Ask your counselor if your school offers this program or something similar.

Naviance : An online tool that many schools use to help students explore careers and plan for college or trade school. Ask your counselor if your school offers this program or something similar.

Download a PDF version of the College and Career Guide here. If you'd like a printed copy, please contact Jamie Hansen at jhansen@scoe.org.