College and Career Planning

It is never too early for students 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.

Attending ‘Career Days’ and ‘College Nights’ and looking for information online are also good ways to learn more about what college/career options might be a good fit.

Students and their families should start early to ask questions and become better informed about:

Graduation Requirements – Minimum requirements for high school graduation are set by the California Legislature. But students also need to know the graduation requirements adopted by their local school district. With this information, students can better plan to enroll in the courses that they need to graduate.

Career and Technical Education – 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.

Linked Learning – Some high schools offer Linked Learning courses that bring together strong academics, demanding technical education and real-world experience for students. With this approach, students follow industry-themed pathways in a range of fields. This includes fields related to 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. Check with a school counselor to get more information about what the entrance requirements and tests are for colleges and universities that a student is interested in attending. It is possible to take college entrance tests as early as junior year in high school. Go online to college websites to learn more about their entrance requirements and application process including deadlines.

Financial Aid and Scholarships – College can be pricey. But there are a number of ways that students can obtain financial aid. Students should work closely with their high school counselor as well as the college financial aid office to explore all possibilities for student support in both the public and private colleges.

Early planning for college and career helps students stay on track to achieve their dreams. By enlisting the help of their family and school counselors, students can make a successful transition from high school to college and careers.

Take Action: To get started in college and career planning, check out the U.S. Department of Education website: and the website:

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