Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road
do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't really matter, does it?"
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland ~
As the Cheshire cat notes in the quote above, action is almost useless without a goal in mind. The first step to college and/or career planning is to know what you wish to attain. Where do you want to go? What would make you happy? What are your interests and abilities? What kind of education or training is required for the career you have chosen?
"The indispensable first step to getting the things
you want out of life is this: decide what you want."
~ Ben Stein ~
Interest inventories help us clarify what, deep down, we already know. But they can be extremely revealing. They are tools to help us look in the mirror, focus on what we need to see, and make some really important decisions. Below are some excellent interest inventories.
Clues for Clarifying Your Interests:
California Career Zone www.cacareerzone.org. Career exploration resources including interest and skills assessments, job outlook, average salary information and tools for exploring budgeting.
Start thinking about what interests you and what is important to you. Answer questions such as "What would you go out and do if you knew you would not fail?"
Inside Career Info http://www.insidecareerinfo.com is a searchable collection of hundreds of candid career reports written by "insiders", successful professionals, who are actually doing the job.
Skills Worksheet http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/cdc/files/Skills.pdf
This worksheet can help you identify the skills you have and narrow the list of skills you want to use in the future.
Motivation and fulfillment are other areas to consider when exploring career options. This worksheet can help you identify what is important to you in the world of work.
Work Environment Worksheet http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/cdc/files/Work_Environment.pdf
Would you like to work for a big company or small company? Would you like to work for a well established organization or a start-up?
Another good way to investigate your interests and abilities is to attend community college while you are enrolled in high school. Take a few classes in subject you think you are interested in. Try subjects you have never tried before. Contact the academic advisor or your EF for information on enrolling in college classes. Our local Community College is:
College of the Siskiyous, 800 College Avenue,
Weed California, 96094
College Search Resources
When you’re ready to start looking for a college, there are many great resources to help you. College Board has a college search tool that allows to to search by a variety of crieteria, including type of school (2-year, 4-year, public, private, etc), location, majors offered, sports and activities, campus life, etc.
Other great resources include:
College Greenlight is an organization dedicated to improving college access, particularly for low-income and first generation students. You create a profile and the site will mach you with colleges that appear to be a good fit. You will also receive messages (within the profile on college greenlight, no spam) from colleges you may be interested in. The site also includes resources for scholarship search and applications.
College Affordability Guide is a new resource that ranks colleges based on financial accessibility and positive student outcomes. The site managers review data from several sources to create the rankings.
College Scorecard, a new tool from the US Department of Education, allows you to search for colleges based on a number of factors and gives information on average annual cost (net price, not full cost - this is the average price students actually pay), graduation rate, median earnings of former students, and average debt upon graduation. The academic fields you can search by are somewhat limited, but a good resource for comparing costs and outcomes of different schools.
Colleges That Change Lives, a website based on a book by the same name by Loren Pope, provides information on the college search process and highlights unique, student-centered colleges and universities.