Message for the Class of 2020
Dear Students and Families,
Congratulations! You’re less than three months away from being a high school graduate. In a time of uncertainty, one thing is for certain: you should feel incredibly proud of your accomplishments! We celebrate you and other members of the Class of 2020 on working so hard toward graduation and, more importantly, unlocking so many exciting opportunities for continued college, career, and life success.
We recognize this is a difficult way to spend the second half of your senior year. We also know that the Class of 2020 is an incredibly strong, talented, and resilient group. These challenges today are preparing you to thrive and excel wherever your college and career goals take you in the future. We wish you could be with your school communities to celebrate your senior year; however, we know it is important for us to stay home and stay safe. It may be overwhelming to navigate the next few weeks of your senior year from home, especially as you finalize your postsecondary plans. The RISE Network partners with Connecticut high schools, and we want to provide you and your families with resources during your senior year. Below, please find resources and answers to common questions in three areas, and please submit any additional questions here.
- Questions about senior year
- Questions about college pathways
- Questions about military and workforce pathways
The RISE Network Team
Full Question List
- Are we going back to school this spring?
- I’m almost done with senior year. Do I really need to participate in distance learning?
- Are Advanced Placement (AP) exams still happening, and how can I prepare?
- What’s happening with course grades and class rank?
- I’m not sure if I’m going to graduate. Am I on track to graduate?
- Are senior-year activities like graduation and prom still happening?
- I’m feeling overwhelmed by senior year and postsecondary decisions. Who can I talk to at the school?
- I applied to college, but I’m feeling overwhelmed. What are my next steps?
- When do I need to make a decision about the college I plan to attend next year?
- I was planning to visit colleges this spring to help make my final decision. Now that I can’t go, how can I get a sense of the college campus?
- What are the total costs of college?
- How can I pay for college?
- I’m confused by all of the financial aid terminology. What do things like net price and expected family contribution actually mean?
- I haven’t completed the FAFSA yet. Is it too late?
- I received financial aid letters from multiple colleges. How do I compare aid award packages?
- Can I request more financial aid or appeal a financial aid award letter?
- Is it too late to apply for scholarships?
- How can I build a budget for college?
- I am an undocumented student. Are there specific things I need to be thinking about and doing to pursue my college goals?
- I plan to live on campus. What should I pack when I go to college?
- I want to go to college next year, but I haven’t applied to any schools. Is it too late?
- I plan to enroll in a community college and transfer to a 4-year program. What do I need to know?
- Can I attend college part-time?
- Who can I contact if I have questions about my college plans?
- I plan to enlist in the military. Am I eligible, and what are my next steps?
- Is it true that I have to take a test to enlist in the military?
- What jobs might be a good fit for me?
- I’m interested in an apprenticeship or a trade certificate. How can I learn more?
- I plan to start working after graduation. What can I be doing to find a job?
- Some jobs require a cover letter and resume. How can I develop these?
- I’m still undecided about my plans after high school. What should I do?
Questions about Senior Year
Are we going back to school this spring?
Unfortunately, that’s a really hard question to answer, and we just don’t know at this point. Last month, Governor Lamont issued statewide school closures, and this will remain in effect through at least May 20, 2020. Each school will look to the state and local school district for guidance about when it is safe to go back to school. Right now, our top priority is ensuring the safety of everyone in our community, and we have to maintain social distancing in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Schools will provide students and families with more information as soon as they receive additional guidance and are able to make a determination about the format of schooling for the remainder of the year. Importantly, teachers, counselors, and administrators are working to maintain routines and keep the school community connected while buildings remain closed. Follow the school on social media to stay connected and informed.
I’m almost done with senior year. Do I really need to participate in distance learning?
Yes! High school isn’t over yet, and this is not the time to let senioritis take hold. You want to end your high school career in a really strong way! It’s really important to maintain routines, continue learning, and stay active while you are at home. Your classes will help to keep you connected to your friends, classmates, and teachers; we all need to support and be there for one another during this difficult time. Many colleges also will request a final transcript, so this is not the time to stop participating in class or turning in assignments. Regardless of whether you plan to enlist in the military, join the workforce, or enroll in college, it’s important to keep your mind sharp and stay engaged in daily routines. We want to keep building knowledge and skills that will prepare you for success beyond high school graduation.
Are Advanced Placement (AP) exams still happening, and how can I prepare?
Yes! The College Board designs and administers AP exams. This year, because so many schools across the country are closed, the College Board is offering online AP exams that students can take at home. You can learn more about the online AP exams here. The College Board is offering free daily lessons and review sessions to help students prepare for AP exams. This includes online resources for all of the AP classes. Please take advantage of these lessons, which are available here.
What’s happening with course grades and class rank?
Decisions about grades and class rank are made individually by each school and district. At this point, schools in Connecticut will be ending the school year on their previously-scheduled final school days. Most schools are being flexible about make-up work for the third marking period, so please connect with your teachers if you are looking to resubmit work and boost your Quarter 3 grades. Schools are still making decisions about Quarter 4 and year-end grade calculations. Some schools are exploring pass/fail options, and others plan to proceed with normal grading practices. Regardless, you want to continue doing your very best work. Many schools have decided not to use course grades during distance learning when calculating class rank. You will want to check with your school counselors to understand how class rank may be impacted by distance learning.
I’m not sure if I’m going to graduate. Am I on track to graduate?
It’s really important to know your school’s graduation requirements for the Class of 2020. If you search online for your school’s program of studies, then you will learn more information about the total number of credits required to graduate, as well as specific credit requirements by content area. Right now, focus on passing all of your current classes. If you are unsure about your overall credit status, then please reach out to your school counselor. If you do not have all of the credits that you need to graduate, please don’t give up! Your school offers opportunities for credit recovery over the summer. Talk to your school counselor about the credits you need and how to enroll in credit recovery opportunities. You are so close to the finish line, so please ensure that you have the credits you need to graduate.
Are senior-year activities, like graduation and prom, still happening?
The second half of senior year is an exciting time for a lot of reasons. Between the prom, graduation, safe grad, senior signing day, and other events, there are a lot of special experiences that take place in the spring of senior year. At this stage, while schools remain closed and we don’t know what the rest of the school year might look like, it is difficult to know which of these activities can occur in the typical format. Please know that your teachers, counselors, and administrators are working really hard to explore all options to provide seniors with a good experience. School teams are exploring creative options and considering delaying events. The most important thing to remember is that these events — while special and important — do not define your high school careers or in any way minimize all that you have achieved and will accomplish. Take time to reflect on all of the wonderful memories you’ve already made, and we will look for opportunities to support great memories in the future.
I’m feeling overwhelmed by senior year and postsecondary decisions. Who can I talk to at the school?
Great news! All of your school’s teachers, counselors, and support staff are still working and able to support you in remote formats. We suggest that you find the school staff members’ emails on the school website. Send them an email identifying your name and specific questions or concerns. Please know that many school counselors have also created Google Classrooms to help organize resources and updates for students. You may also want to follow your school on social media for updates and resources. Connect with staff at your school to understand how you can stay connected or have a conversation with someone to address your specific questions and concerns. Please know that you are not alone in this process! Your educators want to hear from you.
Questions about College Pathways
I applied to college, but I’m feeling overwhelmed. What are my next steps?
Congratulations on pursuing a college degree! At this point, you’ve already invested a lot of time and energy in your resume, application, essays, etc. The good news is that many of the most difficult steps are out of the way. Great work! For those of you who’ve already heard back from colleges and universities, this is now the moment when you want to compare college offers and financial aid packages. After you select the college you want to attend next year, there are other steps to complete before you step foot on campus. Pay attention to emails and mailings from the college, and be sure to meet specific deadlines. For example, you will need to accept financial aid, submit immunization records, complete housing request forms, sign up for orientation, register for classes, etc. Most colleges provide a college enrollment checklist to help guide this process. Here is a sample checklist. In addition to these steps, you want to begin building a plan to finance your postsecondary education, and if you plan to live on campus, you will want to plan for that transition.
What do I need to make a decision about the college I plan to attend next year?
Many colleges and universities share admissions decisions by the end of March. Usually, students have until May 1st to compare acceptances and financial aid offers, and to then make a decision about which college to attend. This year because of COVID-19 disruptions, many postsecondary institutions, however not all, have made the decision to extend their decision deadlines. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is compiling revised decision deadlines on their website. Please check this site, as well as college-specific admissions websites, to know when you need to notify schools of your decisions. Keep in mind that the school you decide to attend will likely require a financial deposit at this stage.
I was planning to visit colleges this spring to help make my final decision. Now that I can’t go, how can I get a sense of the college campus?
Great news! A number of websites offer virtual campus tours. These tours are as good — if not better — than in-person tours. You can click around and go at your own pace. These interactive sites allow you to explore the college campuses, view different facilities, and compare different schools. Start your college tours at Youvisit.com, Youniversity.com, Campustours.com , or eCampusTours.com.
What are the total costs of college?
There are a number of costs to consider with calculating the all-in cost of college. In general, there are five big cost categories, which are explained below:
- First, the tuition and fees covers the cost of your college classes; these costs may change depending on the number of classes you take and your in-state versus out-of-state status.
- Second, room and board account for dorm living and meal plans; you may elect to rent your own apartment or cover meals separately from the school.
- Third, you will need to purchase books and materials for courses. The average undergraduate student spends over $1,000 on books per year, though you may rent or purchase used books.
- Fourth, personal expenses account for things you normally spend money on (e.g., cell phone bill).
- Fifth, you may also want to account for transportation if you will be a commuter student travelling to class each day, or if you will be living on campus but want to travel back home for vacations.
When you add up all of these costs, it can feel overwhelming. It’s worth remembering that you are investing in your future, and college graduates have significantly higher lifetime earning potential. It is also important to consider the advertised cost of attendance and the net price (or the cost of attendance minus all grants, scholarships, and benefits that you receive and do not need to pay back). You will want to review the financial aid award letters from the school you are considering. Avoid sticker shock and work to understand what the cost would be for you as a student.
How can I pay for college?
There are a number of ways to organize resources to help pay for college, and many people rely on a variety of different sources of funds for college. There are two general categories: money that you earn and do not need to pay back, and money that you need to ultimately repay. Please note that you must complete the FAFSA to become eligible for many types of funding.
You do not need to repay
- Scholarships and grants are considered “free money” that you earn or receive. These funds may have requirements (e.g., maintaining good grades).
- Federal work study offers part-time jobs on campus to students with financial need (e.g., cafeteria, IT, library). You may receive federal work study as a part of the financial aid package; this is for students with financial need. Money earned does not go directly toward your bill.
- Jobs also provide earned money through employment outside of the college. Students may pursue employment opportunities to help pay for college. It is important to balance employment hours with classwork and class time.
- Savings are resources set aside for college.
You borrow and need to repay
- Federal student loans are borrowed money offered by the government. Oftentimes, federal loans may have added benefits and protections (e.g., lower fixed interest rates, flexible repayment plans). Direct subsidized loans are available to students based on financial need, and the government pays for the interest while the student is enrolled at least half-time.
- Direct unsubsidized loans are not need-based; these loans accrue interest immediately, and the student must repay the interest.
- Direct PLUS loans allow parents to borrow money; eligibility depends on a credit check, and interest accrues immediately.
- Private student loans are another form of borrowed money offered by private-sector lenders. These often require a credit check.
I’m confused by all of the financial aid terminology. What do things like net price and expected family contribution actually mean? How can I pay for college?
Financial aid helps students and families bridge the gap between the expected family contribution and the total cost of attendance. Financial aid reflects the combination of outside resources used to help finance college. This includes gift aid that you do not need to repay (e.g., grants, scholarships, employment) and loans you must repay.
Financial Aid = Grants + Scholarships + Loans + Student Employment
There are other key terms to understand when reviewing and comparing financial aid award letters. Net price refers to the total cost of attendance minus gift aid that you do not need to repay. Essentially, it reflects the cost that must then be covered through loans, student employment, and the expected family contribution; it may also reveal an unmet financial gap.
Net Price = Cost of Attendance – Gift Aid (e.g., grants, scholarships)
Importantly, the net cost and net price are different. Net cost refers to the difference between the total cost of attendance and the entire financial aid package. Therefore, net cost also reflects the amount of the expected family contribution and any unmet need. It is important to remember that the financial aid package includes loans that do actually decrease the cost of college. Instead, loans spread out the cost of college out over time and need to ultimately be repaid with interest. Therefore, the actual costs will be higher than the net cost if you have loans.
Net Cost = Cost of Attendance – Financial Aid
The expected family contribution is calculated through the FAFSA process and is based on a formula established by law. College financial aid offices use the expected family contribution to determine financial aid for each student. You can learn more about federal student aid calculations here. Oftentimes, the net cost is close to the expected family contribution and similar across colleges; however, some colleges will ask families to disclose special circumstances (e.g., job loss, death of a wage-earner) and may account for these in their aid packages. The FAFSA does not ask about special circumstances, so it can be helpful to send a letter to the college outlining special circumstances. Keep in mind that a net cost close to zero does not necessarily imply a free ride because the financial aid package could include a significant amount of loans.
Remember that the net price can vary substantially by school. This could indicate that a specific college is being more generous with gift aid that you do not need to repay (e.g., grants, scholarships). Some colleges do this to attract specific students (e.g., merit-based scholarships to attract academically-gifted students).
I haven’t complete the FAFSA yet. Is it too late?
Not necessarily; however, February 1st is the priority filing deadline. You will want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for federal student aid (e.g., federal grants, federal work study, loans). The FAFSA is available every year on October 1st, and financial aid is first come, first serve. Colleges have different deadlines for financial aid, so it’s best to contact the college’s financial aid office or to get more information on the admissions website.
Please also note that some colleges require additional documentation, in addition to the FAFSA, in order to be eligible for aid. Your financial aid will be pending until you submit all of the required forms by the college’s deadline; therefore, it is important to connect with the college if you have any questions about your status, their process, or school-specific requirements. The FAFSA involves a number of steps, including:
- Create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID at fsaid.ed.gov.
- Complete the FAFSA here.
- Complete the CSS profile, if applicable. Some colleges require this for non-federal financial aid.
- Review the student aid report generated after you submit the FAFSA (usually within a few days of completion). This includes the expected family contribution. At this stage, you can make any necessary corrections or add colleges that you want to receive the information.
- Check to see if any of the colleges you are applying to require additional documentation.
- Review school-specific financial aid letters before selecting a college.
I received financial aid letters from multiple colleges. How do I compare aid award packages?
Financial aid award letters are really important documents when making an enrollment decision. If you are accepted by a college, then you should expect to receive a financial aid award letter by mid-April. These letters will outline the details of your financial aid package for each school. The letters summarize different aid from multiple sources. Unfortunately, colleges and universities do not have standard financial aid award letter templates, so this can make cost comparisons a bit more challenging. It can be helpful to build a chart to compare information. For example:
|Information||College A||College B|
|Annual Cost of Attendance||$25,000||$40,000|
|Expected Family Contribution||$10,000||$10,000|
|Your Financial Need||$15,000||$30,000|
|Financial Aid Award||$5,000||$25,000|
In the example above, College B has a higher total cost of attendance compared to College A. Both colleges have the same expected family contribution based on the FAFSA calculation. This leaves a bigger financial need (i.e., cost of attendance minus the expected family contribution) for College B. However, College B is offering a much larger financial aid amount. Even though College B has a higher annual cost of attendance, the unmet need for this college is actually $5,000 less than College A.
Online tools (like this one from the College Board) allow you to enter information from award letters to compare aid and unmet need. Given that each college presents their financial aid award letters in different ways, it is important to keep the following questions in mind as you review each letter.
- Does the cost reflect the total cost of attendance, or does the letter omit expenses like housing or books? When comparing aid packages, you want to create an apples-to-apples comparison.
- How have the college’s costs of attendance changed in recent years? The financial aid award letter reflects one year of attendance. You may want to look to see how quickly costs are increasing.
- What is the average graduation rate and how long will it take to earn a degree?
- If you received a scholarship, will it renew? If so, are there any requirements?
- If you were offered work study, what jobs are available? How much could you earn? Are there minimum or maximum hours of work per week?
- If the letter included student loans, what are the interest rates? When would you need to start making payments?
- What would you need to do to continue receiving the same award amount in subsequent years?
Can I request more financial aid or appeal a financial aid award letter?
Yes, it’s always worth a shot! You would need to do this by reaching out to the specific college’s financial aid office. Sometimes, the FAFSA does not capture a student or family’s complete financial situation; therefore, you may want to reach out to the college to provide a clear and compelling rationale requesting additional aid. First, make sure that you have a strong reason for an appeal. For example, this could be a major hardship impacting your ability to pay (e.g., death of a parent, loss of a job). Alternatively, you may want to ask your top-choice college to respond to better financial aid packages you received from another college.
After you have a clear argument, then you will want to reach out to the college to learn about their appeals process. Then, you will want to draft a letter outlining your case. This should be concise, polite, and professional. Considering including the following details:
- Introduce yourself, express your enthusiasm for the college, and thank the school for the original financial aid package.
- Indicate that you are requesting more financial aid.
- Explain the reason(s) why an aid adjustment may be warranted.
- Provide documentation and details to substantiate your request.
- Thank the financial aid office for their consideration.
- Restate your enthusiasm for the college.
- Provide your contact information.
Is it too late to apply for scholarships?
No! Now is a great time to pursue scholarships for college. A number of scholarships do have deadlines earlier in the year; however, there are still opportunities to pursue now and in future years. There are a number of websites that compile local and federal scholarship opportunities. Contact your school counselor to see if they have a database of local scholarships. This US News and World Report website offers “10 sites to kick off your scholarship search.” For example, Scholarship.com centralizes over 3.7 million different college scholarships and grants, representing more than $19 billion in financial aid.
Avoid scams when applying for scholarships; legitimate scholarships should not require you to pay to apply. If you receive a scholarship, it may be paid directly to the college or you may receive a check. Be sure to save these funds and apply them toward your college costs.
How can I build a budget for college?
As described in the fourth and fifth answers in this section, there are a variety of costs associated with college, and there are a number of sources of funds to apply toward these costs. One major part of preparing for college is building a financial plan. You want to anticipate costs and organize resources to finance your college education. This website by the US Department of Education provides budgeting guidance and tools. The annual costs may feel overwhelming or abstract. The tools on this website encourage you to build monthly budgets to help manage your income and expenses.
I am an undocumented student. Are there specific things I need to be thinking about and doing to pursue my college goals? How can I build a budget for college?
The College Board offers six important reminders for undocumented students who plan to attend college, including that you can go to college and there aren’t any federal laws preventing colleges and universities from accepting undocumented students. Colleges often set their own rules around admissions and undocumented students, so it’s best to research admissions policies for the schools on your list.
It’s important to know that undocumented students cannot receiver federal financial aid; however, you may earn aid and scholarships in other ways. For example, institutional aid (or money that comes from the college or university) is available for undocumented students. In Connecticut, institutional aid for undocumented students is available at all state colleges and universities and community colleges. Institutional aid is based on financial need.
CT Students for a Dream is a Connecticut-based non-profit organization that helps undocumented students pursue and achieve their college and career goals. The organization’s website offers a wide range of resources for students and families who may be navigating the application process as undocumented individuals. CT Students for a Dream offers online tools and resources, including a list of scholarships organized by deadline, as well as in-person and phone support and guidance.
I plan to live on campus. What should I pack when I go to college?
You may choose to live on campus in college dormitories. It’s important to complete housing forms and agreements in order to secure a college dorm. Some colleges guarantee on-campus housing and others do not. The housing form may ask information about your preferred housing arrangements (e.g., number of roommates, substance-free housing); it will also ask information to help match you to college roommates, so do your best to answer honestly.
This website offers a sample college packing list. Keep in mind that you don’t need everything on this list! Try to envision what you will want when you are living on campus and avoid buying unnecessary items. Remember that colleges often provide a lot (e.g., kitchenette in the dorm, printers in the library, sports equipment in the gym), so you may want to reduce costs by taking advantage of what the college already provides.
I want to go to college next year, but I haven’t applied to any schools. Is it too late?
No, it’s not too late! Many colleges have January regular-decision deadlines, but a number of colleges and universities have winter/spring deadlines or offer rolling admissions. Rolling admissions is when the school has a longer application window and they respond to applications as they receive them (as opposed to having official application deadlines).
This website lists colleges with post-January application deadlines. If you missed a deadline for a college that you want to attend, you can always apply to enroll at a later time. You can also consider enrolling in a school now that offers rolling admissions, and you can apply to transfer at a later date.
I plan to enroll in a community college and then transfer to a 3-year college or university. What do I need to know?
This is definitely an option and some students take this route to minimize costs. If this is your plan, then you need to take certain steps to realize your plan. For example, you want to ensure the credits you earn at the community college will count toward your 4-year degree. You may also need to maintain a specific grade point average (GPA) in order to be eligible to transfer. Community colleges often offer transfer programs that will help you to take courses that will support your plans.
There are a variety of resources to draw upon if you are considering the transfer option. For example, your high school counselor and college admissions websites can provide guidance and information. You should also take advantage of the counseling or admissions office at the community college, and many colleges and universities have staff specifically for transfer students. Remember to plan ahead. For example, if you plan to transfer in time for junior year, then you will want to complete applications in the fall of your second year. Your bachelor’s degree will be in the name of college or university from which you graduate. Here are some helpful tips for transfer students.
Can I attend college part-time?
Yes, many colleges and universities allow for part-time students. Full-time status generally refers to students who are taking four classes per semester. Part-time students enroll in fewer classes. Tuition for part-time students is less than that for for-time students; part-time students pay by the number of classes or credits.
Part-time enrollment may be a good option for students who need to work, save money, or have other demands on their time. There are pros and cons of being a part-time student, and it’s worth considering those early on in the process. On the one hand, you have additional flexibility with your schedule, can work more hours, and can spread the cost of college over a longer period of time. On the other hand, it will take more time to earn a degree and some scholarships are only available to full-time students.
Who can I contact if I have questions about my college plans?
Keep in mind that all of the staff at your high school are still working even though schools remain closed as a result of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements. Your school counselors are still available to support you as you make a college selection, navigate financial aid questions, begin your college search, or consider different enrollment options. Contact your school counselor by email. Share your name and specific questions or concerns, or request time for a conversation. Many counselors have also created Google Classrooms to provide students with information. You may also want to follow your school’s counseling office on social media for updates and resources.
Questions about Military & Workforce Pathways
I plan to enlist in the military. Am I qualified, and what are my next steps?
Thank you for your desire to serve our country. There are six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force. Each branch of the military has unique eligibility requirements. You must meet the following overarching requirements:
- U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident with a valid green card.
- 17 years of age with parent consent, or 18 years of age or older (though each branch has an enlistment age limit).
- High school diploma or GED (options may be limited by branch).
- Completion of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. .
- Physical exam and weight limit (each branch has different fitness requirements.
Learn more about the U.S. Armed forces here. Individuals who enlist in the military commit to four years of active duty and four years are inactive service. There are three steps to enlist in the military:
- Step 1: Meet with a recruiter (after completing the form online) for each branch that interests you, and get answers to any questions you may have.
- Step 2: Spend a day at the military entrance processing station (MEPS) if you decide to enlist. While at the MEPS, you will take the ASVAB, complete your physical exam, and meet with a career counselor. If accepted, you take an oath of enlistment.
- Step 3: Report for basic training.
Is it true that I have to take a test to enlist in the military?
Yes, as referenced in the first question, the enlistment process requires all individuals to take the ASVAB test. You will receive scores in four areas, including arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehensive, and mathematics knowledge. These scores count toward your Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) score. It’s important to take the ASVAB seriously. Your AFQT score determines whether you are qualified to enlist and how qualified you are for specific occupational specialties and enlistment bonuses. Higher scores increase your chances of getting the specialty and job you want. Take time to prepare for the ASVAB. You can learn more about the ASVAB and take a practice test online.
What jobs might be a good fit for me?
It can feel overwhelming to commit to a specific job, trade, or profession. When considering career pathways you want to reflect upon things you want and things you want to avoid. Consider your passions, interests, skills, and preferred work environment. Equally important, consider your growth areas, things you don’t enjoy doing, and work environments that would not work for you. Roadtrip Nation offers great resources to support career exploration. The Connecticut Department of Labor offers a helpful guide to learn about careers in our state, and you may also want to explore which jobs are growing in Connecticut by looking at recent data.
This website by the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers additional tools as you explore different career pathways. For example, it includes information about employment opportunities, trade and technical training programs, and earning potential. You may also want to explore different online career inventory assessments. You will answer a few questions about your skills, likes, dislikes, etc., and these tools will offer different careers you may want to explore. Check out some different career inventories here.
Remember that you can always change your mind. The average person changes jobs between 10 to 15 times in their lifetime. That said, it’s always helpful to find a profession that you enjoy, and to then grow in that profession. This can increase your earning potential and opportunities for growth and promotion over time. You want to avoid changing jobs frequently and unnecessarily, which might disrupt career growth.
I’m interested in an apprenticeship or trade certificate. How can I learn more?
This is a great idea. The vast majority of jobs in our state require some form of education beyond a high school diploma. That could include an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or some form of trade or technical certification. The Connecticut Department of Labor’s website allows you to search by interest area (e.g., plumbing, physician’s assistant, esthetics). The site will provide more information about training and certificate programs in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Department of Labor also offers more information about apprenticeship opportunities. As an apprentice you would earn money while receiving on-the-job training. There are a wide variety of trades for which you can pursue an apprenticeship, including careers in automotive trades, construction, culinary arts, etc.
I plan to start working after graduation. What can I be doing to find a job?
Now is a great time to begin planning for your future. There are a number of steps you can take to get started finding your first job after high school. Consider getting started on any of the following next steps:
- Explore different career pathways.
- Learn more about different apprenticeship opportunities and certificate-bearing programs.
- Develop a resume.
- Develop a template cover letter (you will want to customize this for each job to which you apply).
- Practice interviews by having someone ask you practice questions.
- Search open jobs on platforms like Indeed, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, SimplyHired, etc.
Some jobs require a cover letter and resume. How can I develop these?
You always want to put your best foot forward when applying for a job. Oftentimes, you submit an application before employers ever meet you or invite you for an interview; therefore, you want your resume and cover letter to stand out and earn you an interview. Most employers will require you to submit a resume, and some will require a cover letter. Fortunately, you can master both of these steps! When developing a resume, consider the following pointers:
- Use a clean and professional format or template.
- Include your name, address, and contact information (phone and email).
- Provide a summary of your top accomplishments and skills.
- List your past work experiences, including the employer, role, dates, primary responsibilities, and accomplishments.
- List your education, including any degrees, dates, certificates, and training.
- Include volunteer experiences and activities, including dates, responsibilities, and contributions.
- Be truthful about your experiences (don’t exaggerate or minimize your experiences and accomplishments).
- Avoid any spelling or grammar errors.
- Use the proper letter format with a clean and professional layout.
- Address the letter to the proper recipient.
- Introduce yourself.
- State the position for which you are applying.
- Show your genuine interest in and passion for the role for which you are applying.
- Demonstrate that your experiences and skills match those required for the role.
- Restate your interest and encourage the employer to contact you with any questions.
- Avoid any spelling or grammar errors.
I’m still undecided about my plans after high school. What should I do?
Don’t panic! You still have time to develop a great plan for after high school, and remember that you can always adjust your plan along the way. Remember that school counselors are working and available to connect with you. Many counselors have also created Google Classrooms and are using social media to provide students with updates and information. If you are still exploring all options, you may want to learn more about college opportunities on the College Board’s BigFuture website or College Scorecard. You can explore career pathways at Roadtrip Nation. There are a lot of great resources online as you explore different options, and remember to connect with your school counselor as you have questions.