Navigating Post High School Choices

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Hey, high school juniors! Now is the time when you would traditionally get your thoughts about college applications going. It would be the time to talk to guidance counselors, research colleges, look at APSAT and/or ACT test dates, and make plans for a summer that will look impressive to an admissions officer.

But with more and more families struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of in-person classes in the fall still not 100% sure, the timeline of usual college preparation isn’t so cut and dried. It was never a secret that college is an expensive proposition these days, but with stories of student debt and its consequences on peoples’ minds, and the job market depressed, you may be rethinking the pros and cons of enrolling.

So, a stressful time in life has become extra stressful. When this happens to me, I like to take a deep breath—possibly with the help of materials available on OverDrive—and break down my options into categories, so I can further break them down into bite-size subjects to investigate as I feel able. In this way, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. And that’s what I’m going to do in this blog post, to highlight some resources that may help you.

I do want to apply to colleges.  

You probably already have put thought into your top 10 choices, but you can always check out the college directories in our catalog, read up on choosing a major, put a hold on this forthcoming book about financial planning for the college-bound as well as some other books about financial aid for college and books about college choices, including this new book about admissions during COVID.

Using the Testing & Education Reference Center offered by the Library will not only give you a directory of different types of schools to explore, but it will also give you a way to do practice tests online if you are taking the SAT, TOEFL and more. The Tuition Funding Source is a database you can use to search for scholarships and grants by different criteria. The tutors at Tutor.com can also help with AP-level questions.

If you don’t have a calendar or planner, whether it is online or on paper, now is the time to start using one. There are many timelines to admission available online.

As you start your planning, know that test scores are more often being made optional by many schools. Look at guides for college planning during COVID-19. Check out what you’ll need to know for the FAFSA and explore BigFuture for advice and resources. Read advice on how to write a college admissions essay.

Most importantly, talk honestly to your parent or guardian about the process, what you all need to have ready, and what your goals, boundaries and limits are. College will shape the rest of your life in many ways, so now is the time to take ownership of the decision.

Even though we can never know what’s in store, and it’s perfectly normal and fine to not even know what you want to study in college, do a little imagining about life after those years and go backward from there. “There Is Life After College” is one book to look at about this.

I want to explore other options besides college. 

Browse through our vocational guidance books, our page on Job, Business and Nonprofit Resources at the Library or take a career quiz using one of the Job & Career Databases on the Library website. Scroll through the Virtual Community Bulletin Board on the CLP Facebook page to see what other organizations are doing and offering to the community. You may find somewhere to get involved that matches your personal interests.

Check out the programs that Job Corps offers, the coding program at Academy Pittsburgh, the Bidwell Training Centerother vocational training programs or what’s open on the NonProfit Talent job board. Take a look at the video courses offered on Lynda.com–free with a library card–or Udemy.

I’m just totally lost and don’t know where to begin. / I can’t think past the end of this school year. 

Very understandable. Focus on yourself and doing what you can from day to day. Read this article about burnout and self-care, and make sure you’re giving yourself some time to sleep more, do nothing or do something that you enjoy just for the pleasure of it–without feeling like you should be “productive.” All these things ensure that you can approach your schoolwork in a better place.

Once you’re ready, look at this Staff Picks of back to school organizational tips and tricks, this roundup of online resources for teachers and students, and this old but good list of helpful back to school links. Even if you’re partway through the school year, doing a reset can be a good thing.

Don’t forget to explore your creative side with Creativebug, our Teen Time at Home videos and with our Teen Grab n’ Go kits as well!

Whatever you decide, remember that the Library offers ways to have fun, learn and think about new pathways.

You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started. If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through FacebookInstagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412-622-3114 or email us at info@carnegielibrary.org.

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