Think about the people you know and the jobs they do. Do their jobs sound interesting to you?
Ask adults what their jobs are like, what skills and training are needed, what they like and dislike about their careers.
Visit your school or public library—or search the Web—to learn more about careers that interest you.
Develop good study habits: Take clear notes, read all your assignments, work on assignments long before they are due, and study for all tests.
Come to class prepared.
Participate actively in classroom groups or activities, even when you don’t feel like it.
Read at least one book per month in addition to assigned readings.
Grade 7 Checklist
Keep a journal of your daily experiences. Use an old notebook, buy a journal from the book store, or use a computer (and save your work). What’s important is that you start writing.
Read newspapers and magazines or use the Web to learn about careers.
Start thinking about your high school choices—ones which will prepare you for the career you are interested in.
Volunteer in your community.
Grade 8 Checklist
Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if you do not already have one.
Talk to your older brothers or sisters or your friends’ older brothers or sisters who are attending college, vocational or technical school, or another type of college; consider how you would feel about attending that type of school. If you do not know anyone who is in a school beyond high school, ask a teacher or counselor to help you contact students to talk to about college.
Make every school year count; prepare academically for college.
Think more about career possibilities and explore different occupations.
Find out what courses you should take in high school that will help you to attend certain colleges or enter certain career fields.
Study, work hard and do your best to earn good grades. Your performance in high school can play an important part in gaining your admission to college.
Save money now to help pay for school if you haven’t already started.
Grade 9 Checklist
Check in your school’s counseling office for materials on aptitude tests or skills assessment.
Meet and talk with your school counselor about yourself and your future.
Establish a savings plan. Learn about financial aid.
Find out about summer jobs and try to gain the skills you will need to get one. Look into volunteer activities that will expand your experience and skills.
Grade 10 Checklist
The student can begin to attend college fairs or begin researching higher education and financial aid on the Internet or in the school guidance office. The student can use these experiences to start developing an academic and financial aid portfolio.
When the student turns 16, develop an Independent Living/Transition plan that incorporates the student’s academic plan and postsecondary goals, including financial aid. The youth should be advised about postsecondary supports Independent Living and about the Education and Training Vouchers.
Grade 11 Checklist
The student should attend college fairs and visit colleges for career and technical programs of interest. Students need to make an appointment with a financial aid officer and ask specifically about aid for youth in foster care.
Review the Student Independent Living/Transition plan and the support available.
In summer, the student should request application materials and financial aid forms from the schools or programs of interest. Discuss how to apply for Independent Living/Training Vouchers and practice filling out the forms.
Students with disabilities should request help in applying for any needed support, including financial aid, and from adult human services agencies, such as Vocational Rehabilitation.
Grade 12 Checklist
The student should get applications and research financial aid information early, and discuss financial aid options with mentors.
The student should request letters of recommendation and should work with mentors to complete the program and financial aid applications. The student needs to submit the applications online and on time.
No later than February, the student should complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The student can request assistance from the caseworker in applying for the Independent Living/Training Vouchers, other state aid and private scholarships.
Review the Student Aid Report (SAR) which is the report that results from completing the FAFSA, for accuracy. If any corrections are necessary, make those corrections online and resubmit them as quickly as possible.