Planning for Career and College
For any independent or out-of-state schools' requirements, please explore the admissions sections of those schools' websites.
Be sure to check out our Grade Level Checklists for College, for year-by-year suggestions of things to keep in mind.
The Department of Education's Federal Student Aid site also has a great overview section on Preparing for College and exploring career options.
The Better Make Room campaign is all about planning and paying for college, including timely text updates for things like applying to schools and getting financial aid.
The Fair Opportunity Project has also compiled a College Admissions and Financial Aid Guide.
CHS Programming [update with parent programming info]
- Senior Meetings: We try to host meetings with our seniors early in the fall to discuss planning, applying, and paying for college.
- Junior meetings: We try to host meetings with our juniors in the winter, around the return of PSAT results.
- Sophomore meetings: We try to host meetings with our sophomores in the winter, around the return of Pre-ACT results.
- Freshmen meetings: We try to host meetings with our freshmen early in the fall, as part of the initial 9th grade transition.
- Other Meetings: Pay close attention to weekly phone and email messages and the Daily Announcements for information about any other parent nights or similar opportunities throughout the year.
Undocumented students should see their school counselor to further discuss college and career options.
Exploring Career Interests
Your career is integral to your life satisfaction, your success, and your identity. What lifestyle do you want to live, and what do you want to spend your time doing to be able to live that life? What do you enjoy doing and what is fulfilling for you to do, which at the same time is valuable to or provides something for others? What are your interests, and what are your strengths? Interests, abilities, values, the work environment itself, and things like job growth, earnings, and benefits are all important things to consider.
- Talking to friends, family, and adults about careers is a great way to find out more about yourselves and the different journeys people take. You could also look into getting some direct experience through job shadowing, volunteering, internships, or part-time work while in high school. Sometimes, these kinds of opportunities will be advertised, but they often can be set up at a student's request. See your school counselor to further discuss how to go about initiating such a career exploration experience.
- Naviance is our go-to resource for career and college exploration, whether browsing or taking an assessment that gives suggestions of careers to explore.
- CFNC's Plan for a Career section has a few great tools under "Learn About Yourself" that can offer suggestions based on interests, skills, and work values - we like the Interest Profiler, Career Cluster Survey, and Work Values Sorter the most. It also has a great database where you can explore specific careers, learning more about what you do in that profession, earnings potential, required education, employment outlook, and more. It lists some of the fastest growing careers in North Carolina as well. It has tools to help with resumes, cover letters, interviews, and thank you notes. Lastly, CFNC has published this flyer on exploring careers.
- Collegeboard's BigFuture also has a career exploration section.
- The US Department of Labor also has a couple great Career Exploration sites, My Next Move and Career One Stop.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which you can use to explore and research occupations, sortable by median pay, growth rate, education level, and more. This data will be at the national level (not NC-specific).
- Learn How To Become is another great career exploration resource.
- Visit www.driveofyourlife.org to explore your career options via an interactive game.
- nccareers.org/realitycheck/#/start incorporates both personal finance and career planning, helping students investigate and plan how to spend money and linking them to careers that could support their desired lifestyle.
- nccareers.org/starjobs/star_jobs.html is a database of occupations that provides wage, growth, and other information. www.nccommerce.com/lead/data-tools/occupations/occupational-profiles provides two-page .pdf summaries of these occupations, relating them to interests, skills, duties, education/training required, and more.
- accessnc.commerce.state.nc.us/careers/CareerClusters/NC_Career_Clusters_Guide.pdf gives an interest inventory and links to suggested occupations.
Different Options after High School
Different careers will require different training and education. Before we move on to talking about college planning, we will briefly cover the general options after graduating from high school, each of which has its own merit.
- Entry to the workforce - getting a job with your high school diploma. This option requires as much preparation as any, and students should not wait until the spring of senior year to begin the process of preparing for and securing employment. See your school counselor for assistance planning and working towards this goal. We can link you to appropriate employment resources. NC Works is a great website to assist you in your job search.
- Apprenticeships - apprenticeships offer hands-on, on-the-job training and opportunities for industry certification and licensure while being paid during training. Sometimes, apprenticeships will also include formal education in a classroom setting, sometimes even working towards college credits or degrees. Find out more about apprenticeship opportunities at www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/index.htm or NCTAP.org.
- Trade Schools (Vocational, Technical) - students interested in training for jobs with very specific, technical skill sets may want to attend a trade school for one to two years. See your school counselor if you are interested in discussing if this option is right for you.
- 2-year schools (Community Colleges, Junior Colleges) - students attend 2-yr. schools for a variety of reasons. Some work towards a certification, much like attending a trade school. Some work towards a 2-yr., Associate's degree and enter the workforce from there. Some plan to eventually transfer to a 4-yr. school (University Transfer programs), but begin at a 2-yr. school because of cost, because they are not admitted directly to their top choices and want to try and transfer, and/or for other reasons. While most 2-yr. schools are commuter campuses, some junior colleges are residential and offer a campus community.
- 4-year schools (Colleges, Universities) - students attend 4-yr. schools to pursue a 4-yr., Bachelor's degree. From there, students can then enter the workforce or continue their education through professional or graduate schools in order to earn a Master's or Doctoral degree.
- Gap Year - Students choose to do a Gap Year for many different reasons. Some want a break, so that they can return to the classroom with renewed vigor. Some pursue activities to explore or refine an interest, passion, or skill, before moving on to the next level. It can be an amazing opportunity for personal growth, learning about different cultures, and/or experimenting with potential careers. Still others may want or need to work for a year and save money before starting college. Many colleges and other organizations even sponsor official Gap Year programs. See your school counselor to discuss whether or not a Gap Year could be right for you. You can read up at usagapyearfairs.org; www.gap-year.com; and americangap.org/gap-year.php; and many college and universities sponsor gap year opportunities themselves, like UNC's Global Gap Year Fellowship. There is typically a Gap Year Fair that visits the area annually early in the spring.
- University Transfer Programs - many students begin their postsecondary education at a 2-yr. institution with the plan, from the start, to transfer to a 4-yr. school. This could be to save money, to stay closer to home for the first two years of college, to have a better chance at being admitted, or something else. Durham Tech's university transfer program is detailed here. In these programs, students complete two years of coursework at a 2-yr school, then apply as transfer students to a 4-yr. school. If admitted, they enter the 4-yr. school with junior class standing. In addition, certain 2-yr. schools often have more detailed bilateral agreements with specific 4-yr. institutions, which facilitate the transfer process between those particular schools. C-STEP is an agreement between Durham Tech and UNC Chapel Hill, and C3 is a similar agreement with NC State.
- Military - military service can be an incredible opportunity and experience, whether through non-commissioned enlistment or enlistment as an officer, whether full time active duty or part-time reserve or National Guard service, whether Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or Navy. Benefits are hard to match, from the leadership, teamwork, and discipline gained, to the respect for and desire to help and hire veterans, to the more tangible: career exploration and specialized training while in service, money for college, healthcare, and retirement. The pay, vacation, and travel afforded to service members isn't bad, either. You can do military and then college, college and then military, or both concurrently, depending on the option you choose. Finally, the service academies (Army/Military at West Point, Naval at Annapolis, Air Force at Colorado Springs, Coast Guard at New London, and Merchant Marine at Kings Point) are among the most competitive and reputable 4-yr schools in the country. Check out myFuture/Military and Military.com for more information about military life and benefits, or ask your counselor or the Career Development Coordinator about speaking with a recruiter.
Exploring Potential College Programs of Study [update with Naviance info]
If you do not have any specific careers in mind at this time that would help with using the tools above for exploring careers, then you could go a different way with your planning and first base your post-secondary plans on what you are interested in studying in college, then look at careers based off of that. Again, talking to your friends, family, and other adults is a good place to start. CFNC's Plan for College section is a great place to explore programs and majors. It will give a brief description of the program and link it to related careers, and it can link you to schools in North Carolina that offer those programs.
- NOTE: the feature of finding schools in NC that offer the program has flaws. For one, you must select on your own whether you would be interested in an Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral degree. Second, the search results of schools offering a program are not always comprehensive - if a school words a program even slightly differently, then it may not show up with the other search results. In the end, you may want to browse the programs of study at schools you are interested in to be sure of what the school offers.
CollegeBoard's BigFuture has a similar program of study exploration feature, with information on programs of study and what schools offer them on a national level. Also, try their CollegeGo app.
Exploring Colleges Online [update with Naviance info]
So many things go into your college decision: programs of study, size, weather, location, academic rankings and reputation, sports, cost, diversity, and much, much more. But, perhaps most importantly, your decision will affect where you will spend your first independent years, many of the best and most formative years of your life. We want to help you decide on a campus and community where you will continue to grow, succeed, contribute, and be happy. Your college needs to be a good fit for you.
- CFNC's Plan for College section is also a great location to explore North Carolina colleges themselves. Under the Explore Postsecondary Schools option, you can browse and compare schools directly, if you already have a few mind, or you can take advantage of some exploration tools such as the School Finder or College Matching Assistant. CFNC also published this brochure on choosing a college.
- The College Scorecard website provides FANTASTIC information about cost; financial aid and debt; graduation and retention; earnings after graduation; student body composition; and more.
- The Departmnet of Education's College Navigator is another useful search tool to compare colleges.
- Other useful websites, which will also be able to provide information on out-of-state schools, include CollegeBoard's BigFuture college exploration section, CollegeWeekLive, and Cappex. We encourage you to try all of these sites and see which one you prefer.
- Individual schools' websites are also a critical resource for college exploration. A school's own website will give you the most accurate information available. Schools' websites can also give you a great idea of the personality, or the "feel," of schools - they will be selling their strengths and their idiosyncrasies.
- Check out this checklist of questions to consider while deciding upon colleges.
How you measure up: You can usually find information about the average GPA and test scores (along with demographic and other information) of a school's current freshman class somewhere on the school's admissions website, the school's CFNC profile, its CollegeBoard profile, or another source. It is usually called something like a Freshman Class Profile. This information is a great measuring stick with which you can gauge whether a school is closer to being a reach (you aren't all that confident that you will be admitted), a safety school (you are fairly confident you will be admitted), or something in between. Of course, you should absolutely review any school's Minimum College Admissions Requirements when considering whether to apply.
Is money no object? When considering schools, up-front, sticker-price cost can be discouraging. Please remember that there is a lot of financial aid that can be provided from many different sources. Cost certainly should be a major consideration before your final decision, but do not let cost alone deter you from considering and applying to a school. You may get offered a financial aid package that makes a school with a more expensive sticker price more affordable in the end than one with a less expensive sticker price.
myintuition.org is a great way to quickly estimate and compare actual projected cost of attendance, including estimated financial aid, vs. a college's up-front, sticker price.
collegecost.ed.gov provides some great reports and tools to explore college's net costs and to compare price in relation to graduation rates, loan default rates, median borrowing amounts, and employment statistics.
Exceptional Students - Most colleges will have some sort of Disability Services staff to help provide you with accommodations and services needed; however, you will need to advocate for yourself and seek the services out. Some schools even have specialized programs to help students who have had IEPs or 504s in high school transition to college, such as ECU's Project STEPP.
Undocumented Students - Undocumented students can still attend most colleges; however, they usually must pay out-of-state tuition for public colleges and community colleges. These students should see their school counselor to discuss how colleges can still consider the student’s financial need via the FAFSA and private aid. Plus, there are many scholarships you can apply for regardless of citizenship status. See our Scholarships page, and be sure to read any scholarship opportunity’s eligibility requirements carefully.
Exploring Colleges or Meeting Representatives In Person
While websites are great, they cannot replace more direct forms of exploration. Talking with family, friends, and high school staff is a great way to find out more about a school. Speaking to a representative from the school is also a good idea, and many schools send representatives to visit CHS throughout the year - see our College Visits.
There will also be college fairs in the area that are great chances to hear from and meet with representatives from a lot of schools at once.
Every student is strongly encouraged to explore in person the schools to which they are considering applying. Many schools will host various open houses for prospective freshmen throughout the fall and spring, and most have options to schedule a campus visit or campus tour individually. Please search for this information on the admissions pages of the schools’ websites.
What Do Colleges Look At?
Or, what do colleges care about? Or, what will colleges ask for in an application? This is the stuff on which your admissions decision will be based:
2-yr schools in North Carolina only need to see a high school diploma, and they can either use existing SAT/ACT test scores, or a community college placement test to determine course placement.
4-yr schools can ask for a variety of different things:
- Academic records - schools will want to see your transcript, with your grades, overall GPA and class rank, and course selection (rigor is important). All schools will want to see this.
- Test scores - most schools do use SAT/ACT scores as a component of their admissions decisions.
- Extracurricular activities - whatever you spend your time doing outside of class in high school, be it athletics, school organizations, part-time work, volunteering or community service, etc. These types of things can show schools time management skills, contributions to the community, pursuit of passions, work ethic, and more. How are you productive in your free time? A component of most schools' admissions decisions.
- Letters of recommendation - most schools will want to see one or more letters of recommendation from non-family adults. Many require that at least one come from a specific school staff member (e.g., academic teacher, school counselor). Sometimes there is a specific template for the recommender, while other times it is a generic request. These letters are vital for colleges to be able to consider you as an individual they want on their campus instead of just an application. You should ask adults who know you and what you've accomplished very well, and please remember to provide them with enough time (AT LEAST two weeks, and a month or more is best) to fulfill your request. If you are unsure whom you should ask, see your school counselor.
- Essays - many schools ask you to submit essays as part of your application. Sometimes you are given a specific prompt, other times you are given a choice between a handful of prompts, and still other times you are given more license and told to write a "Personal Statement," or something similar. Taking these essays very seriously and submitting quality work could be the difference in your admissions decision. Please take the time to plan, write, and edit good essays. Just as letters of recommendation are a chance for adults who know you well to "sell" you on a more personal level, the essay is your own chance to stand out as a person who the colleges want to attend instead of just another application.
Unusual obstacles or circumstances - if there are any unusual circumstances or notable obstacles that you have experienced or overcome in your life which may have had an adverse effect on other components of your application, then you will have the opportunity to explain what happened. Examples could include moving from school-to-school, childcare or other family obligations, necessity of part-time work, medical complications, and more affecting grades, course selection, participation in extracurricular activities, etc.
College Admissions Tests
The ACT and SAT are the two widely used standardized tests used as a component of 4-yr college admissions decisions in the United States. Some schools may also require SAT Subject Tests - this should be verified with individual schools, but if any schools you're considering require SAT Subject Tests, then it could be beneficial to take the tests soon after you've completed the recommended classes.
Generally, schools accept results from either test and do not indicate a preference for one test over the other. There are agreed-upon concordance tables which schools use to compare SAT and ACT results, and schools typically use students' highest score from either test in their decision.
There are some differences between the two tests. The ACT has a Science Reasoning section. The Math sections touch on slightly different materials beyond Math 3. The SAT technically has more time per question.
Sending scores to 4-yr schools
4-yr schools require an official copy of your test scores, which must be sent to the school directly from the ACT or the College Board. You must list schools as score recipients when you register for the test, or you'll have to pay an additional fee to send additional score reports later.
- Should I take the ACT/SAT with the essay? If and how 4-yr schools utilize the essay score is school-specific. We recommend taking the essay section, in case you need it, but you can verify with individual schools whether or not and how they would use it.
- What is superscoring? Some schools will combine your highest section scores from different test administrations. This is also school-specific, and you should verify with individual schools.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a timed aptitude test required for military enrollment which helps to determine what types of military service you qualify for. It also has a Career Exploration component that could be helpful for any student, regardless of interest in military service.
The ASVAB is administered at CHS and other CHCCS high schools at different points throughout the year. Pay attention to the announcements or speak with the Career Development Coordinator, Ms. Coley, or your counselor, if you are interested in finding out more.
Three tests will be administered by CHS to all students (free of charge, during the school day, families do not need to sign up independently):
- 10th Grade - Pre-ACT in mid-October
- 11th Grade - Pre-SAT in mid-October
- 11th Grade - ACT in late-February/early-March
Other than these three, students and families will need to register to test on their own: ACT Information, Test Dates and Deadlines, and Registration; SAT Test Dates and Deadlines; SAT Information and Registration. If a student qualifies for free or reduced lunch, or certain other criteria, then they may qualify for a fee waiver for the ACT or SAT. Please discuss this with your counselor, if you think you might qualify.
If your student has any testing accommodations via a 504 Plan or IEP, please work with the case manager to ensure those accommodations are applied for on these tests. It is not guaranteed that the ACT or College Board (SAT) will permit the same accommodations on these tests.
Suggested Testing Timeline*
*This is a very individualized conversation for each student, and these are loose, minimum suggestions.
We know that your student will take the three tests from the timeline above (Pre-ACT, PSAT, and ACT).
Generally, and at a minimum, we encourage college-bound students to also prepare for and take the full SAT by the end of their junior year. Because the SAT and ACT will have Math 3 content, we do recommend registering for the SAT after they've finished Math 3 (any time after the PSAT fall of 11th grade, for students who took Math 3 in 10th grade or earlier; or towards the end of the spring semester, for students taking Math 3 during 11th grade).
At this point, students will have, at a minimum, experience with the practice and full versions of each test (Pre-ACT, ACT, PSAT, and SAT). We encourage most students to prepare for and take at least one of the tests for at least a second time. Depending on your college admissions deadlines, you may take this test earlier in the fall of 12th grade, if considering any early notification application options, or into the winter, if applying to schools with later deadlines.
Some students may consider taking one or both tests for a 3rd time or more, although scores do tend to plateau after the first re-take.
So, at this point we have added these minimum, loose suggestions to the timeline above:
- 10th Grade - Pre-ACT in mid-October (given to all students)
- 11th Grade - Pre-SAT in mid-October (given to all students)
- 11th Grade - ACT in late-February/early-March (given to all students)
- 11th Grade - SAT by the end of the year (register independently, after the PSAT and completing or close to completing Math 3)
- 12th Grade - ACT and/or SAT for second time fall semester (register independently, base test date off of college application deadlines)
Again, some schools may also require SAT Subject Tests - this should be verified with individual schools, but if any schools you're considering require SAT Subject Tests, then it could be beneficial to take the tests soon after you've completed the recommended classes.
The best way to prepare for the ACT and SAT is to do as well as you can in your classes at CHS. Something as simple as getting extra help for Math 2 and keeping your notes could pay big dividends when you're studying for and taking these tests. The timeline of test prep really can begin as early as you want. You may not have seen some of the Math content yet if you start early, but if you have free time to dedicate to it, then we certainly encourage that.
We encourage you to exhaust all free test preparation options available. Most ACT and SAT prep will help you on either test. Both the College Board (SAT) and ACT have free resources directly linked from their sites (they will also have plenty you can pay for). Khan Academy is the official partnership with the SAT, and CFNC has some ACT test prep stuff. Magoosh offers free flashcards, The Grading Game can beef up your English/Reading/Writing skills, and Math Brain Booster is a good app. The Critical Reader is another good English/Reading/Writing resource, Erik the Red is good for Math, and Number2 and PrepFactory are also positively reviewed. Google things like "free SAT prep" or "free ACT practice test" yourself to explore more options.
NCVPS also offers ACT and SAT Prep courses, which would be free options and award standard/College prep level elective course credit.
Beyond online, our Media Center and Student Services also house many hard copies of review books, or you could purchase one to own yourself for relatively cheap.
Of course, there are plenty of test prep resources you can pay for as well. From big names like The Princeton Review and Kaplan, to newer, smaller, or local options, there's a lot out there. We do not endorse any paid service over another, and CHHS has a listing of some local options on their website, if you would like to peruse it.
Applying to College
Senior Meetings: We host meetings with our seniors early in the fall to discuss planning, applying, and paying for college.
College Application Week: CFNC sponsors NC Countdown to College every year in October, which includes College Application Week, when there will be programming at CHS to help students complete and submit applications for NC Residency, the FAFSA, and college applications. Many NC colleges waive application fees during this week. This is a great chance to get started on or continue with your college applications.
Curious, or searching for tips, about how to submit the best application possible? Check out UNC-CH's advice from a team of admissions counselors, which answers common questions about anything from your essay, to letters of recommendation, to extracurriculars, to what makes your application stand out, and more!
There are a variety of ways students across the country can apply to 2- and 4-yr schools.
Common App and Coalition App are options at many 4-yr schools nationwide. CFNC is an option for any 2- or 4-yr school in NC. Many 2- and 4-yr schools have their own application linked through their website. Some can be applied to using multiple of these options.
Naviance is a separate system through which transcripts and letters of recommendation must be submitted, in addition to completing other parts of applications through the mediums listed above. It also provides a lot of career and college planning information and tools.
Regardless of how you apply, to request a transcript and a counselor report/letter, you must complete a hard-copy Transcript Request Form available in Student Services. You also must do this to ensure schools are added to your Naviance account by Ms. Brooks so that you can request teacher recommendations. Transcripts for college applications are usually $5, while transcripts for scholarship applications are usually free of charge. If the $5 charge is a burden to your family, please discuss with your counselor.
- Make sure to notify teachers before you request recommendations through Naviance. Give teachers (and counselors) as much notice as possible - at least several weeks' notice is preferred.
- If you want a teacher’s letter of recommendation to be sent to a specific school, you will be able to select the specific school(s). Remember, you must first submit a Transcript Request Form in order for Ms. Brooks to add schools to your Naviance account.
- If you have a recommender that is outside of CHS, please submit that request directly through Common App. For non-Common-App schools with a recommender outside of CHS, you or your recommender will need to provide the recommendation directly.
- Once the Green Transcript Request Form is completed and turned in, it will be given to the counselor to complete the counselor recommendation portion. Once complete, the counselor will submit all documents to college(s) through Naviance.
Read the Fine Print
However you apply to college, be sure to read all applications very thoroughly. Pay attention to binding Early Decision vs. non-binding Early Action, when considering Early Notification options. Wondering about early notification options? Speak with your counselor.
Along with the rest of the application, be sure to submit any supplemental materials - be they essays or personal statements, recommendations, school report forms, counselor statements, or something else. ALWAYS double-check, on the school's website, the checklist or requirements listed in their application procedures or application materials.
College Application Fee Waivers
***If you have used a fee waiver when registering for the SAT or ACT, then you could be eligible for college application fee waivers. More information on testing fee waivers is available in our College and Career Readiness Tests section, and you can see your school counselor to inquire about a college application fee waiver.***
College Redirection Service
If it gets to be late in the college application season (later in the spring) and you still have not received good news from the college you were hoping for, CFNC offers a College Redirection Service - a service matching denied or late applicants and others with colleges still admitting students.
Paying for College
Senior Meetings [update with parent meeting info]: We host senior meetings early in the fall, where we discuss planning, applying, and paying for college. If you are a senior and have not met with your counselor yet, contact him or her!
We highly recommend studying, and on this site draw heavily from, the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid site and CFNC.org's Pay section. Also, the Triangle Community Foundation has published a couple webinars on Financial Aid Basics and Applying for Scholarships.
Before we get to financial aid, there is also overall financial literacy, or understanding how to manage your money. This is not only a vital part of paying for college, but also a real-world competency essential to sound and successful living. CFNC has a wonderful section on financial literacy found here, including this flyer. You can also explore any of these helpful sites: MappingYourFuture.org, MyMoney.gov, and PracticalMoneySkills.com.
Don't Get Scammed: Financial aid and scholarship information is free. Don't ever pay for information or to complete financial aid forms.
***SENIORS: SEE www.cfnc.org/fafsaday for more information on FAFSA Day. This critically important financial aid form will now be available to complete on October 1st, and students and parents can create their required FSA IDs beforehand at fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm.***
Undocumented students should see their school counselor to further discuss financial aid options.
Personal and Family Earnings and Savings
Your family's earnings and savings can be one component of how you pay for college. You may want to read up on Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and NC 529 Plans - two great investment opportunities to help families save for college.
There are also tax benefits to help save for college education. Tax benefits include the aforementioned state 529 Plans, which are tax-sheltered and can qualify some individuals for tax deductions.
Grants and Scholarships
Undocumented students should see their school counselor to further discuss financial aid options.
Grants and scholarships are money that you don't have to pay back. Grants - along with loans, scholarships, and work-study opportunities - are awarded largely based on what is filed through your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Other than completing your FAFSA, scholarships should be researched a few different ways. See our Scholarships page for more information about how to search for scholarships.
Education loans must be repaid, so be sure to thoroughly understand your options and responsibilities for borrowing money to pay for college. Do your research, and only borrow what you need. Education Loan eligibility is largely determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Alternative or private loans should be a last resort for borrowing. CFNC's and the Department of Education's websites provide the best information on educational loans.
North Carolina sponsors Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS), which offer forgivable loans to students in eligible degree programs who pursue approved positions/careers. This is a wonderful option for eligible and interested students.
Part-time Work while in School
On-campus work and off-campus work are also good ways to help pay for college; however, students must be careful and maintain a manageable balance of part-time work and academics. In addition, some schools may be able to offer you a Federal Work-Study job as part of your financial aid award. These official work-study opportunities are administered through participating schools' financial aid offices and are based on financial need determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Financial Aid via Military Service - You may be able to get money for college based on your or your family members' military service.
Additional Financial Aid Resources:
Scholarship Search Best Practices
Undocumented students should see their school counselor to further discuss financial aid options.
#1: Utilize Naviance and our CHS Scholarship Listing.
These two sources present the same information on scholarships we consider most relevant for CHS students, organized chronologically by deadline.
#2: Look carefully at scholarship information on the websites of schools to which you are applying.
Usually, in the Admissions (Prospective/Future Student) sections of the schools' websites, there will be a section specific to Financial Aid or Scholarships. Make sure you fill out any separate applications for scholarships for which you're eligible (although, many schools do not have a separate application and base everything off of your college admission application). We do not advertise many school-specific scholarships in our publications.
#3: Utilize scholarship search engines.
There are tons of legitimate sites out there, and we don't endorse one in particular over the others. We recommend that you try as many as you have time to try, and, because many sites will have duplicated, similar results, stick with the one or two or more sites whose organization, layout, and results suit you best. And, remember, you should not be required to pay for financial aid information.
You can Google search for scholarship sites on your own, but sites students have found helpful in the past include the Department of Labor search, the grant and scholarship searches at the bottom of this CFNC page, College Board's own Scholarship Search, Fastweb.com, Peterson's, Scholarships.com, studentscholarships.org, scholarshipexperts.com, Chegg.com (formerly Zinch), ScholarshipPoints.com, Cappex's Scholarship Search, Unigo, and more.
There are also apps available, such as Scholly. When looking at apps, if applicable, definitely download and try Minorities to Majorities - a brand new app from a Duke graduate student which specifically targets ethnic/racial minority, female, gender minority, and undocumented/international students. In addition to scholarships, this app links to business and leadership opportunities.
Raise.me is an awesome tool which students can begin to use as early as the 9th grade to explore and work toward earning scholarships. You can sign up and link to Carrboro HS at [update].
Financial Aid via Military Service
Resume Tools [update/organize where to put this]
Check out this Naviance Introduction video from former CHS counselor Ms. Sholomon.What is Naviance?Naviance is a college & career readiness software suite that provides students, families, and school staff with college and career exploration and planning tools. It is also the system through which CHS will link your transcripts and letters of recommendation with your college applications.Using Naviance, students and parents can create and share resumes as well as their future "game plan," complete interest and personality inventories, compare colleges, search for scholarships, plus receive communication from Student Services. Students AND parents of students planning to apply to a 4-yr school are asked to complete a "Brag Sheet" around the end of the student's junior year to aid counselors writing recommendations. After logging in, this survey can be accessed via "About Me > My Surveys," from the student or parent account.When Do I Get My Student Naviance Account?If you did not use Naviance in Middle School, 9th graders log in and complete the Career Cluster Finder during their Health/PE course by the end of the year. Students can contact Ms. Brooks or their counselor at any time to request their login credentials.When Do I Get My Parent Naviance Account?So...How Should I Use Naviance?
College Applications - Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation
- Students can use Naviance's college exploration and matching tools to get information about colleges of interest and see suggested matches based on anything from the fit of your GPA and test scores, to setting, to size, to diversity, to cost, and more.
- Students can use Naviance's career exploration tools to get information about careers of interest and see suggested matches based on anything from your strengths, to your interests, to your personality, to your values, and more.
- Naviance serves as a repository for your student information, which can then easily be transferred to college applications, basically streamlining documentation for the college application process.
- Students will have "Tasks" and "To-Dos" each year, specific to their grade level. Please attend to anything "assigned" by a CHS staff member (usually your counselor - some items may be district-assigned and not follow our sequencing)! For example, of the career and college exploration tools, 9th graders are asked to complete the Career Cluster Finder, 10th graders are asked to complete the Strengths Explorer, 11th graders are asked to complete the Career Interest Profiler and utilize college exploration features, and 12th graders are asked to continue utilizing career and college exploration features.
- Applications themselves are not submitted via Naviance. Applications are completed via Common App, Coalition App, or a school's proprietary electronic or hard copy application system.
- Rather, Naviance is how CHS will send your transcript and letters of recommendation.
- YOU MUST COMPLETE A HARD-COPY TRANSCRIPT REQUEST FORM AVAILABLE IN STUDENT SERVICES in order to have schools added to your Naviance account.
- For schools you apply to via the Common App, you'll need to match your Naviance and Common App accounts: after creating your Common App account, completing the Education section, adding at least one school, and signing the FERPA agreement (see previous link - most students waive their rights); Common App Account Matching should then populate in Naviance under "Colleges I'm Applying to." Colleges you've entered on Common App should be visible and match in Naviance. Make sure your lists match (Common App vs. Naviance).
- We recommend that your Common App email is not your Naviance/student email, in case you need to access Common App after graduation.
- For any schools you apply to not using Common App, you'll still be able to add them in Naviance.
- Be sure to keep Naviance updated with the status your college application submissions, to avoid any delays or confusion in the processing of your documents.
- Manage your transcript requests and letters of recommendation under "Colleges > Apply to Colleges."
- Remember, YOU MUST COMPLETE A HARD-COPY TRANSCRIPT REQUEST FORM AVAILABLE IN STUDENT SERVICES in order to have schools added to your Naviance account.
- Be sure to notify teachers that you are requesting they write you a recommendation before you request them through Naviance.
- If you want a teacher’s rec letter to be sent to a specific school, then you will be able to select the specific school(s).
- If you have a recommender that is outside of CHS, then you should be able to request their recommendations via Common App, independently of Naviance. If you have any trouble, please see your counselor. For other situations (non-CHS recommender, non-Common App school), you can send the letter to the counselor to be uploaded into Naviance. For student privacy, only current employees will have an account with Naviance.
- Once again, YOU MUST ALSO COMPLETE A HARD-COPY, GREEN TRANSCRIPT REQUEST FORM AVAILABLE IN STUDENT SERVICES. Transcripts for college applications are usually $5, while transcripts for scholarship applications are usually free of charge. If the $5 charge is a burden to your family, please discuss with your counselor.
- Once the Green Transcript Request Form is completed and turned in, it will be given to the counselor to complete the counselor recommendation portion. Once complete, the counselor will submit all documents to college(s) through Naviance.
- BE SURE TO SUBMIT REQUESTS FOR TRANSCRIPTS AND TEACHER LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION SEVERAL WEEKS IN ADVANCE. Due to the high volume of these requests at certain points in the year, we may not be able to fulfill last-minute requests on time.