Planning for Your Future

Alfred State would like to give you some information which we hope will be useful as you take important steps to plan for your future.

Why Should I go to College?

There are two basic reasons why everyone should plan on some type of additional education or training beyond high school.

  • To Get a Job - It might seem like a no-brainer. A college degree helps you get a job. But did you know, almost all jobs require education beyond high school? According to a recent study, by 2018, more than 60 percent of job openings will require college education. Think about it. If you were an employer and you had two candidates for the same position but only one held a college degree, whom would you choose?
  • Money, Money, Money - Sometimes it all comes down to money. And in the case of a college degree—it’s a fact. A person with a college degree can expect to earn tens of thousands more in his or her lifetime than a person without a college degree.
 No College DegreeWith 4-year College DegreeAnnual Difference
Expected Starting Salary$16,640$44,928$28,288
Salary in 20 Years
Assuming 3% Raise per Year
$30,053$81,144$51,091
Salary in 40 Years
Assuming 3% Raise per Year
$54,280$146,556$92,276

By retirement, the person with a college degree makes $92,276 more per year than the person without a college degree! Convinced?
Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

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Your “to do” list.

Now is the time to start taking those first all-important steps toward college success. In addition to enrolling in strong academic courses, studying, and working hard to earn the best grades possible, here are several things you can start now.

Choose a path Each of us is unique—which is why there are so many career options out there. What do you like to do in your free time? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you like math and science? Are you a budding artist? Does that accounting homework keep you entertained for hours? Your school counselor can help you narrow it down with personality and aptitude tests.

Reach out Talk with family, friends, and people in your community about their jobs. Review websites that give specific information on careers. Shadow someone currently working in a field that sparks your interest.

Talk with your school counselor and start looking at college websites. Reference materials are generally available in your school guidance office and library. You may want to attend college night programs in your area. At these events, college representatives from many schools gather to talk to interested students. Don’t forget to get your name on those college mailing lists. You can do this from nearly any college website or by emailing or calling the school directly. Finally, attend a few college open houses once you’ve narrowed down your list.

Study up on schools Do you want to go to school close to home or far away? Do you prefer four-year liberal arts institutions or technology-focused campuses? Focus on collecting and sorting through as much information on colleges as possible.

Don’t forget to include your family in your college search process. Talk with them about college costs and financing your future education.

Research You’ll need to know what type of educational and experiential background or training is needed (and what is preferred) to work in your chosen field. Check out job listings online or set up informational interviews with professionals in your chosen field.

Consider the following during your search: requirements for admission, available majors, costs, financial aid and scholarships, location, campus activities, athletics, campus housing, admission selectivity, and any other characteristics that are important to you, like rural vs. urban or available online course offerings.

Get involved! In all the rush to get ready for college, sometimes it’s easy to forget the importance of where you are right now. After school work, your first priority should be getting involved in school and community activities. Take advantage of your summer vacation—many colleges offer summer programs for high school students. You could also join a summer athletic team, develop and focus on a hobby, volunteer, or get a summer job when you’re old enough.

And look for leadership roles whenever possible—many schools take this into consideration when making admissions decisions. This is a great way to learn about various activities that might help you in choosing a career. And it’s a lot of fun!

Beginning in 9th-grade, start keeping track of the school and community activities you’re involved in. And don’t forget to keep records of honors and awards you’ve won.

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What Academic Preparations Should I Consider?

What you’re doing now will affect everything you do later. Beginning in 9th-grade, all courses, grades, and credits become part of your transcript (an official document detailing your academic achievement in high school). College admissions professionals make many of their decisions based on the information contained in your transcript, so it’s crucial that you make the most of your time in school by taking challenging courses, earning the best grades possible, and developing good study skills.
Note that all colleges have different entrance requirements. But in order to keep all options open, we recommend you take the following courses in high school:

English
Four years of composition and literature designed for college preparatory students.
Mathematics
Algebra, geometry, and algebra II/ trigonometry. Pre-calculus is also recommended if you are a strong math student and if pre-calculus is required for your chosen college major.
Science
Earth science, biology, and chemistry. Physics is also recommended if you are a strong science student and if physics is required for your chosen college major.
Foreign Language
Three years of the same foreign language.
Elective Area
Technology, business, fine or performing arts, or other courses to supplement your schedule.

Plan on taking honors and advanced courses when appropriate and be sure the courses you sign up for are “college prep.”

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