College and Careers

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Starting the college search can be an overwhelming task. Your school or public library might offer dedicated online information and databases that can help you and your teen explore where to go, how to get in and how to pay for it.

@ YOUR LIBRARY

  • Some libraries offer free classes taught by experts on finding the right college, scholarships and financial aid that parents and college-bound teens can attend together.
  • Check to see if your library offers free online SAT or ACT prep courses for your high schooler.
  • See how your library might be able to help your teen search for summer jobs or write a resume.

AT HOME & IN THE COMMUNITY

  • Learn about what skills are critical in the 21st century and ways your school library can help support your children in building the skills they need to succeed in career and life. Visit the American Association of School Librarians’ Learning4Life website. http://bit.ly/learning4life
  • Explore the list of Outstanding Books for the College Bound from the Young Adult Library Services Association. Books on this list provide an introduction to a variety of subjects, such as science and technology, literature and social sciences. Teens can use it to round out their reading as they prepare for college entrance exams. Find the list at www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists/obcb
University of San Francisco Graduation Commencement May 2010

You need three things to succeed in getting a job: a résumé, a cover letter and some skill at interviewing.

Here’s an overview of each item:

Résumé

A résumé is nothing more than a one- or two-page summary of your work experience. However, it can be a little overwhelming to write your very first one. For this reason, you might consider going to your local library and asking the librarian to help you find a book with step-by-step instructions.

University of San Francisco Graduation Commencement May 2010

You can find jobs all around you at college and at home. All you have to do is open your eyes and look for opportunities. In addition, the Internet has all kinds of options to find a job or work a virtual job.

Your college

Almost every location at your college can hide tips and hints about jobs in the area. Look around, especially at bulletin boards, to see what’s available.

• Financial Aid Office Many financial aid offices have listings of current jobs on the bulletin boards, in a newsletter, or online.

Woman at graduation ceremony

College toolbox: the top five Questions to ask about Your Internship

While most students can benefit from an internship, they aren’t for everyone. Before you decide to look for an internship, make sure that it fits in with your major, your career goals, and your plans for the future.

To be sure, ask yourself the following five questions before seeking an internship:

Graduate holding child

Working at a job while succeeding in college can take some organizational skills. However, the better you are at organizing your life in college, the better you will be at organizing your life after college.

Woman at graduation ceremony

As with scholarships, there are two ways to search for grants: via books and via the Internet. You need to do both. Start with the easier online searching and then move along to the harder book search. Both can help you garner need-based support.

University of San Francisco Graduation Commencement May 2010

Grants are different than scholarships. Scholarships are usually given for merit or because the applicant had all the qualifications the scholarship committee was looking for. A grant, on the other hand, is usually based on financial need. These need-based awards help low-income students to go to school.

Not surprisingly, the biggest awarder of grants is the federal government. One of the most well-known federal grants is the Pell. Millions of students have benefited from this award over the years. However, there are many other less well-known grants out there.

College graduation ceremony

Where to Look for Scholarships

There are two ways to look for scholarships: online or off. The online method is much faster, but you will be working against pretty stiff competition. On the other hand, going old school may yield you the kind of unique scholarships that only you (and maybe a handful of others) can qualify for.

Smart shoppers do both. Start with the easier online searching and then move along to the harder book search. Both can help you get the money you deserve.

Online scholarship searches

Students at graduation ceremony

You may have wanted to skip this chapter on scholarships because you believed that you weren’t “special” enough to merit a scholarship. Luckily, you’re here now because scholarships go to all different kinds of students for all kinds of reasons.

 

Step One: Gather Documents

As with most other things in life, you can save yourself time and aggravation by preparing in advance to fill out the FAFSA. Here’s what you’ll need:

Father and daughter at graduation ceremony

One of the more frustrating conversations a financial aid director has with a family is to tell them they applied too late for scarce scholarships and grants. As a result, the only ‘package’ the aid office can offer is a combination of loans and student employment. I wish all parents and students would check and double-check the financial aid application deadlines.