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College and Career Planning



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Planning for life after high school can seem like a daunting task. Do you want to go to college? If so, which one? Do you need to go to college to get the job you want? Should you join the military? The fear of the unknown is completely normal. The best way to combat the anxiety of post-graduation life is to start preparing early, and we're here to help! Below you'll find some websites and resources to help with your planning, but remember that you are not alone in this. Stop by the Career Center or the Counseling Office if you ever need extra support.


Exploring Colleges

How do you choose which college or university is right for you? It's a big decision, with many factors to consider. But I'll let you in on a little secret that most colleges don't want you to know- you will get a good education no matter which school you choose! College is all about the effort you put in. Virtually all accredited institutions can provide an excellent education, you only have to figure out where you'll be most comfortable and productive. Here are some things to think about when deciding:

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big future


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California Colleges 

Provides high school students the tools to match their interests and skills to post-secondary college and career opportunities. They can take career assessments and use search tools to develop college, major, and career lists, write goals and journals, track activities, and read a variety of age-appropriate content to develop and expand their knowledge on all college, career, and financial aid planning topics. Students can also launch Cal State Apply, CCCApply, and FAFSA. All students in OUSD have been provided with a free account. Sign in using your email.


Big Future

Browse and compare colleges and careers. Search colleges by major or location.


Career Education

Explore the 10 community colleges in San Diego and the Imperial counties. See what kind of programs are offered at each campus or search by program to find the campus that offers what you're interested in.


CSU and UC Resources

Compare eligibility and application requirements. View tips and tricks for your application.


Historically Black Colleges and Universities

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended defines an HBCU as, “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education.” There are now over 100 HBCU's serving students of all races.


Hispanic Serving Institutions

HSI's are defined as an accredited institution with a Latinx population of at least 25%. HSI's tend to be highly diverse campuses that foster inclusivity and success for minority students.

List of HSI's (2017)               HSI Fact Sheet


Career Education in 2 years or less!

Going to a 4-year college isn't for everyone, and that doesn't mean you can't be successful. Here are some options for career education that you can attain in only 1-2 years!




College Abroad

Have you ever considered earning your degree in another country? Check out the pro's and con's, and explore international universities.



Exploring Careers

Let's revisit the question you've been asked since you were five years old, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Maybe you know exactly what you want to do, maybe you have no idea. Either way is totally fine! Finding the right career can be a lifetime journey- on average a person will change careers 3-7 times in their working life- so don't feel discouraged if you don't know quite yet.


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California CareerZone

Take career-related assessments (Interest profiler, skills profiler, work importance profiler) and view occupations based on your results. Explore careers, colleges, and majors. Create a free account to access job application tools including resume and cover letter builders.


Learn How to Become

Explore different career pathways, find out what type of education is required and find schools that offer those majors. This site features step-by-step instructions for how to attain your dream job along with a breakdown of what to expect from that career (job description, salary, etc.).


University HQ

Browse careers, view how to become guides, learn about alternative paths and opportunities for advancement.

Discover Accounting

In-depth description of how to become an accountant or CPA.



Internships vs. Apprenticeships


Internships are a great way to get real life experience in the field you are interested in; to gain knowledge, make connections and see if this is the type of career you'd like to pursue. Not to mention it looks amazing on applications and resumes! They may be paid or unpaid and the goal is for you to learn.

Apprenticeships are always paid and the goal is to train you to work in a specialized field, such as construction, electrical, auto, etc. They typically last two to four years. You work (and earn money!) while you learn and at the end of the program you are ready to enter that field as a professional. This is an excellent avenue to take if you plan to pursue a career in one of these specific fields.

Apprenticeships are intended as a pathway for after you graduate high school while internships you can start participating in during high school. Though it should be noted that most internships and internship search sites are geared towards college students, there are plenty of companies willing to let high school students intern. If you're having trouble finding one online try reaching out to a company you're interested in and ask if they offer any intern positions (have a resume ready!). If they don't, try asking if they have any shorter-term opportunities like job shadowing.

There are many more opportunities available but here's a brief list to get you thinking about what's out there.

Internship Opportunities for HS Students

Apprenticeship Opportunities


Letters of Recommendation


Letters of recommendation from your teachers and others (coaches, counselors, club advisors, etc.) are an important part of applications for scholarships, colleges and universities and jobs or internships. We want to tell the world how good of a student you are, but there are some guidelines...


  • Make a face-to-face request at least 3 weeks before the recommendation due date. It is in your best interest to give recommenders the time necessary to write a good letter.


  • Provide recommenders with a Brag Sheet. A brag sheet is similar to a student resume; it highlights your accomplishments, experiences and employment during high school. It is intended to give the recommender something to draw from while writing your letter of recommendation, although it is also a good tool for you to use as you start writing personal statements and scholarship essays.


  • If you are expecting to need letters of recommendation for multiple institutions (more than one college, scholarship, internship, etc.) it could be best to ask for a more general letter of recommendation that you can use in all situations.
    • However, there are some cases where institutions will ask that your letters of recommendation include specific information. In this case make sure to provide recommenders with a copy of the request or paperwork from the university, scholarship, etc. so the recommender knows which direction their letter should take.


  • Letters should not be from someone related to you (ever!)


  • A handwritten thank you note to your recommenders is entirely appropriate and much appreciated!