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Cerro Gordo CUSD 100

Jr/Sr High School


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College and Career Readiness

Get a LIFE! College & Career Planning for Grades 8-12

Junior High and High School are a very promising time in one’s life. At CGHS there are many opportunities to explore careers and post high school options while completing this journey. Whether you are just beginning your journey, half way through, or at the end, this guide can answer questions to keep you on the right path.

Ready, Set, GO!!

It is not too early to begin your post-high school planning. Starting early has MANY advantages:

  1. Creating Options: Students who plan early have many more options than those who wait too late. Giving yourself more time allows you to research your interests, visit schools, and have experiences that provide options. Basically, starting early helps you hone in on that one thing that you were meant to do.

  2. Full-filling Requirements: Having an idea of what you want to do after high school allows you to make sure any special circumstances are provided for. For example, if you know you want to go to the University of Illinois –CU, then you research that school and discover that you are going to have to take 4 years of foreign language in high school if you do not take foreign language your freshman year, you cannot go to U of I. Waiting until your senior year to decide you want to go to the U of I usually ends in disappointment for students.

  3. Gaining Experience: Students who begin the career quest early give themselves time to have valuable learning experiences such as jobs, internships, and volunteer work related to careers of interest. Having a job or volunteering is hands-on learning that can really help you decide if that career is right for you. Students who do not begin the career search early often do not have those valuable experiences because they have not determined what career path they are following.

8th Grade
  1. Major Clarity: Major Clarity is an on-line platform that assesses students’ skills and preferences, learning styles, and aptitudes. It also provides information about thousands of careers, technical schools, colleges, and training opportunities.  This will be ready to access in the spring 2024.

  2. Establish a 4-year Plan with the School Counselor: Each 8th grader will meet with the school counselor in January/February to discuss career options, classes that will support this interest, required courses and electives.  It is important to have a plan in place so that  students know where they are going and the steps needed to achieve their goals.

  3. High School Orientation: In February the 8th graders and their parents meet for High School Orientation. Here students are introduced to the academic differences between high school and middle school: earning credits, establishing a GPA, earning a class rank, etc. Students also learn about graduation requirements and sign up for classes. Parents and students begin their journey here and it ends with graduation. Everything in between determines what “plan” a student continues after high school.

  1. 4-Year Plan Conference: In the fall of the freshman year, students conference with their school counselor and discuss their most current career aspirations and have a dialogue about the academic path that must be followed to achieve those goals.  The student's 4-year plan and goals are reviewed and the tasks the student needs to work on to achieve the goals are discussed.

  2. PSAT 8/9 Test: Freshmen take the PSAT 8/9 in the spring.  The PSAT 8/9 test assesses the same knowledge and skills as the SAT test that all juniors must take.  It consists of questions in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and in Math which measures the knowledge and skills your child is learning in school—the same knowledge and skills that matter most for college and career readiness.  As they think about their plans for life after high school, BigFuture (College Board) has information to help. They’ll use it to get personalized guidance based on their scores, search for colleges that interest them and save their favorites to their own list, and explore careers that match their interests and skills.

  3. Major Clarity: See above.

10th Grade (See checklist under 9th grade)
  1. Heartland Technical Academy Tours and Open House: All sophomores will have the opportunity to tour Heartland Tech Academy programs in person at Richland Community College (RCC). In addition, RCC provides an Open House for prospective students and their families with information related to technical careers and further education related to the programs. Anyone can attend the HTA Open House. It is usually in November in the evening.
  2. PSAT 10 Test:  The PSAT 10 test assesses the same knowledge and skills as the SAT test that all juniors must take.  The PSAT 10 consists of three parts: the Reading Test, the Writing and Language Test, and the Math Test which measures the knowledge and skills your child is learning in school—the same knowledge and skills that matter most for college and career readiness.  Sophomores take this test in the spring. 

11th Grade  Junior Checklist

  1. SAT Test: The SAT is an on-line multiple-choice test created and administered by the College Board. The purpose of the SAT is to measure a high school student's readiness for college, and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. In April all juniors will take the SAT test. A component of the SAT is the career assessment where students get a profile of how their academic performance matches with their career goals. Students can choose up to 10 colleges/universities where their SAT scores will be sent to directly.

  2. Major Clarity: See above.

  1. 2 College Days: Seniors are given 2 college days to visit schools of interest. Typically students are expected to use 1 day in the fall and 1 day in the spring. Students are encouraged to visit schools on days when they are out of school and on weekends. College Days must be accompanied with the proper paperwork in order to be excused. The paperwork can be obtained in the Guidance Office.

  2. Job Shadowing: Resource Management class requires students to spend a day job shadowing a career of interest. Students basically set up their own site, and it is approved by the classroom teacher and principal. Students go to the site on a specified day. When they return, students can expect assignments to be attached to the completion of this project.

  3. College Representative Visits: Throughout the year many college reps visit our school and talk with students during lunch. In these brief visits, the reps usually obtains contact information from students, provide information on the application process including the admissions requirements, and answer questions.



The 12th and Final Year:

Information Specific for Seniors and Their Parents

It’s the last leg of your journey, and ready or not, you are going to be thrust out into that big world very soon. Ending your high school years is much less stressful and much more reassuring when you have developed a Plan and followed it.

Below is a general month-by-month calendar to use as a guide through the senior year. Please understand that this is a basic list for anyone to follow; however, each school and each program will have specific deadlines you are responsible for knowing. See your school counselor with any questions you may have.


August & September

ü If applicable, obtain information about retaking the SAT, sign up, and retest.

ü Visit your counselor and declare any change in post high school plans

ü Attend sessions with college reps who visit school.

ü Research schools of interest on-line and share information with your parents and counselor.

ü Request additional information about schools of interest by contacting them directly or by asking your counselor to help you.

ü Know deadlines for admissions for schools of interest.


October & November

ü Set up college visits.

ü Continue to attend sessions with college reps who visit school.

ü Apply to schools of interest.

ü Be on the look out for scholarship information offered out of the counseling office even though it will be scarce at this time.

ü Begin a scholarship search of your own. Look on-line and on the college websites for scholarships.

ü GOAL: Have college applications sent by November 1st!

ü RCC students attend a recruitment session which discusses programs, admissions, scholarships, and financial aid. (at CGHS)



ü Continue to attend sessions with college reps who visit school.

ü Continue to search of scholarship opportunities on your own and be listening to the announcements for scholarship opportunities offered at school. As they become available, the local scholarships will be posted on the guidance bulletin board and can be retrieved in the guidance office.

ü Continue to set up college visits.

ü Prepare a list of your work experience, high school activities, and volunteer activities to be used with your scholarship applications.


January & February

ü The local scholarships really begin to become available. Students need to listen to the announcements and check the bulletin board daily for new scholarships.

ü Parents: You need to begin to organize tax information in order to complete your FAFSA. All students who are seeking student loans or scholarships or financial aid must complete the FAFSA form. 



ü Continue to complete scholarship applications as they become available.

ü If applicable, arrange to take placement tests for math, English, and reading at the school you are attending.

ü Complete the FAFSA  ASAP. Federal grant money is VERY limited! The early bird gets the worm.

ü RCC Students: Complete the scholarship application before the deadline which is usually early April.


April & May

ü If applicable, make a final decision regarding where you will be going to school.

ü Contact the school you are attending to set up placement testing if this is still necessary.

ü Continue to meet deadlines for scholarships.

ü Pay all fees and anything owed to the school so there are no hold-ups concerning graduation.

ü Attend Honors Night and hope all of your hard work paid off.

ü Sign the form where your final transcript should be sent. Your counselor cannot send your record without your signature granting permission. If you do not sign that form, a final transcript will not be sent. You are not officially admitted until that transcript has arrived at the university. Signing before graduating prevents you from having to come back up to school during the summer to have a transcript sent.

ü For students who are/have taken courses through Richland, request your college transcript be sent to your select university. Your high school counselor cannot send your college transcript. The dual credit classes you take in high school only show up as high school credit classes on your high school transcript. Only RCC has a record of college credits you have earned. They must send the transcript, and only you can have it sent. There may be a fee.