Whittier Union High School District

To Achieve and Maintain Excellence

College Preparation

Students in elementary and junior/middle school

Every student needs education beyond high school. Everyone!!!!

Here are things to know to help get you started:

  • Learn about different types of careers that interest you by visiting Explore Careers
  • Talk to your school counselor and teachers about the following:
    • Courses and classes to start taking in 9th grade
    • The importance of getting good grades (colleges look at grades beginning in grade 9)
    • Summer enrichment programs (check your school or local colleges)
  • Get involved in activities (such as sports, performing arts, volunteer work, etc.)
  • Explore different types of postsecondary institutions at Find a College
  • Save for college
  • Check out resources available to pay for college by visiting Pay for College

*Information provided by Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education

The 1998 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act established the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).

Its goal is to increase the number of low-income middle students prepared to enter and succeed in high school and postsecondary education through partnerships between schools, colleges and universities, the private sector, and community organizations. From 1999-2005, the California GEAR UP Programthe grant for the state as a wholeand the 43 GEAR UP Partnership Projects served over 200,000 students in 187 schools in 80 school districts.  

Students in high school

Higher education is a must to survive in todays world. Getting additional education after high school can open the door to many career options and great learning opportunities. Choose your grade below to find out what you can do to get ready:

9th Grade

  • Talk to your school counselor and teachers about the following:
    • Establishing your college preparatory classes. Your schedule should have at least 4 college preparatory classes per year, including:
      • 4 years of English
      • 3 years of math (through Algebra II or trigonometry)
      • 2 years of foreign language
      • 2 years of natural science
      • 2 years of history/social studies
      • 1 year of art
      • 1 year of electives from the above list
    • Using the student planner to keep track of your courses and grades
    • Enrolling in algebra or geometry classes and a foreign language for both semesters (most colleges have math and foreign language requirements)
  • Create a file of the following documents and notes:
    • Copies of report cards
    • List of awards and honors
    • List of school and community activities in which you are involved, including both paid and volunteer work, and descriptions of what you do
  • Get involved in other activities (such as sports, performing arts, volunteer work)
  • Explore different types of postsecondary institutions by visiting the find a college section
  • Find how to save for college and resources available to pay for college by visiting the pay for college page

*Information provided by Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education

10th Grade

  • Investigate your career choice. Identify the type of school that fits your aspirations.
  • Attend college fairs and presentations by colleges that visit your school.
  • Create a file on your favorite colleges. Ask for literature about admissions, financial aid and your proposed major. Your counselor can provide contact information. Or check out colleges on the Web.
  • Review your current class schedule with your counselor to make sure you are taking necessary college preparatory courses.
  • Maintain good grades.
  • Create a personal résumé file. Save such items as copies of your report cards, diplomas and certificates, a list of your awards and honors, a list of all your school and community activities, any offices you hold in these organizations, and a list of jobs.
  • Begin preparing for the PSAT (Preliminary SAT)

 11th Grade 

  • Review your current class schedule with your counselor to make sure you are still on track with your goals.
    Maintain good grades.
  • Take the PSAT; this is a practice test for the SAT. The results will give you and your counselor an idea of your strengths and the areas you need to improve.
  • Visit colleges that interest you. Call ahead to book a campus tour and a presentation about academic programs, admissions and financial aid. Try to meet with admissions, academic, student organizations and athletic staff. Prepare questions about the school and bring a transcript or list of courses you have taken since the 9th grade.
    Obtain registration materials and test dates for the
    SATor ACT. Taking the SATor ACTin the spring or summer lets you get your results and meet with a counselor to see if you should re-test in the fall. Prepare for the tests by reading books and manuals with testing tips and sample questions.
  • Update your résumé file. Investigate summer programs, workshops and camps in your community. These may help with college admissions.
  • Evaluate the schools you visited. Decide which ones have the right programs that best fit your needs. 

12th Grade


  • Make a list of important deadlines for college admissions and financial aid applications.
  • Pick up the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at your high schools counselors office, your local or college library or college financial aid office.
  • Sign up to take the SATor ACT.
  • Look into Advanced Placement® exams for college credit.
  • Request college catalogs and admissions packets, and meet with college representatives visiting your high school. Check out colleges on the Web.
  • Ask the colleges youre applying to about their student aid programs.
  • Apply for a Social Security number if you don't already have one. Call 800.772.1213 (TTY 800.325.0778) or go to www.ssa.gov.
  • Register with the U.S. Selective Service, if required, at www.sss.govor at your high school, so you'll be eligible for federal student aid.
  • Check out scholarships and grants on the Web or in your library's directories. Ask about scholarships offered by local community service organizations.
  • Learn about low-interest federal student loans, if you think you'll need to borrow.
  • Research military and veterans educationbenefits.
  • Look into the AmeriCorps program, which allows you to earn educational awards in return for community service.
  • Meet with your high school counselor to discuss your college plans and financial aid needs. Check out www.mapping-your-future.org, www.collegeispossible.organd www.yesican.gov.
  • Start a college fund



  • Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and print the Pre-Application Worksheet or pick up a paper FAFSA at your high schools counselor's office, your local or college library or college financial aid office.
  • Register for the College Boards CSS PROFILE® application if you're applying to an independent college that requires one. Go to www.collegeboard.com.
  • Note which colleges require additional financial aid applications and request them from the college.
    Look into the programs offered by your state.
  • Submit your college admissions applications. 


  • Collect your and your family's financial records, which you'll need for the FAFSA and other financial aid forms. 


  • Complete and file the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1, but not before.
  • Keep a photocopy or printout of everything you send.
  • Remind your parents to complete their tax returns, if they haven't done so already. That way, you'll have their final financial records when you receive your Student Aid Report. 


  • Apply for private scholarships, if you haven't already done so.
  • Watch your mailbox (or e-mail) for college admissions letters and financial aid award letters.
  • Review your Student Aid Report, or SAR, which you should receive within four weeks of filing your FAFSA, or sooner if you file online. If you havent received the SAR contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1.800.4FED.AID.
  • Respond promptly to any requests for additional information from your college, private scholarship organizations or your state's higher education agency. 


  • Evaluate and compare all financial aid offers carefully.
  • Consider grants, scholarships and other aid you don't have to repay before accepting a student loan.
  • Decide on a college and send in any forms or deposits by the deadline. Many colleges have online application processes.
  • Sign and return your college's financial aid award letter, noting the awards you're accepting and the ones you're declining.
  • Notify the colleges you won't be attending. 


  • Have your high school mail a final transcript to the college you plan to attend as soon as your graduation date is entered onto your high school record.
  • Look for a summer job to help with college costs or sign up for summer school or an internship. 


  • Report any additional scholarships you receive to your colleges financial aid administrator.
  • Prepare a financial plan. Go to EdWise®, EdFund's online financial planning guide at www.edwise.org.
    Proceed with the application for school housing if you plan to live on campus. Watch these deadlines carefully.
  • Arrange for any transportation needs.
  • Complete your federal student loan promissory note if you'll be borrowing for college.




Parents can begin to prepare their children for college early by:


  • Helping them take the right junior high and high school courses based on the type of school they wish to enroll in after high school. For more information about courses, visit the students in high school section
  • Encouraging them to maintain good grades throughout their high school experience.
  • Helping them decide on the right school by researching the school's curriculum, the size of the school, the type of school, and a school's affordability.
  • Making a visit to the college or by visiting our section on finding a college
  • Helping them obtain and complete admissions applications. Visit our section on college entrance exams
  • Assisting them with essays and preparing for admissions interviews.
  • Saving for college and learning about the financial aid available. Visit our section on paying for college.

To learn about special resources offered in your state, visit our section on what resources are available to help?
*Information provided by Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education

Adult learners

Education is for everyone. About 90 million individuals participate in some form of adult education each year, including training and basic education offered outside traditional higher education. Most colleges have structured programs and services specifically for adult learners.

Career Options

Why are you considering returning to school? By focusing on your reason, you can better determine your career and educational goals. Do you want to change careers, increase your earning potential, and/or resume your college education and finish a degree program? Which careers match your skills and interests? There are probably more than you can imagine. Visit our section on career planning for assistance.

Things to Consider

Getting training after high school may help you get a better-paying job doing work you enjoy. But going to school is a big investment. You're investing your time. Chances are you'll also have to invest your own money or take out a student loan to go to school. So you need to be sure that you're choosing the right school.

  • Shop around. Contact more than one school. If you're looking for vocational training, check the Yellow Pages under "Schools" for phone numbers. If your area has a community college, call the admissions office and find out what kinds of training the college offers. For information about all the different types of postsecondary institutions, visit our section on finding a college.
  • Visit the school. Call the school and schedule a visit, preferably while classes are being taught. Get a feel for the school; make sure you're comfortable with the facilities, the equipment, the teachers and the students.
  • Don't be afraid to ask! A good school will be happy to answer your questions about its programs. Ask the school about its students: How many graduate? How many get jobs because of the training they received? What kind of job placement services does the school offer students and graduates?
  • Check the cost. Make sure the school gives you a clear statement of its tuition and fees. Remember that any federal financial aid you get will be applied first to paying the school's tuition and fees. If there's any money left over, the school will give it to you to help you pay for things such as food and rent. Visit our section on paying for college for more information.

General Education Development (GED) Certificate

Adults who wish to continue their education and have not received a high school diploma can take the test for a General Education Development (GED) Certificate. Nearly all U.S. colleges and universities accept GED graduates who meet their other qualifications for admission. More information about how to take the GED.

Taking Tests

Once you have assessed your interests and determined what type of program you want to enroll in, you may be required to take one or more standardized tests. Visit our section on college entrance exams for more information.