High school is an exciting time in your life. It’s important to relax, have fun and make the most of the experience while still setting aside time to prepare for college.
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Your first year of high school is an exciting time, full of new faces and new experiences. The next four years will have some new challenges, but you’ll also accomplish so much along the way. Below are the things you need to make sure you complete your freshman year.
Start your graduation plan
It’s important to start your graduation plan early. It will be here before you know it. Meet with your school counselor at the beginning of the year to ensure your graduation plan reflects your college and career goals.
If you’ve been keeping track of your plan online, login into Indiana Career Explorer to review it and make any adjustments to your class schedule as soon as possible.
Explore future careers and degree options
Use the resources on this site to learn about different careers, explore your interests and what degrees are required for different careers.
Visit the career section to learn more about what sounds right for you.
Participate in an extracurricular or service activity
Extracurricular activities at school are a great way to complete this requirement and to meet students with similar interests. You can also get involved in various service activities in your community, such as through church, a local youth organization or a community center.
Here are some ideas for an extracurricular or service activity below:
- Write letters to those in need or to the troops.
- Craft items for the troops.
- Find volunteer opportunities designed for students.
- Contact your local volunteer office or place of worship to find out about opportunities in your community.
Talk to your parents about money and watch Paying for College 101
Start saving for college now! Talk to your parents about opening an Indiana CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan. If you already have an account set up, great job! You can help your parents save by setting aside allowance, birthday money or money you’ve gotten from a job that can go into your account.
Next, it’s important to watch the video Paying for College 101. This is one of your 21st Century Scholar activities, so you have to complete it in order to earn your scholarship.
Congrats on finishing your first year of high school. You know your way around the school and your classes are going well. You might be thinking that it’ll all be easy from here, but it’s important to stay focused and keep on track. There are a few key things you should prioritize before the end of the year.
Take a Career Assessment
A Career Interest Assessment is a tool that asks you a series of questions to help identify careers that align with your interests and goals. The easiest way to complete this requirement is to access the Indiana Career Explorer account you created when you started your Graduation Plan as a freshman.
Once you’re logged in, three assessments are available. To complete this requirement, you should take the assessment labeled “Career Interests Assessment.” You’re encouraged to complete all three questionnaires to better understand what interests you, what you do well and what’s important to you in a career.
Get workplace experience
Real-world experience is a great way to learn about responsibility, time management and how to act in a professional environment. There are a lot of options you can choose to complete this requirement. Complete an informational interview with a professional in a field that interests you. This is a great option if you can’t go somewhere physically because you can set up an audio or video call!
Spend time job shadowing — spending a day following someone who works in a field you find interesting. You can also look for internships or part-time job by searching job posting sites or checking out a job board at your school.
Estimate the cost of college
Remember that your 21st Century Scholarship only covers tuition and mandatory fees, so it’s important to plan for other expenses, like housing and meal plans. Talk with your parents or guardians and school counselors to explore additional financial aid options and other scholarships that might be available to you. This video will help you calculate the out-of-pocket cost that you and your family should be prepared to contribute toward your college education.
It will also show you how to use the College Scorecard, an online tool designed to help you compare the costs of Indiana colleges and determine what kind of financial aid you may be eligible to receive. It will ask you to estimate your household income, so you’ll want to work with a parent or guardian.
This is a special year for you. Driving, prom and planning for college. From taking entrance exams like the SAT, to scheduling college visits to get a feel for how each college might work for you, there’s so much to work on that it can be easy to be overwhelmed. Don’t worry, just take the process one step at a time.
Graduation will be here sooner than you think, so the following checklist will help you to prepare for what’s just around the corner.
Sign up to take college entrance exams
Strong test scores will look good on your college applications and may help you qualify for scholarships. If you haven’t already taken the PSAT, you might want to take that and get in practice before the real thing. Speak to your school counselor to find out if you’re eligible for fee waivers, which could qualify you to take your exams for free or at a reduced rate.
After you’ve done these two things, it’s time to actually take the ACT and/or SAT. The college you are hoping to attend could have the minimum scores they are looking for on entrance exams. If you want to try for a higher score before you submit your applications, you can retake these tests. This is one of your Scholar Success Program requirements.
Visit a college campus
By now, you hopefully have an idea of the colleges you might want to attend. If not, no worries, you have plenty of time to learn more about which colleges might fit with your interests. Explore Indiana colleges and the types of degrees or credentials you can earn to help you make a list of your top schools.
This year you should plan visits to colleges you may want to attend. Make sure to select colleges that will help you achieve the career goals you’re going after
Search for Scholarships
College can be expensive. You should pursue as many scholarship opportunities as possible to help cover these costs.
Your 21st Century Scholarship covers up to full tuition and mandatory fees, but the award does not cover expenses such as room and board, books, supplies and other living expenses—which can be costly. You should pursue as many additional scholarship opportunities as possible to help cover these extra costs.
Search for local Indiana scholarships, as well as national scholarships, that you’re eligible for.
Congrats, senior! You’re heading into the final stretch of high school, and college will be here before you know it. There are three Scholar Success Program requirements you must complete this year to help you stay on track for success and earn your scholarship.
Apply to colleges
Once you have narrowed down the colleges you plan to apply for, work on researching the application requirements for each one. After you’ve researched the application requirements, it’s time to submit!
File your FAFSA
The FAFSA will determine your eligibility for financial aid, which is money to help you pay for college. Check with the college or colleges you hope to attend to make sure they don’t have an earlier deadline.
Remember, April 15 is the deadline to file your FAFSA each year.
Search for Scholarships
Watch College Success 101.
HIGH SCHOOL 21ST CENTURY SCHOLAR FAQS
In order to earn your Scholarship, you must maintain the Scholar Pledge, including completing all 12 high school Scholar Success Program activities by June 30 of your senior year of high school. You must track your completion of these activities through your ScholarTrack account.
Once you’ve completed all the Scholar Success Program activities, and have enrolled at an accredited Indiana college within a year of high school graduation, the 21st Century Scholars office will send your name to the college you will attend.
The financial aid department will claim the scholarships for each Scholar enrolled, and deposit that money into your student account to be used to pay for your college tuition.
If you have questions, you can contact your school’s financial aid office, or the statewide Financial Aid Support Center at 888-528-4719.
Each of Indiana’s colleges and universities offers different kinds of support and incentives to 21st Century Scholars, as well as programs for all students that can benefit Scholars.
Scholars must achieve an overall, cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale upon graduation from high school. A cumulative GPA is the average of all your grades during all your semesters of high school. Even if your cumulative GPA falls below 2.5 some time during your high school career, you are still eligible for your scholarship as long as your GPA is at least 2.5 at the time of graduation.
No. The scholarship is only available after you have graduated high school.
Your scholarship eligibility will be sent to any college/university in the state of Indiana that you have listed on the FAFSA. If you choose to attend a college/university that is not listed in your FAFSA, you will need to go back into your FAFSA and update your school choices so that it is represented. This can be done at any time.
Yes. If you plan to graduate following your junior year, you need to notify your school counselor so he or she can inform the 21st Century Scholars program. You should complete all 12 high school Scholar Success Program activities, including filing the FAFSA by April 15 of your junior year.
No. You have up to one year after high school graduation to use your scholarship. Remember that you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the April 15 deadline of your senior year of high school, even if you plan to take a year off.
The 21st Century Scholarship can be used at eligible public, private and most proprietary two- and four-year institutions. A full list of eligible colleges can be found at scholars.IN.gov/eligible-colleges
Some colleges provide incentives to Scholars, like application fee waivers, additional scholarships and more. Learn more about what Indiana’s public and private colleges and universities provide here.