What’s Right for Me?
To make the most of your talents, you may need to learn more, whether it is particular skills — medical assisting, auto mechanics, accounting — or about what really interests you and what you are really good at. Education after high school can help you find all sorts of new possibilities. High school is only the start.
No matter what your interests, you’ll need to learn more than high school taught you if you want to be really good at what you like. You have choices for learning more.
- Two-year community college
- Four-year public or private college or university
- Vocational school
- Enlisting in the military
What will it take to get where I want to go?
It may take time and several steps to get the job and lifestyle you want. But you can find the tools you need to get started. Becoming a doctor may begin at community college or in the military. Owning your own business may start by learning skills at a vocational school. Aim high and keep learning.
Continue your education.
You can get financial aid offers from schools you apply to by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and sending it to each school. You may also qualify for particular scholarships, based on your ethnic heritage, your interests, whether you have disabilities, or from local groups, such as the Rotary Club or Kiwanis. Check with your school counselor or your worker to find out what’s available for you.
DID YOU KNOW? You might be able to get $5,000 to help you pay for college.
Community college associate degree
An associate degree from a two-year community college can be a step toward a job or toward a degree from a four-year college. Many well-paying technical and trade careers, such as electronics, surveying, nursing, logistics, computer programming, medical records, technical writing and healthcare technology require associate degrees for entry-level jobs and advancement.
DID YOU KNOW? Almost half of all undergraduate students in the United States go to community college.
What do community colleges offer?
- Affordability: The average cost of attending public community college in Virginia is approximately $4,080 for two semesters of full-time study or about 37% of the average in-state tuition and fees at Virginia’s public universities. Basic courses needed for a four-degree can be taken at community college. When you complete the basics, you can transfer to the four-year college for the advanced courses. This allows you to get the basics at a lower cost but still get your four-year degree.
- Some public universities give priority admission to students who graduate from community college in the same state.
- Preparation for transfer to four-year college or university. You can learn more about what interests you as well as improve your basic skills. For example, community college can help you improve your math and English skills so you can pass the exams to get into a four-year college.
- Training for careers that require two-year Certification programs for entry-level positions, such as medical or legal assistant.
- A range of noncredit programs, such as English as a second language, community enrichment programs, and cultural activities that help you learn more about things that interest you, make new friends and become part of a community.
Four-year public and private colleges
What do four-year colleges offer?
A four-year degree equips you for careers such as teacher, accountant, architect, economist and many more. You choose an area to major in — such as history, computer science, etc. You must take courses to meet the requirements of the major you choose. You can also take other courses that interest you.
Public four-year colleges are largely supported by state funds. If you attend a public institution in your own state, you will get a break on tuition costs. It is also usually easier to get into a state school than a private college. However, if you attend a public college in ANOTHER state, you will not get the lower tuition.
Private colleges, on the other hand, are supported by tuition and donations. Usually, they are more expensive than public colleges, but private colleges often may offer better financial aid packages.
How do I get in?
Public colleges and private colleges will have different requirements. Some of the common requirements are:
- Good Grade Point Average
- Good SAT scores
- High school diploma or GED
What if I don’t want to go to college?
You can have a good career without going to college. “Trade” jobs, such as carpenter, welder, electrician, and others are in high demand, offer good pay, and may be exactly what you want to do. If you are interested in these jobs, you can go to vocational school or become a paid apprentice.
DID YOU KNOW? Nationwide, apprentices earn an average starting salary of $50,000 per year while gaining a credential that is equivalent to a two- or four-year college degree.
You can learn valuable skills without paying tuition by becoming an apprentice. Apprenticeship is paid, on-the-job training that lets you practice the skills you learn as well as teaching you the theoretical aspects of more than 1,000 highly skilled occupations.
What are the advantages of registered apprenticeship?
The Registered Apprenticeship system gives you many benefits including:
- New skills that meet the specific needs of the employers.
- Wage increases as your skills improve.
- On-the-job training and job-focused education.
- Career advancement.
- Industry-issued, nationally recognized credentials.
- Agreements between some apprenticeship programs and 2- and 4-year colleges that give you college credit and help you get a degree.
Apprenticeship programs can be offered by individual employers, labor groups, such as unions, and/or employer associations. The U.S. Department of Labor lists thousands of jobs for apprentices in Virginia.
What do trade schools offer?
Training for well-paid, skilled jobs, such as welding, cosmetology, construction, court reporting, dental hygiene, and auto repair, among many others, are provided by trade schools. Trade schools charge tuition, which may be covered by scholarships or grants.
DID YOU KNOW? Right now, there is a serious shortage of trade workers, making these jobs competitively well-paid career choices. Skilled trades are quickly becoming some of the better paying career choices in the job market.
How do I get in?
Trade schools have different requirements but for most you will need to have:
- High School Diploma or GED
- Completed Application
- Interview with an Admissions Representative
- Trade School Admissions Test
DID YOU KNOW? The Military has a cap on how many GED recipients it will accept. 90% of inductees have a high school diploma or more.
What Does the Military Offer?
The military is not only an opportunity to serve your country but also a great way to continue your education and personal development. Educational benefits include the GI Bill, tuition assistance, service member opportunity colleges, education while on duty, advanced technical and specialty training, and more.
How Do I Get In?
Qualifications required by all five services include being:
- A citizen of the U.S. or a resident alien.
- At least 17 years old (17-year old applicants require parental consent).
- A high school graduate.
- Able to pass physical and medical exams.
You have many options for continuing your education. Talk to your worker or someone you trust about making a plan. Talk to your school Guidance Counselor about the forms you will need and how to fill them out. Take time to figure out what is right for you. The best way to build the career you want may be one step at a time.
You’re on your way now. Keep pursuing your dream.
More education resources to help me on my journey:
- Great Expectations
- Education and Training Voucher
- Virtual tours of community colleges
- Apprenticeship opportunities in Virginia
- Community college
- Four-year public and private college
- High school diploma or GED
- How to get into college
- Registered Apprenticeship system
- U.S. Department of Labor
- How to get into trade school
- Military benefits overview
- Military eligibility