Explore

There are many paths to college and careers. Whether you are starting high school, about to graduate, enrolled in a GED program or returning to school after time off, making an informed choice about your future starts with exploring your options and setting goals.


Your Options 

Who are you, what do you like to do, and where do you see yourself in the future? Selecting the right college or training program begins with identifying your interests. Speak with your school counselor or try taking a few career surveys to find out how your interests connect to potential careers. Learn More

Get Support 

Share your goals and concerns with family, friends, school advisers, and mentors. Look for a NYC college access program that can offer you opportunities to explore college campuses, find internships, and help you through the college process. Ask questions and speak up until all of your questions are answered. Learn More

Academics Matter 

Grades matter. So do the courses you take. To get ahead or catch up, talk with an adviser to understand what classes you can take to be college ready. If you are struggling, seek help from your school or from one of the many tutoring programs across the five boroughs. Not in school? Find a program in NYC to help you reconnect. Learn More

FAQ

  • Is college right for me?

    College is the first step to having the future that you want. Overall, college graduates earn more money over their lifetime and have a better quality of life.  Higher education not only helps you prepare for the workforce, but creates lifelong relationships, offers you a valuable professional and social network, and grows your likelihood of becoming a lifelong learner.

    If you are worried about affording college, you should know that there is help out there to pay for college. See our section on paying for college to find out more.

  • What are the different kinds of degrees, and what do they get you?

    There are several types of college degrees. The main two undergraduate ones are associate and bachelor’s.  The Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) degrees are awarded after the completion of 60 credits of study. Generally, these degrees should be completed after two years of full-time study but can take longer. Community colleges and some four-year colleges offer these. After earning this degree, a student can transfer to a four year college to complete a bachelor’s degree.

    The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is awarded after the completion of a technological or vocational program of study, generally at two-year colleges. An AAS is considered a “terminal degree” which means that it is designed to help students go right into jobs in certain fields like hospitality and nursing. AAS degrees do not easily transfer into a bachelor’s degree programs.

    The Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees are awarded after the completions of 120 credits at a four-year college. After completing this degree, you may choose to go straight to work. Just by having a BA or BS you are opening up additional job and career possibilities. You also have higher earning potential. If you want to continue building your jobs and earning possibilities, you can continue on to graduate school.

  • How do I find a program to help me with college applications?

    Search the NYC College Line directory for programs in your neighborhood.  Call programs that you are interested in to make sure that you qualify and to ask what the next steps are to enroll.

  • How will colleges evaluate my transcript?

    The transcript is one of the most important documents in your college application. It is a record of all of your high school grades as well as your regent’s scores. Colleges look for a number of things on your transcript.

    Colleges will notice grade trends. If your grades improve over time, it will reflect positively on you. If your grades dip at times or decline overall, they will wonder why.  If this is the case for you, you may want to spend some time explaining this in your essay, personal statement or an additional letter.

    Colleges will notice the classes you took. They will look for challenging courses such as AP and honors courses. They will be pleased to see that you took that fourth year of math, even though it wasn’t required, for example.

    In addition to noticing your GPA, which is your average for all of your classes, colleges will notice your Cumulative Academic Average.

    This is the average of your academic courses (English, math, social studies, science, and foreign language).

  • My high school doesn’t offer any advanced courses. What do I do?

    Colleges are looking for students who challenge themselves, so it is important that, if possible, you take advanced courses in your best subjects. That said, not all schools offer these opportunities. If this is your situation, take advantage of opportunities outside of your school. One example is the College Now program at the City University of New York (CUNY) (http://collegenow.cuny.edu/). If you are a public school student, you can apply to take a free credit or non-credit course at a CUNY school, during after school hours or on weekends.  Most colleges also offer summer programs. Start exploring now so you can beat the deadlines and apply for scholarships, if necessary.

  • I didn’t do well on the SAT. Will I get into college?

    If you didn’t get the score you wanted on the SAT, you should know that it is just one of the many things colleges will consider. They also look at your transcript, your essay, your resume, and your letters of recommendation.  College admission decisions will be based on the strength of your application package as a whole. In addition, some colleges are “SAT optional” and do not require you to submit SAT scores as part of your application.

  • Where can I get help preparing for the SAT?

    Check-in with your school college counselor. Many schools offer SAT courses for their students.  Many community based organizations also offer free SAT courses. Search the NYC College Line directory for programs in your neighborhood.  Call programs that you are interested in to make sure that you qualify and to ask what the next steps are to enroll.

  • Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

    The SAT and ACT are standardized tests that, together with your transcript, are supposed to predict college success. Most students in NY take the SAT. However, more and more students are turning to the ACT for many reasons. Some students are under the impression that the ACT is easier than the SAT. The truth is that most students score similarly on both tests. If a student scores on the 23rd percentile on the SAT, she will most likely score on the 23rd percentile for the ACT.

    If you think you might do better on one of the two tests, we recommend taking a full-length timed practice ACT and SAT. Score both tests and see how you do. This way you can make an informed decision about which test to take.

    You could always take both tests but we don’t recommend it. Taking both tests means that you will have to prepare for both, which will take a lot of work and that’s not a good use of time when you are going through the college application process.

  • If I don’t know what I want to major in, does it make sense to go to college?

    Yes. You have plenty of time to choose a major, both before and after you enroll in college. In fact, declaring your major early limits one of the opportunities college offers: to experiment and explore different fields, and perhaps discover ones you haven't even heard of yet. At most colleges, you don't have to choose a major until the end of your sophomore year. Until then, you can take courses in a variety of fields. You’ll earn general education credits that count toward your degree, no matter what you major in. As you take different classes, you’ll probably find a subject area you love.

  • What is the difference between a community college and four-year school?

    Going to college means you have a range of options: short-term vocational/technical courses, certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degree programs, graduate degrees and post-doctoral studies. Four-year colleges offer programs that lead to a bachelor's degree. These include universities and liberal arts colleges, among others. Two-year colleges, often called community colleges, offer programs that lead to a certificate or an associate degree.

    In New York City, the City University of New York offers eight community colleges and eleven senior or four-year colleges throughout the five boroughs.  In New York State, the State University of New York has 64 campuses throughout New York State that offer a range of programs including community colleges and four-year programs.  There are also a range of other options across the City and New York State. 

  • I don’t have good grades, does that mean I have to go to a community college?

    Not necessarily, you could qualify to go to senior colleges and universities. Not all colleges are looking for the same profile. There may be a four-year college that may be realistic for you. Make sure to look at the grades and SAT scores the school normally accepts and compare it to your scores.

    Also, colleges consider more than just grades when considering an applicant. If your grades don’t quite make it, make sure you attach a great essay and recommendations or consider scheduling an interview if that is an option.

    If a four-year degree is your ultimate goal, attending a community college is a very good starting point. At community colleges, most programs are open admission. This means that you can go to college even if your high school grades aren’t strong.   You can complete your general education requirements for any major and then transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.

  • What is the difference between public and private colleges?

    Public colleges are funded by the government, and usually offer lower tuition rates for students who are residents of the state where the college is located.

    Private colleges rely mainly on tuition, fees and private sources of funding. Their tuition rates are the same for everyone and tend to be higher than public college tuition. Private donations can sometimes provide generous financial aid packages for students. 

  • What is a proprietary school?

    Proprietary schools are private, profit-seeking businesses that offer a variety of degree programs which typically prepare students for specific careers. They typically have higher costs than public colleges, but don’t have the generous sources of funding of private colleges, which can mean that their students graduate with more debt. Credits earned at these schools may not transfer to other colleges.  Before deciding which college is right for you, be sure you do your research to understand what is included in your education, the length of time it will take you to get your degree, and if it is the right fit for your needs.

  • College is expensive, is it worth it?

    College is the first step to having the future that you want. Overall, college graduates earn more money over their lifetime and have a better quality of life.  Higher education not only helps you prepare for the workforce, but creates lifelong relationships, offers you a valuable professional and social network, and grows your likelihood of becoming a lifelong learner. 

  • Do I have to take other tests other than the SAT or ACT for college admission?

    This depends on the schools you are applying to. Some competitive schools will also require one to three SAT Subject Tests. These tests are hour-long content-based tests. There are 20 SAT Subject Tests which focus in one of the five major subjects (English, math, social studies, science, and foreign language).

    Also, if you did all or part of your high school years in a non-English speaking country, some colleges may require you to take the TOEFL exam. This test evaluates your listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills in English.

    Make sure to research using the school’s web site or communicate with your college counselor or the admission office at the schools you are applying to in order to check whether you will have to take any of these tests.

  • I’m in 9th grade and I want to go to college. What can I do now?

    It’s never too early to start thinking about college. There are a lot of things you can do before your junior and senior year. One thing you can do is take the right classes. Meet with your guidance counselor to check-in about your classes. Make sure you take classes in your five major subjects (English, math, social studies, science, and foreign language) each year, if possible.

    Also talk to your guidance counselor about taking a challenging course load in high school, including advanced math or science courses, Advanced Placement courses, Career and Technical Education (CTE) program courses, and other college preparatory classes. If you are a New York City public school student, take advantage of dual enrollment programs like College Now to earn college credit while you are in high school.

    If you are having a difficult time as a new student in high school, ask for help. Speak with your guidance counselor or another trusted staff member about what you can do to make a better transition. This may mean joining a club to make new friends (and build your resume for colleges). If you’re overwhelmed by your classes, you might get tutoring from a classmate or an outside service. Don’t forget that colleges will look at all of your high school grades.

    If you are serious about college, make early contact with the school’s college counselor. He/she can help you find opportunities to learn more such as college fairs and visits. It’s never too early!

  • I’m not the best student. Should I try going to a training program instead of going to college?

    The decision to go to a training program or to college is not all about your grades. You need to think about what careers you are interested in and what skills you need to develop to get there.  College can be challenging, but “bad” grades do not have to hold you back.  You have options, especially at community colleges that offer open admissions. Talking with your school counselor or a college adviser can help you make the best decision for yourself.

  • My college counselor is so busy, how can I get additional help?

    Your school college counselor is an important resource for the college application process. If you’d like his/her help, make sure to be proactive. Make a list of questions based on what you’ve read here and make an appointment! The questions will keep you focused so you can use your time wisely. Your counselor is the person that sends your transcript to your colleges and he/she also writes a recommendation for you. It is important for you to have a relationship with him/her. If this is your first time seeing your college counselor, ask questions about specific college application deadlines for your high school and upcoming college events.

    If you’d like additional help, search the NYC College Line directory for programs in your neighborhood. Call programs that interest you to make sure you qualify.

  • I’m the first in my family to go to college. Where can I find resources?

    There are many different people who can help guide you. Start with your school’s counselor. Your counselor is the person that sends your transcript to your colleges and he/she also writes a recommendation for you. It is important for you to have a relationship with him/her.  Make sure to attend school events about college so you can familiarize yourself with the process.

    You can also get additional help from programs in your neighborhood. Some programs offer guidance for students interested in going to college and their families. Others allow you to take classes on college campuses. Some programs help you connect with a mentor who has gone to college and can help guide you. Use our directory to find programs in your neighborhood.

    Don’t forget to involve your parents! Getting them informed can create another resource for you. Make sure they attend programming at your school and in community organizations when possible.

  • I’m in foster care. What do I do?

    In addition to getting help from your school college counselor, you should work closely with your case manager. Case managers can connect you to supports such as application fee waivers, special grants like the Education and Training Voucher, and other resources.

    If you need additional support, search our directory for programs in your neighborhood.

  • I’m undocumented. What do I do?

    Whatever your situation, you should work closely with your school college counselor. He/she can help you talk through any special steps in your application process.

    If you aren’t sure about your immigration status or if there is anything you can do to gain documentation, you should seek free legal help. Try City University of New York (CUNY) Citizenship Now initiative.

    Get more information about your application process and peer support at the NYS Youth Leadership Council (http://www.cuny.edu/about/resources/citizenship/about-us/contact.html). They offer peer support groups as well as other services for undocumented students.  

    Additionally, you should use our NYC College Line directory for programs in your neighborhood that can help.  Call programs that you are interested in to make sure that you qualify and to ask what the next steps are to enroll.

  • I want to be recruited for a sports team. What do I do?

    Whatever your situation, you should work closely with your school college counselor.  In addition, you should speak with your team coach. He/she can help map out the steps you need to take. He/she can also help connect you to the right people at colleges.

  • Why should I take the PSAT?

    The PSAT assesses your verbal and math skills. There are many reasons to take this test. It is very similar to the SAT, so it helps you practice. All students who take the test get a free account with the College Board’s My Road program, which helps with college and career planning. Lastly, taking the test puts you in the running for the National Merit Scholarship competition. Also, if you are a 10th or 11th grade student in a NYC public school, you can take the test for free. You can’t lose!

  • I haven’t been in school for a long time. What can I do to get ready for college?

    If you’ve been out of school for a while, you may feel you’re not ready to go back. There are a number of programs that can help you get ready. Check our NYC College Line directory for community organizations that offer tutoring or college prep programs for adults.

    Additionally, if you are applying to the City University of New York (CUNY), rest assured that CUNY offers a number of support programs for its students. CUNY Start helps students to develop their reading, writing, and math skills, before they register for classes. CUNY ASAP helps enrolled full-time students graduate within three years by offering a number of supports. There are several other programs you may be able to take advantage of. If you want to go to college, you can make it happen!

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