Plan: Is college the right choice for me?
Prepare: What can I do to get ready for college?
Pay: How will I pay for college?

Planning for College in High School

College is within reach ... within you!

No matter your circumstances—straight As or all Cs, first generation or third generation college student, rural or urban—with the right amount of determination and effort, you can attend a university, college or career technology center and be well on your way to a great future.

Use the tabs below to learn about the meaning, value and benefits of a college education.

  • What is College?
  • Why Should I Go?
  • Addressing Concerns
  • Exploring Careers

What is College?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines college as:

: a school in the U.S. that you go to after high school : a school that offers courses leading to a degree (such as a bachelor's degree or an associate degree)

PDF of Types of Colleges in Oklahoma opens in a new tabWhen we use the word "college," we're referring to all types of training after high school: career technology centers, trade/proprietary schools, community colleges, regional and comprehensive universities.

Types of Colleges in Oklahoma

There are different types of colleges and universities, and all types can be found in Oklahoma. Learn more about different types of colleges.

Next tab: "Why Should I Go?"

Why should I go?

Higher Income — In general, those with some type of degree or certification earn significantly more than those with only a high school diploma. In fact, according to the College Board of Advocacy and Policy Center, those with a bachelor's degree earn about 67 percent more than those with only a high school diploma.

Still not convinced? Check out the Degree vs. On-the-Job Training Chart  in the "Helpful Tools" section below to compare salaries.

Job Satisfaction — College gives you the freedom to choose classes and a career path that interests and pleases you. If you choose a career in a field you like, you're more likely to be satisfied with your everyday work.

Better Benefits — In addition to higher income and job satisfaction, a college degree can also help open the door to a career with good health insurance coverage, paid vacation time, a retirement package and more.

More Job Security — People with additional training after high school are more likely to have and keep a job.

Next tab: "Addressing Concerns"
Previous tab: "What is College?"

Addressing Concerns

What comes to mind when you think about college? Some students can't wait to go to college, while others may have some concerns. If you have concerns similar to those listed below, we recommend you read the responses that follow each and feel free to have an open conversation with your parents and mentors to help ease some of your concerns.

Common Concerns:

I don't like high school. Why would I want to go to college?

It's not uncommon to dislike high school, but that shouldn't stop you from considering college. College is much different! In college, you have your choice of campuses, classes, professors and extracurricular activities. For many, college is a fresh start and new opportunity to discover who you are and who you want to become.

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I don't know what I want to do with my life, so there's no point going to school.

Most college freshmen haven't decided on a major, let alone a career. Look at college as an opportunity to explore your likes, dislikes and talents. By taking different types of classes and investigating new activities, you might be surprised by what you learn about yourself.

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College is too expensive. There's no way I can afford it.

Oklahoma public colleges and universities are among the most affordable in the nation. College does cost in terms of tuition, books and time, but it's a smart investment in your future. Very few people get a full ride to college (i.e., all college expenses paid in full); that's why there's financial aid. Financial aid comes in many forms, including grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans. If getting an education is your goal, there are financial aid options to help you along the way. Learn more about paying for college by clicking the green "Pay" button above.

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I don't need a degree. I can make more money if I get a job now.

Can't decide between getting a job and getting a degree? Keep in mind that a great deal of today's jobs prefer or require some form of degree or certification beyond a high school diploma. Click the "Why Should I Go?" tab above to learn how a college education can help you earn more money and better benefits.

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No one in my family has ever gone to college, so I shouldn't go either.

If you're the first person to go to college in your family, you should know that you're not alone. While the prospect of college can be both scary and exciting, colleges are expertly staffed to help the many first-generation college-going students at your school. Not only will college help guide you on the path to a bright future, your achievements in and beyond college may also be a source of pride for your family.

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I'm afraid I won't fit in.

Each and every college is different from one another. Instead of worrying about fitting in at a college, focus on finding the school that best suits you and your unique needs. To learn more about choosing a school in Oklahoma, click the blue "Prepare" button above.

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Next tab: "Exploring Careers"
Previous tab: "Why Should I Go?"


Exploring Careers

Picture your life 10 years from now. Where do you live? What are your hobbies? What kind of car do you drive? Now, to afford this lifestyle, how much money do you think you'll need to earn each year? Explore this concept more by completing the What Do You Want to Be? handout in the "Helpful Tools" section below.

Career vs. Job

Have you ever wondered how a career differs from a job? Basically, a job is a short term, paid-position. A career is long-term profession that typically requires educational training, such as a college degree or certification. You may currently have a job, something that helps you and your family pay for school clothes or your cellphone, but once you graduate you'll want to decide on a career, an occupation that allows you to use your unique skills and strengths.

With so many career possibilities out there, how do you make a decision? What career path should you follow? The first step to finding the answers to these questions is to assess your interests and skills.

Investigate Your Interests

Think about your interests and skills. Then, think about the extracurricular activities in which you're involved. This could be anything like sports, yearbook staff or volunteer work. Jot down the skills you apply at each of these activities and consider what aspects of each you enjoy the most.

Developing a Career Plan

After considering the above, you may have some ideas for future careers. Remember, no test can tell you exactly what you want do with your life. You are the only person who can make that decision. Such tests are designed only to help you get the ball rolling. The rest is up to you.

Once you have some career possibilities in mind, use the Developing My Career Plan worksheet to determine the steps necessary to achieve your goals. We suggest hanging this worksheet somewhere you'll see it every day to help remind you of and stay focused on your goals.

Previous tab: "Addressing Concerns"

Helpful Tools

PDf of Degree vs. On-the-Job Training opens in a new tab
Degree vs. On-the-Job Training Chart
PDF of What Do You Want to Be opens in a new tab
What Do You Want to Be? Handout
PDF of Developing My Career Plan opens in a new tab
Developing My Career Plan Worksheet