Educational Support Departments » Guidance Center » Seniors

Seniors

Welcome to senior year. You’ve made it, but there is still so much work and planning to do!  
 
We want you to make the best choice for your next step – whether that’s vo-tech, military, community college, 4-year college, or joining the workforce.  
 
You’ve worked hard for the past 3 years, so let’s take all that hard work, and show it off in the best light possible! Let’s figure out what you want to do with your career, and choose a path that will help you reach your goals. 
 
Sincerely, 
Your Guidance Team 

 

Regents 

Diploma 

Advanced 

Regents 

Diploma 

English 

8 

8 

Social Studies 

Distributed as follows: 

    Global History (4) 

    U.S. History (2) 

    Participation in Government (1) 

    Economics (1) 

8 

8 

Science (including lab) 

Distributed as follows: 

    Life Science (2) 

    Physical Science (2) 

    Life Science or Physical Science (2) 

6 

6 

Mathematics 

    Including at least 2 credits of  

    advanced math (e.g., Geometry or  

    Algebra II). 

6 

6 

Language Other Than English (LOTE) 

2 

6 

Visual Art, Music, and/or Theater 

2 

2 

Physical Education (Every Year) 

4 

4 

Health 

1 

1 

Electives 

7 

7 

Total 

44 

44 

First things first, let’s understand some basic “college lingo”: 
 
  • Undergraduate / undergrad: typical 4-year college environment and/or typical 4-year college students 
  • Graduate School: specialized programs students can attend AFTER they complete a 4-year college degree 
  • Community College: 2-year school where students receive an Associate’s degree 
  • College: typically refers to a 4-year college where students receive a Bachelor’s degree 
  • University: typically refers to a large school where students can earn their Bachelor’s, Master’s, or doctorate degrees 
 
Now, let’s discuss the different types of degrees offered: 
 
  • Associate’s Degree (A.A. or A.S.): degree after 2-year college program; omen is enough for mid-level jobs, but not enough to enter graduate programs, such as medicine or law 
  • Bachelor’s Degree (B.S. or B.A.): standard 4-year college degree – this is what most students aspire to get 
  • Master’s Degree (M.S. or M.A.): advanced study in a particular field after the Bachelor’s degree 
  • Juris Doctorate (J.D.): Degree needed to be a lawyer 
  • Medical Doctorate (M.D.): Degree needed to be a doctor 
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): very advanced study in a particular field after either a Bachelors and/or Master’s 
 
MANY TYPES OF COLLEGES: 
 
Liberal Arts & National Research Universities 
 
Liberal Arts Colleges: Teaching You How to Think 
4-year colleges that focus on Bachelor’s degrees and offer the “classic” subjects, like languages, literature, history, arts, and sciences 
Take classes in many different subjects, eventually choosing a major 
Focus is on developing critical thinking and analytical skills 
Typically have small classes of 5-15 students 
Typically situated in suburbs and rural setting, with beautiful castle-like buildings and park-like grounds 
Typically smaller student population, oftentimes the size of FDR, i.e. 500 students or fewer per grade 
 
National Research Universities: Focusing on Results 
Much larger than liberal arts schools, omen enrolling tens of thousands of students, and offers Masters and PhD degrees, in addition to traditional 4-year Bachelor’s degrees 
Many lecture-based classes, with hundreds of students per class; however, omen have small breakout sessions with fewer than 20 students 
Professors are sometimes the leading thinkers, and they use the school resources to publish new and exciting research 
Typically offers many different subjects and majors, including preprofessional programs like business, accounting, and engineering 
 
 
Vo-Tech and Special Interest 
 
Vocational/Technical/Certification Programs: 
Preparing You for the Working World 
Unlike traditional colleges, such as the liberal arts colleges or large national research universities, vocational programs are just that: they teach a specific vocation 
Vocation means Job or Skills 
Often very small and offer enrollment throughout the year 
You don’t necessarily “major” in a subject, but rather study a particular area, such as plumbing, bookkeeping, electrical work, mechanics, nurse’s aid, IT, hairdressing or other skill 
Typically take 2 years or less to complete the program 
Culinary schools also fall into this category 
 
Special Interest Colleges: Birds of a Feather Flock Together 
Typically 4-year colleges that award Bachelor’s degrees and are united by a common interest or theme 
Examples: 
HBC (Historically Black College) are schools which historically, but no longer, only accept Black students 
Spelman, Morehouse, Morgan State, Langston, Howard, Delaware State 
Religious schools teach specific religious studies, in addition to subjects and major 
Brigham Young, Roberts Wesleyan, Manhattan College 
Women’s Colleges are colleges that historically and continue to only accept female students 
Bryn Mawr, Smith, Wellesley, Agnes Scott, Barnard 
 
 
 
Public vs. Private, a Question of $$$$$$ and Preference 
 
Public colleges and universities are primarily funded by taxpayer dollars. Private colleges and universities are primarily funded by private donations and tuition. Which school has higher tuition? You guessed it – private schools! 
 
However, it’s important to remember that the cost of college is only its STICKER PRICE. How many of you have gone with your parents to buy a car or a house, and then negotiated the price down? Well, college is very similar! 
 
People who can afford to pay full tuition generally do so, while those who cannot often receive ample financial aid and scholarships. 
 
While some private schools have a STICKER PRICE of $50,000 per year, they may also have more generous financial aid packages, because a higher proportion of students there pay full tuition. Similarly, a state university may only have a STICKER PRICE of $25,000, but provide smaller financial aid packages, because 1) it receives less tuition dollars and 2) more students who attend require aid. 
 
In fact, most of the big-name private schools, like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia, have a FULL-NEED admissions policy! That means if you can’t afford the school, it doesn’t matter – the school will give you enough money to attend. (Take a look at the back page for colleges!) 
So which one is better – public or private? There is no general answer, because it depends on what you’re looking for, what you want to study, and what you hope to accomplish. Some public schools are better at ABC than some private schools, while other private schools are better at XYZ than other public schools.                                                                                                                                                                    
 
Where Should You Apply? 
 
Remember, don’t let money discourage you from applying to the college of your dreams! At Progress High School, you have a few application fee waivers. Let’s use those wisely! 
 
A REACH school is a dream school that you have a longer shot of getting into. It’s like making that 3-point shot in basketball – you’ve got a chance, but the probability is lower. However, take a chance and shoot for the stars!  
 
A TARGET school is a school where you will likely get in. Your test scores and grades match the school’s average, and you would be happy amending that school.  
 
A SAFETY school is like a back-up. It’s for times when you might not get into your target or reach schools, because college admissions is so competitive! Your test scores and grades are often better than the safety school’s average, but this doesn’t mean it’s not a good school! In fact, many students who amend their safety school become #1 and do very well after graduation.  
So what’s your Reach/Target/Safety? That’s a conversation to have with your college and/or guidance counselor to figure out what’s right for you – one person’s safety may be another person’s reach!  
 
Remember to apply to both PUBLIC and PRIVATE schools. Private schools often give MORE scholarship money than public schools. Sometimes, even though a private school has a higher sticker price, you pay LESS than you would at a public school!  
 
 
Obviously you need good grades to get into college, but colleges are looking for a whole lot more. In order to stand out, you need: 
 
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Clubs and teams inside and outside of school 
  • Leadership Skills 
  • Showing initiative 
  • Ability to inspire others 
  • Unique trait 
  • Something about you that will make them go WOW! 
 
Your College Strategy is Unique 
 
Now that you have read through the different career trajectories and considered the different factors in choosing a college, let’s actually help you choose a few colleges.  
 
First things first – let’s be honest about how competitive you are. While there is no such thing as a “bad college”, there is a such thing as a “bad fit” college. What works for your best friend or your cousin may not necessarily work for you. You want to go to a school where you fit academically.  
 
 
The Complete College Checklist 
 
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVEY BOX CHECKED!!!!!! 
 
This page may become your best friend. It has all the items you need to check off as you start on your college application. 
 
To-do by mid-September of Senior Year 
If you still need to take an SAT I or ACT, register ASAP!!!! 
If you want to take an SAT II, register ASAP!!!! 
 
To-do by mid-October of Senior Year 
Meet with your Guidance and/or College Counselor. 
Create your college list  
Some schools have early deadlines, like Macaulay Honors, which is due in October 
Get your college list early, even if it is just an initial list! 
If you have not done so already in your junior year, as your junior year teachers for college recommendations. 
Give your teacher and counselor recommenders a 1-page, double-spaced, typed “cheat sheet” that lists all the cool things you have done. 
If you want a good recommendation, you MUST do this! Your teachers and counselors work with hundreds of students, so it is not physically possibly to remember every detail about you. 
 
To-do by early December of Senior Year 
Physically or virtually visit the colleges you have selected 
Reach out to the regional admissions officers with any questions about the college – this is a way to DEMONSTRATE YOUR INTEREST 
Colleges accept more students than they can handle because most students apply to multiple schools 
If a college thinks you will attend, you have a higher likelihood of getting in! Colleges think you will attend when you: 
Visit the college and attend an information session 
Email the regional admissions representative 
Participate in a virtual information session/tour 
Reach out to the admissions office for more info 
 
Put together your college application package by mid-December.  This includes all the following items: 
Your College Essay. 
Your Transcript.  This is something that Progress will send out to the school.  HOWEVER, if part of your high school was in a different country, you must provide an English translation of those school records. 
Register online and fill out the CUNY application 
Register online and fill out the SUNY application 
Register online and fill out the Common Application 
Tell your teachers and counselors where to send the teacher recommendations (some teachers like to send by snail mail while others will use the online application) 
 
There are things they CANNOT do for you by law. These include filing for financial aid and sending your test scores. While you simultaneously apply for college, you must also do the following: 
 
Things YOU NEED To Do on YOUR OWN: 
Register for the SAT, SAT II, and/or ACT 
Send your SAT, SAT II and/or ACT scores from the College Board or ACT to each college. 
Each college you apply to will have a code, so you must put in that code. Test scores MUST be sent by the application deadline! 
 
Things your counselor does with you: 
Send out your college applications via the different online systems (CUNY, SUNY, Common Application) 
Fill out your FAFSA form online and submit.  You can file beginning January 1.  In the 2nd week of January, the Guidance team will host a series of workshops to help you fill out FAFSA.  The deadline for FAFSA is in May, but DO NOT WASTE TIME! GET YOUR FORMS IN ASAP!!! 
 
$20,000 a year. $45,000 a year. Even $60,000 a year. Is it worth it?  
 
Many students see the sticker price for college and get scared. Instead of applying to their dream school, they choose the cheapest college available. Sometimes, the cheapest college IS the best choice for them. However, that’s not always the case, and students miss out! 
 
 Colleges, ESPECIALLY PRIVATE COLLEGES, have a lot of money in a fat piggy bank called the “endowment fund.” This fund is especially created for students who can’t afford to pay the sticker price.  
 
However, you must first GET INTO COLLEGE before you can access that piggy bank.  
 
While both public and private colleges give money, private schools generally give more, and only private schools have pledged to meet 100% of your financial need. Take a look on the back-cover for full-need schools. Make sure you apply to at least 1 private college to maximize your scholarship rewards!  
 
The Last Word: key in mind that college tuition is not the only thing that’s expensive – when a college tells you its tuition cost, that number does not include the cost of housing, books, transportation, and food. Be sure to calculate all your expenses when you look at college pricing! Sometimes, housing and food can equal the cost of college tuition!! 
 
 
 
Why do people go to college? 
  • Meet New People from around the world 
  • Learn about new subjects like Marketing or Anthropology 
  • Make new friends 
  • Go to college parties 
  • Live in a dorm – even some co-ed dorms! 
  • Be independent and live away from home 
  • Because it is the thing to do after High School 
 
However, the MOST important reason for going to college is:  
SO YOU CAN GET A GOOD JOB WHEN YOU GRADUATE! (Or get into a great graduate school, so you can get a good job after that!)  
 
The point of college is not for you to just have fun – it’s so you get the skills and “badge of honor” that you need in order to begin a career in a number of exciting fields.  
 
So, what do you want to be when you “grow up”?  
 
You might not know the answer yet, but you will have to make a decision for your general career direction. In the following, we’re giving you a little help to pick a career direction that is good for you! 
 
 
JOBS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE PEOPLE 
 
 Are you a people person? Do you have a lot of friends, or love to talk and help others? If so, consider these careers: 
  • Sales Person 
  • Teacher 
  • Psychologist/Social Worker 
 
JOBS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE SCIENCE  
Do you like biology, chemistry, and/or physics? Is Bill Nye the Science Guy your role model? If so, check out these jobs! 
  • Doctor / Dentist / Veterinarian 
  • Nurse 
  • Research Scientist 
 
JOBS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE MATH 
 Is numbers your “thing”? Are you able to get 90s in math without studying too much? If so, check out these jobs! 
  • Marketing Research Analyst / Statistician 
  • Engineer 
  • Actuary 
 
JOBS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE BEING IN CONTROL 
 Are you good at arguing? Do you write persuasive English papers? Are you “bossy”? If so, maybe one of these jobs is right for you! 
  • Lawyer 
  • Police Officer 
  • Fire Fighter 
 
JOBS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE GOOD WITH THEIR HANDS 
 Are academic classes kind of boring? Are you better at fixing things or making things? If so, look at these jobs! 
  • Graphic Designer 
  • Skilled Trade 
  • Chef 
  • Cosmetologist / Hair Stylist 
 
ACTUARY 
 When you buy health insurance, life insurance, or any other type of insurance, you pay a certain amount of money. But how much is enough? If insurance companies charge too much, no one will buy their stuff. If they charge too little, they will go bankrupt. Actuaries are people who use complex math equations to figure out just how much money insurance companies should charge. They must have a 4-year college degree and pass a series of complex tests that often takes years. However, they are working while they take these tests, and once they become a certified actuary, they can make $100k-$250k per year!  
 
CHEF 
 We’ve all see the celebrity chefs on TV, like Bobby Flay or Emeril Lagasse. How did they get there? Most chefs go to culinary school, which is a two-year program that teaches you everything you need to know to slice, dice, simmer, and sauté your favorite foods. Chefs start around $25k, but can increase to over $100k as a Executive Chef or restaurant owner.  
 
COSMETOLOGIST / HAIR STYLIST 
 Did you get your hair and nails done for prom? Do you like to make other people beautiful? If so, then amend beauty school, which usually takes less than 2 years, to become a certified hairstylist or cosmetologist. You can work hourly and make around $25k or save your money and own your own salon, where you can make over $100k!  
 
DOCTOR / DENTIST / VETERINARIAN  
Doctors work with human bodies, dentists work with human teeth, and veterinarians work with animal bodies and teeth! Vet school is especially difficult to get into, as there are only 28 accredited veterinary medicine schools in the country! Compare that with over 150 medical schools and over 65 dental schools. The average doctor makes $120k (and over $500k for some surgeons), the average dentist makes $120k and the average veterinarian makes $96k. For all three jobs, you must first go to a 4-year college and then a 4-year graduate school. Doctors also need at LEAST 3 more years of residency training after medical school. 
 
ENGINEER  
Engineers design all the things that make this world work. They design cars to improve gas efficiency and increase engine torque and speed. They make computers smaller and more powerful. They create tiny surgical equipment that can enter the smallest blood vessel to conduct life-saving surgery. Engineers need at least a 4-year college degree, after which they can work for a company. Most engineers will also get a 2-year Master’s degree while they are working, because most large employers PAY for it!  
 
FIRE FIGHTER  
NYC firefighters must be at least 21 years old and have at least 6 months of work experience or college credits. They must also be US citizens and have a driver’s license. Then there’s a physical test and medical screening. A new firefighter makes $43k, but can earn up to $99k in 5 years!  
 
 
GRAPHIC DESIGNER 
 Do you like the cartoons and design of this handbook? Yes, no, maybe so? If you want to do something about it, and you like to draw, then chances are you should look into graphic design. Graphic designers create the logos you see on billboard ads and storefronts, book covers and magazines. Most graphic designers have a 2- year degree from community college or a trade school, though some have a 4-year degree from art school. Graphic designers can work for themselves or for large companies, and the average graphic designer makes around $45k.  
 
LAWYER  
When you’re in real, legal trouble, you turn to your lawyer. Aside from trial lawyers you see on TV, there are lawyers who help solve problems in real estate, business, immigration, divorce, family, and even lawyers for the NYC school district! To become a lawyer, you must first amend a 4-year college and then 3 years of law school. Salaries vary depending on the place you work – you can make anywhere from $50k to over $500k! 
 
MARKETING RESEARCH ANALYST / STATISTICIAN  
Ever wonder if TV ads really work? If you want to answer this question, you can use your math skills to analyze which marketing tools can do what. You’ll be able to save companies millions of dollars on ineffective ads, and be directing precious marketing dollars on ad campaigns that actually work! What’s your reward for this information? Salaries ranging from $50k to well over $100k. Some senior marketing researchers make over $250k a year! To get to that point, you will need at least a 4- year college degree, and possibly graduate work.  
 
NURSE 
 We all know what a nurse is! Think about your school nurse. He/she helps you when you are sick, and in a hospital, nurses help doctors. Nurses can take your pulse, help you take medication, or even assist in surgeries. There are two types of nurses: Registered Nurse (RN) and Nurse Practitioner (NP). It takes only 2 years to become an RN (KCC has a great nursing program!), while it takes 6 years to become an NP – you must graduate a 4-year college and then get a 2 –year Master of Science in Nursing. The average RN makes $66k while the average NP makes $92k.  
 
POLICE OFFICER NYPD  
officers have an important and exciting job keeping New York City safe. In order to become a police officer, you must be 21 years old and have at least two years worth of college credits. After passing a written test, a physical test, and a background check, you’ll join the Police Academy, where you’ll train for about 38 weeks total. Then you’re a cop, making $45k, which increases to over $75k when you re>re in 20 years!  
 
PSYCHOLOGIST / SOCIAL WORKER  
Psychologists and social workers help people with their problems. A social worker focuses more on psychotherapy and discussion-based solutions, while a psychologist administers more tests for patients. Both careers require a 4-year college degree; the psychologist needs a PhD in Psychology, which usually takes 6 more years, while the social worker needs a Master in Social Work, which takes 2 years. The salary ranges are wide, star>ng at around $45k and going as high as $500k or more! 
 
RESEARCH SCIENTIST  
Research scientists study all types of scientific topics that are important to daily life. They range from marine biologists who study the ocean to chemists who create the delicious artificial flavors of popsicles and snow cones! Research scientists can work in a university, in private labs, or in large companies. To begin, you must have a 4- year college degree, while many scientists also have a Master’s (2 years) or PhD (6 years) in their field. Why the difference? PhD’s can command $100k or more while Master’s typically make $50k-$70k.  
 
SALESPERSON  
A salesperson is someone who sells things, and depending on what you’re selling, you could become extremely successful! Most career salespeople have at least a 2- year college degree. As a rule of thumb, the more complex and expensive the thing you’re selling is, the more money you will make. For example, pharmaceutical sales reps are people who sell LEGAL MEDICAL drugs to doctor’s offices. These people need to have a good understanding of biology and chemistry, and can make more than $100k per year! To become a salesperson, it’s a good idea to study Economics, Psychology, and specific subjects that relate to what you’re trying to sell. You can also study business, and one day start your own company!  
 
SKILLED TRADE  
Skilled tradesmen work with their hands, but have much more specialized knowledge than your average laborer. Examples include mechanics, plumbers, tailors, carpenters, electricians, and metal workers. Most of these trades can be learned at a vocational school in two years or less, after which there may be an apprenticeship, or paid job training. Salaries start at $25k when working hourly to over $100k if you own your business!  
 
TEACHER  
We all know what a teacher is! If you like helping others, are good at communicating, and have patience, then this job may be for you. Teachers need at least a 4-year college degree, typically in the subject area they will teach in. In NYC, teachers must also have a Master’s degree. Teachers usually start at $40-50k in salary, and can go as high as $100k or more! If you take additional classes and have job experience, you can even become an Assistant Principal or Principal! 
Many people say that the college essay is a “window into your soul.” This makes sense, because aside from your grades and test scores, what do most colleges see about you? Not much!  
 
The essay is a place where you can express yourself. It’s a few hundred words for you to be creative and tell colleges what they need to know about you – what you struggled with, what you’re good at, all the wonderful, unique things about YOU!  
 
Think about what you’d like to tell colleges. Do you want to write an inspirational story about how you overcame? Or a funny story about starting a club? Or maybe a moving story about living through poverty?  
 
Quick Note: Most topics are fair game, but DO NOT write essays on extreme political or religious views, anything illegal, anything sexual, sob stories without a point, anything unethical, comedy routine, and just listing accomplishments. 
 
 
You Are Almost There… 
 
You’ve worked hard at everything in the last 4 years. You’re now applying to college, getting in, earning scholarships and becoming an adult.  
 
Speaking of which, there are serious consequences to your actions as an adult. While you may look and feel like a kid, society sees no difference between you and a full-fledged grownup.   
 
If you get caught doing anything illegal, it goes on your permanent record. There are examples of kids who had their college acceptances AND scholarships taken away because of police records in senior year.  
 
Even if it’s not illegal, posting inappropriate pictures or offensive language on social media can also land you in the hot seat. You don’t want to be “the most hated person in NYC”, even if it’s only for a day!  
 
The key takeaway is that a few minutes (or maybe hours) of fun can land you in a whole lot of trouble for the rest of your life. Is it worth it? You decide. 
 
In New York state, more than 1 out of every 6 students has an IEP – in some schools, it’s 1 out of 4!  
 
Having an IEP can actually help you on your college applications. 
 
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s ILLEGAL for colleges to discriminate against anyone with an IEP 
 
An IEP can explain lower grades or test scores 
 
An IEP can give you more time to take school tests and SATs 
 
Writing your essay about overcoming your challenges in school may make you look more attractive to a college 
 
You may be eligible for special education scholarships 
 
When English isn’t your first language, it can be scary and intimidating to apply to college.
 
Students often wonder, “Am I good enough?” or “Will colleges even accept me?”  
 
The answer to both questions is a resounding YES! Many colleges are 10-20% international students, so they understand English is not everyone’s first language. If your English grades aren’t great, you can improve in other areas, such as math and science.  
 
Learning the English language and American culture takes time. Colleges know this! Colleges expect you to continue learning, while sharing with other students your unique perspectives as an immigrant and your home country’s culture.