Preparing early for graduation and life after high school


Neyla Walton

The graduating class of 2019 celebrating at the end of commencement.

Kelsie Anderson, Reporter

Sometimes, it’s better to start early. When it comes to graduation, you shouldn’t wait for senior year to begin the process.

“The best advice that I can give to our underclassmen is to start early, ” said Carla Hartenhoff, TJ’s counselor that works with seniors. “The timelines for college planning are starting earlier, so the more groundwork that you have done before your senior year, the better off that you are going to be.” 

Hartenhoff provided some information towards the benefits of starting your preparations for your senior year early, and what seniors have to carry out during their last year of high school. She has a website and social media channel dedicated to the senior’s final high school year.

“Another tip for our underclassmen is to make sure that you are selecting your classes with your end goal in mind, so that you are not closing any opportunities,” said Hartenhoff.

Hartenhoff concluded that if you get to your senior year, and you realize that you needed two years of a foreign language [for your desired college or job] and you don’t have those two years of that foreign language, you would miss that opportunity in high school and have to get it at the college level.

“I don’t want anyone to have any regrets after their senior year, but I also want to make sure that they are making the most informed decisions as possible,” she said. “That’s where I hope to support students in making a really informed decision about their college and career plan.” 

Hartenhoff also added that when she was a kid in high school she had no guidance, and because of this she made poor decisions, she didn’t do a lot of research, and she didn’t know where to find money,and ended up paying a lot more for her college experience. 

“If seniors are looking towards going to a post-secondary education such as a college,” or any post-secondary institution, she said, “they need to apply, they need to complete FAFSA, and they need to try to find as many scholarships as possible. The goal is to find as much free money as possible to make it a viable option.”

Most colleges require your ACT score for the enrollment process.

College applications, FAFSA, scholarships, trade schools, and job applications are all a part of the post-graduation process.

You can pay for college by securing student loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study jobs. 

According to a CNN Money article, student loans will have to be paid back, scholarships and grants you do not. Having a better chance at scholarships requires preparation, good grades, and time management. 

The article also says that if you’re trying to apply for a scholarship you should contact your counselor or find a free online service. Also, work-study jobs give you the ability to work on your college campus to help earn money to pay off for college. It’s very similar to a regular job because you still receive a paycheck which helps students prepare for a real job well they are at college. 

Lastly, the CNN Money article stated that a grant is money given to you for something specific by a college, state, or federal government that you will not have to repay.