Every aspect of the Gifted Program at Forest Park is intended to help students achieve their academic potential and be prepared to succeed after their years here are through. In addition to the seminar curriculum designed to develop thinking ability, students have the opportunity to meet with a resource teacher to set their long range academic goals and develop a plan to reach them. A blank version of this document is available below for parents and students to use in course selection planning with long term goals in mind.

Career Planning
Students are told that it is a good idea to find a career which combines their interests and their strengths. In order to find that career, it is recommended that all students take at least one Career Interest Survey. These connect personal and career characteristics.

The US Dept. of Labor runs an incredible site for learning about careers and job prospects - O*Net Online.  Within the site, a very useful resource is MyNextMove, which offers a free Interest Survey. The Department of Labor's Department of Labor Statistics maintains the best source for jobs in the coming years through their Occupation Outlook Handbook.

The Jackson Vocational Interest Survey is based on 60 years of research and is the most robust and legitimate tool of its type available. It costs $22 and may take 1-2 hours, but it could help ensure that 4-6 years and $100,000+ invested in college is well spent.  

College Planning
We strongly believe that students choosing college for their next step should be most concerned with finding a good fit for their interests and preferences. Choosing a school based solely on the fame or the convenience may not have the best outcome for you if it doesn't support what you want to do. In the end, the most important name on the diploma is the student's, not the school.

There may be no better single source of information about planning and paying for college than the student resources available through ECMC. All Forest Park seniors receive a paper copy of the Opportunities packet, which is fantastic, but students and parents should begin looking at these things as soon as they know about the resources available. Now you know, so how about today! 
There is an amazing amount of useful information available about colleges through The College Board. This is also the place to register for the SAT, get practice tests for AP classes and much more. Many students are also choosing to take the ACT.

Cappex is also a wealth of information. College and scholarship searches on this site require signing up, and there are free articles and advice that are well worth considering. The Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary especially recommended Mark Kantrowitz's article about the most common college savings mistakes. Other excellent places to look for learning about colleges and paying for them are FastWeb and The Financial Aid Handbook.

How are you going to pay for it? For almost everyone, financial aid is needed in some form or another. If that's you, you will need to have your parents fill out the FAFSA during your senior year of high school. If you are younger, you and your parents can use the quick and "easy" FAFSA 4caster to estimate what your family will be expected to contribute towards college costs. The affiliated College Scorecard has great information about college costs, graduation rates and post-graduation earnings.

More and more students are going to NOVA (Northern Virginia Community College) for an Associate's Degree and then transferring to a four-year college in state to finish a Bachelor's Degree. This is a wonderful way to save money, but there are important requirements and procedures for the Guaranteed Admissions Agreements. There are so many students going from NOVA to George Mason University in popularly selected fields that the two schools have established the NOVA ADVANCE program to streamline the process and give students the benefits of both worlds.

Students who want to be athletes in college should become familiar with the requirements of the NCAA Eligibility Center. A quick reference guide to the requirements is available below.

High School Planning
Students are given an unofficial copy of their transcript so that they know their current GPA. Sample Transcripts with GPA and class rank calculations are available below. 

All students receive suggestions on course selections based on their goals as well as reminders of course sequences. Handouts on those topics are below. For iT course sequences, see the latest information posted the main iT Program page.

The Virginia Governor's Early College Scholar Program opens doors of opportunity and greater access to the Virtual Virginia online courses (including many AP classes). See below for the basic explanation and course list.

***Many students have benefited from taking classes through the VDOE's Virtual Virginia program, PWCS's own Virtual High School, and/or NVCC's offerings. Any student looking into these options must consult with his or her School Counselor to be sure they are making a fully informed decision. ***
   For example, Mr. Smith, the Director of School Counseling, informed us that students should not take Personal Finance and Economics through Virtual Virginia over the summer because they will most likely not get to take a competency exam that satisfies the Workplace Readiness requirement for graduation. This is not a problem with other summer classes through Virtual Virginia or all the other ways to take the PF&E course, but could cause a big problem for students who find themselves still needing the Workplace Readiness in order to graduate. 

If you have questions about these materials or ideas for other resources to include here, please contact Mr. Bredbenner