College & Career Readiness
Polk County Public Schools is committed to preparing students for success long after they graduate. Our school counseling program provides comprehensive support to meet the academic, career preparation, and personal/social needs of all students. We know life after high school comes with many choices. We’re here to help students and their families make the ones that are best for them.
High School Counseling Services
High school represents the final transition into adulthood and the world of work. Students begin separating from their parents and exploring and defining their independence. Students are deciding who they are, what they do well, and what they want to do when they graduate.
During these years, students are evaluating their strengths, skills and abilities. The biggest influence is their peer group. They are searching for a place to belong and rely on peer acceptance and feedback. They face increased pressure to engage in risky behaviors involving sex, drugs and alcohol, and are exploring the boundaries of more acceptable behavior and mature, meaningful relationships. During this time, students need guidance in making decisions.
High school students are also dealing with academic pressures as they face high-stakes testing and the challenges of applying to college, including navigating the scholarship and financial aid application processes, and entering the workforce.
High school counselors enhance the learning process and promote academic achievement. School counselors are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate career goals and realize their full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of society.
High school counselors hold master’s degrees and required state certification in school counseling. Maintaining certification requires ongoing professional development to stay current with educational reform and challenges facing today’s students. Professional association membership is encouraged as it enhances the school counselor’s knowledge and effectiveness.
College & Career Readiness
Polk County Public Schools offers numerous resources to help students and their families prepare for what comes after high school, be that postsecondary education or entry into the workforce.
The Florida Department of Education provides an overview graduation requirements and requirements for admission to a state college, university or career/technical center at these links:
• College Board Online — Provides online help for those interested in attending college.
• FACTS.org — A central web resource for planning and managing the higher education experience.
• Princeton Review Online — This site contains many tips designed to help individuals succeed in college and develop a career.
• “So You Are Thinking About Dropping Out of School” — This site, presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, contains information on unemployment in relation to educational achievement.
Financial aid can be one of the most confusing and stressful parts of the college admissions process. To help you get started, Polk County Public Schools has compiled an overview of the forms of financial aid that may be available to you or your family, and information on how to apply.
FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form current and prospective college students complete to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. For deadline information and instructions on completing the form, visit FAFSA.ed.gov.
Types of Financial Aid
• Grants or scholarships — This is money that does not have to be repaid. Grants are usually awarded based on financial need. Scholarships are usually awarded based on specific criteria such as academic achievement, test scores, activities, essays, etc. Sometimes financial need is one of the requirements for a scholarship.
• Loans — This is money that must be repaid. Loans are often called self-help aid.
• Work study — This is a program in which the college or other postsecondary institution locates a job for the student or the student may find employment on his own. Work study is often called self-help aid.
• Financial aid that is awarded in a combination of the above is called a “financial aid package.”
Sources of Financial Aid
- Pell grants
- Campus-based programs
- Federal Direct Loans
- Federal Family Education Loans
State of Florida Programs
- Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program
- Additional programs administered by the Florida Office of Student Financial Assistance
- College/postsecondary institutional sources
- Community sources
- Foundations, corporate, or organizational programs
- Florida Bright Futures and other Florida state scholarships/grants
The Florida Department of Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance administers state and some federally funded student financial assistance programs to assist eligible students in defraying the cost of postsecondary education. Need-based, merit-based, special interest and professional programs are available. Each program has specific eligibility requirements.
Click here for more information on state scholarship and grant programs and the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
Polk Education Foundation Scholarships
The Polk Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization directly supporting Polk County Public Schools. Through the Foundation, various donors contribute scholarship money to assist students in continuing their education after high school. The Foundation also administers the Take Stock in Children scholarship and mentoring program, which help students prepare for the next phases of their education.
Other Scholarship, Grant and Loan Opportunities
Learn more about the wide variety of financial aid resources available by visiting Fastweb.