Post Secondary Planning


There is a lot to do when planning your education and training after high school. Students have many opportunities for education and training after high school:  

    Attend a 4-year college/university and pursue a Bachelor's Degree.       
    Attend a community college, then transfer to a 4-year college/university after 1 or 2 years, and pursue a Bachelor's Degree.     
    Attend a community college and pursue a diploma, certificate, and/or Associate Degree.  
    Attend a "career school" and pursue a diploma, certificate and/or Associate Degree.  
    Join the military and receive training through their programs, including ROTC programs at state colleges/universities.

Any combination of the above items.  

It is important for parents and students to "do their homework" and research these options fully.  Post-secondary education is a big investment and therefore requires careful planning, research, and investigation in order to make the best decisions possible.


Students will apply to college/universities, career and/or technical schools in the fall of their senior year.  This is why it is very important for students to use the summers prior to their senior year visiting schools, investigating majors, writing essays, lining up letters of recommendation, etc. so they are ready to go when they return to the high school in the fall of their senior year.

The Montour High School Counseling Department recommends students have all the applications completed by Thanksgiving and no later than Christmas break.  Students are responsible for sending the application (typically online), application fees, essays, letters of recommendation, and having their test scores (SAT or ACT) sent directly to the college from the testing agency.  Test scores do not appear on the transcript and are not sent from the guidance office. The high school counselors are responsible for sending official transcripts along with any counselor forms required by the college/tech/career school.

Career/Technical schools typically do not require SAT and/or ACT test scores; however check with the schools for their individual requirements.

Not all colleges require essays or letters of recommendation; however check with the individual schools for their requirements.  If a school doesn't require these items but recommends them, we advise students to provide the essay and/or letters of recommendation.

Letters of Recommendation:   Having two or three letters from teachers, employers, church advisors, etc. is appropriate.  Schools look for comments about work ethic, character, leadership, and classroom performance.  Students may complete a Recommendation Request Form/Student Information Sheet to help the recommender write a good letter.  These forms are available in the guidance office or online
College Admission Essay:   The essay can range from a general personal statement to a specific topic or prompt.  Each school's requirements are different.  Students can get a lot of use from a good solid essay, because it can be tweaked for various scholarships and/or used for other college applications.  If you are unsure of your essay, have your English teacher look it over and critique it for you.

The Common Application: 390 schools in 42 states use the same or "Common" Application. Students can complete and submit the application once on line and then "click" on the schools they would like to apply to. The counselor's portion of this Common Application can also be completed once online which includes uploading the transcript and other information. The student just provides the counselor's email address for this process to occur. This is a great time saver for students. To find out which schools use the Common Application and details about submission, please go to .

Students with financial need:

Students who qualify for the Free/Reduced Lunch Program are also eligible for fee waivers when taking the SAT and/or ACT.  College Application fees may also be waived.  You need to speak with your counselor if this applies to you.

Students with financial need have many opportunities for financial aid.  Do not let the costs of college attendance dissuade you from applying.  School-based aid, government grant money, and many scholarships are based on financial need.

Special Education Students:

Students with an IEP or 504 Plan may be eligible for accommodations when taking the SAT and/or ACT.  See your special education teacher(s) for more information.  You must apply for accommodations well in advance of the registration deadlines.  Schools will have no way of knowing a student tested with accommodations.  See your special education teacher(s) or counselor for more information.

Most college/tech/career schools have some supports in place for students with disabilities; however it is up to the student to request help.  Post secondary schools require a much higher level of independence than high school (see chart below); therefore students with disabilities must advocate for themselves to be successful.  When investigating post secondary schools, please speak to admission counselors about the supports and possible accommodations available at that school to students with disabilities.  All schools are different.

OVR:   The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation may be able to offer support and/or services to students with disabilities who have graduated from high school.  Parents will receive a letter at the end of the junior/beginning of the senior year for permission for the OVR counselor to speak with the student.  Parents are welcome to also attend this meeting.  The OVR counselor will be able to tell families what a student may be qualified to receive.  Any OVR services/benefits a student may qualify for must be requested by the student/family. 

The following information and chart is from the CCAC website,

The school year is 36 weeks long; classes extend over both terms and some are divided between terms or weeks.
Classes generally have no more than 35 students.
Outside study time varies from as little as 0 to 2 hours a week and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.
You seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough.
You are expected to read short assignments that are discussed, and often re-taught, in class.
Learning is a matter of supplying students with information and testing them on the same.
The academic year is divided into two separate 15-week semesters, plus a week of finals for each.
Classes may number 100 students or more at university levels.  Community College classes have similar enrollments to High School.
For each class you should allow at least 2 to 3 hours outside study time per class.
You need to review class notes and text material regularly. Read over notes after each class, re-write notes and re-read before going to next class.
You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.
Learning is formulating thoughts and critical thinking. Students must take responsibility for their learning, professors assume students have read materials and proceed as it is done.

Teachers check your homework.
Teachers remind you of your incomplete work.
Teachers watch and identify your problems and approach you if they believe you need assistance.
Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class.
Teachers have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students.
Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent.
Teachers often write information on the board to be copied in your notes and identify important information.
Teachers impart knowledge and facts sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process.
Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.
Teachers carefully monitor class attendance. Doctor's excuses are accepted for absences.
Teachers teach.
Professors do not always check homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.
Professors do not remind you of incomplete work.
Professors are usually open and helpful, but they expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.
Professors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.
Professors have been trained as experts in their particular areas of research.
Professors expect you to get from classmates any notes from classes you missed.
Professors may lecture nonstop, expecting you to identify the important  points in your notes. When professors write on the board, it may be to amplify the lecture, not to summarize it. Good notes are a must.
Professors expect you to think about and synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.
Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.
Professors may not formally take roll, but they are still likely to know whether or not you attended. Professors do not take doctors excuses for absences, attendance policies are written on their syllabus, along with consequences for absences.
Professors provide opportunity to expand knowledge and develop thinking.
Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.
Teachers may go over what will be on the test.
Makeup tests are often available.
Teachers work around school activities for their testing dates.
Teachers frequently conduct review sessions, pointing out the most important concepts.
Tests are modified and interpreted to help you understand what the teacher is asking.
Passing a course is based upon your ability to reproduce what you have been taught.

Testing may be less frequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material. There may only be one to 4 tests per term. A comprehensive final may be given.
Test preparation is the students' responsibility.  The professor may review for the test or they may not.
Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, it is your responsibility to request them.
Professors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities.    
Professors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do, they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions.    
Tests are verbatim, you are expected to know what the professor is asking -- no help is given.    
Passing a course is based upon application of the principles taught.

Grades are given for most assigned work.
Consistently good homework grades may raise your overall grade when test grades are low.
Extra credit projects are often available to help you raise your grade.
Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade.
You may graduate only if your average in classes meets the departmental standard, typically a 2.0 or C.
In high school you must pass.
Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.    
Extra credit projects may not be an option in college.    
Watch out for your first tests. These are usually "wake-up calls" to let you know what is expected--but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade. You may be shocked when you get your grades.
You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher.    
In college you can fail

Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.    
Extra credit projects may not be an option in college.    
Watch out for your first tests. These are usually "wake-up calls" to let you know what is expected--but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade. You may be shocked when you get your grades.
You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher.    
In college you can fail.

High School allows shortened assignments.
High School allows the use of notes on exams.
High School explains questions using different words.
High School ensures success.
High School must pass students socially.
In college shortened assignments are not a reasonable accommodation.
Use of notes on exams are not a reasonable in college.
Explaining questions using different words are not reasonable in college.
In college you must meet the academic standards of a course. Success is not guaranteed.    
It is legal for a student with a disability to be academically dismissed from college.

Other Facts:

Not all colleges and universities have disability service offices.

Students must identify themselves to the disability office.

Colleges and universities are not required to provide personal aides.

Colleges and universities may not charge students for providing accommodations.

Tutoring is not available at all colleges and universities. Some colleges charge a fee for tutoring.

IEP's, 504's and CER's are not acceptable documentation for college.

Disability documentation must be recent within 3 years and varies by college and university.

Reasonable accommodations are made in order to level the playing field for qualified individuals with disabilities. These accommodations permit students with disabilities the opportunity to learn by removing barriers that do not compromise academic standards.

Admission requirements must be met for each individual college or university.

SAT scores are used at the college and university level. Most Community colleges do not use SAT scores, they give course placement tests.  CCAC does use SAT scores if a student scores above the 50th percentile. Students scoring above the 50th percentile may waive placement testing.


Make a connection with your OVR counselor.

Make an appointment with Disability Services Office at your college of choice.

Take a tour of the college.

Talk with the professors.

Be your own advocate.

Develop a support system, and seek help when you realize you may need it.

Work with your Disability Office--they are a great resource.

Take workshops on time management or any pre-college programs that could help.

Before you sign up for a course make sure you understand the requirements of the instructor.

Set goals.

© (2003) ed. Patty Florentine, Community College of Allegheny County, Boyce Campus, David Carson, Community College of Allegheny County  and Gretchen Flock, OVR Pittsburgh. Some information used from the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center at Southern Methodist University.  This publication may be distributed freely provided the editing and original authors are acknowledged.

CCAC also offers Pre-College programs in the summer for juniors and seniors with disabilities.

The following websites will help you find valuable information:

Ensphere College Planning Services - Free information and links for college planning. Sign up for the college planning "Tip of the Week", free college planning workshops in the Pittsburgh area, or read archived questions and answers related to college planning.

This is a comprehensive planning tool for parents and students which takes you from your Freshman year of high school, through the entire college selection process including picking a college, picking a major, financial aid, scholarships, etc.
This is a monthly newsletter published by ACT Corporation which has valuable suggestions and information for parents and students.

The College Board website has a wealth of information also.  Not only can you register for the SAT, but there is a college search program, testing prep helps, links to scholarships, and more.  If you took the PSAT, then you have access to My College Quick Start, an interactive search engine that helps with SAT prep, but also links to colleges, major, and careers.
ConsumerAffairs College Career Planning Guide