Amber Peters, aka Mizz P, is a former college counselor who created a college & career info app as a remedy to the gaps in knowledge around post-high school options. Peters currently works as a consultant for several public high schools and organizations that serve high school students. There she supports counselors in developing strategies to get their students on track for the future, and helps students with college applications, essay writing, portfolio/student profile building and conducting workshops for families to help them feel like partners in their children’s success.
On Track For College offers both an app and workbook series which are designed to work together. The app is a free one-stop shop for information and resources for college and career planning. It contains flashcards, helpful websites, mini-lessons, checklists and more. The app also sends out weekly notifications for both students and parents to keep everyone on track throughout the entire year.
In addition to the app, there are workbooks for both students and parents. The On Track For College parent workbook breaks down the entire process from exploration to decision and provides helpful tips and tricks to make things easy to understand and much more affordable.
The On Track For College student workbook functions as a graphic organizer and helps students organize their thoughts for upcoming applications. The workbook provides space to plan out their college choices, careers, brag sheet, resume, college essay and everything in between.
We asked Mizz P to give us a breakdown by grade of how high school students can better prepare for college. Here’s what she had to say:
Ninth grade: This is the age of exploration. Students should be exposed to college and career options and work on starting their academic profile.
10th grade: Students should continue maintaining grades, exploring college and career options and get involved in activities that can make them shine for any given opportunity (job, internship, college etc.) Test prep should also start here since they will be taking the PSAT for the first time which is a predictor for performance on the actual test.
11th grade: Students should start getting prepared for senior year. Knowledge building on financial literacy, college application processes and options should happen here. They should also spend time building their portfolio with a resume, brag sheet (for letters of recommendation), college essays and personal information regarding family finances so they are prepared for application season. College trips, and job shadowing should be ramped up and happening throughout the year.
12th Grade: Showtime! The first half is dedicated to applying to colleges, career programs or trade schools. They will also have to apply for financial aid. (Having a completed portfolio prior to senior year will make this process much easier.) The second half will be making decisions on acceptances and options which should include trips to all contenders. By May students should have their decision made and will spend the next few months completing paperwork and attending orientation.
When it comes to rising seniors, we asked Mizz P what they should be doing this summer to prepare. She said they should work on building their resume with community service, jobs, internships and pre-college programs, as well as finalizing their essays and list of higher education choices so they can take off once September hits.
When it comes to career readiness, Peters says that students should always be doing things to get career ready and that we [as parents and mentors] have to show them what is possible and help them to build skills to make them more competitive. She says that part of becoming career ready is participation in early exposure — job shadowing and internships help students see what is out there and enables them to start to build preferences for the type of work they like to do and help them decide on majors or programs in the future. She says that career-readiness is for all students, regardless of their post-high school decision, and that early exposure helps instill confidence in self and their ability to make decisions.
Overall, Mizz P says that the earlier you and your family start, the more options and opportunities will present themselves. Affordability is absolutely possible when you have a head start!