Juvenile Law Center

Education, Employment, and Finances

Colleges and Trade Schools in Pennsylvania

How do I get into college?

Applying for post-secondary education is a long process that takes a lot of work. Because the more education you get often results in the ability to make more money, the process is worth it. It is important to be in touch with your high school guidance counselor so that he or she can help. Your IL worker can also help you apply.

STEP ONE: Taking the SAT or another standardized test

Look at the schools you want to attend to find out if they require a standardized test. Most four-year colleges require that applicants submit SAT scores. Some colleges use a different test called the ACT.

When to take the test

Plan on taking any standardized tests between the end of your junior year of high school and the beginning of your senior year. If you are no longer in high school, you can still take the SAT and ACT. To get scheduling information, contact a high school guidance counselor, check http://www.collegeboard.com, or call 1-800-927-4302. Information on the ACT is at http://www.actstudent.org.

Paying for the test

The College Board provides fee waivers for eligible students (http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/calenfees/feewaivers.html) for the SAT and ACT tests.

Check with your school guidance counselor to get the forms needed to request a waiver when you sign up for the test. The State Independent Living Program might also pay for your test. You can check with your IL worker or the Youth Advisory Board website at http://www.independentlivingpa.org to get the application. Preparing for the tests

Practice is the best way to prepare for the tests. There are review classes and study guides for the SAT and ACT tests. Check with your guidance counselor at school to find the resources in your area.

STEP TWO: Completing your college applications

Each college and university has a different application. You will need time to gather the materials, which can include transcripts, GED scores, essays, recommendations, and standardized test scores. Make sure that you send each application in before the application deadline. If there is an application fee, call the school to find out about their fee waiver policy. The College Board provides students who received SAT fee waivers to receive up to four Requests for Waiver of College Application Fees. For more information on this opportunity, visit http://www.collegeboard.com/student/apply/the-application/922.html.

How do I pick a vocational school?

Vocational training can be a great opportunity. Learning a trade can help you get a well-paying job. Your guidance counselor and IL worker can help you find a trade school that you would like and that will help you achieve your goals. You want to make sure the school is accredited and that you can afford the tuition. In most cases, the school must be accredited for you to receive state and federal financial aid. Some vocational/trade schools are very expensive. Just like with a college, you should do some investigation before you decide to apply and attend a school. You should ask questions regarding how many students complete the program and how many find jobs upon graduation.

Remember that there are job training programs—like Job Corps and CareerLink—that are free. Many community colleges also have vocational programs that are affordable. Additionally, some technical schools provide significant financial support for youth in foster care, such as Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.


Last updated December 2011


Juvenile Law Center's fact sheets are sponsored by The Alex Benjamin Norris Memorial Fund.

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