College and career resources prepare students for life beyond high school


Aarthika Krishnan, Staff Writer

Planning for post-secondary education can be daunting for many high school students. Fortunately, there are several resources students can regularly access to help them make confident decisions in the college and career process. For example, the College & Career Center provides students of all grade levels with the opportunity to explore future educational and career options. Open Monday through Friday from 7:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., the center is located on the main floor beside the library and math stairs. With a multitude of books and resources on its shelves, the Career Center provides useful information about the college application process, financial aid and much more.

College & Career Center specialist Khristie Greiner meets with college admissions representatives and students of all grade levels throughout the school year. She answers questions about college and career planning, nominates students for scholarship programs and helps students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with accuracy. 

“My meeting with Mrs. Greiner was very informative and comforting,” junior Jay Van said. “I had trouble logging into my Common App, and she provided [me with] the phone number for them.”

The College & Career Center hosts college application workshops for seniors, FAFSA nights and college visits in the fall. It also has free-to-browse college pamphlets, SAT and ACT test booklets and job flyers posted in the room for student reference. In addition to these resources, Greiner recommends that students use their school Naviance account on FCPS Blackboard to access personalized college and career information, including scholarship opportunities and weekly newsletters. 

“[Naviance] has some career search capabilities and hooks up those careers with what majors you might want to take. Then, it looks at colleges that offer those majors,” Greiner said. “It also uses your SAT or ACT scores and your GPA [to] tell you whether or not you are a good fit for those universities academically.”

Moreover, financial aid can be a confusing yet necessary step for many students in the college process. Heather Walrath, the school’s new financial aid champion, assists students with finding ways to pay for college, and also helps with filling out the FAFSA and other financial aid applications. As an accredited financial counselor, Walrath works with students at our school on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., though she also meets with students individually after school via appointments, emails and phone calls. 

“Some kids are intimidated by the [FAFSA] form and might not take the time to fill it out,” Walrath said. “It is really important to me that everyone can have access to education.”

College and career resources are accessible both online and in-person to ease student stress. Furthermore, there are numerous scholarships, grants and loans available based on merit, regardless of income level. Specialists who work in the College & Career Center are available to help students explore these options in preparation for the years after high school.

“You never know what fork in the road you’re going to hit that will take you in a different direction on your path,” Greiner said. “But it’s okay. The goal in life is to figure out what your innate gifts are and what you can contribute to society as a whole. We can help point you in the direction of where that is for each person.”