College UnMazed Forward


     Children as young as five years to as old as 18 years ALL desire a future filled with success and security. Children want to grow up to be something. Just ask any first grader what they want to be and answers range from – Veterinarian, Engineer, Nurse, Police Officer, Doctor, Banker, Fireman, Lawyer…And my favorites - “Cowboy, Spiderman, Princess”.  One recent response from a first grader in particularly captured my heart -- “I’m going to be the next Martin Luther King”.

     EVERY child dreams and desires for an adult future of worth and success.

     I spend a great deal of time in prek-12 schools to support the work of school counselors and guide graduate school counseling students in their professional development.  Most of this work is related to developing a college-going culture, where I spend the majority of my time in schools where children are not fortunate to reside in neighborhoods of economic prosperity, and instead endure crime, drugs, gang violence, and poverty. I have many discussions with students about their futures, and I am consistently impressed with their aspirations and enthusiasm, and inspired to devote my time to college and career readiness. Many, if not ALL children, want and intend to go to college.  Even the younger children often aspire to enroll in a specific college because they like the school colors, the school mascot, or the football team. Ultimately though, high school seniors make college decisions and submit applications based on a host of reasons.  If only this process was as simple as choosing a mascot, color, or team, yet we know there are complexities involved with this process. 

     Regardless of family structure, zip code, ethnicity, race, economic status – we know that every child needs support and guidance to find the pathway to a prosperous life.  Some families, particularly those who have never navigated the college process, need extra support to close the information, opportunity, and attainment gap.   

     And as complex, demanding, and stressful as the process is, pursuing a postsecondary pathway is a non-negotiable in this global 21st century economy. In this decade, writings, research, and initiatives abound in the United States, alerting us all of the critical demands of the future work force, and the need for current students to pursue at the least, some postsecondary education, so that they too have the opportunities to live the American Dream as adults. 

     How to create college and postsecondary pathways for children is a question for all communities and citizenry to heed.  Complex questions present multifaceted responses and resources.

     Dr. Amanda Sterk offers just such resource in this guidebook, College UnMazed: YOUR GUIDE THROUGH THE FLORIDA COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY SYSTEM.

Presented in this helpful publication, you will find an in-depth resource for school counselors, college counselors, teachers, administrators, parents and families, community leaders, and students to use. This guidebook is just that, a detailed, superbly organized, nuts and bolts ‘how to’, for navigating pathways to postsecondary education. Helpful for the reader are both general and specific steps, many resources, and information relevant to Floridians. Follow the guidebook steps beginning in 9th grade to post-senior summer, and students will find themselves on the front steps of a college campus. Insights for those small tasks that can make a big difference are provided.  Exploration of schools, types of schools, definitions of terms, the application process, financial aid and scholarships, all are detailed in an easy to read guide and reference for what to do, and when to do it.

I hope readers will use this book, as this is a helpful tool to close the information gap and support families and students from becoming entangled in the intricacies of navigating the pathway to further education. Ultimately, our Florida students, their future families, and all our communities across the state will benefit. Thank you, Amanda Sterk, for providing such a helpful resource for students and families.

And now – students and your families - turn the page, and begin creating your pathway to college.  You will have COLLEGE UNMAZED by the final page.

Best wishes and much success to each user of this Guidebook on your life journey.


Rebecca A. Schumacher, Ed.D.

Florida School Counselor Association

Executive Director