How to Maximize your High School Years with Academic Planning


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As parents and students we ask- Are we on the right track academically to be accepted into colleges or to earn the scholarships we need to make college affordable?

This is the reason I  specifically created the Ready, Set, College! Guide to the Florida College and University System Workbook to help parents and students through the high school to college process with as little stress and ease as possible.

As you begin this process, here are some things to ask/ consider ensuring the right high school academic plan is made.

1. Begin Planning Early

In most school districts, there are a variety of different schools out there for everyone, with many different academic and extra-curricular activities. Even in small schools with little choice, there are many things that parents are just not aware of so they do not ask the right questions. Knowing the names of programs and what is available either at the high school, off-campus, or online can be instrumental in the academic planning process.

Planning is key to ensuring your student has the best possible situation they are able to have. You do not want to say at the end of it, “I didn’t know they had that opportunity.”

2. Questions to ask Yourself, School & Local Community

1.     What type of student is my child? Are they more interested in a career/ technical path or a college to career path?


2.    What are my high school graduation requirements?


3.    What programs does the school have access to that helps me reach my career goals?


4.    How can I combine my coursework so it works for me; such as Advanced Placement with Dual Enrollment?


5.    When can my child start these programs and what is required to get in?


6.    What do most students who complete this program receive at the end?


7.    If college credit can be earned, how does that happen?

Some programs depend on passing of a final exam (AP, IB, AICE). It is up to the discretion of the college they attend on how they accept that final exam score for college credit. While students may do well in the course at school, having a poor exam score does not earn them credit but can still positively affect their high school weighted GPA. Doing poorly in the class reflects on their high school transcript, but does not affect their college GPA.

Dual-enrollment, on the other hand, does give students guaranteed college credit when transferring to a Florida state college or university (check with admissions when going out-of-state). However, if a student does poorly in a course it goes permanently on their high school and college transcript and can affect college entrance.

Knowing the risks and benefits of each program is extremely important before a student begins one of these programs. It is recommended to understand what the student’s college and career goals are and what type of student they are. This is why speaking with the school counselor throughout a student’s high school career is crucial to this process.

8.    How can I maximize in-school time and outside of school time like online, summer, and evening programs?


9.    What types of programs are the colleges I want to attend looking for on a transcript?



3. Follow the Student’s Passion & Motivation

If you do have choices in your school (which most people do, it just takes a bit of work to find out what they are), do your research and compare what opportunities are available to your child. If your child is passionate about animals, a school with a vet tech program or an FFA (Future Farmers of America) program could make a huge impact on them. If your child is dreaming of being an engineer or doctor, finding schools that can allow high levels of math and science courses to be taken is imperative for competitive college admission. 

Unique College & Career Programs in Florida High Schools

College Credits

Dual Enrollment (on or off campus)

Early Admission

Advanced Placement

International Baccalaureate

Cambridge AICE


Career & Technical

CAPE Industry Certifications

CAPE Acceleration Industry Certifications

CAPE Digital Tool Certification

Most popular Industry Certifications according to the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE, 2016).

·         Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) – Photoshop

·         Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Bundle Certification

·         Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) ‐ Dreamweaver

·         Certified Food Protection Manager (ServSafe)

·         Certified Internet Web (CIW) ‐ Internet Business Associate

·         Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) ‐ Premiere Pro

·         Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

·         Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) ‐ Flash

·         Autodesk Certified User ‐ Autodesk Inventor

·         Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)