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College and Career Planning Websites

California Colleges Career Planning
California Colleges is our new go-to website for all things college. All students at El Camino have been provided a free account, log in with your school email. CCGI has personality and interest assessments to help you plan for your major, college, and career.  Learn about financial aid and what type of college is best suited for you!


learn how to become website logoLearn How To Become Explore different career pathways, find out what type of education is required and find schools that offer those majors. This site features step-by-step instructions of how to attain your dream job along with a breakdown of what to expect from that career (job description, salary, etc.).


community colleges career education

Career Education Explore the 10 community colleges in San Diego and the Imperial counties with this community college program locator. See what kinds of programs they offer or find the campus that offers the program you've been looking for.


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The El Camino College & Career Center is open school days from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm to support students in their searches.  Check in regularly for field trips, shadow days, workshops, and other college and career related activities.


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College and Career Planning



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Things to Consider When Choosing a College


Deciding on which college to attend can seem like a daunting task, there are so many factors to consider. But I'll tell you something that most universities don't want you to know- you will get a good education no matter which school you choose! College is all about the effort you put in, virtually all accredited institutions can provide an excellent education, you only have to figure out where you'll be most comfortable and productive. Here are some things to consider when deciding:


  • Accreditation- Make sure that the college, university, or technical program is accredited. This means that the program is recognized as a state and federal level as providing a high-quality education as defined by the US Department of Education. Attending a non-accredited school can severely decrease your chance of getting into a graduate program, transferring credits, getting a job and possibly your ability to receive financial aid. Most institutions will have their accreditation listed on their website or you can check the federal database of accredited institutions here  Accreditation Check
  • Majors- This may seem obvious but you should make sure the major you're interested in is offered by the college. All campuses offer a different variety of majors and especially if it is a smaller campus, it may not have the vast selection offered by other larger campuses. 
  • Location- How close to home do you want to be? Do you plan to live at home, to be close enough to eat Sunday dinner, or to only visit on breaks? Are you accustomed to sunny San Diego or are you ready for changing seasons and snowy East Coast winters? Are you comfortable in the bustling city or do you prefer a smaller rural setting? You will be spending a lot of time there so you should choose a location that suits you, where you'll be comfortable. It's a good idea to visit the campus to get a feel for your surroundings, but when that's not possible many schools now offer virtual tours of the campus on their website or you can take a look at different campuses at Virtual Campus Tours
  • Cost- For many families cost is understandably a big concern, you have to factor in not only tuition but books/supplies, housing, meals, and living expenses. This being said, keep in mind that most students don't pay the full price for college thanks to financial aid and scholarships. Here are some things to weigh while deciding if a college is affordable for you. Private colleges are more expensive than public colleges, but private schools tend to have more money for merit-based grants and scholarships, whereas public schools have more grants that are need-based. Out-of-state universities are typically more expensive because you will be charged non-resident tuition but depending on the state it still may be more affordable overall than studying and living in California; plus many colleges offer scholarships to non-residents. Find out what kind of financial aid package your college of interest is willing to offer you and then you can start ruling out colleges based on affordability.
  • Admission Requirements and Admit Rates- Time for a reality check.. how likely is it that you'll be accepted to this school? If a school requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 and SAT score of 1100 and you have a 2.5 GPA and scored 900 on the SAT then it might be time for plan B. Look for a college that doesn't have those strict requirements or consider going to a community college to boost your GPA and then transfer. Even for those who meet the admission requirements, it can be competitive, but some colleges are more competitive than others. Looking at school admit rates is a good way to gauge the likelihood of being accepted into a certain school; this is a percentage that can be found on most colleges' admissions page that shows how many students were accepted out of how many applied. This is not to say that you shouldn't apply to a college with a low admit rate, but consider finding a college with a higher admit rate as a backup or safety school.

  • Student Life- Studies show that students who are more involved on campus tend to do better in school so social life and extracurricular activities can also be an important factor for many students. Ask yourself does this college offer the activities I'm interested in? Did you want to join a sorority or fraternity- does this campus have Greek life? How about the sport you want to play? Does religious affiliation play a part in your decision? Is this a known party school- and will this be too much of a distraction? Apart from academic success, being involved can give you a sense of community and is a good way to make lasting connections.


Internships vs. Apprenticeships


Internships are a great way to get real life experience in the field you are interested in; to gain knowledge, make connections and see if this is the type of career you'd like to pursue. Not to mention it looks amazing on applications and resumes! They may be paid or unpaid and the goal is for you to learn.

Apprenticeships are always paid and the goal is to train you to work in a specialized field, such as construction, electrical, auto, etc. They typically last two to four years. You work (and earn money!) while you learn and at the end of the program you are ready to enter that field as a professional. This is an excellent avenue to take if you plan to pursue a career in one of these specific fields.

Apprenticeships are intended as a pathway for after you graduate high school while internships you can start participating in during high school. Though it should be noted that most internships and internship search sites are geared towards college students, there are plenty of companies willing to let high school students intern. If you're having trouble finding one online try reaching out to a company you're interested in and ask if they offer any intern positions (have a resume ready!). If they don't, try asking if they have any shorter-term opportunities like job shadowing.

There are many more opportunities available but here's a brief list to get you thinking about what's out there.

Internship and Apprenticeship Opportunities


Letters of Recommendation


Letters of recommendation from your teachers and others (coaches, counselors, club advisors, etc.) are an important part of applications for scholarships, colleges and universities and jobs or internships. We want to tell the world how good of a student you are, but there are some guidelines...


  • Make a face-to-face request at least 3 weeks before the recommendation due date. It is in your best interest to give recommenders the time necessary to write a good letter.


  • Provide recommenders with a Brag Sheet. A brag sheet is similar to a student resume; it highlights your accomplishments, experiences and employment during high school. It is intended to give the recommender something to draw from while writing your letter of recommendation, although it is also a good tool for you to use as you start writing personal statements and scholarship essays.


  • If you are expecting to need letters of recommendation for multiple institutions (more than one college, scholarship, internship, etc.) it could be best to ask for a more general letter of recommendation that you can use in all situations.
    • However, there are some cases where institutions will ask that your letters of recommendation include specific information. In this case make sure to provide recommenders with a copy of the request or paperwork from the university, scholarship, etc. so the recommender knows which direction their letter should take.


  • Letters should not be from someone related to you (ever!)


  • A handwritten thank you note to your recommenders is entirely appropriate and much appreciated!