Pre-College Checklist

Pre-College Checklist

Interested in going to college? Here are five things to keep on your pre-college checklist as you prepare to continue your education through a career training program.

Take IAF’s career assessment to pick an area of interest

IAF has a quick career assessment to help you figure out which of the four major occupation areas could be best for you: business and the arts, health care, information technology, and mechanical sciences. Each area has characteristics and benefits that might make one a better fit than the others, so take your time to figure out what makes the most sense for you!

Do you want to help people and their families? Consider health care! Do you enjoy building and repairing things with your hand? Check out mechanical programs. Are you interested in computers and new technologies? Information technology might be where you should go. Do you enjoy critical thinking and problem solving? Look at business and the arts!

Use IAF’s extensive database of schools to choose the right one for you

Once you have a program in mind, your next item on your pre-college checklist is to search for schools that match your interests. IAF can help you narrow the choices down by location, accreditation, schedule, and cost. Compare schools based on the criteria that matter most to you!


Some students may only want an online program, while others may prefer to visit a nearby campus for all their classes—and still others want a hybrid. This is often one of the first factors students consider when choosing a school.

Program Schedule

Career colleges typically design their schedules to best accommodate working adults, but make sure you find a program that not only offers classes at convenient times—but also have terms that start and stop at times during the year that work with your schedule, including employment, kids’ school schedules, and more.


Accreditation can be very important in a number of ways, including reputation with future employers, quality of training, and eligibility for financial aid. Make sure that the school you choose is properly accredited—and that the program you select also maintains any program-specific accreditation to ensure its credibility and value.

Check out the Financial Planning Made Simple tool to create a budget for your education

Paying for school can be one of the biggest obstacles a student faces. The Imagine America Foundation has great resources to help you make sense of financial aid and to get scholarships that can make going back to school so much easier.

Our Financial Planning Made Simple (FPMS) tool helps you put together an estimated budget so that you can borrow enough money to cover all your expenses—without incurring unnecessary debt. Just the word “budget” can cause anxiety and dread, but all we’re really talking about here is a plan. Having a basic budget before you start school will help make sure you don’t create financial problems that can take years to fix, and will help you feel extra confident as you embark on your new educational journey. The FPMS user-friendly dashboard makes it easy to compare program costs and to separate living expenses from your education expenses.

Apply for IAF’s scholarship programs at

A great way to ease the financial burden of returning to school is by applying for scholarships. There are many programs out there to help you pay for your higher education, allowing you to keep more money in your pocket to support your family and other financial needs.

IAF offers three awesome scholarship and award programs for high school seniors, adult learners, and military students. If you fall into one of these categories, be sure to apply before the December 31 deadline! Each year, thousands of students are awarded scholarships for career college and vocational training through these programs. They have the option to attend one of approximately 400 participating career school campuses.

Download the IAF app to stay up-to-date and to take advantage of all the IAF resources throughout your journey!

One more thing to add to your pre-college checklist. The IAF app is designed specifically for students to be the best resource right at your fingertips. Here’s a look at the capabilities of the new app:

  • Managing accounts and scholarship applications: You can manage your Imagine America profile and application process right from your phone. You no longer need a laptop or desktop computer to gain access.
  • Important alerts based on your program: If you’re a nursing student, you’ll have a different job landscape than an HVAC technician or IT graduate when you complete school. The app allows you to receive alerts every month that are specific to your program and career aspirations.
  • Program information: Using an interactive map, you can choose your state and search for local schools that offer programs of interest. These listings will include IAF scholarship partners, so you can request school info and apply for aid right from your phone.
  • Job board access: IAF’s number one goal for its scholarship students is for you to find a job when you complete your training. The app includes full access to IAF’s job board for you to view current listings.

Download it today so you don’t miss a thing!

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