Planning for College

Getting into college takes some work. As you help foster youth plan and apply for college, organization and staying on track are key. There are a myriad of helpful guides, programs, websites and people, which in itself can be overwhelming. To help you get started, download our college planning guide. Keep in mind: it is never too early to start planning.

Take Advantage of Free Assistance
Every county has a foster youth education liaison housed at the County Office of Education and an Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP) that can provide free assistance to help foster youth meet their academic, college and career goals. It’s their job to support foster youth, so ask them for assistance.

  • K-12 Education Foster Youth Liaisons Every county office of education has Foster Youth Liaisons who are in place to support foster youths’ education pathway and success. Click on the link to find the foster youth liaison in your county.
  • California Independent Living Skills Programs (ILSPs) ILSP programs help 16-21 year old foster youth to transition from foster care. All California counties must provide some form of Independent Living Skills training to foster youth and many ILSP programs help foster youth plan for college, including assistance in preparing college applications, researching scholarships, and visiting college campuses.

High School: Classes to Take
It’s very important to find out which high school classes are needed to get into college. Not having the best grade point average (GPA) will not rule students out; community colleges don’t have minimum GPA requirements and can be a great way to transition to a four-year university.  School counselors can be a valuable resource for helping a youth determine what classes are needed.

High School: College Prep Programs
There are some great high school programs out there that help foster youth get into college. Find out if there are any programs available at the school of the foster youth in your life.

  • Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) This college prep program can be a great option for foster youth as it helps students succeed in classes they need for college and increases their chances of enrolling in four-year colleges. Ask a school counselor or foster youth education liaison about AVID or click on the link.
  • Upward Bound Program (also known as TRIO)
    This program serves high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree and/or low-income families. Its goal is to increase the number of students enrolling in and completing college. Many California colleges and universities have an Upward Bound or TRIO program for high school students. Click the link for info.
  • Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) As the University of California’s largest academic preparation program, EAOP works directly with students at underserved schools to increase the number of students who have the opportunity to achieve a college education. EAOP offices are located on all UC campuses, serving schools within their geographic regions. Local offices serve the specific needs of their community. Click the link for info.
  • California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP)
    Cal-SOAP provides information about postsecondary education and financial aid while raising the achievement levels of low-income, elementary and secondary school students or geographic regions with documented low-eligibility or college participation rates, and who are first in their families to attend college.  Click the link for info.
  • Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA)
    MESA offers academic enrichment services for educationally disadvantaged students who excel in math and science to go on to college and attain degrees in math-based fields.  MESA’s pre-college program operates at 300 schools in over 88 school districts across the state. Click the link for info.

Explore and Visit Colleges
Foster youth should explore different schools online and physically visit schools they are interested in. To learn about the college resources and support services that are available for current and former foster youth at colleges throughout California, visit Find Campus Support Programs

Transfer from Community College to a 4-year University
Many students find it easier to qualify initially to a community college. From there, they can work with a counselor to establish an appropriate path toward transferring to a 4-year university. The website below addresses up-to-date information regarding student transfers.

Helpful Resources