​​​​There are hundreds of thousands of school and career counselors, but among these legions Yuridia Nava, Ed.S., a CSU San Bernardino alumna, is a clear stand-out: Nava was recently recognized as one of the top five high school counselors in the entire U.S. for 2017 by the American School Counselor Association.​

Here, Nava, a school counselor at Riverside Polytechnic High School, offers her best advice on how graduating high school seniors and even incoming freshmen can prepare for college:

1. Take some time to really explore your career options. "Think about what you like to do; dream and imagine different careers. There are so many opportunities, so many different types of jobs in a wide variety of industries – and there are also other fields that are just emerging… Explore all your options. Examine your likes and dislikes and take career assessment tests… Don't let any barriers hold you back from finding the perfect career. California Career Zone is a free program to explore such options."

2. Learn how to manage your time. "Developing strong time management skills in high school will make you more successful in college and as an adult. Here are three important strategies to improve your time management:

    • Make a list: Put the most important tasks at the top, even if they're things you're dreading, and tackle them first. Include things you want to do on your list, too, so you have items you're looking forward to.
    • Find your most productive time: Are you a morning person or a night person? You'll be more efficient if you work when you're at your best.
    • Set aside dedicated studying time: Devote some time only to studying or doing homework. Turn off your phone and respond to calls or texts when your work is finished. Don't check e-mail or surf the Web (except when you need to for the work you're doing) during this time, either."

3. Practice taking standardized tests. "A strong performance on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT also helps students show colleges that they are ready for the challenge. I encourage students to take the PSAT/NMSQT beginning in ninth grade all the way to 11th grade. This experience gives you many chances to practice for the real college admission tests during your senior year."​

4. Plan your high school courses. "Talk to your [high school] school counselor early about your career and college choices to ensure that you are meeting all [course] requirements for admission [to college]. It's important to start as early as freshman year and develop a four-year plan with your counselor. Course planning is also crucial for student athletes who have to take certain courses depending on what division of sports they wish to play at."​​

5. Get smart about financial aid. "You don't need to be an expert, but you do need a basic understanding of college costs and aid. Approximately two-thirds of full-time undergraduate college students receive some sort of financial aid. Many publications and resources are available to explain more about the financial aid process."​

More Resources on Financial Aid