Sit with our students: College transitions

Aug 22, 2018Articles

Starting college can be a daunting experience, and that is especially true for someone who is the first in their family to attend higher education. With no guidance or role model to follow, the experience is even more intimidating. Fortunately for our students, Literacy Pittsburgh has a career transitions program to guide them through the entire process. 

What does it take to get into college or a trade school? Since approximately half of our students lack a high school diploma, gaining that credential—as well as the underlying reading, critical thinking and math skills—is the first step. Depending upon the student's skill level upon enrolling, this may take a few months or even a few years.

If a student received his or her high school education in a foreign country, they will need to get their high school diploma and transcript translated into English. Depending upon what the student wants to study, these may also need to be evaluated for U.S. equivalency. If the student does not have an official copy of their documents, and obtaining official transcripts from their country is impossible, they will need to enroll in high school equivalency classes at Literacy Pittsburgh. This is sometimes the case for students who have emigrated from war-torn countries where their records have been lost.

Even if a student has a high school diploma, they may need to brush up their reading, math and study skills in order to take the college placement tests and succeed in postsecondary education. Literacy Pittsburgh offers specialized classes that address these needs.

Students must complete a number of steps to enroll in college. For example, a student who wishes to attend community college will need to:

  1. Complete an admissions application.
  2. Research scholarships.
  3. Apply for financial aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online.
  4. Complete an online student orientation.
  5. Schedule an Accuplacer placement test.
  6. Meet with an advisor to discuss academic goals and ensure that the student takes the right classes.
  7. Register for classes.
  8. Pay for classes via financial aid, scholarship(s), and/or a payment plan.
  9. Submit final official transcripts for a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma.
  10. Attend an in-person orientation, where the student will get their ID and parking pass, take a tour of campus so they know where their classes are located, and learn about clubs.

For trade schools, the admissions process is very similar, except that many also require the student to attend an interview to determine motivation and readiness.

Once a student enrolls in college, he or she is welcome to return to Literacy Pittsburgh to work on additional skills needed to succeed. For example, if a student is struggling in math class, they may return for additional support. Former students are also able to meet with our Transitions Manager about potential jobs and participate in our Career & Education Fairs. Literacy Pittsburgh is dedicated to ensuring the long-term success of our students.

Test your smarts! Try one of these college placement tests.

Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council) helps create better lives through learning. Recognized as a national leader in adult and family literacy, Literacy Pittsburgh is the largest provider of adult basic education in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Last year, Literacy Pittsburgh helped more than 4,000 individuals acquire the skills needed to reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their communities. Literacy Pittsburgh provides free, personalized instruction in workforce readiness, high school diploma test preparation, digital literacy, English language learning, math, reading, and family literacy through one-to-one and small class instruction. Founded in 1982, it serves local adults through numerous neighborhood locations and its Downtown Pittsburgh Learning Center.       

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