Resources for Students Transitioning to College & Career:

HS Graduation Class of 2021

For Summer Search Philly Post-Secondary Students

If you have any questions, email Robert Gannone at, or your mentor!

Click here to visit our Careers, Internships & Community Engagement Opportunities Page

Last update: 10/1/2021

Philadelphia Jobs and Internships

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Click below to see our calendars and sign up for a time that works for your schedule - whether that's to check in, get help with an application, figure out financial aid, etc.!

If you can't find a time that works, let your mentor know. 

Congratulations on your post-graduation success! 

Below are some resources and information to get you started on your college & career journey.

If you are going to college, probably the most important thing you can be doing once you accept and deposit at a college over the summer is to be checking your to-do list on your college portal weekly and completing any tasks by the deadline. You should also be frequently checking your college email account as well. In preparation, colleges will often require paperwork including:

  • Health forms (usually requires a physical and vaccinations)
  • Proof of insurance or enrollment in college’s plan
  • FERPA Release Form
  • Housing questionnaire
  • Class registration forms

Common to-dos include:

  • Getting final high school transcripts sent to their college (HS counselors do this)
  • Providing vaccination records/taking the necessary steps to verify vaccinations
  • Completing financial aid steps like Entrance Loan Counseling and signing the Promissory Note

Scholarship Resources:

*Click on each headline to expand description*

There are many scholarships available and the more you apply for, the more likely you are to get some. Often, you can re-use essays you've written (work smarter, not harder!). If you need a recommendation letter, let your mentor know. For more tips, check out this list

Summer Search Google Scholarship Sheet

Scholarship Websites

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Resources:

Support Options for Mental Health and Emotional Support

  • Philly HopeLine: call or text 833-745-4673 to talk to a Masters’ level clinician from Uplift. Available in English and Spanish to all School District of Philadelphia students & families. Hours: Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 8 pm & Holidays: 12 pm – 4 pm
  • Crisis Text Line: connect via text or FB Messenger 24/7. Text HOME to 741-741 or click the link to connect on FB Messenger.
  • Lifeline Chat: online live chat available 24/7 with counselors to listen and support you through whatever difficult times you may be facing.
  • NAMI Philadelphia WARMline: a safe and confidential number to call for resources, support, education and HOPE! 267-687-4381
  • Philadelphia Suicide/Crisis Hotline (215) 686-4420
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255
  • Woebot: free app that checks in on you daily to see how you’re doing and provides helpful coping tools.

Immediate Support Hotlines

  • 24/Hr Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Service 215-686-4420
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or
  • In Spanish: Red Nacional de Prevenci’on del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454
  • Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-866-723-3014
  • For Students with ‘status vulnerability,’ email:
  • Frequent Therapy Referral Options


    Housing Resources:

     On-campus Housing Information

    Housing varies from campus to campus. Most private colleges guarantee housing on campus, but not all PASSHE, Penn State or Pitt campuses do. Most community colleges do not offer housing. Students need to secure housing either on-campus or off-campus. Many schools have options for students near campus. If students are commuting and living at home, they should talk with their families about what this will look like/if they need to pay for any costs. 

    Check your email/letters/student portal to learn about the housing procedure. If you can’t find anything, try to find it on the college’s housing website, OR just go ahead and call that office. Some colleges expect the housing deposit and application with the enrollment deposit, while others have it as an entirely separate thing in the summer. Sometimes, there is a housing deposit as well ($50-100 usually).

    Possible housing-related issues:

    • Cost: It’s not unusual for campus housing to add $10,000 to the price of attendance. Make sure students know how to look up these costs, and are aware of this early in the game, when they are looking at colleges away from home. Meal plans are usually also required for on-campus students, and can add another $2,000-$5,000.
    • Availability: Not all colleges guarantee housing to freshman, even if it seems like they should! Tell your students to check out the freshman housing policy. Dorm rooms can be competitive to get, so they must be aware of the process, and never be late!
    • Co-ed dorms: Make sure students are aware of the gender breakdown of available campus housing and what options they have. They should decide what living styles they’re comfortable with, and make sure their parents are aware of what their planned living situation will be – before they commit to a school.

    If you are living on campus, you will likely need to complete a housing/roommate questionnaire, which helps place you with a roommate. At some colleges, you can choose your roommate, while at others they are randomly assigned. 

    Think about your preferences as they relate to the questions. Are you clean or messy? If the answer is kinda messy, think about whether or not you want to live with another messy person. Same with questions like where do you study, are you an early bird/night owl, etc. This can be a good mentoring conversation, too. Some colleges use an online portal where you can choose your roommate – starting that conversation can be hard, but think about how you got to know people on your trips. Ask questions! It’s also not the end of the world to get paired with a random roommate, and sometimes colleges don’t let you choose your first year.

    If you’re living on campus, you’ll want to bring the things you need for the fall semester. You should definitely bring bedding (sheets, blanket, comforter, pillow, etc), shower supplies and shoes (flip flops), a computer, clothes, and other things you’ll want to decorate your dorm with.

    Commuting Information

    Helpful Tips for Commuting:

    • Make a schedule! Use an app, a notebook, or just make a note on your phone! A schedule will help you figure out when you need to be on campus each day. Factor in travel time (and traffic, ugh!), and time before and after classes if you can – the more you can be on-campus the more you’ll meet new people and get “the campus experience.”
    • Make a budget! Seriously. Commuting likely looked cheaper on paper, but the cost of gas, SEPTA, food, parking can add up. Use apps like Mint to track spending.
    • If you plan to work, talk with your job and let them know what your Fall Plan is. Your employer needs to know what to expect from you this fall, so if you work, be sure to let them know your new schedule!
    • Know campus resources. Although you won't be living on-campus, be sure to take advantage of the numerous campus resources when you are there such as the student center, library, and other aspects of campus. There is also generally a commuter office or student commuter organization.
    • If you plan to live with your family, have an honest conversation about what you can contribute. When we are home, we often end up doing chores, caring for family members or running errands, instead of studying. Talk with your family, share your schedule, and see if you can block off several hours a week for studying.
    • Create your own “dorm room” space at home! This can be critical to having a quiet space to study! Be sure that spot in the house has good wifi, is free of distractions, and gives you as much privacy as possible. Check out Facebook Marketplace for a lightly used desk and desk chair if you do not have one already!

    Health Insurance, FERPA, and other Forms

    Health Forms/Insurance

    Q: What’s the deal with this health form? Do I have to get shots?

    A: Most colleges require students to fill out health forms, which will be kept in the health center on campus. It’s just like going to the doctor’s office – they want to have a record of your health so they can best support you. Usually, the health form will have parts for you to fill out and parts for your doctor to fill out. You may need to get a physical. You may need to get shots, especially if your immunizations aren’t up to date. Most first-time college students living on campus will need to get the meningitis vaccine.

    Q: Do I have to have health insurance?

    A: Yes, most colleges (especially if you’re living on campus) require students to have health insurance. If you currently have health insurance, it’s important for you to check with your health insurance provider to make sure you’ll still be covered in college. Submit a copy of your insurance to your college to prove you’re covered, or else they’ll charge you! If you don’t have health insurance, you have several options. You can get the college’s health insurance plan (typically more expensive) or you can enroll in the Affordable Care Act health insurance. We’ve had other Summer Searchers do the ACA health insurance and while it is a process, the result is free health insurance (most of the time). To learn more, we recommend connecting with PA Health Access Network if you’ll be staying in PA for college:   

    What is FERPA?

    FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Policy Act. Your college will probably ask you to sign a FERPA form. Once you turn 18, you are the one who has access to your educational files, which means that if your mom calls your college to ask about your grades, they legally can’t tell her unless you’ve given them permission to on the form.



    Academic Information

    Different colleges have different systems for registering for classes – some are online, some have you do it in person during orientation. Pay attention to correspondence from your college including information on who your academic advisor is as they can assist you in registering for classes. When choosing classes, try to take a class in the major you’re planning on or interested in during your first semester. Your college may have other classes they recommend or require first semester. Some college require you to take a Freshman Seminar class and you may get to choose the topic for that. Our best advice is to read through the descriptions for the classes and think about the times they’re offered at. Think about yourself – are you a morning person? If so, an 8am class would work for you, but if you’re not, you may try to avoid those classes. Do you want to sit in class for 3 hours once a week or 50 minutes three times a week? It’s all about preferences as well as what is offered.  

    Academic Tips

    1. Start your assignments early! Putting things off to the last minute is more costly in the future than may seem at the time, so save yourself the unnecessary stress.

    2. Keep a schedule: Use paper or technology to make note of names, dates, and times. This will help you manage your time, and you won’t have to keep everything in your head.

    3. Be selective about what you read; be strategic about how you read. You are not always expected to read everything on the course reading lists, for instance, many professors have a required reading list and a supplementary or a suggested reading list.

    4. Speak up in class! It’s O.K to have questions, even “stupid” ones. When you speak up, you feel more like you belong. Chances are that you’re not the only person with the same question.

    5. Take advantage of office hours. It helps to get to know and to be known by your teachers, whether they are professors or teacher assistants. Utilizing office hours demonstrates to your teachers that you are genuinely interested in the class, the material and most importantly, your success in the class. The bond you develop with your professors can help you out in other ways, like writing recommendations, getting you a job doing research, and helping set you on the right academic path.

    6. Put together informal study groups. Many heads together makes work more fun and sometimes more efficient. Some courses have study groups set up already so take advantage of those, but if not then don’t be afraid to start your own.

    7. Take the initiative! Your college education and experience is what YOU make of it. You can achieve almost anything at a school if you try. It’s up to you, nobody else.

    8. Be resourceful. Get to know more than just fellow students; advisors, faculty, and staff members are also good friends to have. This will help you indefinitely in the long run.

    9. Challenge yourself! Remember that you CAN change your course of study. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it for the rest of your life. Nor does it make sense to keep trying to make something work that just isn’t working out for you. Also, just because something doesn’t come to you effortlessly doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong for you. Find someone to talk to when you’re confused about your choices.

    10. Lay off Facebook! While Facebook and social media are a great way to connect with people at college, they can also take up a ton of time. It can also be really easy to fall into the habit of spending online time with friends from high school instead of investing in making new friends at college. At the very least don’t text or check Facebook during class. You need to be paying attention to every minute!

    11. Refer to your syllabus often and be aware of your Add/Drop periods. Otherwise it could hurt you in the long-run by staying on your transcript or wasting money that could be used for another class


    College Orientations

    Summer Search Webinar on Heading to College

    Summer Search recently provided a webinar for those attending college in the fall. In it, we discuss orientations, health forms, loans, on-campus resources, and academic tips. You can view the recording here.

    Orientation Information

    Orientation is an important college step and there are many important steps that happen at orientation. Students must sign up for Freshman Orientation by the date stated on their To-Do List of their portal or in any mailed paperwork. At Orientation, students usually participate in icebreakers, take placement tests, sign up for classes, get their school ID, etc. Additionally, some students are required to or opt to participate in summer bridge programs like ACT 101. Requirements and dates vary from school to school, so you should call for details or look it up on the website. You must make these deadlines and programs, or admission may be revoked.

    Q: When is orientation?

    A: Depends on the college. Some colleges have a single day or multiple day orientation during the summer before school starts. Others have orientation once you move to campus, and will have freshmen come to campus a few days before the upperclassmen. Check your college’s correspondence (emails, mailings, portal) to find details. If you still can’t find anything after that, search “orientation” on the college’s website.

    Q: What happens at orientation?

    A: This varies by college. Colleges with orientations during the summer typically do placement testing and class registration during orientation. You might meet with your academic advisor. Orientation is also a time to get to know other members of the freshman class. Usually, you’ll be in a small group and do some ice-breakers/getting-to-know-you activities and you’ll have an upperclassman leader. It’s a great time to meet people and ask questions. For colleges who have orientation once you move in, the focus is usually more on the ice-breakers/getting-to-know-you activities and there will also be social events. You will likely have already registered for classes over the summer.

    Q: Does orientation cost money?

    A: Sometimes. Some colleges include the cost for orientation (which most often covers food, activities, and maybe overnight housing) in your enrollment deposit. For others, it is a separate fee. If you have questions or trouble paying this, we may be able to help. 

    Q: What if I’m on vacation during the orientation times or miss my orientation?

    A: Contact your college to ask about options!

    Q: What do I need to know about my summer bridge program?

    A: Summer Bridge programs are an awesome opportunity to get to campus early, start getting academic credits, meet people you’ll be going to school with, and adjust to college. They are focused on academics, but will also have social components and often have field trips and other gatherings. You’ll likely live in the dorms. You need to take the classes seriously, as in many programs you have to get certain grades in order to be a full-time student at that college in the fall. Pay attention to your paperwork and ask questions! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help during your program – your question will probably help others, too.


    Frequently Asked Questions 

    I don't think I want to go to college. What are my options?

    If you don't think college is right for you or decide to not go right now, speak with your mentor to decide the best path for you. If you are interested in a career, check out our Careers Page and reach out to Robert Gannone, Career & Internship Coordinator.

    You may know exactly what you want to do, you may have no idea, or you may be somewhere in-between. No matter where you’re at, it’s okay! Here are a few websites that can help you identify areas of interest and learn more about specific careers. When looking at careers, be sure to check out the tasks/duties of the job, education required, median salary, etc.

    • Pennsylvania Career Zone ( complete interest and skills profilers to get matched with career areas (, learn about specific careers, find colleges and training programs that offer those fields of study, and learn about budgeting. 
    • My Next Move ( explore specific careers, look at different industries, and answer questions to match careers with your interests.  
    • Occupational Outlook Handbook ( look up jobs or job groups to learn more about them, including tasks/duties, average pay, education required, workplace environment and similar careers. 

    Some students may decide to take a gap year or join a program (information listed below).

    Bridge Year Programs Info:

    Vocational Programs Info:

    Military Info:

    • Today’s Military: ( Provides lots of information about all the military branches and options for part-time and full-time service. 

    After you have identified the options that are the “right fit” for you, make a realistic list of 8-10 options to apply to!

    My financial aid gap is still pretty big, but I really want to go to this school. What should I do?

    A: If your financial aid awards, scholarships and your personal and family contributions do not cover all of your college costs, you will need to find a way to fill the “gap.” Below are strategies for handling college expenses if you have not received sufficient financial aid to cover your costs.

    • Appeal your financial aid offer. If your financial offer falls short or your financial situation has changed, request a meeting in person or by phone with a financial aid counselor at the college, or write a letter/email to the financial aid office. First, thank them for their generous financial aid package. Explain that you really want to attend their college, but that right now, there is still a big gap to fill. Ask for your aid package to be reconsidered. Be prepared to explain the reason for your request. Colleges may not have more to give, but it can be worth it to ask! 
    • Apply for additional scholarships and grants. Application deadlines vary, so do not assume that all deadlines have passed. There are many scholarships with late spring and summer deadlines, and you can continue applying for scholarships throughout college. 
    • Ask your college if there are payment plan options. Some colleges have payment plans that allow you to pay for your bill in installments throughout the year.
    • Explore Federal Work-Study options. If you did not indicate interest in Work-Study on your FAFSA or if it does not show up on your award letter, contact the financial aid office to see if you are eligible. Also, ask if your college participates in the Next Steps AmeriCorps Program, which is for Philadelphia high school graduates who participated in a pre-college program. Students engage in community service and serve as mentors. They received Federal Work-Study funds and a financial award for their education.
    • Get a part-time job. Search for employment opportunities near your school or home. Remember, however, to keep school your priority.
    • Reduce your expenses. Create a budget for yourself and stick to it. This can especially help with lowering lifestyle costs!

    I was selected for verification. What do I do?

    A: Fill out verification forms. You will likely have to do this for each college you’ve been accepted to.

    • If your family and/or you file taxes: Update yourFAFSA through changing the tax filing status of the parent from “will file” to “have completed” and going through the steps to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You will be prompted to enter your parent’s(s’) address and filing status and this must be EXACTLY as it appears on the 1040 form. Sometimes, it doesn’t work, which is frustrating. If it doesn’t work, you can then just enter the info from the 1040 in the spaces on the FAFSA, replacing it with the prior year’s info.
    • If your family files taxes BUT the IRS Data Retrieval Tool didn’t work: Request a tax return transcript by going to this link. You’ll enter your parent/guardian’s info, including Social Security Number, date of birth, street address and zipcode. On the next page, be sure you request the tax RETURN transcript (not tax account). This will be sent to the address listed via mail and usually takes 5-10 days. If YOU file taxes, you’ll need to do the same for YOU.
    • If your family does NOT file taxes: there will probably be a few forms you will have to fill out to provide proof of your family’s income. I’m here to support you with this! Usually, these forms will ask for more info on your family’s finances, including things like how much you pay for things like rent, utilities, food, etc. and info on any government benefits your family receives. This can feel intrusive, but it important to get this info and send it to the colleges.

    I need help managing my money. What do you suggest?

    You’re not the first person or the last person to encounter this problem and there are proactive ways to address it. Paying for college can be daunting at times, but you should never give up on your dream to earn that degree because of money! 

    Here are some Money Management Tips from Summer Search: 

    • Think about wants vs. needs and remember to save! Once you budget for your necessities, if you have money leftover put some into your savings account for emergencies or the future. Consider it "paying yourself." Keep track of what you're spending, too - there's tons of apps for that or you can use a notebook.

    • Have a checking account and savings account. If you are going away from Philly, consider setting up an account with the bank/ATM that's in your college student center or one that is nearby your location. That way you can easily access the bank and avoid some fees. • Beware of credit cards! Don't get one unless you have to. If you do get one: make sure it has a low maximum that is reasonable to pay off (something like $250) • don't charge more to it than you would be able to pay off that month • always pay the minimum payment and try to pay the full amount, otherwise INTEREST accumulates and you can easily get swamped with credit card debt • Before charging something - to a credit card or your school account - ask yourself if you really need it!

    • Avoid renting furniture and appliances. The initial cost to rent something from a place like Rent-A-Center may be appealing, but because you then have to pay that monthly and there are fees and interest, it will cost more in the long-run.  Only take out what is absolutely necessary to cover your costs with student loans.

    If you do need to take loans: • Take the loans that are in your financial aid package first: subsidized loan first, then unsubsidized. Avoid private loans from banks - high interest rates and you have to start paying them back right away usually.


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