College & Career Prep

Personalized approach

Frequently referring families to Park Academy, I count on Park's remarkably ignited, highly qualified staff for positive personalized approaches to assessing and re-assessing each student's strengths and challenges followed by innovative educational techniques drawn from many disciplines.

Dr. Judith Belk


Dr. Judith Belk

Frequently referring families to Park Academy, I count on Park’s remarkably ignited, highly qualified staff for positive personalized approaches to assessing and re-assessing each student’s strengths and challenges followed by innovative educational techniques drawn from many disciplines.

Thank You

Having teachers and staff that actually cared about me and challenged me to set and achieve goals made all the difference. I was lost, they helped me find my real self.
Malachi Simnitt

Graduate, Class of 2018


Graduate, Class of 2018

Malachi Simnitt
Having teachers and staff that actually cared about me and challenged me to set and achieve goals made all the difference. I was lost, they helped me find my real self.

Positive Impact

As soon as Malachi started at Park we began to see positive changes in him, his confidence began to grow.  For the first time, he actually like going to school. His academic and reading performance greatly improved after just one year. Park helped him recognize his potential by highlighting his strengths and encouraging him to keep trying.


Parent of Graduate



Parent of Graduate

As soon as Malachi started at Park we began to see positive changes in him, his confidence began to grow.  For the first time, he actually like going to school. His academic and reading performance greatly improved after just one year. Park helped him recognize his potential by highlighting his strengths and encouraging him to keep trying.
college and career

Our goal is for all students to graduate from Park Academy with a vision and a plan for pursuing their full potential in life. While at Park Academy, students develop a solid academic background and exposure to a wide range of enrichment classes and experiences, enabling them to explore their interests, identify their passions and build on their strengths. In cooperation with parents and family, students work with the counselor and in the careers class to define their goals, explore their options, and begin implementation of their further education after high school. At Park Academy, “higher education” includes a wide range of options: a two-year college, four-year university or a career technical school. Many students begin the transition during senior year by engaging in concurrent college enrollment, internships and/or volunteer experiences.

Park Academy utilizes Bridge-U for our current high school students. It is a highly respected university and career guidance platform designed to help students explore their own strengths and career interests, and a wide variety of university destinations. Bridge U allows students not only to research university options, but to compare schools, apply via the common application, write essays, request and allow teachers to submit recommendations etc. The platform allows counselors to view and support their student’s progress, plan guidance lessons and upload application documents, and track Park Academy students’ destinations, majors etc. over time.

Park Academy students have been offered a wide variety of merit scholarships.  This includes one Trustee Award, two Presidential Awards AND a National Hispanic Recognition Award!!

Park Academy graduates have been accepted at:

Virginia Polytech
Loyola Marymount University
CA Institute of Technology
University of Virginia
Cal Poly
Portland State University
Yniversity of Oregon
Lake Erie College
Colorado State Uni
Orange Coast College
Willamette University
Clackamas Community College
Chemeketa Community College
Marylhurst University
Central Oregon Community college
Pacific University
Rock Creek, Sylvania & SE campuses
Vancouver Community College
Walla Walla College
Post Grad Sports
Art Institute of Portland
Landmark College
Aveda Institute
George Fox University

College FAQ

This process is exciting and made easier at Park Academy because we start early and work closely with you and your family!  Our classes provide a solid academic background and exposure to a wide range of enrichment classes and experiences, helping to your define your interests, passions, and strengths that will form your future. We are here to help you identify and determine your goals, explore your options, prepare you for further education after high school and develop an implementation plan.

Focusing on your classes, working to develop your study and academic skills, and learning how to be effective and comfortable with assistive technology that support any learning differences you might have, will help you to enjoy and be successful in your learning. Having teachers who care for and know you well, will both support you and challenge you, furthering your maturing towards a self-directed student who can manage your time and studies..  Learning to advocate for yourself, access resources, work independently and with others, take care of yourself and find a healthy balance between school and personal life will be skills that support your next steps in reaching your goals.

There are thousands of colleges to choose from and some specific factors to consider, such as location, programs offered, size and cost—to name just a few!  There are many types of colleges you can visit in the Portland area: public/private, urban/rural, small/large, two year/four year, or liberal arts/technical that will give you an idea of what characteristics you are looking for in a college. While at Park, you will have multiple opportunities to visit various college campuses and to meet with college representatives right here at school!

Here are some tools to help you:

My Big Future

A comprehensive resource on college and career for students and parents.

Oregon Goes To College

A statewide initiative to help prepare students for education after high school.

College Scorecard

This is an easy, on-line tool to find and compare colleges based on criteria such as college graduation rates and income rates of graduates.  All information is verified by the U.S. Dept. of Education!

Colleges That Change Lives 

A guide to 45 colleges that are included, not based on their selectivity (how hard they are to get in to) but how much their students grow,  develop and find personal success.

There are many guides, listing schools for students who learn differently.

Here are two online resources:  

Guidebooks are available in the Park Academy counseling office.

More resources:

Oregon Community Colleges

Oregon Community College View Book and List of Programs

Essential College Counseling Online Resources

After finalizing your list of schools, ideally in the fall of your senior year, you will begin to complete actual applications, which will vary depending what type of college you are applying to.  In general, the following application processes apply but please check the colleges’ website to be sure.

  • Community college: apply on-line, no admission test scores, transcript or recommendations generally required. You will need an official copy of your high school transcript showing that you have graduated before you can register for classes or when you meet with an advisor.
  • University: most applications are available on line.  Check the schools admission website for specific deadlines and admission requirements, which will include specific courses, testing, and likely an essay and recommendations.

The Common Application
One application for 800 different four-year colleges in the U.S!

Additional Resources
Tips for Students with Learning Differences when Applying to College


Testing can be part of the process of exploring and preparing for your post high school plan. Sometimes tests are required to be admitted to college and even the military. Sometimes you have to take a test, called a licensing exam, after you have completed your education or training to be able to do the job you have prepared for, in professional fields (such as nursing, law, physical therapy) or technical fields (such as physical training, electricity, xray technician).

In high school, testing is generally part of the process of applying to a four-year university. Students who have a documented disability and use accommodations at school,can apply to be eligible to use accommodations on the college admission tests below.  Check the testing organization’s website and please talk to Ms. West for more information and help in applying.  The testing organization will make the final decision.

College Admissions Testing;

  • Four year university: Testing is required as part of the application process for four-year colleges and universities. Sometime, schools will make an exception if you have a documented disability. Please check with the college admissions office to be sure.  There are two different tests that are available for admissions testing:
    • SAT/PSAT-Administered by the College Board, the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is primarily a multiple choice exam in reading, writing and math, with an optional essay section. The test takes about 4 hours and each section is scored on a 200 to 800 scale.
      • PSAT-The PSAT is a preliminary, or practice test, for the SAT. When taken in the fall of a students’ junior year it is the qualifying exam for National Merit Scholarship (NMSQT) and the National Hispanic Recognition Award. The PSAT can be taken in 10th grade as an additional practice exam.
      • SAT II-These are subject tests and measure a student’s knowledge in particular subjects, such as English, Math, Science, History and languages. Some selective, private schools may require one or more of these tests for admission.
  • ACT-The American College Testing Program Assessment measures academic achievement in English, math, reading and science reasoning, and analytical and problem-solving questions. Students receive five separate scores ranging between 1 and 36 and one composite score, averaging the 4 subject areas.  There is an optional Writing section, which is required for admission to colleges in Oregon and some other states. Be sure to check with the college admission office to determine if this section is required at the colleges you are interested in.

Once a student has been admitted and enrolls in a four year university, placement tests may be required during orientation to determine a students math or English class placements.

  • Community Colleges: Two year colleges do not require testing to be admitted.  Testing is not required to transfer to a four-year university from a community college.  Rather, students need to talk to a community college advisor to develop a transfer plan that will generally require completion of 90 credit hours in specific curricular areas and a minimum grade point average.
  • Once a student has been admitted to a community college, new students may be required to provide high school transcript information and/or participate in placement testing to determine appropriate English and math levels before registering for classes.

Here are some tools to help you:

  • SAT
    Free  practice tests, free personalized test prep from Kahn  Academy and more
  • PSAT
    Free practice tests. Upload your PSAT scores to Kahn Academy to prepare for the SAT
  • ACT
    Test prep materials for free or purchase

Military Testing
The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is a timed, multi-aptitude test, developed and administered by the U.S, Department of Defense.  The test covers four areas:  Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge.  These scores are part of the determination of eligibility to join the military and do particular types of work and career training in the military.

Further requirements or restrictions may apply. Interested students should check with the military branch of interest:

There are a range of options to pay for college through savings plans, financial aid and scholarships!

Here are some resources to help you:

Savings Plan

The Oregon College Savings Plan

This is a 529 savings account that provides a special tax advantages to help you and your family save for educational expenses and tuition.  This can be established anytime!

Financial Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid  (FAFSA)  

Complete the FAFSA your senior year and every year in college to be considered for federal financial, need-based aid.  This process uses a formula to calculate you and your family’s financial situation and to determine your financial need.  The application window opens October 1st and it is best to apply early as some grant money is limited.

It is important to complete the FAFSA  as it may also be a requirement for state (The Oregon Promise), institutional (from the college you have been accepted to) and private scholarship programs.

Applying online is the fastest and easiest way to complete the FAFSA.

The first step is for both the student (if considered a dependent) and a parent to create a Federal Student Aid ID, the FSA ID

  • Having a FSA ID enables both the student and a parent need to provide information and sign the application electronically. Parents can upload their two-year prior tax return directly through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool that is part of the application.
  • It is helpful to first complete the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.

After you file a FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that summarizes the information provided on the FAFSA and your Estimate Family Contribution (EFC), which is an index colleges use to calculate the amount of a students’ financial aid.  Students will receive an award letter from each college they have applied to and been accepted at.  The award letter outlines the financial aid package that a student is eligible for and may include grants, scholarships, work-study and loans.  The configuration of the award may vary from school to school.


Scholarships are a form of gift aid, based on a variety of criteria such as merit, skills or special interest, and from a range of sources:  institutional (the college you will be attending), community organizations, employers or foundations. The resources below will help you start on your search:

The Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) 
Established in 1959 by the Oregon Legislature, OSAC is committed to supporting Oregonians in pursuit of higher education and a brighter future.  OSAC awards over $110 million annually most notably through the Oregon Opportunity grant and other scholarships:

  • OSAC Scholarship Application
    This one application enables students to apply to over 500 possible scholarships with a wide variety of criteria, such as merit, need, interests or county of residence to name a few.  Application deadlines are February 15 – early, and March 1, – regular.
  • Oregon Promise
    This is a tuition grant for Oregon high school students with a 2.5 minimum GPA and enrolling at an Oregon community college within six months of graduation.  For students graduating in June, they must complete the Oregon Promise and FAFSA application by June 1st and start classes at an Oregon Community College in the fall.
  • The Marion Huber Award
    This annual “Learning through Listening” scholarship is for graduating seniors who are Learning Ally members, have a learning disability and plan to continue their education after high school.  It is in recognition of students’ academic achievement, outstanding leadership and service to others.

Additional Resources:

Institutional Scholarships  

Be sure to check the Financial Aid and Scholarship website of the school you plan to attend.  Most colleges offer scholarships for their incoming students.  Please note if you have to complete a separate application or if you are automatically considered when applying to the school.

Gear Up Scholarship Calendar
This calendar lists scholarships and summer experiences by application due date.

Here are a few popular website databases that will match your criteria to possible scholarships:

All two and four year colleges are required to have an office and staff available to support students who learn differently.  The US Department of Education implements and protects individual through ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).  Thus the term “disabilities” will be used in a more formal capacity than “differences”.  You will want to locate the Disability Services (or a similarly named) Office on campus and find out their process for accessing support, assistive technology and possible accommodations provided you meet the following criteria, generally:

  1. Have a diagnosed disability.
  2. Have test scores and an evaluation that were generated in the last three years
  3. Have used that accommodation within the last three years, ideally.

For students who learn differently, there are contrasts between high school and college to keep in mind:

  • Students must request accommodations:
    • Through the Office of Disability Services (please note that we use “learning differences” at Park Academy but the federal government term uses the term “learning disabilities”). All colleges provide services and accommodations and you will find more information on the college website.  Often you complete your initial registration for services on line.
    • from your instructor or professor.  In general, students contact their course instructor at/or prior to the beginning of the term about the accommodations they are eligible for once they have been approved through the disability services office.
  • Students need to advocate for themselves. Parents are not included in the process and do not have access to students’ information or professors in college; students are considered as independents adults.
  • Accommodations from an IEP/504 plan may not necessarily carry over to college.


An apprenticeship combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction.  Students in apprenticeship programs get direct experience in their chosen career, are paid while they are working and learning, and advance on their career ladder, during their time in the apprenticeship.  Apprenticeships generally last from one to four years, depending on the career sector.  Graduates are fully trained and certified, and can start working as an experienced professional, rather than at the entry level.  Most apprenticeship programs are in high demand fields and certifications are recognized anywhere in the U.S.

Pre-apprenticeship programs

These programs are available through various trade organizations and at community colleges. Generally a few months in length, they prepare students to be better candidates for apprenticeships by introducing them to the various career options and the practical skills involved.  Students learn about the expectations of an apprenticeship and a career in a trade, as well as developing their resume and interviewing skills.

You can find more information and links to pre-apprenticeship programs on the Oregon Apprenticeship and Trade website.

Check out this article with some ideas to help your student explore a career in the trades.

Career Pathways

Oregon’s  Community Colleges help students complete training for specific careers through the career pathway program. Beginning with a single class or more, students can earn a short term certificate, or begin working and continue their course work towards a two year, associates degree. To learn more and what programs are available in Oregon, see:

More resources:

STEM Careers

Construction trades

Industrial trades

My Next Move

Oregon Community College View Book and List of Programs

Post Secondary Trades and Secondary Courses

Click to listen highlighted text!