Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: College Planning Resources and Ideas for Tweens and Teens

So as both the parent of a high school senior and a teen librarian, I am obviously spending a lot of time thinking about and trying to navigate college. As you may have heard, we learned this weekend that Riley won’t get to go to the forensic science program of her dreams because we didn’t get enough financial aid. You can read my post about that here and her post about that here. So now we’re trying to scramble and put a new plan together, at the last minute. She literally has 10 weeks of school left. We share our journey in part because it’s raw and real and where we’re at now and in part to help others on the journey. But as a teen librarian, I also want to share some resources with others and some thoughts for particularly public libraries, because that’s where my 28 years of experience are.

College and Careers Resource Center

Several years ago, at the library I was working in at the time, I put together a college and career resource center. Don’t let the words resource center seem overwhelming, this can literally be a shelf of books. In it I placed things like test books, college admissions and essay books, and financial aid books. It’s helpful to have it all in one place and a good reminder to tweens and teens that they might want to consider planning now.

Reader’s Advisory Lists

In the CCRC, I also put two very specific booklists. One list featured high school students, typically juniors and seniors, dealing with the stress of college admissions and navigating their senior year. The other list featured books with teens and young adults in college.

10 YA Books Set in College – Book Riot

Go Back to School With These 6 YAs Set in College – Barnes & Noble

10 New and Upcoming College-Set YA Novels – The B&N Teen Blog

7 YA Novels That Take on the Journey from High School to College

Young adult books set in college or after high school (58 books)

10 YA Books About Applying to College

YA Books About the Stress of Getting into College

College Planning Checklists

There are a variety of checklists available online that you can print off and make readily available in your CCRC that will help tweens and teens navigate the college admissions process. I found the best lists start early and give a month by month checklist of things to consider and do.

Here’s an example of a more comprehensive checklist that starts in 9th grade: https://www.cfnc.org/media/xz5h3xss/checklist-for-college.pdf

I also found it helpful to have a more specific one in the senior year. Here is an example: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/applying-101/timeline-12-grade

Money, Money, Money

The area of biggest need and the biggest stumbling block to college of any type is money. College is a big money business and the hurdles for getting in and paying for it are very real. When I was a high school student years ago (a lot of years ago) I didn’t even apply to college because I knew we didn’t have the money. I eventually did go to college when I was 20 and went on to get my Masters of Library and Information Science in 2001. I am 48 years old and I just finished paying off my college loans 4 months ago after paying on them for 18 years. And money is the reason that we can’t figure out how to send my kid to college. Here some lists of recommended financial aid resource books to place in your library.



It’s important for students to know that they can ask for more financial aid if they don’t get enough. It doesn’t hurt to ask.


I’m also a fan of this book

Another simple thing you can do is when you get those signs and information about scholarship essays, just put them out in the CCRC. Every bit of information helps.

Don’t Forget Community Colleges and Trade Schools

A traditional four year college isn’t right for everyone, so don’t forget to highlight nontraditional post high school options like trade schools and community college. The goal isn’t necessarily to get all teens into college, but to get all teens on the best path for them to be successful and self actualized adults.

What does your library do to help with this part of the teen years? What are your favorite resources?

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