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The Next Guide

Class of 2021  Senior Next Guide

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Designed for seniors across the state of Tennessee, the Next Guide is a resource to help students prepare for what’s “next” after high school graduation. Whether a student plans to enroll in a technical school, community college or university, join the military, or enter the workforce, the Next Guide contains resources that can help make those postsecondary goals a reality.

The Class of 2021 Senior Next Guide is divided into 7 sections:

  • Staying on Track
    This section contains checklists that provide an overview of the steps students will need to take during their senior year to enroll in a technical school, community college or university, join the military, or enter the workforce.
  • College Applications
    For students who plan to continue their education after high school, this section contains key information about applying to colleges, taking the ACT and/or SAT, applying for the TN Promise, and transferring from a community college to a 4-year university.
  • The FAFSA and Financial Aid
    In this section, students will find information about the financial aid application process, the financial aid available in Tennessee, creating an FSAID, filing the FAFSA, and ensuring the FAFSA is complete and error-free.
  • Scholarships
    This section provides students with tips on searching for scholarships, writing scholarship essays and personal statements, and requesting letters of recommendation.
  • Pursuing a Future in the Military
    This section gives students general information about enlisting and ROTC programs and provides students with links to helpful websites.
  • Joining the Workforce
    In this section, students will find information about searching for jobs, creating a resume, and writing a cover letter.
  • What's Next?
    This section contains a checklist of key items that students will need to complete after graduation to enroll in a technical school, community college or university.

Class of 2023 Sophomore Next Guide

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The Class of 2023 Sophomore Next Guide is divided into 4 sections:

  • Dream  When you think about what job or career you might like, titles like teacher, lawyer, professional basketball player, doctor, or veterinarian might come to mind. But there are literally THOUSANDS of careers, and many (perhaps most) you haven’t yet explored. So how can you figure out what might be the best career for you if you haven’t even heard of it?
  • Explore  After dreaming about the future, you should begin to set a course to attain these dreams. In this section, you will look closer at college types and career pathways in Tennessee, and you will be asked to design an outline of the places and high school courses that will set you on that course.
  • Plan  The PLAN section will help you develop goals and explore the action steps to make college a reality.
  • Assess  How do I know that I am on the right path to college and a great career? Using milestones and timelines, students can begin to see that key action steps along the way are important to making concrete progress. In this section, you will track your progress and measure your proximity to success through checklists and milestones. Knowing the milestones along the path can help you stay motivated because there is a lot more road to travel.


This guide was originally created by Arizona GEAR UP at Northern Arizona University with support from the US Department of Education. It was adapted by GEAR UP TN using funds from a federal GEAR UP grant awarded to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission by the US Department of Education. Authorization to reproduce this publication in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this guide is not necessary, the work should be credited to Arizona GEAR UP with the citation, Arizona GEAR UP, Launch—A Guide for Arizona High School Seniors, Phoenix, Arizona, 2018.

The federal government does not endorse this Guide, nor do its contents necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education.