See Your Path: High School & Beyond

The Top 12 Facts you should know to build your future

1. What's the difference between a JOB and a CAREER?

A job is something you do simply to earn money; a career is a series of connected employment opportunities. A job has minimal impact on your future work life, while a career provides experience and learning to fuel your future.

One of our most important goals in Blount County Schools is to graduate students who are college and career ready and prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century workplace.

In order to do this, we must provide students with the skills and knowledge to successfully complete education after high school so that they can enter their chosen career path with skill and confidence.

2. What courses are required for high school graduation in Blount County?

Math: 4 credits (Algebra, Geometry, etc.)

English/Language Arts: 4 credits

Science: 3 credits (Biology, Chemistry, etc.)

Social Studies: 3 credits, U.S. History, World History U.S. Government and Civics, and Economics

Physical Education and Wellness: 1.5 credits

Personal Finance: 0.5 credits

World Language: 2 credits (Spanish, French, or Latin)

Computer Class: 1 credit in a computer-related class such as Computer Apps, Digital Design, etc.

Fine Arts: 1 credit (Art, Music, Theater)

Elective Focus: 3 credits consisting of a program of study in an area of student interest

- See more at: and consult your school counselor if you have any questions about the requirements.

3. What is a program of study?

A Program of Study is a sequence of three courses chosen by the student to help prepare for the next steps after high school. Students may choose academic programs of study such as Math/Science, or they may choose to study a more specific field such as health science, business, welding, agriculture or any of over 20 career-technical areas.

A program of study is not the same as choosing a college major. You're not deciding your definite future--you are simply exploring an area of interest that will do two main things--provide you with specific skills and knowledge that could lead to a future career AND give you the opportunity to explore an area of interest.

Choosing a program of study is important--you will spend many hours and a significant amount of energy in this area, so you should thoughtfully consider what would benefit you most as you look toward your future.

If you are having trouble deciding, your school counselor is the ideal person to ask for help. He or she is trained and experienced in helping students decide among the many options.

Blount County Schools offers Career-Technical Programs of Study in the following areas:

Agriculture (several programs)

Mechatronics (robotic programming, maintenance and repair)


Architectural and Engineering Design

Interior Design (WBHS only)

Residential and Commercial Construction

Digital Arts and Design

Business Management

Office Management

Teaching as a Profession


Banking and Finance

Nursing Services

Emergency Services

Culinary Arts




Web Design

Criminal Justice

Marketing Management (HHS only)

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair

Automotive Collision Repair

Below are some brief descriptions of just a few of our programs of study.

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4. What is a GRADE POINT AVERAGE (GPA), and why does it matter?

As the name suggests, your grade point average (GPA) is a number that represents the average grade that you have made in all your high school or college courses. The higher the GPA, the better grades you have made.

Determining the GPA uses very simple math, but there are several factors that can make it a bit more complicated to determine.

In its simplest form, the GPA is calculated according to the following scale:

A grade of A earns 4 points

A grade of B earns 3 points

A grade of C earns 2 points

A grade of D earns 1 point

A grade of F earns no points

In order to determine the GPA, you simply add up the points earned in each of the classes you have taken and divide by the number of classes.

For example, Brandon took the following classes his freshman year and earned the following grades:

English: B

Algebra I: A

World History: B

Biology: A

Computer Applications: A

PE/Wellness: A


If none of these courses was an honors class, the math is simple:


Brandon took 7 courses, so we divide the number of points earned (26) by the number of classes (7) to determine his GPA--3.714.

This is an very good GPA for a ninth grader, and Brandon has earned several of the credits required for graduation.

If Brandon were enrolled in honors classes, the points awarded for each class include quality points, which are added to reflect the increased rigor that honors classes require. In that case, his GPA would be calculated the same way, but with the addition of the honors quality points. For example:

Honors English 1: B (3.5)

Algebra I: A (4)

World History: B (3)

Honors Biology: A 4 (4.5)

Computer Applications: A (4)

PE/Wellness: A (4)

STEM: A (4)

Adding those points together and, again, dividing by the number of courses (7) results in a grade point average of 4.0, slightly higher than the unweighted grade point average due to the two honors classes, Honors English 1 and Honors Biology.

For assistance in computing your GPA, seek the assistance of a school counselor or teacher. Once you get the hang of it, it is simple math!

Your GPA is important because college admission, scholarship eligibility, athletic eligibility, and various clubs and honors organizations are often based on grade point average. It reflects the degree to which you have met the requirements of your classes and mastered the content of your courses. Working to maintain a GPA that reflects your ability and diligence will serve you well in all aspects of your education.

5. What are the Tennessee Lottery Scholarships, and how can I be eligible?

The Hope and Tennessee Promise Scholarships provide college funding for students who meet the requirements. Determining your eligibility for these scholarships begins in ninth grade, so students should strive to learn all they can and perform well academically in order to be eligible for these programs.

To learn more about The Hope Scholarship requirements, click here:

To learn more about Tennessee Promise scholarship, click here:

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6. What is the ACT, and why is it important?

The ACT is a college/career readiness test that is required for graduation in the state of Tennessee.

The ACT tests students in four areas--English, math, reading, and science reasoning--and determines how well students are prepared for the challenges of college and/or careers. Scoring well on the ACT also helps students qualify for scholarships and college admission. You can find more information about the ACT by consulting your school counselor or by visiting the ACT website:

7. What are SOFT SKILLS, and which ones are my strengths and weaknesses?

Soft skills are extremely important to career success. They include a number of different abilities that affect how a person performs a job and how well he or she works with others.

The soft skills that most employers identify as essential include: communication, creative thinking, teamwork, decision making, time management, motivation, flexibility, problem solving, and conflict resolution.

You may have noticed that many of your teachers include these skills in assignments in order to help you develop them or improve them during your high school years.

To determine your own strengths and weaknesses in soft skills, ask a parent, trusted friend, teacher, or counselor what they see as areas in which you work well and those which you could improve. No one has perfect soft skills, and everyone can improve with effort and focus!

Spending time in this area will make you more successful in high school and beyond and will make you a more desirable employee when you begin your career.

8. What are my options for learning and making myself more employable after graduation?

The great news is that you have a variety of options for continuing your education after graduation! Choosing and completing a post-secondary program greatly increases your ability to be hired in a high skill, high wage, high demand job.

Here are the four most common paths:

1. Four-year college or university resulting in a bachelors' degree. Students from Blount County enroll in the following universities most frequently: University of Tennessee, Maryville College, East Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and Tennessee Technological University.

2. Two-year college resulting in a 2-year technical degree or 2 years of general education followed by transfer to a 4-year school. Examples: Pellissippi State, Roane State or Walters State Community Colleges.

3. Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT)-Knoxville: Technical school with a variety of certification programs in technical fields such as surgical technology, diesel mechanics, welding, computer networking, mechatronics, etc. Many of these fields can also lead to additional training or degree at a college or university. Programs vary in length from 9 months to 2 years.

4. Military joining the military offers a wide range of training and job opportunities, depending on students' aptitude and interests.

9. What do I need to know about financial aid for college?

There is good news in this area too--more scholarship money is available to students now than ever before. The state of Tennessee has two programs--Tennessee Promise and the Hope Scholarship, that are designed to help offset much of the cost of college.

Additionally, there are local scholarships, grants based on financial need, work scholarships, and many other opportunities to help you pay for school.

The one most important fact to know is that ALL these types of financial aid are based on one document--the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. You'll need many types of information to complete the FAFSA, including your parents' income and other documentation. Your school counselor and other qualified adults are happy to assist you and your parents in completing the FAFSA during your senior year. You will have a clear idea of how much aid is available and what your options are for paying for school. You'll be surprised how affordable it can be!

For a more detailed discussion of the FAFSA, check out these FAQs:

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10. What is, and How Can it Help Me? is a great resource for students and parents as they look toward their plans for after high school. You may have already been introduced to it at your school, but if not, you can access it on your own or with assistance from your parents.

Among the ways College4TN can help you are college planning, career planning, and finding ways to pay for college or technical school. Click on this link to get started:

This information can be overwhelming, but this site is specifically designed to help make the process clearer and less complicated. By using the site and tapping into the resources available at your school, you can develop a plan to continue your education and be well prepared for a successful future.

11. If I educate myself and focus my efforts, what are my chances for having a solid plan for after high school?

If you educate yourself, seek assistance from teachers and counselors, develop a plan and work daily toward it, and focus on positive goals, your chances for having a solid plan for life after high school are virtually 100%.

All the educators in your school are committed to helping students make the most of their educational opportunities in order to have a successful, productive life!

12. Who is my school counselor, and how can he or she help me navigate this process?

If you are a ninth grader, your counselor will be Mrs. Rinicker at WBHS or Mrs. Murphy at HHS.

If you are in grades 10-12, your counselor is determined by last name:

Students whose last names begin with A-G are served by Mrs. Petty at WBHS or Mrs. Wright at HHS.

Students whose last names begin with H-O are served by Mrs. Wicks at HHS or Mr. Bristol at WB.

Students whose last names begin with P-Z are served by Mrs. Garner at WBHS and Mr. Bradshaw at HHS.

Your counselor is specifically trained and has many years of experience in coaching and advising students on academic decision making, college/career readiness and numerous other topics related to helping you plan your future. You should definitely take the initiative to get to know your counselor and tap into this valuable resource. They are here to help YOU and are excited to help you make the best decisions you can in order to have a smooth transition through high school, into post-secondary study, and into your career!