College and Career Preparation Opportunities

The Sunnyside Unified School District offers many opportunities to help elementary through high school-aged students prepare for a postsecondary education and careers. We believe that it is never too early to expose both students and parents to college and career information.

Print version of this information.

Advanced Placement (AP)
– Both traditional SUSD high schools offer a variety of Advanced Placement courses.  Students are able to earn college credit when earning high enough scores on AP exams.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) – A program that identifies underserved students in grades 6 through 12 with a 2.0 - 3.5 grade point average who demonstrate high potential and prepares them to enter a four-year college. Students attend a class led by teachers who provide ongoing support. 

Campus Visits – Students have multiple opportunities while in elementary, middle and high school to visit college and university campuses throughout Arizona as well as out of state. 

Career and Technical Education Programs – CTE offers strong academics, occupational skills and workplace knowledge. Students can gain real-world job experience, achieve industry accreditation, earn dual-enrollment credit and explore career options in a wide range of areas of study.

College Academy for Parents (CAP) is a program offered by the University of Arizona’s Office of Early Academic Outreach for parents of elementary children. CAP is a 12-week program of weekly workshops. While parents attend workshops, presented in English and Spanish, children participate in College Camp.

College Clubs engage students and families in the college entrance process.  Along with one-on-one college advisement, students will be able to attend workshops on the college admissions process, college essay writing, scholarship opportunities, financial aid and more.

College Representatives visit the high school campuses throughout the school year to meet with students individually.

Comprehensive Competency-Based Guidance Program. - All SUSD counselors provide lessons in the areas of academic, personal-social growth, and careers. They consistently focus on postsecondary planning.

Dollars for Scholars - A scholarship program provided by the Sunnyside School District Alumni Association, affiliated with the national organization, Scholarship America. Since its inception, more than $300,000 in scholarships has been awarded to SUSD graduates.

EPAS® - SUSD implements the entire EPAS program of the ACT.  The EPAS system provides a longitudinal, systematic approach to educational and career planning, assessment, instructional support, and evaluation. All 8th-grade students take the EXPLORE®  b,  all 10th-grade students take the PLAN® ,and all 11th-grade students take the ACT®.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) - A program funded by the U.S. Department of Education in a partnership with the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. GEAR UP serves the cohort of the Class of 2012 and their families; it began working with the students when they were in middle school. 

Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) - An intensive college preparation program designed for ethnic minority, low-income, and first-generation college-bound students in targeted school districts throughout the nation. In SUSD, MESA programs are available in the middle and high schools.

National Honor Society – Membership for middle and high school students is based on grade point average and community service.

Pima Community College Concurrent and Dual Enrollment Classes – High schools offer several courses on their campuses during the school day in which students receive both high school and college credit. High schools students are also able to enroll in individual classes at Pima Community College campuses while being full time students at an SUSD high school.  A new program is being designed to offer a two-year sequence of hybrid and online classes through Pima Community College.

Program of Excellence – Desert View offers this college preparatory program. Students earn a cumulative 3.25 grade point average and a minimum of 24 credits. Students much also complete a senior project. 

Project Graduation – Digital Advantage – High School freshmen earn netbook computers after their first semester when achieving goals in the four A’s of Academics (2.5 gpa or higher), Attendance (95% or better), school Activity (participation in one extracurricular activity) and Attitude (no out-of-school suspensions).

Project Graduation – Digital Scholars – Similar to the Digital Advantage, this program is open to students in grades 10, 11 and 12 with the same criteria of the four A’s except that the Academic goal must be met with a 3.5 or higher grade point average.

Project Graduation – 8th-Grade Digital Scholars – Students can earn a netbook computer, awarded on their first day of high school, when they meet the goals of the four A’s of the Digital Advantage at the end of their 8th-grade year.  The grade point average for this program is a 3.0 or higher.

Scholarship America - The nation’s largest nonprofit, private sector scholarship and educational support organization is a partner in SUSD’s Learning Community Initiative and offers our students and families a variety of programs:  scholarshop materials - grouped

  • ParentShop – A series of interactive workshops, in English and Spanish, to help middle and high school parents understand career and college exploration and better support their children in the process.
  • ScholarShop Options for Kids – Professor Garfield (grades 4-6) - Features a game-like environment promoting positive youth development through a sequential learning process with Garfield the Cat as a guide. Counselors, teachers and parents can access this program by going to
  • ScholarShop Jr. (grades 4-6) - Contains four modules of activities in a workbook format consisting of academic preparation, college and career exploration activities. 
  • ScholarShop (grades 7-12) – Contains seven modules of interactive activities in a workbook format designed to motivate and prepare students for postsecondary education. An extensive resource library of print and video materials supports this curriculum.

Summer Programming – Specially designed summer programs have been created for students to increase their college readiness.  These include the Freshman Year Experience, Algebra Academy, Algebra II Academy, College Literacy Academy and the Pima Summer Enrichment programs.

Sunnyside High School Honors Academy – A rigorous college preparatory program for highly motivated students. The Honors Academy offers a diploma with special recognition for those who complete 24 units; 12 units need to be approved Honors and Advanced Placement classes.  Additionally, a senior research project is required.

Talent Search - Pima Community College - A TRIO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and provided by Pima Community College to SUSD middle and high schools. The program is designed to encourage and prepare students for a postsecondary education. Students must apply for admission. 

Test Preparation Workshops - The district will offer workshops to help high school students improve their scores on college entrance and other high stakes exams.

Turning Dreams into Plans Guidebook – This personal planning guidebook is available in English and Spanish and is designed for students of all ages and their parents. It takes the individual on a personal journey to explore interests, set goals, and develop action plans. It can be used individually or can be presented as a workshop led by a facilitator.

Unlock the Future – This is an easy-to-use video presentation that introduces middle school students and their families to the many postsecondary education options available to them. The information is divided into two tracks: Student Track and Parent Track.

Upward Bound – A TRIO federally-funded Pima Community College program designed to serve low-income, first-generation college students. Upward Bound is designed for freshman or sophomore students and provides summer programs, tutoring, career counseling, college prep workshops, parent workshops, financial aid advising, assistance with college admissions applications, college campus visits, and cultural events.