Fred Gleason, guidance counselor at McCook High School, said the grant will be used to enhance programs already in place, such as college fairs, funding bus trips for students to visit campuses and financial aid sessions.
"This allows us to go the extra mile, to provide something extra to our programs," he said of the grant.
The recent college fair the high school hosted was a success, he said, with 45 representatives from area colleges and universities.
He said he is kicking around the idea of having a financial aid breakfast instead of a night session, for those parents who work evenings and a minority outreach dinner, to explain to students the scholarships and financial aid available.
These financial aid sessions are valuable, Gleason said, as filling out the required forms can be confusing. "It can sound like Greek: ACT, SAT, FASFA," he said.
In addition to monitoring student's classes throughout high school, to make sure required courses are taken Gleason also helps them choose the right college. If a student is undecided, start small, he advised, such as McCook Community College, where the student can find out what appeals to them.
Hot careers right now continue to be in computer sciences, health, technical trades, such as wind technology or alternative fuels and business.
Getting a degree in business is good, he said, as it is flexible enough to accommodate various careers, such as marketing, accounting or advertising.
But choosing a career is more than about the money, he said.
"If all you care about is how much money you will make, you will never be happy," he said. " Do something that you enjoy, and you will happy."
The rate of seniors at MHS going on to post secondary education is slightly higher than the state average. The MHS rate is 73.7 percent in 2010, with the state average at 71.9 percent.
EducationQuest will award $620,000 in grant funds to the 19 selected schools over the next four years. The amount each school receives is based on their enrollment.
Other high schools named as 2012 grant recipients are Alliance High School, Aurora High School, Chadron Senior High School, Falls City High School, Fremont High School, Gordon-Rushville High School, Grand Island Senior High School, Hastings Senior High School, Lincoln North Star High School, Nebraska City High School, Oakland-Craig Senior High School, Palmer Junior-Senior High School, Platteview Senior High School, Scribner-Snyder Secondary School, Shickley High School, South Sioux City High School, Winside High School, and York High School.
EducationQuest awards College Access Grants to Nebraska high schools every two years. Fifty-nine grants have been awarded since the program began in 2006.
In 2014, EducationQuest will select additional Nebraska high schools to receive College Access Grants.