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College Counseling

A significant goal of a college preparatory school is guiding students into appropriate college placement as they complete their high school years. The Southwest Christian School College Counseling Center has made a commitment to provide a supportive environment for students and families to make informed choices by providing resource materials, offering counsel and assisting in the submission of applications.

The Southwest Christian School college counseling philosophy does not subscribe to the notion that there is a single best school for each student. More than likely, there are a number of schools that would serve each student well. The SCS experience can give each student the type of supportive environment needed to facilitate good decisions that will give him/her the opportunity to make the most of the college years. As your College Counselors, we will strive to assist every student in making broadly considered, well thought out decisions about successful college placement.   

Current Grade Level Timelines

Plan for the Year Ahead

  • Take the PSAT as well as the ASPIRE® test at school. Practice leads to perfection! Save your test booklets and score report sheet! These will be helpful for future study guides for both the PSAT and SAT.
  • Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss your graduation plan.
  • Review your high school schedule with him or her to make sure you’re enrolled in challenging classes that will help you prepare for college. Colleges prefer four years of English, history, math, science, and a foreign language. Discuss the difference between a Recommended and Distinguished Graduation Plan.
  • Start a folder where all awards, honors, etc. can be placed for use on your resume and applications.
  • Get more involved with your extracurricular activities.
  • Decide which community service projects you prefer most and try to stick to one or two so you can show over your four years of high school a commitment to this organization or cause.

Learn About Colleges

  • Visit colleges while they’re in session.
  • Go to college fairs in your area.
  • Find out about college firsthand from college friends who are home for the holidays.

Explore Summer Opportunities

  • Look for a great summer opportunity — job, internship, or volunteer position. Summer is a great time to spend a day shadowing someone whose career you have thought about pursuing. Want to be a dentist? Ask to spend a day with a local dentist. Want to do research? Ask a local college if you can shadow someone in one of their research departments.
  • Check with your guidance counselor and search online for summer school programs for high school students at colleges. Almost every college in the country offers some type of program for high school students. This is a great way to get on campus and investigate colleges. 

Plan for the Year Ahead

  • Take the PSAT as well as the PLAN (preliminary ACT) tests at school. Practice leads to perfection! 
  • Be sure to save your test booklets and score report sheet! These will be helpful as future study guides for both the PSAT and SAT.
  • Jumpstart your college planning by reading about majors and careers by visiting princetonreview.com and bls.gov/oco.

Learn About Colleges

  • Learn about college costs and how financial aid works.
  • Talk to your parents about financing college.
  • Visit colleges while they’re in session.
  • Find out about college firsthand from college friends who are home for the holidays. 

Explore Summer Opportunities

  • Look for a great summer opportunity — job, internship, or volunteer position. Summer is a great time to spend a day shadowing someone whose career  you have thought about pursuing. Want to be a dentist? Ask to spend a day with a local dentist. Want to do research? Ask a local college if you can shadow someone in one of their research departments. 
  • Check with your guidance counselor and search online for summer school programs for high school students at colleges. This is a great way to try out colleges!
  • Make the Most of Your Summer Break
  • Prepare for the PSAT. Use your test results from your previous PSAT’s and go to www.collegeboard.com to take practice tests. 
  • Plan to visit college campuses to get a feel for your options. Start with colleges near you.

Plan for the Year Ahead

  • Grades are especially important this year because this is possibly the last set of grades a college will see before making an admission decision.
  • Make lists of your abilities, preferences, and personal qualities. List things you may want to study and do in college.
  • Visit with college representatives who come to the school in the fall & spring. If it is a college you are interested in, make sure you introduce yourself to the representative and ask a valid question about the school.
  • Have parents fill out Mrs. Neill’s required parent questionnaire before scheduling Junior Meeting with the College Counseling Office (in January).
  • Be thinking about whom you will ask for recommendations. We will need to inform the teachers you choose before the summer break that you will need a letter from them.
  • Start visiting local colleges: large, small, public, and private. Get a feel for what works for you. Develop a list of 15-20 colleges that interest you. 

Plan Your Spring Testing Schedule

  • Look at the school calendar and compare it to the SAT/ACT test date page. Look for conflicts with sporting events, Prom, Homecoming, and any other important school dates.
  • Take the PSAT at school. Remember the PSAT in your junior year is the only test that qualifies you to become a National Merit Scholar! All your practice and test prep can be rewarded with this test!
  • In the spring or early summer of your junior year take both the ACT and SAT at least once.
  • Check to see if the colleges you are interested in require the SAT Subject Tests. It is your responsibility to know if your colleges require them. Remember the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT are given on the same day so plan carefully.
  • Do well on AP Exams and receive credit or placement at most colleges. Get AP Exam preparation.

Plan Ahead for the Summer & Senior Year

  • Prepare to take the SAT or ACT again. You wouldn’t take any other test in high school without preparing for it so think of this as preparing for the most important test of your high school career.
  • Review your senior year class schedule with your guidance counselor. Challenge yourself with honors and AP classes and stick with sequences you’ve begun, in the languages, for example.
  • Plan summer activities early. Enrich yourself by volunteering, getting an interesting job or internship, or signing up for special summer learning programs.
  • Colleges look closely at your senior schedule.
  • Take a full schedule. Take some time to work on your college application essays. It is less stress to write in the summer when you do not have other papers due as you will when school starts.
  • Check with www.applytexas.org to see if you can start your college applications in August.

Keep Your Momentum Up This Summer

  • Visit colleges. Take campus tours and, at colleges you’re serious about, schedule interviews with admissions counselors.
  • Check important dates; some universities have early dates or rolling admissions. Each college has their own deadlines. 

Pulling Your Applications Together

  • Narrow your list of colleges to between 5 and 10 and review it with your college counselor. Visit as many as possible.
  • Make a master calendar and note:      
    • Test dates, fees, and deadlines     
    • College application due dates     
    • Required financial aid applications and their deadline. 
    • Recommendations, transcripts, and other necessary materials
  • Write application essays and ask teachers, parents, and friends to read first drafts.

Applying Early Action or Early Decision

  • November 1: For early admissions, colleges may require test scores and applications in early November.
  • Send your SAT scores at collegeboard.com and your ACT scores through ACT.org
  • Ask if your college offers an early estimate of financial aid eligibility.

Application Details

  • Most regular applications are due between January 1 and February 15.
  • Keep copies of everything you send to colleges. Request your transcript be sent to the colleges on Naviance.
  • Contact colleges to make sure they’ve received all your application materials.

Financial Aid:  Apply Early.  Apply Right.

  • You and your family should save this year’s pay stubs to estimate income on aid forms that you’ll file early next year.
  • Submit your FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible. Men 18 or older must register for the selective service to receive federal financial aid.
  • Many priority financial aid deadlines fall in February. To get the most attractive award package, apply by the priority date. Keep copies of everything you send.
  • You should get acceptance letters and financial aid offers by mid-April.
  • If you haven’t already, visit your final college before accepting. 

May 1:  Making Your Final Choice

  • You must tell every college of your acceptance or rejection of offers of admission or financial aid by May 1.
  • Send a deposit to the college you choose.
  • Wait-listed? If you plan to enroll upon acceptance, tell the admissions director your intent and ask how to strengthen your application.
  • Need financial aid? Ask if funds will be available if you’re accepted.
  • Request that your final transcript be sent to your college on Naviance.