College Planning


  • Take challenging academic courses through senior year. Honors courses are better for college prep.
  • B’s in honors and AP courses are better than A’s in average courses.
  • Some AP courses in junior and senior year are a must for more selective schools.
  • Minimum 2 years of the same foreign language required: many selective schools prefer 3-4 years.
  • Minimum Algebra II for 4-year colleges. Pre-calculus or calculus is a must for highly selective schools.

College Applications

  • Things to consider: location, “character,” size, academic/standard entrance difficulty, extracurricular opportunities, housing, cost, availability of financial aid, student:teacher ratio, freshman retention rate, percentage of students graduating in 4-5 years.
  • Apply as early as possible – in the fall of senior year. Watch deadlines and be aware of Early Decision and Early Action Dates!
  • College websites: may download application and/or apply online which is often the preferred method.
  • Call admissions office 3 weeks after all documents have been sent to check if they have received everything (latest test scores, recommendations, transcripts, etc) – things do get lost!
  • Filling out applications: both online and print-out forms available. Make photocopies of everything.


  • SAT (Verbal, Mathematics, and Writing), ACT (English, Math, Reading, Science and optional Writing), SAT II (individual subject tests), CPT (College Placement Test).
  • Take PSAT in October of junior year. This test qualifies you for National Merit & some other scholarships.
  • Take SAT and/or ACT (preferably both) by spring of junior year at the latest and the CPT in the spring of senior year (CPT is required for community college and Gold Seal qualification only).
  • SAT II subject tests are required by more selective colleges. Some use these just for placements while Ivy League and other highly selective schools use them for admissions, so take them early. One-hour tests can take up to 3 at one sitting, offered on most regular SAT test dates.
  • SAT/ACT registration packets are in the College and Career Center; you handle the registration yourself. You can also register for the SAT online at and the ACT at with a major credit card.
  • It is important to prepare for tests. Preparation booklets are available next to registration packets. Take practice tests, purchase computer programs and/or booklets, prep classes, and free online help at


  • Check FastWebCollege Answer, and Merit Aid
  • Consider need- or merit-based, local or nation-wide, and the number awarded.
  • Florida Bright Futures Scholarship – Academic, Medallion and Gold Seal awards. Check FLVS for eligibility requirements. Apply at
  • NCAA Clearinghouse – you must register in the fall of senior year to participate in intercollegiate sports and qualify for sports scholarships.
  • TWS has some good scholarship opportunities for Native Americans, high school students, and those looking for careers in welding and metal fabrication. Apply at


  • Needed for many college and scholarship applications.
  • Carry considerable weight in applications.
  • Books and pamphlets are available to help write the essay.
  • Ask someone (an English teacher if possible) to proofread and make suggestions.

The Financial Aid Process

  • Submit your completed FAFSA form (free application for federal student aid) to receive Student Aid Report and Expected Family Contribution. Reports are sent to your home as well as colleges you request.
  • FAFSA:  Apply online at returned in about 2 weeks). Title IV college codes are needed for the form. Make a copy of the form before submitting. Follow directions carefully!
  • Apply for financial aid early, as soon as possible after Jan. 1 of senior year – if considering beginning summer term, you should apply during your junior year.
  • Types of aid: grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study.
  • CSS profile: financial aid application used by some highly selective schools – early fall deadline!


  • Transcripts are needed for all college applications and most scholarship applications.
  • Request a copy of your transcript from your Home Zoned School or the school in which you graduated from.
  • Transcripts include SAT/ACT scores but you still must send your scores directly to colleges.


  • Start building your personal portfolio in freshman year; include honors, awards, activities, athletics, and community service. Information will be at your fingertips when writing resumes in senior year.
  • At the beginning of senior year, give a copy to your guidance counselor to help them in recommending colleges and scholarships and also to anyone you ask to write a recommendation.
  • Provide updates whenever you have significant additions.


  • Ask yourself: “Who should write this?”
  • Provide resume of activities and accomplishments.
  • Allow at least 2 weeks for the recommendation to be written.
  • Write a thank you note.

College Visits

  • Before making any final decisions, campus visits are recommended.
  • Try to arrange an overnight stay and if possible, sit in on some classes.

Notes: It is very important to keep all your information together. Make separate files for each school! Make copies of everything you send!

If you are considering IVY's and highly selective colleges

  • Take several AP classes your junior year.
  • Take SAT II subject tests early, as soon as you have completed that subject – retake if necessary to raise scores.
  • Take the practice or real SAT/ACT in 10th grade, take PSAT in October of your junior year.
  • Class rank is very important.
  • Contact an admissions officer at the college you are interested in early; ask them to review your credentials, program of study, and make suggestions.
  • You must have outstanding grades, curriculum, and test scores, and demonstrate that you are well-rounded (leadership, community service, music/art/athletics). It is important to have a particular strength that stands out: have had writing published, be a state-ranked athlete, have created a community service program, be an outstanding musician, etc.
  • Ask a counselor if he/she would consider contacting an admissions officer at your first choice school on your behalf.
  • Apply to some “safety” schools, including a state school. Remember that Ivy League schools offer virtually no merit-based aid but will usually meet financial need.

Resources for college planning and financial aid

Florida Shines – College Search, Resume Builder, Scholarship Search, Career Interest Inventory
FAFSA – Federal Student Aid
Florida Student Financial Aid – Office of Student Financial Assistance: State Grants & Scholarships