The College Application Process and Post High School Plans

Topics Covered


1. Building a Good College List and Post High School Plan

2. Exploration and Research Strategies & Options

New Information

3. The College Application Process

4. College Admission Testing

5. Deciding

6. Other Important Mentions: NCAA, Scholarship, AP Scores & College Credit

Selecting a Good Fit College in Review

1. Building a Good List

Things to consider when building your list of potential colleges

1. Your preferences, needs and wishes for your college education. (Some examples include: location, majors offered, size, cost, campus activities etc.)
2. A balanced list: consider how you stack up to students they typically admit: Reach, Match, Safety school
  • Reach School - your GPA, test scores, rigor our below the middle 50th percentile of admitted students OR its a very low admission rate
  • Good Match School - your GPA, test scores, rigor are on in line with the majority of admitted students
  • Safety School - your data and profile are above the average admitted students
3. An average potential college list size could include 3-6 college options, but certainly you could have more or less depending on your situation. This is just a suggested range.

2. Exploration and Research

Resources and Opportunities for Finding a Good Fit College

Resources which can help you find the college information you need.

  • College Admission Representatives visits SC in the fall
  • College nights
  • College websites
  • Join college mailing list or request information from the college
  • College visits and tours
  • College open houses

Xello (formerly CareerCruising)

This is a comprehensive college and career web resource that will support students in exploring a good fit college, college major selections and the many career options.

Click here to access Xello.

•Use School GMAIL account log in info to access Xello

College Visit, Tours & Open Houses

We recommend you take time to make college visits. Here are some ideas to consider while on your visit.

  • Does it feel like it could be your home?
  • Is campus up-to-date, clean?
  • Will you have enough to do outside of class?
  • What’s the town like around it?
  • Is it the right mix of support and challenge?
  • Will it meet your academic needs and careers goals?

Virtual College Tours

Due to COVID 19, colleges are providing a variety of alternatives to in person tours and information sessions. Go to the admission web pages of your potential colleges to find out what options you have to access this information and what experiences are available. Usually you can find this information in the 'visit us' section. Below are a few virtual college tours sites

Questions to Ask Colleges & College Visit Resources

College Visit Checklist

  • 36 questions to ask on your college visit

  • Key questions to ask on your college visit:

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3. The Application Process

College Admission Policies and Terms

It's very helpful to know what admission policies and deadlines your colleges of interest have in place.
  • Rolling Admission: the sooner you apply the sooner you hear.
  • Early ACTION: Early application deadline. College will have specific deadline usually by November 1 or before. Decision timeline will be specified, sometimes prior to winter holiday break or just after.
  • Early DECISION: Early application deadline and its LEGALLY binding. There is early commitment and you will drop all other applications and offers.
  • Regular Decision: Deadlines will vary, but usually a January 1 application deadline. Admission decisions typically come out by April 1.

Important Tips

  • It is recommended students apply to college in the fall of their senior year. We generally recommend students have completed their applications by October 31st.
  • Students should always be aware of each individual college's due dates and deadlines.
  • In most cases students can begin the application process in the summer. If essays are apart of a students application process, it is strongly recommend to complete the essays in the summer. This helps in alleviating so much to do in the fall when students are trying to balance school and so many other things.


1. Apply online

  • College applications are completed online. Go to the college's Admissions web page and begin your application (usually they will have a button to click that says “Apply or Apply Now”)
  • Most application will let you start your application and then save it along the way, so you do not have to complete it all at one time.
  • We recommend students apply to college in the fall of their senior year. In some cases you can start the process in August.

2. Send your Transcripts

  • Create an account at to send electronic transcripts to colleges. Once you have created an account in Parchment, you set SCHS as your high school.
  • Make sure you correctly indicate your graduation year and full legal name.
  • Transcript requests will go through Mrs. Paulus for verification, you will receive an update when transcripts are sent, and again when your transcript is downloaded by the college. You can track your transcript on your parchment account.
  • If you are using the Common Application, please request a transcript be sent to the Common Application (not to each individual college in CA)so that all colleges on your CA list can see your record.
  • Important: Transcripts will not be processed and released until all schedules are final in the fall; this is typically the 2nd week into the school year. It is recommended that you wait until this summer (after transcripts have been updated with semester 2 grade) or later this fall to create a request a transcript.
  • Parchment video for support:

3. Send SAT/ACT Scores

  • You must send your SAT and/or ACT score(s) to the colleges you are applying too if they require a standardized test for admissions or scholarships purposes. If you didn’t send your scores when you registered for the test you must request to do so at or Test scores must be sent from the testing agency. This process can take several weeks. We recommend you do this ASAP so your scores get to the college on time.
  • Each college has their own practice for using test scores for the admission process and/or scholarships. You will need to carefully read and understand your colleges practices. Some college require a test score and make it optional.

4. Double Check, Follow Up and Track:

  • It is wise to verify your applications, transcript and SAT/ACT test scores were properly submitted. Check your emails and college application accounts/portals for verification and confirmations once you have completed these processes. Some colleges do NOT send emails to communicate applications status, therefore you have to check your college portal.

Senior Schedule

Senior Schedules are included on the transcript. If you change your schedule after your transcript was sent for your college applications:

  • you risk your application being rescinded by the university
  • you are required to appropriately inform the universities of your new schedule
  • complete a form in the counseling office to verify your understanding and communications to your universities

Basic Information Applications May Ask You

2024 Class Size: 380

Rank: We do not Rank

Weighted GPA and UIC number: Located in StudentVue in the Course History tab. Your GPA is at the top of the Course History page.

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Types of College Applications

1. The Basic Application (estimated time to complete: 45 mins to 1 hour)
  • this application will ask for basic personal and academic data. No essays and no letters of recommendation will be required.
2. The Basic Application Plus an Essay (estimated time to complete: 45 mins to 1 hour plus the time it takes to complete the essay)
  • this application will ask for basic personal, academic data and one essay or personal statements. Typically no letters of recommendation will be required.
3. The 'Extensive' Application (estimated time to complete: several hours and depends on time it takes to complete all the essays)
  • this application will ask for extensive personal and academic data, 2 plus essays and letters of recommendation. The Common Application is a great example of this type of college application.

Common Application Details

  • This online application used by over 884 of participating colleges
  • This allows you to apply to multiple colleges at the same time
  • It is same value as the college’s own application
  • Common Application Essay Prompts:
  • Many colleges will have their own "supplemental" or additional essays in addition to the common application essay prompts. Here is an specific example of supplements essay:
  • Some colleges who use CA may give an alternative option as well, such as the college's own application. (i.e. Wayne State, Western MI). So you may have a choice. If you have the choice and the college is your only common application school we may recommend the school's own application to save you some time.
  • COMMON APPLICATION OPENS AUGUST 1st, so we recommend you get started on essays and the application prior to school starting to alleviate some tasks and stress.

What application should I use? See scenarios below for suggestions.

Scenario A – applying to:

Oakland University - U

Grand Valley State University - U

Michigan State University - U / C

Wayne State - U / C

Recommendation on how to apply: Use the university’s own application

Send transcript to each individual university through Parchment

Scenario B -- applying to:

Grand Valley State University - U

Michigan State – U / C

University of Michigan - C

Indiana University – U / C

Recommendation on how to apply: Your choice, but you will apply to either Common Application or the university’s own application

Send transcript to each university that you applied to with their own application and to Common Application for all school’s applied to on the Common App. through Parchment

Scenario C -- applying to:

University of Michigan Ann Arbor - C

Kalamazoo College - C

Hope College - C

Miami University (Ohio) - C

Wayne State – U / C

How to apply: Only Common Application

Send your transcript to Common Application (each university will see your transcript when looking at your Common Application account)

U - University’s Application C – Common Application

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Please use email address for common application

Mrs. Wilson A-Boz:

Mrs. Veeser Br-Gom:

Mrs. Holzknecht Gon-Mam:

Mrs. Donnellon Man-Sal:

Ms. Allen Sam-Z:

Our common application accounts are associated by these specific email addresses

Letter of Recommendation Tips and Procedures

Only some colleges will require letters of recommendation. Most colleges on Common Application will require at least one letter of recommendation and then a counselor recommendation/secondary school report. You will need to include your letter recommendations basic information including their name and email address in the application. Typically the colleges are looking for a letter from a teacher in an academic area so keep this in mind. Check with your recommender which email account to include in common application as our accounts are attached to specific emails. For counselors please use the email (NOT Gmail).

1. Starting this spring you can begin politely asking for letters of recommendation if your colleges require them. Please check first. Please provide at least two weeks lead time for the letter to be complete. Provide letter writers with your Senior Profile Sheet for Letters of Recommendation. Pick up for the Student Profile Sheet for Letters of Recommendation in the counseling office or click below to download the Student Profile Sheet to provide your letter writers. So before you leave for the summer please take time to do complete these tasks.

2. If you communicate over the summer to your recommender you need to check in with them in the early fall to make sure they received the profile sheet and have what they need.

3. Remember to write a thank you note after the letter is written!

4. The colleges that require a letter of recommendation usually ask you to provide your letter writers name and email address. So know the email address of your writer.

Student Profile Form for Letters of Recommendation

Common Application College Requirements Chart

4. College Admission Testing

It is recommended to closely research and understand the College Admission Testing Requirements at each of your potential colleges both for admission and scholarship purposes.

SAT Test

SAT testing is offered on a National Saturday during the months below.








When you register you can select up to 4 colleges to have your scores sent for free.

SAT Services Fee Waiver

If you participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch program you are eligible for SAT FEE Waivers including additional score reports and college applications. Please see your counselor for more information.

Should I Re-take a test?

Some of you are planning to retake a SAT or take an ACT this summer or next fall. Below are some reasons to consider.

∗Do you think you can do better?

∗Do you need to do better (cut off score for scholarship?)

∗Have you taken it twice?

  • Data #1: 55% your score will improve when you retest
  • Data #2: scores don’t typically go up after twice unless you study, take a prep class

∗How much time are you willing to give to study?

∗Access Test Prep resources both free and cost as needed

Sending Your SAT Test Scores

When you register you can select up to four colleges to send your scores for free. If you decide not to do this and prefer to send after you view your scores, you must request and pay for your SAT or ACT scores to be sent to a college or scholarship program from the testing agency.

It may take up to six weeks after your testing date for the college to receive your scores. Please keep this in mind as you are working to meet college application deadlines. All materials (application, transcript, test score, rec letters, etc. ) must be in for your application to be complete.

SAT Score Reports Online

You can access your SAT score report online through your College Board account. If you don't have a Collegeboard account when you are creating one please make sure you use the same data you used to register for SAT test (name, email, date of birth, etc.) so that CB can match your scores to your account. If are having trouble viewing your scores online, please contact CB at 866-756-7346 for assistance

SAT Test Prep and Resources

Reasons to use Khan Academy for SAT test prep

Studying for the SAT for 20 hours on free Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is associated with an average score gain of 115 points, nearly double the average score gain compared to students who don’t use Khan Academy.

  • When students practiced for shorter periods of time, there were still meaningful score gains. For example, 6-8 hours of practice was associated with an average 90-point increase from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT.
  • Many students are seeing extraordinary results. Out of nearly 250,000 test takers studied, more than 16,000 gained 200 points or more between the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT.

ACT Testing

National ACT testing is offered on a Saturday during the following months.








SAT/ACT Test Prep Resources

The Princeton Review: 1-800-273-8439

Kaplan: 1-800-KAP-TEST (1-800-527-8378)

Study Point: 1-87STUDYPOINT or (1-877-883-9764)

College Quest Educational Services: 248-647-8378

Kabir's Prep:


Free Websites

5. Deciding by May 1

What do colleges do once they have the student’s application?

Either they….

1. Accept: info on housing, orientation, financial aid

2. Defer: you will remain in the applicant pool for consideration and the college will ask the student to provide more information. 1st semester grades, updated test scores

3. Wait list: Just have to wait. Still considering your application, but must hear from the admitted students first before they may offer you admissions. Ask if funds will be available if you're accepted

4. Deny: cannot offer you admissions.

(You could check on J-term admissions or a summer start.)

Tips about the Decision Process

  • No college can require you to commit to attending prior to May 1, the National Candidates Reply Date, with the exception of Early Decision or NCAA athletic scholarship programs.
  • If you have received financial aid offers, compare them carefully. Determine exactly what your out-of-pocket cost will be to attend each school.
  • Attend prospective student events at the colleges to which you were admitted.
  • Talk to your family, your counselor and those you trust.
  • You should never submit an enrollment deposit to more than one school. It is an unethical practice that may result in your acceptances being withdrawn by the colleges involved.
  • Once you have decided, notify the colleges that you will not attend and request to have your application closed.
  • If you have been offered a spot on a college’s Wait List, learn what you need to do to be an active member of the Wait List.
  • Be sure that you have a place to attend if you are not eventually offered admission off the Wait List.

6. Important Mentions

Scholarship Research and Tips

1.Check the scholarship/financial aid webpage of the colleges you are interested in.

2.Use a FREE scholarship search engine such as:

3.Review scholarship posting on SC counseling scholarship folder.

4.Complete the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA starting October 1.

Merit Scholarships What are they?

Many but not all colleges have merit based scholarships to award students. The merit scholarships do vary at each college, however many times criteria will include GPA & test scores. Check out your potential colleges and any merit scholarships they may offer.
Examples from a few colleges:

AP Credit

AP Credits! What credit does your college give?

AP classes are college-level course taken during high school that may provide students the opportunity to earn credit at college through your AP exam score. Each college has specific guidelines for awarding credit for AP scores. Some college will give credit for 3's and more give credit for 4's and 5's, You will need to research AP guidelines at each school and many times it is up to the departments within each college to determine to credit opportunities.

Once you know some of the colleges you are interested attending in you can take a look at their AP Credit Guides Policies for awareness.

•Score are available online in July

Examples of AP Credit Guidelines:

Oakland University

University of Michigan

Central Michigan University

Alma College

NCAA-D1 & D2 Collegiate Sports

NCAA- College Student Athlete (D1/D2)

Students interested in Division I or II college athletics need to make sure they meet eligibility requirements.

Division 1 Requirement Sheet:

  • Requires 16 core courses
  • Sliding Scale that include test scores and a core course GPA of 2.3 or higher

Division 2 Requirement Sheet:

  • Requires 16 core courses
  • Minimum core course GPA of 2.0
  • Test Scores: minimum SAT sum score of 820 or minimum ACT sum score of 68

NCAA Registration and Eligibility Tips:

1. Register during Junior year for NCAA

2. Verify NCAA received your transcript at end of Junior and Senior year. We send it.

3. You MUST send ACT and/or SAT scores to NCAA (code: 9999) from testing agency. They will only take official test scores.

4. Verify your 16 core courses at: .

5. Check out College Bound Student-Athlete and Parent Guide

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Spring and Summer To Do Suggestions

Spring & Summer Post-Secondary Planning Reminders

  1. If you need letters of recommendation, ask your letter writers and provide them with a completed Student Profile form this spring. Form is included below the letters of recommendation section. It is advised to follow up with your letters writers in the fall when school is back in session.
  2. Make time and plan for college visits/tours/open houses, even virtual opportunities.
  3. Join mailing lists of your potential colleges of interest if you haven't already.
  4. Do more college research online, communicate with the colleges and ask questions.
  5. Do some career research on Xello to help identify future career and its education path.
  6. Consider taking an ACT or SAT this summer.
  7. If your college application requires essays, we strongly encourage you to get them done this summer.
  8. Get a head start on college applications this summer once their new application opens for the 2023-2024 school year.
  9. If you are planning to send your SAT and/or ACT scores to your colleges you must request directly from the testing agency. Depending on your college, their requirements and your preference this could be different for each person and each college.
  10. Create an account on Parchment so you are ready to send transcript in the fall. This is the only way to request/send transcripts.
  11. Take a look at your AP scores in July on your College Board account and then look up potential credit awarded at your colleges of interest and note your credit opportunities.
  12. Develop a plan for keeping all your online college and scholarship account logins and passwords organized. Such as a note app on a locked password app on your phone.