Senior Newsletter

A guide to the resources you need to be ready for college!

Welcome to your SENIOR YEAR!

Yep, we said are a senior! The day your counselor warned you about has come and it's time to start making some decisions about what your next steps in life will be. Before we get into tips to make your senior year successful there is a myth we need to bust...

MYTH: Senior year does not really matter that much. After all, you are sending colleges your transcript from 9th-11th grades so who cares what goes down senior year? Senior year is time to coast and have fun, not really work hard.

REALITY: Colleges are more aware of your senior year courses and grades then EVER before. Most, if not all, are going to ask you to share with them your schedule and they will follow up with the school to find out if anything has changed. They often ask your counselor to fill out a form on which they rate the rigor of the course load you have taken and are taking. Many schools are requiring 7th semester transcripts (includes 1st semester of senior year) and this will often impact admissions and scholarship decisions.

Colleges expect you to show what you are capable of while in high school. They are taking a chance on you by admitting you and it is your job to show that you are worth that risk by your consistent work ethic.

College Fairs COMING UP!!

  • ECC is hosting a College Night on Tuesday, October 3rd at 6PM till 8PM. This is a great chance to talk to several schools and make your list final. Details HERE.

  • Christian College Fair at Harvest Christian Academy will take place on October 4th at 6:30PM till 8:30PM. Details Here.

  • IACAC will host their annual college fair at McCormick Place on Saturday, October 14th from 11AM - 3PM. Details HERE.

  • Elgin Community College will be hosting the Historically Black College Fair on Saturday, October 21st at 1:30PM at ECC, Building B. Details HERE.


If you have not done so already, you need to be finalizing your list of any four year colleges that you will be applying to. If you are going to apply to ECC you don't need to worry about that until later this semester (see ECC section at the below).

1. For each school you are applying to determine the following:

  • Application deadlines - some come as early as November 1st so use your time wisely!
  • What are the essay topics - make sure to give plenty of time devote to well written and thought out essays.
  • Will you need letters of rec? Not all colleges want letters and it is very important that you follow the individual college guidelines on this topic. If you will need letters you can find the letter of recommendation form HERE. DO NOT just ask teachers to write letters - you must provide them with this filled out form via email. Additionally make sure your counselor has a copy as well since they often have to fill out information about you as well.
  • Do you need a transcript sent? Some colleges (U of I, U of Iowa, ISU to name a few...) will have you fill in your own grades and do not require a transcript from the high school. If you will need transcripts sent you must have a transcript request form signed by a parent on file with your counselor. That form can be found HERE.
  • Test scores. You are responsible for ensuring that colleges have the ACT or SAT scores that you want them to have. The high school does not send test scores. If you need scores sent you will need to visit either the ACT or SAT websites to order score reports.
  • Application Fee. If you receive free or reduced lunch you are eligible for a fee waiver. See your counselor if you have questions.

Keep in mind that in order for a college to consider your application complete and ready for review ALL required pieces will need to be received by the college BY THE DEADLINE.


Dates and deadlines are the name of the game this fall. Find a system that works to keep you organized and prevent last minute rushing/stress. Break down tasks and set deadlines for yourself in addition to the ones given to you by colleges. For example: if you application is due November 1st give yourself the deadline of mid-October to have sent your scores and essay proof read.

Sometimes a hard copy calendar can help you with getting the visuals of the entire month and many fillable PDF versions can be found online. Use your phone as a tool to help as well with reminders and apps that can help you in prioritizing and organizing this important To-Do list.


What is it? CommonApp allows you to use one standard application that is accepted by a many of the colleges and universities out there (find out if your colleges do HERE). The system allows you to compelte the common pieces of an application (background, personal info, basic essay, etc) one time. Individual colleges may require their own unique additions as well.

Should you use it? If CommonApp is an option then it is up to you if you want to take advantage of it or use the individual school applications. One benefit is that if you are applying to many different colleges CommonApp can be a major time saver and help keep you organized. It also automates the process of requesting letters, transcript and counselor feedback and show you almost instantaneously when these pieces are completed.

Common App Workshop! NEXT WEEK!!!!!

There will be a Common App workshops during lunch hours on September 13th and 14th in the Career Center by Guidance. This is an interactive presentation where you will learn how to navigate the system and process. Walk-ins welcome! If you don't have a study hall or lunch e-mail Mrs. Jonvanovic or Mrs. Powell for a pass.


The majority of schools will request that you send your official transcript to them as part of their application process. Your transcript lists your current weighted GPA, class rank, as well as the semester grades you have earned since your freshmen year. Your transcript does not report your SAT or ACT test scores.

Transcripts can be sent electronically via the Common Application, SendEDU, or Parchment. Parchment is the preferred way your counselor would like for you to request and send off transcripts. Please follow this steps in order to set-up and send-off your transcripts through Parchment.

Setting up a Parchment Account:

1. Log into your SCHOOL email and open the email from parchment ( if you do not see it use the search bar and type in parchment).

2. Scroll down to the middle of the email and click on the green bar to open the parchment link.

3. Activate your account by following the steps. Please use a password that you are going to remember. I can not help you remember or reset your password.

4. Click on all the options that say I do and I agree

Requesting transcripts:

1. Click on the order button

2. Type in the name of school in the search bar

3. Click on the school you want your transcript to be sent to. (Make sure you check the location and that is says undergraduate and NOT graduate)

4. If you have more than one school you can order multiple transcripts at the same time. Click on the button that says add school.

5. Once you have added all your schools click on the green button that says save and continue.

6. Click on the green button again that says continue

7. If this is the fist time requesting you will have to sign your name with the mouse and type in parents name.

8. Click on I'm done when finished. Your order will not be processed if you do not click this button.

When to request transcripts?

You should request transcripts when you have submitted your application. If you request prior to submitting your application your transcript has no file to be filed into and could get lost in the shuffle.

Essays and Personal Statements

A word to those who are no looking forward to essay writing - there is no easy or quick way around this process! Be grateful for this opportunity to share about yourself and let colleges see another side of you. Think of it this way; colleges receive literally thousands of applications and this is the main way (in addition to letters of rec) to stand out and show evidence that you have the communication skills and drive to be successful in college. You don't need to use a thesaurus on every other word to make yourself seem more intellectual, but you do need to view this as a chance to tell a college about yourself with genuine voice. Below are some resources for this process.

Quick and Dirty Tips


1) Bad Topic - Make sure your topic shows you are thinking with depth, reflects your goals, interest and character.

2) Rushing - Give yourself time, brainstorm, take breaks, revisit and get feedback.

3) Ignored Instructions - Messing up instructions tells a college a lot about you and the picture it paints is not great.

4) Bad Mechanics - Also tells a college a lot about you. Part of the purpose of this is to show a college your communication skills. Can be avoided with careful attention to number 2.

5) Too Personal - There is such a thing as TMI in a persona statement. Show good judgement in what you share and if it is a very personal topic get feedback from your counselor or teacher.

6) Too Revealing - Something illegal, criminal or shows really bad judgement on your part should be avoided, unless there is some really huge moral lesson or relevant reason to share. Talk with your teacher or counselor.

7) Overconfident - Be cautious about sounded like you are bragging. Have a modest and measured view of yourself and your accomplishments.

The "Why Us/Why You" Essay

This is a common essay/statement prompt. Be mindful here that the admissions office is looking to find out some things about you.

What admissions wants to know:

Why are they applying to our school? Do they know and value the school, the mission, history and values? Will our approach to learning here suit them? Are they a good fit and will they contribute? Will they succeed academically? If we admit, will they attend?

Quick and Dirty Tips:

  1. Research (social media, school publications including student publications, website, departmental websites, student clubs and organizations)

  2. Visit if possible - interactions on campus can be a great source of material (if you can't visit - virtual tours, rep visits, college fairs)

  3. Identify what genuinely makes this school unique and and right for you

  4. Skip generic or shallow praise - use your own perspective, find something specific/meaningful and build a deeper connection

Senior Presentation: Personal Statements

View the senior presentation regarding personal statement and essay writing that was presented to senior English classes on 9/6. Students: you need to use your U-46 gmail login in to view


Athletic Hopefuls

If you have any hope of playing sports at either the Division I or II level you must be registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse. DO THIS ASAP; it is step 1 - link below. Once you do you must request that your counselor send your transcript. You will need to send your ACT or SAT score yourself.


If you are planning on attending ECC next year below you will find links to the Academic program info, the application and Scholarships. Plan on completing your application before second semester. You will still need to file a FAFSA as early as possible to be eligible for aid at ECC.
Considering ECC?

Visit your counselor for info about beginning this process.

ECC Academic Advisor

ECC advisors help you design an educational plan for any major, any transfer institution or course of study that leads to graduation.

Transfer College Courses

Get information about what college courses will transfer.


NO MATTER IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND ECC OR HARVARD, everyone should complete the financial aid process by filing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). All colleges use this document to determine your financial aid package and your eligibility for grants ($$$ you don't have to pay back). This document becomes available online after October 1st and all colleges will require it in order to be considered for financial aid.

Below you will find the documents needed to file and several good resources coming up for understanding this process.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Start your FAFSA or learn about what forms are needed to complete it


Be a ahead of the game and create your FSA ID prior to October 1st. An FSA ID gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature.

Understanding Financial Aid

Take a stroll through the process with BigFuture

FREE ECC Online FinAid Course

ECC is offering a FREE online course that runs 4 weeks called Navigating the Financial Aid Process. Deadline to register is November 13th. Click here for more info!


College is expensive. Scholarships can help pay for college and do not have to be repaid. Just like college applications, the scholarship search is a process. Get yourself organized and begin looking early. The longer you wait the more likely you may miss out an opportunities. Remember to not limit your search. Scholarships are awarded by a variety of sources, including institutional, businesses, non-profits, religious organizations, the government, etc. Each scholarship has its own deadline, criteria, and application. Take a look at some of the free tools to help you with your scholarship search.

Local Scholarships

Visit the scholarship page on the SEHS website for a list of current opportunities.


Access to over 1.5 millions scholarships.

Free scholarship search.

Keeping up your grades...

It is a common misconception that senior year is the time to coast. More than EVER colleges are aware of senior grades and monitoring and revisiting them. Make sure whatever grades you have for senior year are grades that show continued progress and learning, not that you have checked out. It sends a bad message to colleges and could potentially jeopardize scholarships and in some cases, cause you to go into college on probation.

GOOD NEWS: If you are struggling then there are places to get help! First and foremost be talking with your teachers.

Crash Course

Quick videos covering concepts from science and history to psychology and health care!

Khan Academy

Need a refresher on a math or science concept?

Improve your memory

Check out these 20 study hacks to help your brain remember information quicker and easier!

Put down your phone every once and a while!

Stop sacrificing your attention, critical thinking skills, creativity and sometimes emotional well-being to your phone. More and more research is proving the negative impact this habit has on your brain and, in turn, school. Reevaluate your habits or even consider a digital or social media detox.
Use your Phone for Good

Just can't handle a Detox? This infographic gives you 20 apps that help increase productivity.