Deer Park High School


Overwhelmed just thinking about the college process? No worries! I got you covered! This is a step by step informational guide regarding all things college. First things first...KNOW THE TERMINOLOGY.
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The grade point average is an indicator of the academic success of the student. Grade points are awarded for each semester grade then added together and divided by the number of semester units completed to determine GPA. It is one of the most important pieces when applying for college. Most schools have a 4.0 scale (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1). Pre-AP classes are on a 5 point scale. AP/Dual Credit classes are on a 6 point scale.


Class rank indicates how a student is performing compared to the others in their class. Class rank is given to the students twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Automatic admission for colleges usually go by class rank. For example, some colleges offer automatic admission if you are ranked in the top 10%.

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A transcript shows a student's academic history of all grades in high school. All colleges and scholarship committees ask for a transcript.

If you need a transcript for a scholarship, email a request to and include your name

If you need a transcript for a college application, email a request to


  • Student’s name at time of graduation; or current student’s name
  • Full date of birth
  • Year of graduation
  • Indicate university/college you would like the transcript sent to OR let us know if you need an unofficial copy for your personal records
  • Picture of photo ID; this can be your school ID or driver’s license.
    We will send the official transcript directly to the college/university; unofficial transcripts will be scanned and emailed back to you. WE DO NOT RELEASE OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS DIRECTLY TO INDIVIDUALS. All transcripts will be processed within 24-48 hours.
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In order to graduate, you must have 26 credits of the following courses:

4 credits of English

4 credits of math

4 credits of science

3 credits of history

2 credits of LOTE (language other than English)

1 credit of fine art

1 credit of physical education

7 credits of electives

Total of 26 credits


Graduation plans can be found on the counselors’ website under Program of Studies

Arts and Humanities

Business and Industry

Multi-Disciplinary Studies

Public Services

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STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness)

STAAR is the state mandated tests every student must pass in order to graduate from high school. Students must pass all of the following tests in high school:

9th Grade English

10th Grade English



US History

PSAT (Preliminary SAT)

This test analyzes students reading, writing and math academic abilities. It's a great way to practice before taking the SAT. Juniors can take the PSAT in October but must pay for it. A perfect score is 1600.

The SAT and ACT have been test optional. We recommend you take one of these tests!


The TSI Assessment (TSIA) is part of the Texas Success Initiative enacted by the Texas State Legislature and designed to determine a student’s readiness for college-level coursework in the general areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. The TSIA, or one of its exemptions, has been required of Texas students entering a Texas college or university for nearly ten years. Our students will take this their junior year.


The most common test taken is the SAT. Just like the PSAT, the SAT scores your reading, writing and math skills. A perfect score is 1600. The national average is 1000. College offer superscoring, which allows you to take the SAT as many times as possible before a specific date. The college will then take your highest score.



The ACT is another way to show college readiness. It is test based on reading, writing, science and math. The highest score is 36. The current average ACT score is 21. Some colleges offer superscoring, which allows you to take the ACT as many times as possible before a specific date. The college will then take your highest score.

What does superscore mean?

You are able to take the SAT/ACT as many times as possible until a certain date. The admissions office will take your best score for each section! "If at first you don't succeed, try again!"

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Most colleges require an essay for admission. This is your chance to stand out from the other applicants. Visit College Board to find out what admission officers are looking for in a college essay.

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Steps to take to get a great letter of recommendation


In order for your letter to be AMAZING, you need to provide information about yourself: SENIOR BRAG SHEET OR ACADEMIC RESUME`. You will need to email or print this document and give it to each person writing a recommendation letter. Find a copy and examples on the school's website or visit Mrs. Harrison in the College Corner.


· Read each of your college applications carefully. Schools often ask for letters of recommendation from an academic teacher — sometimes in a specific subject — or a school counselor or both.

· Ask a counselor, teachers and your family who they think would make good references.

· Choose one of your teachers from junior year or a current teacher who has known you for a while. Colleges want a current perspective on you, so a teacher from several years ago isn't the best choice.

· Consider asking a teacher who also knows you outside the classroom. For example, a teacher who directed you in a play or advised your debate club can make a great reference.

· Consider other adults — such as an employer, a coach or an adviser from an activity outside of school — who have a good understanding of you and your strengths.

· Perhaps most important, pick someone who will be enthusiastic about writing the letter for you.

· If you’re unsure about asking someone in particular, politely ask if he or she feels comfortable recommending you. That’s a good way to avoid weak letters.

· Email each person explaining your need for a recommendation and why. If they don't have an email, type your letter in Word, and print it. Don’t forget to attach your brag sheet or college resume`.


Reach out to the recipient AT LEAST two weeks before you need it. DO NOT ASK FOR A LETTER THE DAY BEFORE YOU NEED IT!!! Be respectful of their time. In your email/letter, make sure you include the date you need the recommendation. I would also send a reminder email a couple of days before it's needed, if you haven't received it yet.


Once you have received your recommendation letter, be sure to SEND A HAND-WRITTEN THANK NOTE! Most students skip this step. This small task can really make a difference.


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Early Action

An admission application option that allows a high school student who just entered his/her senior year of high school to file for early admission to his/her top choice college (or colleges). However, in this case, the student is not committed to accepting admittance to a particular college, even if he/she gets accepted to his/her top choice school. Early action plans allow a student to decide if they wish to accept an offer of admission until May 1st.

Early Decision

This is a good plan for applicants who know exactly which college they want to attend and are confident that they will be accepted. An early decision application is initiated by the student who is then notified of the college’s decision earlier than usual (generally by the 15th of December of senior year). Keep in mind that by submitting an early decision application, you are automatically agreeing to accept the school’s offer of admission.

Rolling Admissions

An admissions procedure by which the college considers your application as soon as all the required credentials, such as school record and test scores, have been received.

Deferred Admission

Permission from a college that has accepted you to postpone enrolling in the college. The postponement is usually for up to one year.

Wait List

The list of applicants who may be admitted to a college if space becomes available. Colleges wait to hear if all the students they accepted decide to attend. If students don’t enroll and there are empty spots, a college may fill them with students who are on the waiting list.


If you are seeking an associate’s degree or a specific type of certification, a TWO-YEAR COLLEGE would be your best option. For instance, if you want to work in the petro-chemical, welding or construction industries, San Jacinto College offers classes for those types of jobs. If you are seeking a bachelor's degree or higher, a FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE would be your best option.


**New Graduation Requirement**

FAFSA is a way to receive various types of financial assistance for college, trade school, etc. This process can be intimidating, but we are here to guide you along the way.

If a student is not a citizen of the United States, you will complete the TASFA to apply for state aid and will need the same documents as the federal FAFSA requires. Mrs. Harrison will call students in during the month of September to give instructions.

If a student is not planning on attending any college in 2023-2024, a parent can sign an opt out form available through the counselor. This generally applies to students going straight into the work force or military. Contact Mrs. Harrison at for the form.

STEP 1: FSA ID# is needed to complete/sign the FAFSA

- Create an FSA ID# by going to STUDENTAID.GOV and creating an account (use Google Chrome). You will need your Social Security number. Your Parent will also need to create an FSA ID #.

- You will have to verify your phone # and email address at the end; then you will receive an email within 3 business days confirming your FSA ID#. You will use this FSA ID# for several years, so make sure you save it in a secure place. Are you getting errors while filing this out? Swing by the Counseling Office or call 1-800-433-3243.

-Continue on and complete the 2023-24 FAFSA Form

STEP 2: FAFSA Qualification Notification

- You will receive an email from FAFSA in about 2 weeks. Federal Student Aid processes your FAFSA application and sends you a Student Aid Report (SAR). On your Student Aid Report (SAR), you will receive an official Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on the results of the information you provided on your FAFSA. The EFC is an initial estimate based on the information you provided on your FAFSA application, and will be used by your college(s) to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.

- In the Spring, you will decide if you want to accept any part of the Financial Aid award through FAFSA. This will be done through your College Portal website or through your College Financial Aid Office. We strongly recommend that you sit down with a parent and Financial Aid Advisor from the college to determine the best course of action when accepting financial aid. Loans should only be used when absolutely necessary.

- You will complete the FAFSA each year in October while attending college.

STEP 4: Do you need more information about how Financial Aid works?

-Follow the link below for more information about financial aid options and what steps you will complete in the Spring to claim any financial aid awards that you choose to accept. (Links to an external site.)

If you need additional help, please stop by the Counseling Office for assistance or email Mrs. Harrison at .


Have you been selected for verification? Here is a short video to explain why.

You will receive an email from the college's financial aid department. You need to upload the documents using the college's financial aid portal. Do exactly what the college says. DO NOT SUMBIT DOCUMENTS TO FAFSA.

Each senior MUST apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as a graduation requirement.

Required Information

FSA ID for student and parent

2022 Tax Returns from parent and student

Social Security Number for parent and student

State Issued Driver's License

Any additional income information


ALL SENIORS are required to apply for FAFSA for graduation. You can get a FSA ID now!!!!


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College Scholarships

Colleges offer various scholarships. For most, when you apply to the college, you are automatically in review for possible scholarships. Some may want you to apply on their scholarship website. Research your college of choice for scholarships!

Local Scholarships

Local businesses, schools, clubs, etc offer scholarships as well. Check out this site to see if you are eligible and continue to view this page at least twice a month.

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Seniors AND Juniors - TWO SCHOOL DAYS

Make sure you return with a letter on the school letterhead stating you were there for a visit, dated (not on a weekend date) and a signature. You can usually obtain this from the admissions office. RETURN TO ATTENDANCE OFFICE.

Visit the website of the college you are interested in attending.

Also, College Board has created a checklist to get the most out of your college visit!


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Most college applications open July 1


Everyone has to apply to college, just like you have to apply for a job!

1. Create either an Apply Texas or Common app account

2. Apply to your college of choice

Some application requirements may be:

1. Test scores

2. SRAR - students self report all of their academic grades directly from their transcript, which you can obtain by emailing Mrs. Harrison at

3. Essays

4. Letters of recommendation

5. Official transcript


Check your personal email often for any communication from the college. Before being accepted, some will give you a student ID number so that you can set up an account in their portal. This is where you can upload any documentation needed for admission.


Continue to check your personal email for university correspondence. After you apply, most colleges will send you an email on how to create your account for their portal. This portal, kind of like our Skyward, will allow you to check on your application status, upload necessary documents or information and check on your financial aid. Each university has their own portal so keep up with usernames and passwords.

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1. Go to

2. Create an FSA ID

3. A parent needs to create an FSA ID. Have a sibling already in college? Your parent will use the same FSA ID as they did for your sibling.

3. Complete the 2023-24 FAFSA form

4. Email a screenshot of your CONGRATULATIONS page to Mrs. Harrison for verification


Your financial aid award will come from the colleges you placed on your FAFSA form. Be on the lookout for emails.

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All entering students at an institution of higher education are required to show proof of an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period prior to enrolling. They must get the vaccine at least 10 days before the semester begins.

You can get a vaccine at your local drugstore or doctor's office.

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If your plan is to attend a four year college and stay on campus, you will need to apply for housing. This usually happens shortly after you get accepted. Look on the college's website to find when the housing application opens and closes. Some housing can be very competitive, so check the dates!!
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When choosing a meal plan, really think about if it's worth the money. Some colleges require incoming freshman to purchase a meal plan. Check the college websites for information. If it's not required and you are a picky eater, you may not want to waste your money. Having a meal plan takes away the stress of planning meals. Do what works best for you.
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This is usually a requirement. Orientation is the best place to meet new friends and get to know the campus and activities offered. It is set for specific times before the semester begins. You will have the opportunity to get to know the campus better, learn important information on upcoming events and activities and meet with an academic advisor. Each student is paired with a specific academic advisor that will help you each semester with selecting your classes. It's kind of like a school counselor.
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Check your personal email often. This is the main source of communication with colleges. They will send updates, information and required documentation they need from you. Read these emails thoroughly. Don't skim through it. You may miss something. When in doubt, you can always call the admissions office for clarification.

As soon as you get a student ID number from a college, create your account in their portal. This will allow you to check your application status, financial aid information, housing and meal plan information, upload documents and much more. Think of it as your Skyward. It's a one-stop-shop for all necessary information.

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