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Counseling » Life After High School

Life After High School

Getting Ready for College


Select high school courses that are appropriate for your chosen program type. The college websites will list recommended or required high school courses, whether you need to take SAT and/or ACT, and if there is a minimum score. Also, find out what majors are offered.


Develop good study and organizational skills.


Be serious about grades throughout school. THEY ARE IMPORTANT! They will affect college acceptance and scholarship eligibility.


Learn more about your aptitudes by taking the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), and various computer exploration programs. 


Register for and take the PSAT/NMSQT in October of your junior year. This test is the only way to qualify for the National Merit Scholarships. (You may want to take it for practice in your sophomore year.)


Visit college campuses during the summer and other vacation times.


Keep records of honors, activities, leadership positions, etc. beginning your freshman year.


Take SAT and/or ACT during the spring of your junior year so that you will have the opportunity to retake it if necessary.


Get to know your high school counselor. The counseling center has numerous sources of information, and your counselor is a valuable resource in obtaining information about college admissions and financial aid.



Steps in Applying for College


Choose a college. Consider size, location, cost, admission requirements, course of study, family tradition, physical facilities, extracurricular activities, honors programs, transfer of credits, etc. It is strongly recommended that you visit college campuses before finalizing your decision.


Meet admission requirements: a) grades; b) testing.


Obtain applications:

a) admissions - Public colleges in Texas

Over 300 other colleges at

File applications:  If an essay is required, use correct spelling and punctuation. Make the best impression possible.

b) housing - Usually requires a deposit and at some universities, on-campus housing is limited. Be aware of any deadlines for housing applications.

c) financial aid - Financial aid forms must be accurate, and complete. 


Meet all deadlines. It is a good idea to mark these on your calendar.


Keep a record of all correspondence with the college.


Sign and return the letter of financial offers.


Request a final transcript from your high school registrar. This final Academic Achievement Record will have a state seal.


Admission to Selective Colleges and Military Academies

High School seniors who graduate in the top ten percent of their class will be automatically admitted to Texas public universities and colleges, if they apply within two years of their high school graduation, pending approval of continued funding by the state legislature.   The University of Texas accepts a smaller percentage that is determined the year prior to graduation.

Selective colleges include those that admit less than one-third of their applicants. Included in the list of colleges with the most selective admission procedures are: Amherst; Cornell; Princeton; *U.S. Air Force Academy; Brown; Dartmouth; Rice; *U.S. Coast Guard Academy; California Institute of Technology; Duke; Stanford; *U.S. Military Academy; Harvard; University of Pennsylvania; *U.S. Naval Academy; Columbia; MIT; Yale; and Trinity.

*Also requires a congressional nomination. Should begin application by the spring of junior year.

Specific factors which selective colleges look at in making decisions include:


Recommendations – Most of these colleges require two or three recommendations from a counselor, teacher, and one other person. To facilitate the process, the student might furnish each with a synopsis of his/her activities, and major interests, goals, and background.


Interviews – Many colleges require interviews on campus or with representatives of colleges in the student’s community.


To enhance one’s chances of admission to these colleges, preparation for admission should begin no later than the freshman year. Students should be encouraged to take a rigorous college-preparatory program and to become involved in extracurricular activities. Parents should also make sure the student is interested in and would feel comfortable at these schools. It is advised that you take advantage of vacations to visit colleges and/or regions of the country you are considering.


Trade and Technical Schools and Junior/Community Colleges


Who Should Attend:

  1. Students who want to obtain a marketable skill in two years or less.
  2. Students seeking an economical alternative to the basic courses of a four-year degree.


Admission Requirements

The first requirement for admission to most schools is a desire to learn. Generally, accredited private trade and technical schools and junior colleges require a high school diploma or GED. For some trade and technical schools, work experience may help to waive that requirement. In addition, some schools require certain placement tests given on their own campuses as a screening process for specific programs.


How To Choose A School

The best way to check out a school is to visit it. Choose a day when classes are in session. Talk to students to see if they are happy with their training. Look around at the buildings and equipment to see how they compare with the catalog description. If possible, talk to graduates to see what they think of the school.

Trade and technical schools emphasize placement of their graduates. Because the reputation of a good placement rate is essential for a school to thrive year after year, be sure to get information about the placement rate.



The cost of attending a junior or community college is minimal. Tuition at the trade and technical schools will vary according to the programs offered. Financial aid is available at the junior colleges, as well as the trade and technical schools.