What Colleges Look For
Colleges are interested in the information listed below when deciding whether or not to admit an applicant. Individual colleges differ in how they evaluate this information.
∑ Grade Point Average (GPA)
∑ Class Rank
∑ Difficulty of courses
∑ SAT and/or ACT scores
∑ Activity involvement/awards
∑ Personal essays
GRADE POINT AVERAGE
A studentís grade point average (GPA) is important for college admission. A GPA is the average of a studentís grades, starting with the freshman year. The higher the studentís GPA is, the greater the college and scholarship opportunities will be.
Class rank shows where a student stands academically in relation to the other members of his/her graduating class. Class rank is often presented with the studentís place in the class followed by the total number of students in the class (e.g., 59/181). Rank can be important when applying for scholarships because many scholarships stipulate that a student must be in the top 10% (or 20%, etc.) of his/her class.
A transcript is a document that outlines a studentís academic achievement in high school. A transcript contains the following information:
v Courses, grades, and credits for each grade level completed, beginning with grade 9.
v Current yearly and cumulative GPA and class rank by grade completed
v SAT and/or ACT scores
v Additional scores are also included on the transcript (Terra Nova, PSAT, NEDT)
v Current Courses
All applications request that an official transcript be submitted with the application. An official transcript must have a signature, stamp, or seal verifying its authenticity. An unofficial transcript is the same as an official transcript except there is no official signature, stamp, or seal. You may request an unofficial transcript for personal use (e.g. to take with you on a college visit) by contacting the guidance office at 674-7218.
COURSES RECOMMENDED FOR COLLEGE ADMISSION
Four-year colleges require students to complete certain college preparatory courses while in high school. These include a minimum of:
∑ 4 years of English
∑ 4 years of social studies
∑ 3 years of math, including Algebra I, Algebra II, and geometry
∑ 3 years of science (Lab Sciences)
∑ 2-3 years of a modern foreign language
Students lacking these courses may be required to take remedial and/or additional courses at college. Students should take as much college preparatory math, science, english, foreign language, and social studies as they can handle academically.
Extensive planning should go into your childís testing schedule. The following tests may be considered:
PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). This test is recommended for all juniors and is given in October.
A PRACTICE SAT is given each February to freshmen, sophomores and juniors. This test is a practice test. The results of the test are NOT sent to any schools or colleges. The results are reported only to the students. The students keep their test booklets and compare their results to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
SAT I - (Scholastic Assessment Test) - a college entrance examination usually taken in the spring of the junior year and the fall of the senior year. Students receive a verbal and math score. Registration bulletins as well as preparation booklets are available in the guidance office. There are numerous books, tapes, computer programs and preparation courses available. The best preparation for this test is a strong, challenging course load throughout the studentís high school years. The SAT is offered in the fall (usually November) and the spring (usually March/April) at Dallas High School. Check the registration bulletin for specific dates. This test is given on Saturday morning and takes approximately 3Ĺ to 4 hours. Scores are received in four to five weeks after the test date.
ACT- (American College Test) - a college entrance examination used widely in the South and Western part of our country. It is generally taken during the junior and/or senior year. Students receive scores in English, Reading, Math and Science Reasoning, as well as a Composite score. Some colleges will accept the SAT or the ACT.† The ACT is offered in the fall (usually in September) at the Dallas High School.
SAT II - Subject Tests - one-hour tests, which measure a studentís knowledge of specific subjects, and his/her ability to apply that knowledge. Some but not all colleges require these tests. Generally, the more competitive colleges require applicants to take one or more of these tests for admission and/or placement. Registration Bulletins and preparation booklets are available in the guidance office.
AP EXAM - (Advanced Placement) - the purpose of AP tests is not to get you into college, but to earn you credits once you get there. AP tests are administered in May and should be taken as soon as possible after taking a related AP course. Colleges differ as to what score is required for granting college credit.
ASVAB - (The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) - is available in the fall to all juniors. This test gives a student self-knowledge about his/her natural aptitudes. This information can be vital in career planning.
NEDT Ė (National Educational Development Tests) Ė is available in the fall to all freshmen and sophomores. This test is a predictive assessment of college admissions test performance. The NEDT is a practical guidance tool that provides early feedback of student skills in English, mathematics, and reading.
Athletes must meet specific academic criteria before playing a sport in college or receiving an athletic scholarship at a Division I or II College. Students must take specific approved "core" courses in order to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. It is important athletes be aware of these NCAA requirements and plan their courses and testing to meet these criteria.† Students must go on-line to register.† You may complete the registration and pay on-line to submit or download the form and mail your remittance in. Two copies of the registration form must be given to the guidance office.† One copy is filled out and sent immediately to the Clearinghouse with the student's current academic information.† The other copy is sent with a final transcript in July after the student graduates.
TWO YEAR COLLEGES AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS
We encourage all students to pursue post high school education/training. Only about 20% of todayís careers require a four-year college degree. In many cases, students can prepare for todayís high demand career fields by attending a community college or technical school. Many of these schools do not require that a student has a college preparatory background, nor do they require SAT testing. Students may also begin their education at a two-year college and then transfer to a four-year college to complete their bachelorís degree.