High School Counselors » FAQ's



Frequently Asked Questions
How do I set up my student SKYWARD ACCESS?

Student will need to download the Skyward App  

For their USER NAME - year of graduation last two digits, last name, first initial(23smithj)  FOR THEIR PASSWORD:  birthdate (MMDDYYYY)

How can I join the National Honor Society?
To be considered for membership, a student must be a full-time sophomore or junior student and must have maintained a cumulative GPA of 90 in all academic courses (English, Science, Math, and Social Studies), AP courses, and honors since entering high school. In the spring semester, students who meet the academic requirements will be invited to submit an application detailing how they exhibit the qualities of service, leadership, and character. Equal consideration is given to scholarship, service, leadership, and character by the faculty council (appointed by the principal) in making the final decision about who will be offered membership.   

Should I take AP courses in high school?  Colleges typically look first at the courses an applicant has taken in high school and then look to see what grades were received.  Colleges like students who challenge themselves.  If AP classes are available at your school (most all high schools offer them), check with your guidance counselor to see if AP courses are right for you.

Should I take the SAT, ACT, or both?  It’s usually best to take both tests.  This gives you another opportunity to improve your scores.  Higher scores can often-times result not only in being admitted to a school, but be awarded additional funding by the institution.

How important is community / volunteer work?  Colleges look very favorably on students who give back to their community.  Being an active participant by volunteering in your community is an excellent way to enhance your admission applications; while, at the same time, making you a well rounded person.

How many clubs / organizations should I join?  Colleges like quality much better than quantity.  Find two or three clubs that interest you and become an active participant.

How many times should I take the SAT / ACT?  You may test multiple times; once each during your high school junior year and then again in your senior year(only if you weren't satisfied with your original score).  Students will often-times score better on subsequent tests.  In addition, colleges often look favorably on students who have tested multiple times; it shows they have a strong desire to succeed.

How do I know if I should take the SAT II subject tests?  SAT II tests may be used by colleges to determine a student’s strength in a particular subject to help further determine their admission eligibility.  Colleges will typically notify the prospective applicant if a subject test is required.  Please note that SAT II subject tests may also be used by colleges for course placement.

Should I apply for college funding or admissions first?  Ideally, applying for admission first before the deadline (and ahead of the crowd), in August, September or October is a good idea.  The CSS/Profile, if required, completion window opens October 1st; the FAFSA, completion window opens January 1st.  Apply for admission first and then funding.

Should I apply to five or six schools, or just one?  Keeping your admission options open is a very important part of the overall college planning process.  Apply to at least four colleges; this prevents you from becoming a “captive audience” when funding is offered.

Is it possible to have my admission application fees waived?  Admission application fees may be waived by the college or university if the student demonstrates a financial need when applying or if you participate in your school's free and reduced lunch program.  If applicable, you may wish to check with your high school guidance office and ask for a letter outlining your financial need and asking the institution(s) to waive their admission application fee(s).

Is it important to include letters of recommendation with my admission applications?  Recommendation letters are the most commonly overlooked and underrated portion of the admission application packet.  Use your recommendation letters to “round out” your application.  Don’t report redundant information; but rather make sure your recommendation letters tell more about you as a person, including your values, goals, and ideals.  You should only ask someone who KNOWS YOU WELL to write a letter of recommendation.

Are campus visits important?  Yes!  Campus Visits are a very important part of the overall college planning process.  They not only give you a chance to get a feel for the college community first-hand; they also give you an opportunity to meet with the admissions officer and financial aid officer.  Putting a face with a name and making a good first impression is vital. (SEE "START PLANNING YOUR COLLEGE VISITS" ABOVE FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT TAKING A COLLEGE VISIT DURING YOUR JUNIOR YEAR)

Is early decision a good idea?  Generally not!  With early decision the student essentially enters into a contractual agreement with the college or university agreeing to attend, not applying to any other schools, and even withdrawing any other admission applications they may currently have in place.  This may often limit the amount and type of funding the student is ultimately awarded.

Who receives the most money for college?  Although college financial aid was originally designed to go to those students who needed it the most, it may actually go to those who know the most about the process.  In fact, colleges and universities will now use financial aid as an incentive to attract those students they would most like to attend.  Understanding the process, devising a plan, and staying on track are vital.

My parents are divorced and remarried.  What parents’ information needs to be reported on my financial aid applications?  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) asks questions about the student’s current household.  This may be natural parents, step-parents, or a combination of both.  The CSS/Profile, if required, may also ask questions about the non-custodial parent if the parents are divorced.

Do I have to file the FAFSA every year I am in college?  Applying for college funding is an annual event and must be completed from start to finish each and every year.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is filed annually beginning in January of the student’s high school senior year.

Do I need to file the CSS/Profile?  The CSS Financial Aid Profile is required (in addition to the FAFSA) by approximately ten percent (10%) of the nation’s most selective institutions.  You may check here to see if the Profile is required by a college or university that you are considering.

How do the schools receive the information I report on my FAFSA?  Colleges and universities that you list on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may access your personal and financial information that is reported on your FAFSA electronically via an Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR).  Any time there are changes / updates to your FAFSA, colleges listed will have electronic access to the newly revised data.

How do colleges determine my funding eligibility?  Colleges will usually take their Cost of Attendance and subtract your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to determine your eligibility for need-based funding.  Keep in mind that this formula is used for need-based funding, or need-based aid.  For all intents and purposes, merit-based funding has no EFC; colleges may, and commonly do, use their own endowment funds to award merit money to those students they would most like to enroll.  Review our Inside Track Data Center for additional details.

When is it best to submit my housing deposits?  Most colleges will request housing deposits before the May 1st decision deadline.  If you have not made your choice as to which school you will be attending, you may contact your final colleges and ask that they grant you a housing deposit extension.

By what date do I need to make my final college choice?  Colleges and universities generally recognize May 1st as the students’ decision deadline.

What is the difference between a subsidized loan and an un-subsidized loan?  With a subsidized loan, the accruing interest is paid by the federal government while the student attends college.  With an un-subsidized loan, the interest is not paid by the government while the student attends college.  Students must demonstrate financial need to qualify for a subsidized loan.