- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000

The process of applying to college can be daunting, but many Web sites are available to help students getting started.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (www.nacac.com), a nonprofit membership association representing high school counselors and college admission officers, offers information for each year of high school. This group also offers college fairs around the country, and its first-ever on-line fair was held Oct. 19. Other fairs are planned check the Web site for more details.

The association offers the following guidelines for college-bound high school students.

Freshman year

• Meet with your high school guidance counselor and discuss your plans for the next four years.

• Research career possibilities.

• Become involved in co-curricular activities.

• Create an academic portfolio and co-curricular record.

Sophomore year

• Consult with your guidance counselor about taking the PSAT in October. (A preliminary test to prepare for the SAT.)

• If you plan on taking the ACT (American College Test), check with your guidance counselor about taking the Plan. Plan is a preliminary standardized test in English, math, science, reasoning and reading that helps students prepare for the ACT. It does not have national testing dates like the PSAT.

• Discuss results of tests with your guidance counselor to explore ways to improve and identify courses that will be required or beneficial.

• Start researching colleges.

• Register for the June 2 SAT II subject test. (The deadline is April 27.) The SAT II tests are one-hour exams that test your knowledge on academic subjects in courses you already have completed. Many colleges require three (one should be writing), and many colleges require math.

• Plan now for wise use of the summer.

• Take the SAT II subject tests. Consider seeing your results before releasing them to colleges. Plan on taking the SAT II again in spring of junior year or fall of senior year to release only the best scores to colleges.

• During the summer, you may want to sign up for a PSAT/SAT prep course or take practice tests in books or on the Web.

Junior year

• Register for the October PSAT. (These scores may qualify a student for the National Merit Scholarship competition and/or the National Achievement and National Hispanic Scholars programs. Meet with a guidance counselor to review courses and plan schedule for senior year.)

• Register for the February ACT.

• Obtain a Social Security number if you do not have one.

• Begin a search of colleges. Request admissions literature and financial aid information.

• Register for the March 31 SAT I if you have completed the math courses covered. (The deadline is Feb. 23.)

• Register for the May 5 and June 2 SAT I and SAT II. Both tests are offered on those days. Register for the June ACT. (The deadline for the May test is March 29 and for the June test it is April 27.)

• Plan summer activities enroll in a college course, pursue a summer school program, apply for an internship, work or volunteer.

• Begin visiting colleges. Phone to set up appointments. Collect applications and gather paperwork for admission.

Senior year

• Make sure you have all applications required for college admission.

• Check the deadlines for applications and financial aid.

• Meet with a guidance counselor to be sure the list of college selections is appropriate.

• Register for October/ November SAT I and/or SAT II or the September/October ACT.

• Get letters of recommendation.

• Plan visits to colleges and set up interviews.

• Attend a college fair.

• Mail applications in time to reach colleges by their deadlines.

• Register for Dec. 2 and Jan. 27 SAT I and/or SAT II or the December ACT. Have official test scores sent to colleges. (The deadline for the December test is Oct. 27 and for the January test is Dec. 22.)

• If you need financial aid, obtain a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) from your guidance counselor or download it at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

• Ask your counselor or school registrar to send first-semester grades to colleges.

• By May 1, decide on the college you will attend and send in the tuition deposit. Notify other colleges of your choice.

• Ask your counselor or school registrar to send your final transcript to the college.

• Know payment dates for tuition, etc.

The College Board (www.collegeboard.com), a 100-year-old nonprofit membership association of colleges and universities, offers a variety of valuable information on its Web site. It allows students to register for the SATs and provides practice with real SAT questions and answers. The site lists the following courses that are required for college admission:

• Language arts four years in literature, writing and/or speech.

• Math three to four years in algebra, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry and/or calculus.

• Science three years in lab sciences, which may include two in biology, two in chemistry and/or physics and two in earth/space sciences, advanced biology, advanced chemistry or physics.

• Social studies three years, which may include two in U.S. history, one in U.S. government, one in economics, one in world history or geography, plus one more credit in the above.

• Additional credits eight additional credits in foreign language, arts, computers or career area.

The College Board site also provides a list of the 2000-2001 test dates with registration deadlines to help students keep track. Another helpful piece of information on the site is tips for taking the tests.

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