Sheboygan South High School Counseling Center
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Two and Four Year College Planning Center

Guia de Planeo Postsecundario

Junior/Senior Checklist  •  Where/How to Obtain College Selection Information
The First Year Away From Home  •  Glossary of College Terms  •  College Planning
Making a College Choice  •  Making Your Campus Visit Beneficial
What Are Colleges Looking For?  •  
College Entrance Tests  •  College Testing Schedule
Sample Form Letters  •  Financial Aid and Scholarship Information  •  Resources

If you are college-bound, there are many things to consider and accomplish during your high school years.  Please use this guide below to assist you, and feel free to contact the Counseling Department.

Junior/Senior Checklist

Junior Year, Second Semester

Make an appointment with your school counselor.
Determine whether your high school courses are meeting college admission requirements.
Research colleges (public and private) and technical schools.
Discuss future plans with parents—including financial needs, estimated costs, etc.
Sign up for visits with college representatives in the counseling center.
Visit schools of interest in person and online.
Take ACT, SAT, and/or ASVAB assessments.
Schedule rigorous classes for your senior year.  
Revisit WisCareers and other interest inventories online.
Participate in a job shadow, work experience, or co-op.
Formulate a post-high school plan!
Senior Year, First Semester
Make an appointment with your school counselor.
Attend school fairs held in the Sheboygan area.
In fall, plan on taking the ACT or SAT if you have not taken a college admissions test or if you feel you want to try and improve your scores.
Sign up for visits with college representatives to ask follow-up questions and receive information on the application process.
Schedule campus visits.
Request application materials from the colleges to which you want to apply.
Begin preparing essay notes and an outline for any college requiring an essay.
Make a chart with all requirements for each college.  Include deadlines for standardized test scores, transcripts, recommendations, applications, financial and financial aid forms.
Complete college applications by Thanksgiving, making a copy of the blank form as a working copy of the application and another of the completed forms for your records.
Schedule classes related to your chosen field or career of interest for second semester.
Research and apply for scholarships via the counseling center and the Internet.
Attend FAFSA (Financial Aid) and Scholarship workshop.  Secure all financial aid forms (FAFSA—Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and begin compiling information.
Enlist the help of your parents by providing copies of the Junior/Senior bulletins to them.
Select teachers to write your letters of recommendation—giving them at least ten to twelve days prior to the deadline date.
Senior Year, Second Semester
Make an appointment with your school counselor.
Apply for scholarships via the counseling center, the counseling center’s website, and the Internet.
Complete financial aid applications—most notably the FAFSA and local scholarship forms.
Ask your counselor to submit midyear grades if any of the colleges to which you have applied require them.
Some colleges with a rolling admission require a response and deposit in the spring from students who have been accepted and plan to attend.  Make sure you are aware of any such dates that apply to you.
Take placement tests for college subject matter.
Register for AP tests, if applicable, by spring break.
Choose college, technical school, military to attend in fall.
Finish strong with respectable grades.
Be done with the post-secondary process by April, as the end of the year is busy with special senior activities.
AP exams are administered in May.
Notify the college that you decided to attend.  Be sure to send the required deposit.
Notify all other colleges to which you have been accepted, letting them know that you plan not to attend.
Send a thank-you letter to the people who have helped you.
If you have received scholarships from clubs or community organizations, send letters thanking them for the gift.

During the senior year, “senioritis” is a very real malady, characterized by the inability to make decisions and meet deadlines, disinterest in school and the decline in academic achievements.  Here are a few ideas to help parents and students enjoy the end of a high school career while preparing for the next steps:

Try a new hobby, sport, club, or volunteer activity.
Stay organized to meet important deadlines.
Keep an optimistic outlook about the school admission process - be patient.
Develop a good attitude toward your studies; try to see the reasons for taking each course.
Set realistic and ambitious goals.
Your parents are not the enemy - see them as the support system you need as you embark on a new life journey.


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Where and How to Obtain College Selection Information

Experts agree that most people can benefit greatly by some form of further education and/or training after high school.  School counselors are here to assist students and parents in the decision-making process.  We seek to provide students and parents with the best college and career information available to aid in making the most intelligent decisions. In addition to course planning, students are given information about gathering college data, testing, and alternatives to four-year colleges.

Multiple listing catalogs are also excellent sources of condensed college information.  These handbooks can be purchased at local bookstores or may be available at the Mead Public Library.  Some titles to consider include: The Gourman Report, National Directory of College Athletics, American Trade School Directory, Insiders Guide to Colleges, Selective Guide to Colleges, A Guide to Colleges, A Guide to Colleges for Learning Disabled Students, The Best Buys in College Education, Rugg’s Recommendations on Colleges, and The College Handbook.

Students and parents should also visit the rest of the counseling center’s website.  Further recommended websites, ranging from college sites, career interest inventories, and scholarship searches, are listed.

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The First Year Away From Home

It is completely normal for high school graduates to be awed, and even frightened, by their newly-found freedoms, and it is just as normal for that alienation to snowball into some degree of loneliness, and even homesickness if moving out of your parents’ house.  Most homesickness stems from a simple lack of readiness to be independent.  The most common traps and what you can do to prevent them are as follows:

  • Inability to manage finances, including budgeting, writing checks, and overusing credit cards:  Learn to manage money while still in high school.  Parents, allow your child to make more financial decisions themselves.  Caution them about indebtedness, but give them responsibility.
  • Anticipation for a fresh start, yet comfort for the familiar:  Parents, don’t be too eager to convert your child’s bedroom for some other use. Recognize that the first year a child is out of the house is an adjustment for parents as well.
  • Difficulty managing time:  Be realistic about what you can accomplish.  Eliminate dead time, and do difficult tasks when you have the most energy during your day.
  • Poor health habits:  Make time to exercise, avoid late night snacks, and get a good night’s sleep.
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Glossary of College Terms

To help the college-bound, we have compliled a list of college terms and definitions.

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College Planning

The process of selecting the right kind of education beyond high school and then applying for admission to an institution of higher learning is an important one.  However, it does not need to be unpleasant if done systematically and with attention to detail.  No college will be absolutely perfect, but to find the “right fit,” you need to know a lot about yourself as well as research your colleges of choice. 

How Do I Begin the College Search?

A good way to begin your college search is by examining your own abilities, values, interests, and goals.  Remember, no college you select will fit every criteria you desire, but prioritizing your personal values will assist you in realizing what factors are most important as you make decisions about your education.

Finding the “Right Fit”
     What are your favorite classes?
     What are your strongest attributes?
     Which activities do you participate in at high school?
     What careers do you find interesting?
     What are your standardized test scores?
     Do your grades reflect our ability?

What Factors Should I Consider When Looking at Colleges?
There are over 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States, ranging in student populations from 100 to 50,000.  Some offer a few academic programs of study promoting a concentration in the programs offered.  Others offer an extensive list of majors.  The selection process would become incredibly confusing and time consuming if you attempted to compare all aspects of every college.

All institutions will promote their majors and describe the benefits they have to offer.  The following are some primary factors you may wish to consider when interested in a particular institution:

  • Academic Programs:  Are you planning on attending a four-year college, a two-year college, a business school, or another type of specialized program?  Does the institution you are considering offer a variety of majors and academic programs?  When must you select a major?
  • Size:  College life and a variety of factors are affected by the population of the student body.  These include class size, student-to-faculty ratio, availability of professors, course offerings, campus life, and housing facilities.
  • Location:  What type of environment will be most favorable to your education?  Are you more comfortable in an urban or rural setting?  How far away from home do you want to be?

Information on a Specific College
If a student is seriously interest in a particular college, a call or letter to that school’s Office of Admission requesting an application packet, including information on housing, financial aid, scholarships, etc., is in order.  Ask to be put on their mailing list.  Most colleges also have websites where you can register your interest.

Other than a personal visit, college catalogs, pamphlets, college video, and websites provide excellent basic information about colleges.  The Counseling Center maintains current catalogs on numerous colleges and universities for student to use during their study hall and before and after school.  Files on art schools, nursing programs, vocational schools, scholarships, financial aid, and summer programs are also kept current.

Computer-Assisted College Selection
CareerCrusing and WisCareers are internet-based systems that provide South High School students with excellent information about colleges.  They enable students to explore hundreds of learning institutions and careers.  If students forget their username and password, they are encouraged to see their school counselor for assistance!

College Fair
College representatives assemble at the LTC Cleveland campus each fall in last October/early November.  Junior and senior students (and their parents) are encouraged to participate.  The representatives are eager to promote their schools and answer any questions.

College Applications for Admission
Applications can be obtained from the college, websites, or from your Counseling Center.  Many colleges will send an application if you send them your ACT or SAT scores.

More and more colleges prefer online applications.  Some will even waive application fees in return for online applications.  Try to determine the best method of application for your school.  See your school counselor with any questions.  Also, consider attending the How to Fill Out a College Application workshop presented by the Counseling Center in September/October for more assistance.

REMINDER:  Your transcript cannot be sent online.  Come into the Counseling Center (or visit our online site) to request a transcript.

Attention NCAA Division I and II Student Athletes
Student athletes who wish to participate in NCAA Division I or II sports in college MUST BE CERTIFIED by the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse which will analyze your academic information to determine if you meet NCAA initial eligibility requirements.  The three steps for being certified are clearly explained in a booklet entitled “Making Sure You Are Eligible to Participate in College Sports.”  Obtain a copy of this booklet early in the first semester of your senior year.  Do not delay this process!  If you are uncertain about participation in Division I or II, it is best to complete this process anyway.  This process does NOT bind you to participate; however, it is a necessary procedure should you elect to participate.  Failure to be certified may affect visitations to colleges regarding athletics, and college coaches may be reluctant to make commitments to athletes who have not completed the NCAA Initial Eligibility certification.  You may register online at  Make sure to print two copies for your high school and bring them to your counselor.  Failure to do so may make you ineligible for NCAA activities.  Also, make sure to list the Clearinghouse (9999) on your ACT choices for reports sent.

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Making a College Choice

Making a college choice can be like making other important decisions that are challenging.  Until you find a place to begin, a method to organize the task into smaller pieces, a way to put a great deal of information into a meaningful package, it may seem almost impossible to make a solid decision.  Begin by identifying what your reasons are for going to college:

  • What do you hope to gain?
  • What learning opportunities do you need?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are your career ambitions?
  • How will college help you achieve these goals and ambitions?

The next step is to relate these goals to factors you can use as you search for colleges that meet your needs:

  1. Type of college
    1. Two or four-year college?
    2. Residential or commuter?
    3. Large or small?
    4. College or university?
  2. Location
    1. What area (s) of the country can you realistically consider?
    2. What about the relation between location and costs?
    3. Are specific interests and goals tied to a specific location?
  3. Admissions selectivity
    1. What are the application procedures?
          - What tests are required?
          - Are there any deadlines?
          - What high school course preparation is needed?
    2. Are you eligible for admission?
    3. What academic demands can you expect to find?
  4. Costs
    1. How much will it cost?
    2. What kind of financial aid is available?
    3. How do you apply for financial aid?
  5. Majors and study programs available
    1. Does the school offer the major you want?
    2. If you are undecided, does the school offer you the chance to explore areas of your interest?
    3. Does the school have any kind of internship program?  Exchange program? Study abroad?
  6. Social life
    1. What is the campus atmosphere like?
    2. What extracurricular activities are available?

After you have developed a list of colleges to consider, begin to forma detailed and complete picture of each college.  This will be helpful in identifying those that best fit your needs!

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Making Your Campus Visit Beneficial

There are a number of reasons why the summer before your junior and senior years is an excellent season for visiting colleges.  It’s possible to get a head start on making choices.  Admissions staff members are less busy during the summer months.  Individual, as opposed to group tours, are more likely to be available, and student guides have less hectic schedules.  Family members can often take an extra day or two in the summer for trips to more distant colleges so visits are more relaxed and thorough.

Before the Visit:
Contact the college at least one to two weeks in advance to schedule a date and time.  The college’s admissions office can arrange for you to talk to an admissions counselor and take a campus tour.  Many admissions offices also are willing to set up housing, classes or other appointments.  Some offer to make overnight arrangements for visiting students.  Selective colleges may require more advance notice since they may schedule an interview with an admissions officer.

  • Plan your visit.  You should try to visit the campus when classes are in session.  You can get a better idea of what a college is like if you visit when students and faculty are there.
  • Read the college’s catalogs and brochures.  This will provide general information, so you do not waste time on these questions during your visit.
  • Prepare a list of specific questions.  This may sound like a lot of work, but remember, you are visiting to find out as much as possible about the school.  (See below under “The Visit” for some questions to consider).
  • If possible, bring an unofficial copy of your high school transcript and know your PSAT, SAT or ACT scores.  There may be other things you wish to bring with you, such as a portfolio or an instrument for an audition.
  • Bring your parents.  Parents often have questions of their own and may want to make the visit with you.  Remember, they care about you and have an interest in what you do, AND they may be paying the tuition, room and board!
  • If you have access to the Internet, visit the home pages of colleges for current information.

The Visit:

  • Be on time.  If you will be late or have to postpone your visit, you should call the college as a courtesy.
  • Be yourself.  Dress comfortably but neatly; be relaxed and friendly; participate in the conversation.  Express yourself and don’t let your parents do all the talking.
  • Talk with as many people as you can.  Meeting a variety of people will give you a more complete picture of what a college is really like.  This is why staying overnight and attending classes is highly recommended.
  • Try to work some free time into your schedule.  Use this time to wander around, perhaps drop into the campus snack bar, and talk to students.
  • Observe everything.  Notice whether or not classrooms, the library, residence hall rooms, dining rooms, and recreation areas are well maintained and functional.
  • See the following people, places, and things during a campus visit:
    • Admissions counselor
    • Financial aid counselor
    • Professors in your major
    • Students
    • Dining hall
    • Library
    • Residence hall
    • Coaches, players, music directors
  • Questions admissions counselors might ask:
    • Why have you chosen to apply to this college?
    • What books have made a lasting impression on your way of thinking?
    • What are your career goals?
    • What are your strongest areas in school?
    • What are your weakest areas in school?
    • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
    • What do you expect to gain from attending this institution?
    • What is the most significant contribution you have made to your high school?
  • Questions YOU should ask admissions counselors:
    • Why do students select this college?
    • What do students enjoy the most?
    • What kinds of services are available for career counseling?
    • How are roommates selected?
    • Are computers easily accessible on campus?
    • What kinds of appliances are permitted in the residence halls?
    • How safe is your campus?  How comfortable will I feel walking through your campus alone at night?
    • What are your strongest majors?
    • When must I choose a major?
    • What is the cost per year, including tuition, room and board, books, and fees?
    • What percentage of the freshmen class will graduate from your college?
    • What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
    • What kinds of financial assistance are available?  Are there scholarships offered in my area of interests?
  • Questions to ask professors:
    • What arrangements are made for advising and tutorial assistance?
    • Who teaches introductory courses—professors or graduate students?
    • Do you accept Advanced Placement credit?
    • Are research opportunities available?
    • What opportunities exist for independent study and study abroad?
    • What type of high school background are you looking for in a successful student?
    • What percentage of graduates is working in their chosen field of study?
    • What are typical course requirements; exams, research papers?
    • What is the average class size?
    • Are the professors readily available to assist students?
  • Questions to ask students:
    • What do students do during the weekends?
    • What do you enjoy most about this college?
    • What do you dislike about this college?
    • What is the dining hall like?  How is the food?
    • How are the facilities on campus?

After the Visit:
On your way home, while your thoughts are still fresh, jot down some of your impressions of the college.

If questions come up after the visit, don’t hesitate to contact the people you have met.

Send thank-you notes to those with whom you had appointments.

Here are some questions to ask yourself following a campus visit:

  • How comfortable was I on campus?
  • Were people friendly and helpful?
  • Will the library suit my needs?
  • Am I comfortable with the distance from home?
  • Did they have my major?  Do they have other majors I may be interested in if I decide to change my major?
  • Are there cultural events available throughout the year?
  • Are there clubs and activities to join?
  • Are there research opportunities or internships available in my major?
  • Does the school have a career planning and placement office?

You will be gathering a lot of information from reading, conversation, and campus visits.  You may be overwhelmed by the amount of material you will receive, but if you are organized, the selection process will be less stressful.

College Comparison Chart

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What Are Colleges Looking For?

Your college application will ultimately be examined by an admissions committee.  Each college will have its own requirements, but in general, most schools will be interested in the following criteria:

Your Application:  Remember when completing your application that it is a reflection of you and your school.  Be neat, concise, and accurate!

Essay/Application Statement:  The essay selection provides an opportunity to expand on the personal information in your application by describing your unique characteristics while revealing your creativity. 

Examples of essay questions are:

  • Describe an interesting experience or achievement that has special significance to you.
  • If you could travel through time and interview any historical figure, whom would you choose and what would you ask?
  • Discuss some issue of personal, local, or national concern and its importance to you.
  • If you could be Secretary of Education, what issues would you address concerning the education of youth in the United States?

Activities:  Colleges will examine your participation in activities, clubs, athletics, music, and leadership positions.  They will also be interested in scholastic awards, work experience, and books or periodicals you have read.

Grades/standardized test scores:  Larger universities will often place more importance on your test scores than smaller colleges.  However, this does not mean you won’t get into the college of your choice without the perfect test scores.  A strong academic record will both enhance good test scores and help balance the effect of lower grades.

Recommendations:  Many colleges require one or more recommendations from a teacher or counselor.  They may be in the form of checklists or personal statements describing your character and work ethic.

Helpful hints regarding teacher recommendations

  • Begin asking teachers for recommendations early in the year.  It will be helpful to have the letters completed by December of your senior year.
  • Keep a copy of all important papers, including recommendations.  You will need to reference letters for scholarships and employment purposes; start keeping a file you can access as needed

Be sure to ask for letters from a teacher who you feel will write you a positive recommendation.  Provide the teacher or counselor with information about yourself; the more information you provide, the easier it will be to write a thorough recommendation letter.

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College Entrance Tests

Almost all colleges require tests for admission.  Others may use the results for placement purposes in certain courses or programs.  Registration packets for all tests are available in the counseling center.

Types of Tests and Which Tests to Take
ACT (American College Test): used by the vast majority of colleges in the Midwest, but is becoming more popular nationally, although most colleges will accept either the ACT or ACT scores.  The ACT structure includes:

Subject Allotted Time  Number of Questions
English 45 minutes 75
Math 60 minutes 60
Reading 35 minutes 40
Science 45 minutes 40
Writing (optional) 30 minutes  
TOTAL 3 hours 25 minutes 215

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test):  used more extensively by east coast, west coast, some southern colleges, and the military academies.  Some selective admission colleges may request the SAT II which are specific tests in a certain curriculum area.  If you are not sure about the appropriate test, ask your counselor or refer to the specific college catalog or a general handbook which will provide test information.

Basic Differences Between the ACT and the SAT

  • The ACT math includes some trigonometry; the SAT does not.
  • The SAT questions appear in order of difficulty.
  • The SAT tests vocabulary much more than the ACT does.
  • The ACT tests English grammar; the SAT does not
  • The SAT is not all multiple choice.
  • The SAT has a wrong answer penalty; the ACT does not. 

What Do My Test Scores Mean?
The average ACT score is approximately 21, and the SAT average score is approximately 900.  Remember, test scores are only a portion of the many factors college admissions counselors consider.  They also consider class rank, grade point average (GPA), and the competitiveness of your high school.  A higher class rank will frequently counterbalance lower test scores.

However, if you are seeking admission to highly selective schools, your standardized test scores are very important. 

Check the minimum test requirements of the colleges that are of interest to you and ask your counselor and teachers for information on ways to prepare and improve test scores.

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College Testing Schedule

ACT Test Dates and Deadlines

SAT Test Dates and Deadlines

The deadline dates are postmark dates. 

Important Testing Notes. . .  
Seniors:  If you have not taken the ACT or SAT, register for the October date.  Those who already have at least one test score should consider the October through December as retake dates.

Juniors:  You are strongly encouraged to take the PSAT in October, and the ACT or SAT in the spring.

Research has shown that testing scores increase in a high percentage of cases when a student retakes the test a second or even a third time.  Colleges and scholarship sources will use your highest set of scores; therefore, there is nothing to lose by retaking the test.

Tests Used to Obtain College Credit
The Advanced Placement (AP) tests are offered each May for students who wish to participate in a college credit option.  These tests are scores 1 – 5, with 5 high.  Colleges vary greatly on scores needed to gain credit and on the amount of credit allowed.  Before you take these tests, you should obtain the AP credit information from the college you plan on attending.

High School Code Number
All South High School student should use this code: 502085

(Prospective athletes are reminded to code 9999 to have their results sent to the NCAA Clearinghouse).
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Sample Letters

Please use these sample letters as a guide to your college and scholarship letter-writing.

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Financial Aid and Scholarship Information

Please visit our financial aid and scholarship section.

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Lebanon High School College Planning Guide
(This is a link to a PDF document, which requires the free Adobe Reader to view.)

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The SHS Counseling Center pages are maintained by Steve Schneider - © 2006
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