4 - Year College/University

Step 1. Plan for College:

What can I do now to prepare for college?

Preparing for college can and should begin as early as your 9th grade year in high school. Although the official application process takes place during the fall of senior year, the choices students make during their 9th, 10th, and 11th grade years determine how many opportunities they have available to choose from senior year.

Colleges will see your final grade earned in every class you take during high school (even freshman year). Take each class seriously and do your absolute best to create a strong academic record for yourself.

Although you cannot start filling out college applications until senior year, you can begin writing your own application now by earning good grades, doing well in rigorous courses, participating in extracurricular activities both inside and outside of school, volunteering in your community, taking dance/music lessons, or working part-time. Colleges expect to see well-rounded students who excel both inside and outside of the classroom. Use the extra curricular tracker button below to document your involvement so you don’t forget by senior year!

Advisory period is a crucial time to learn more about post-secondary planning and is the one of the best ways to receive information to help you be more prepared.

Explore the resources on this webpage, talk with your adviser, meet with Ms. Moynihan, and do your own research to become more knowledgeable about all of your options.

Big Future: BigFuture is a website created by CollegeBoard to help students explore colleges and prepare for college applications. Try using the “Find College” feature to “See If You’re On Track” with your dream school and “How Do I Stack Up” compared to students who are accepted into that college/university.​​

College Entrance Exams:

When you take any ACT or SAT, you will have the option to select schools to send your scores to. If you leave this section blank , you will have to pay a fee per school if you choose to apply to college. It is usually best to pick up to 4 schools on this date. ​Do a little bit of research before so you make wise selections – pick schools you may actually apply to!

When to take each test:

ALL SWA students will take the ACT during a school day in February of their JUNIOR year. Students do not have to register for this test date and it is free for all students. The SAT is NOT offered at SWA. To take the SAT, students must register online individually.

It is recommended that students take both the SAT & ACT once each before the end of their Junior year. Although the tests are designed to test similar skills, students sometimes prefer one test format over the other. Taking each test once before the end of Junior year exposes students to each test format so they can choose which test to retake over the summer.

Recommended Timeline:

How to register:

How to prepare:

• The PSAT is offered each year to SWA students. The PSAT is the practice version of the SAT.

Khan Academy offers free SAT practice.

ACT Academy: FREE, personalized practice

​How to send your scores:

•  Colleges & Universities do not accept test score reports from Ms. Moynihan.
•  You must go to act.org (ACT) or collegeboard.org (SAT) to official request a score report to be mailed to the school(s) of your choice.

Step 2. Apply to College:

When do I start applying to colleges?

4-year College/University Application Season begins immediately when students start school during their senior year. August-December of senior year is when the bulk of college applications take place.

*College application deadlines vary from school to school so it is crucial that you organize your college list and mark your deadlines in your calendar!

Important types of College Deadlines:

Many colleges offer Early Action application deadlines. These deadlines typically range from Oct 15. – Nov. 15. Applying to these deadlines allow you to know your admissions decisions sooner so that you can better plan & prepare.

Similar to Early Action, the deadlines are typically earlier than regular deadline. If you apply before this deadline, you have a higher chance of getting accepted and/or receiving scholarships from that school.

Early Decision is very different from Early Action. When students apply to a college as “Early Decision,” it is a binding decision meaning that they are promising to attending that school if they are accepted. Students may choose to apply to only 1 school as early decision, but Ms. Carlton strongly cautions students when considering this option. Although this gives you an advantage in the admissions process, you are financially bound to that school regardless of the financial aid package they offer you. As a result, students are often less likely to receive school-based financial aid when they apply this way. If financial aid and cost of attendance is a factor in your college decision, this may not be the best option for your family.

How do I apply to college?:

There are three ways to apply to college, each of which offer their own pros and cons. All 3 methods are safe, secure, and assured ways to apply.

1. CommonApp
Pros: CommonApp is a website used for undergraduate college applications. On this website, you fill out 1 application and are able to send that exact application to multiple schools. This often saves time for students and is the quickest, most efficient method for applying to multiple schools. On CommonApp, you are also encouraged to list Ms. Moynihan as your school counselor which allows her to preview your application, check the status of your application, upload your transcript, and submit a counselor recommendation all in one place.

Cons: The CommonApp website can be a little tricky for students to learn and navigate at first, but they usually get the hang of it pretty quickly. Although nearly 700 schools accept the CommonApp application, there are some schools that are not listed on the CommonApp application. If your school is not listed on the CommonApp, you will have apply through a different website. If only 1 of the schools you are applying to accepts the CommonApp, it is probably not the most efficient way for you to apply to that school.

Here is a list of colleges that accept the CommonApp 

Here are steps to apply using CommonApp

Pros: CFNC is a website containing applications to ALL colleges/universities/ AND community colleges in North Carolina. Some NC schools that are not listed on the CommonApp may be accessed here. Students who are interested in applying to in-state schools only tend to find CFNC very convenient. Cons: Although all NC applications can be found on this website, students must complete a separate application for each school.

3. Individual School Website – Ex: appstate.edu

Pros: Application appears more straight-forward because students are able to apply directly through the school website.

Cons: Students must complete a separate application for each school and student will need to keep up with multiple usernames and passwords to check the status of their application.

How do I send/request my transcript? :

1. Sending your official transcript to a school in NC

•  Go to cfnc.org

•  Click “Apply” > “Apply to College” > “Application Hub” > “Request a Transcript”

• Enter your personal student information and PowerSchool ID number then search for up to 4 schools at one time. 

2. Sending your official transcript to a school in another state 

• If you did not use the CommonApp to apply to this school, come see Ms. Moynihan to request an official transcript. You will be given an official transcript sealed in an envelope to mail to the admissions office of your choice. (allow 2 days.)

What is "due" by the application deadline?:

Everything!  By the application deadline, the admissions office must have: 

College Application Resources:

Step 3. Pay for College:

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