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College Planning

Its never too early to start preparing students for college! In order to be college and career ready, students must develop skills including effective communication, critical thinking, cultural and social understanding, information technology literacy, personal/social development, and quantitative and scientific reasoning. Upon graduation from APS, students are prepared with the skills and knowledge to enroll in and successfully complete credit-bearing courses in college, and to earn their degree and enter the workforce ready to effectively compete in the global marketplace for a career of their choice.

APS students are encouraged to meet graduation requirements and work towards the following:

  • Develop a post-graduation plan with educational and career goals
  • Earn proficient to advanced-proficient scores on the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments
  • Participate in advanced level math and science courses
  • Participate in multiple years of a world language
  • Participate in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), dual enrollment (DE) coursework
  • Earn an advanced diploma
  • Take the college entrance assessments: Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), American College Test (ACT)

Applying to College

Applying to college can seem like a difficult process for many students and families. School counselors and the college and career specialist play a very important role in helping students and families navigate the maze of applying to college. The key to success is planning. Students and families should begin planning and preparing for college in elementary school and continue throughout middle and high school.

During the elementary school years students should:

  • Work hard and set academic goals
  • Learn more about careers and the connection to college
  • Set college attendance as the goal
  • Visit a college campus to learn about college life

During the middle school years students should:

  • Set academic goals and take challenging classes
  • Explore interests and match interests with a career
  • Get involved in co-curricular clubs and sports and volunteerism
  • Attend the annual APS College Night in October
  • Visit a college campus to learn about college life

During the high school years students should:

  • Meet all graduation requirements and set academic goals
  • Take advanced level college courses C Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and/or dual enrollment (DE)
  • Continue involvement in co-curricular clubs and sports, volunteerism, job or work experiences, internship or job shadowing
  • Complete pre-college exam (PSAT C during 10th grade) and college entrance exams (SAT and/or ACT C during 11th-12th grade)
  • Explore careers and research colleges through Naviance based on identified career field
  • Visit selected college to narrow options and/or do a virtual college tour on the web
  • Apply to college C learn the entrance requirements of the college, write a strong essay, get letters of recommendation and transcripts, college application fees
  • Apply for financial aid and apply for scholarships
  • Learn about the on-campus student supports to help new college students transition from high school to college

Disability Accommodations

The differences between the accommodation process in high school and college can be surprising to parents and students who are accustomed to the high school environment. These differences stem from the various laws governing the accommodation process. The common factor shared by these laws, however, is a stronger emphasis on personal responsibility and self-advocacy on the part of the student. Although some may believe that this is an important step for college students, to self-advocate and become more responsible, it can also lead to difficulties for students who are used to having accommodations procedures handled for them. The laws that govern the college accommodation process are: Section504 of the Rehabilitation Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA); and the Civil Rights Restoration Act. These three laws, together with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), govern the high school accommodation process. Following is a comparison of some high school and college accommodations and services and the ways in which they differ.

High School College
Either an IEP or a Section 504 plan drives all accommodations and services, involves the teachers and counselors, and always requires a parents signature for students under age 18. No educational plan, and instructors are not contacted except by the student. Parents often may not receive a students grades without written permission from the student.
Students qualify for public education simply because they are the appropriate age and because they have a disability Otherwise qualified means that a student must meet all entrance and academic requirements, whether or not they receive accommodations.
Under IDEA, children with disabilities are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education. Students have civil rights for which they must advocate to ensure equal access to higher education. No one is entitled to anything.
Public schools are responsible for appropriate assessment of students disabilities. Colleges are not required to assess students, but can expect students to provide proof of disabilities within accepted guidelines.
Student placement is determined by the childs team and outlined in the IEP or 504 Plan. Placement must, by law, be in the least restrictive environment. Students are integrated in the college community, and the environment may be adjusted through accommodations. Colleges do not deliberate to select an environment in advance.
Common Knowledge: everyone knows about a students placement, often times before the student even enters the classroom. Everyone involved in a students placement usually signs the educational plan. Need to Know: students must give express permission for college professors to be notified of any disabilities. Students must initiate all actions toward receiving accommodations with each individual professor, for each course, for each semester. Students have the civil right to refuse accommodations they do not want or need.
Assessment, physical therapy, speech and language services, personal care and/or any other therapy is provided by the school while the student is in school. College students are responsible for any and all personal services, such as personal or medical care, just as if they were living independently and not attending college.
Students often receive untimed tests if they have a disability. Untimed test are not considered reasonable. Time extensions may be reasonable (typically time and one-half, but no more than double time).

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Important Test Dates

Taking college entrance examinations is a very important step in the college process. Most colleges require that a student submit a score on one of the college entrance exams in order to be considered for enrollment. Students take the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, a preparatory test for the SAT) in 10th grade, and the SAT and/or ACT in 11th or 12th grade. The SAT and ACT can be taken more than once for students to obtain the highest possible score.

Through , students can complete the PrepMe course that helps prepare for the college entrance exam.

Test Dates


Students and parents should check with the college and career specialist at their school to learn more about scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Remember that most college and university web sites have a link to financial aid and scholarships. In addition, your school counselor has a wealth of information about financing college.

APS Scholarships Info