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This planner offers information about:

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1 Planning for Your Future: A Guide to the “I am the One” Student Planner

2 This planner offers information about:
College Planner This planner offers information about: meeting high school requirements, researching careers, investigating colleges & universities, and planning your future. Though we have many resources available to help you, only one person can make it all happen: YOU! This planner has been developed to help you find information on how to: meet high school requirements, research careers, investigate colleges & universities, and plan your future. Consider this one of the most important books you own, and take the time to review this guide throughout the school year. Though there are many people available to help you with the college-going process, there’s really only one person who can make it all happen: You.

3 Standard Diploma These are the classes that must be taken in high school to meet the state graduation requirements for the standard diploma. Guidelines for these requirements may be found on the Virginia Department of Education website doe.virginia.gov under “Graduation Requirements.” [Please note whether your school has any additional requirements.] Guidelines for these requirements may be found on the Virginia Department of Education website doe.virginia.gov under “Graduation Requirements.” 3

4 Benefits of Taking AP Courses
Credit - students actually earn hours toward their college degree Placement – students can skip intro courses and move on to advanced classes Benefits of Taking AP Courses 1. Fewer classes to take means you get more time to study, participate in campus life, or travel. 2. You could complete your degree in less time, saving you and your family money. 3. Many colleges consider scores when you apply for admissions or scholarships. More than 3,000 U.S. colleges award placement, credit, or both for qualifying scores (usually 3, 4, or 5) on an AP Exam. Credit means that you actually earn hours toward your college degree, while placement means that when you’re in college, you can skip introductory courses and move on to higher-level classes. Earning hours toward your degree or skipping directly to higher-level classes means you’ll have fewer classes to take once you’re enrolled. This gives you time to study or travel abroad, and might allow you to complete your undergraduate degree in less time. Earning credits in high school for courses you won’t have to take in college can save you and your family as much as $3,000 per course. Another benefit of taking an AP Exam, is that many colleges will consider your scores when you apply for admission or scholarships. Remember, colleges and universities give credit or placement only for qualifying AP scores, not AP course grades. 4

5 Virginia Institutions
Virginia is a great place to go to college. Our state has a lot of highly ranked schools, tuitions are pretty reasonable, and the campuses are beautiful! This map shows the locations of 72 colleges and universities across the state, including 4-year schools, 2-year community colleges, and private institutions. Use the URLs listed in the planner to find out more about a whole range of schools in Virginia, from city-based universities to classic college campuses and everything in between. 5

6 Financial Aid lists scholarships and grants available to Virginia students gives you information about applying for federal student aid programs, including the FAFSA can help you figure out how to pay for college College can cost a lot of money, but that should never stop you from going. By searching for scholarships and grants and applying for financial aid, you can minimize the cost of school. In addition to the list of financial aid terms in your planner, here are some resources to help you figure out how to pay for college: The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Student Aid on the Web Virginia Wizard You can find all of these links and more financial aid information at the “I am the One” website (www.i-am-the-one.com) – just click on the “Make a Plan” section. 6

7 Create your personal résumé file.
Freshman Checklist Create your personal résumé file. Choose courses that meet graduation requirements and will prepare you for college. Remember your GPA counts in ALL subjects. Start exploring your interests and possible careers. For free career assessment tools visit Consider taking courses that will earn you college credit. When it comes to getting into college, every school year is important. Here are things you can be doing your freshman year to prepare for college: Create your personal résumé file. This should list awards or honors you receive, school clubs or community organizations you join (including activities you participate in through your church or other organizations), and jobs you have held. Choose courses on the standard or advanced graduation plan that will prepare you for college. Understand that your GPA counts in ALL subjects, starting NOW. Start exploring your interests and possible careers. One good way to do this is to talk to people you admire to find out what they like and dislike about their jobs and what kind of education is needed for each. For FREE skills and interest assessments to help match you to a career field, visit the Virginia Wizard website. Consider taking courses that will earn you college credit, such as AP. 7

8 Make sure you’re on track with required classes.
Sophomore Checklist Learn more about the PSAT. (Visit for free practice tests, fee information, and testing dates.) Make sure you’re on track with required classes. Talk with your older friends about their plans for college. Keep your grades up, and join clubs, teams, and organizations. Volunteer in your community - it’s a good thing to do! Here are ways to start preparing for college during your sophomore year: Consider taking the Preliminary SAT, which is also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Visit the College Board website for more information and free practice tests. If you have trouble paying the registration fee, see the Guidance or Counseling Center about getting a fee waiver. Meet with your counselor or advisor to make sure you’re still on track with your required classes. Talk with older students about their plans for college. Ask them if they wish they had done anything differently – and learn from them. Keep getting the best grades possible in every class, and join clubs, teams, and organizations. Volunteer in your community. A lot of colleges consider that when you’re applying. (Plus, it’s a good thing to do!) 8

9 Start visiting campuses or take virtual tours.
Junior Checklist Sign up to take the PSAT. This year, your score counts toward the National Merit program. Learn more about different majors and what schools have the best programs in those majors. Download a free copy of the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete. Start visiting campuses or take virtual tours. Sign up for the SAT I and II and/or ACT. Be sure to find out which test scores your chosen colleges require. Prepare by taking practice tests online at or Here’s a checklist for juniors: Sign up to take the PSAT, even if you already took it last year. In your junior year, your PSAT score counts toward the National Merit Scholarship program and other honors. Talk to your counselor about different majors and what schools have the best programs in those majors. You can also begin researching colleges online. If you’re an athlete, visit the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website to download a free copy of the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete. Meet with college recruiters who come to your school. Go to college fairs and, if you can, start visiting campuses. Many schools offer virtual tours on their websites, so you can see the campus without leaving the computer lab! Sign up for the SAT I and II and/or ACT. Be sure to find out which test scores your chosen colleges require. You’re not finished once you sign up for the test, though. You should study and prepare for the SAT and ACT like you would for any test. Some schools offer free prep classes and practice tests are available online at and If you aren’t happy with your scores, you can take the test several times. 9

10 Senior Checklist - Fall
Keep looking for scholarships and grants. Make a list of your top target schools. Schedule campus visits and find out about early admission. Review admissions requirements for your college choices and compare them to where you are on grades and test scores. Start applying to colleges in October. Have teachers and extracurricular advisors write recommendations for you. Get a copy of the FAFSA and ask your parents to start gathering their financial information. There’s a lot to do your senior year to prepare for college, but you’ll feel much more organized if you follow this checklist. Fall Keep looking for scholarships and grants using the tools at Make a list of your top target schools, including one “reach” school and one safety school. Schedule campus visits by calling the admissions offices of your target schools, and find out about early admission. Meet with your school counselor to review admissions requirements for your college choices and compare to where you are on grades and test scores. If you’re not happy with your SAT or ACT scores, register to take the tests again. Start applying to colleges in October to give yourself plenty of time to meet deadlines. Some college applications require essays or other writing that might take a little longer than simply filling out a form. Have at least two teachers and two extracurricular advisors write recommendations for you. Get a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from your school counselor or on the web at Ask your parents to review the application with you and start pulling their financial information together. DON’T SUBMIT YOUR FAFSA UNTIL AFTER JANUARY 1st! 10

11 Senior Checklist - Spring
Submit your FAFSA no later than Feb. 15! Be sure to keep a copy for your records. Review deadlines and start applying to college! Have first-term transcripts sent to your target schools. If you completed the FAFSA, review the Student Aid Report (SAR) you’ll receive in March. In April, make your final decision on a college! Review the financial aid package from your selected college, and pay required deposit(s). Take any recommended AP exams. Senior Checklist for Spring Submit your FAFSA no later than February 15th! Be sure to keep a copy for your records. (Remember that you can get help filling out the FAFSA at Super Saturday sites across Virginia in February.) Review the deadlines at your chosen colleges and start applying BEFORE the due date. Ask your counselor to send your first-term transcripts to your target schools. If you completed the FAFSA, you should be getting your Student Aid Report (SAR) in March. Review it carefully and make any necessary changes. Sign it, make a copy for your records, and send it in to your target schools. In April, make your final decision on a college! Notify the admissions office of your decision. If you’ve been wait-listed, contact the admissions office to see if there’s anything else you can do. Review the financial aid package from your selected college. If you don’t have all the financial aid you need, consider private loans. Talk with your family and make decisions about where you will live next year. Pay required deposit(s) for enrollment and room and board. Take any Advanced Placement exams your counselor or college recommends. 11

12 Senior Checklist - Summer
Ask the admissions and/or financial aid offices at your chosen school if they have everything they need. Ask your school counselor to send your final transcript to your college. Over the summer, pre-register for classes if you can. Be sure to speak to an advisor if you have questions. If possible, attend an orientation session on your new campus so you’ll feel more comfortable when you arrive in the fall. Senior Checklist for Summer Ask the admissions and/or financial aid offices at your chosen school if they have everything they need. Ask your school counselor to send your final transcript to your college. Most schools need an official copy that is sealed and validated. Over the summer, pre-register for classes if your college allows it. Be sure to speak to an advisor if you have questions about specific classes or how much of a workload to take on your first semester. If possible, attend an orientation session on your new campus. You’ll meet other freshmen and get to visit dorms, classrooms, and other campus buildings so you’ll feel more comfortable when you arrive in the fall. 12

13 Testing 101 The PSAT is a rehearsal for the SAT and is used to select students for the National Merit and National Achievement scholarships. The SAT Reasoning Test is a standard way of measuring a student’s ability to do college-level work. SAT II Subject Tests measure your skills in specific subjects such as math, history, or science. For more information, including dates, fees, and free practice tests, visit Taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is an important step in preparing to apply to college. This test can help you in three ways: • It can be considered a rehearsal for taking the SAT. • It is used to select students seeking National Merit Scholarships, which are awarded in the spring term of the senior year, and to choose students for the National Achievement® Scholarship Program for outstanding black students. • You can have your scores reported to colleges interested in students scoring in your range, and you will receive many pamphlets, catalogs, and brochures telling you about those schools. For more information about the PSAT, including test dates and scoring information, visit Many colleges require the SAT Reasoning Test for admission because it is a standard way to compare your academic achievements with those of students from different schools. However, colleges look at other things when making admission decisions, such as your high school record, essays, recommendations, interviews, and extracurricular activities. The SAT II Subject Tests measure your skills in specific subjects such as math, history, science, etc. For more information about the SAT, including practice exams and registration guidelines, visit 13

14 Testing 101 The ACT is a national college admission exam that allows students to prepare for the test. For more information, visit Check with your preferred college to see if you are required to take the SAT or the ACT. The Compass Test helps college personnel place you in courses appropriate for your skill level. Most Virginia Community Colleges use this test. For tips and sample questions, visit The American College Test (ACT) is a national college admission examination with tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. The ACT is different from the SAT in that you can “prepare” more for the test, meaning you can actually study for the content of the test. For more information about the ACT, including test preparation links, visit Some students take both the SAT and ACT, but you usually have to take only one or the other. It is best to check with the colleges you are considering to see if they have a preference or requirement about which test you should take. The Compass Test is an untimed, computerized test that helps college personnel evaluate your skill levels so they can place you in appropriate college courses. Unlike other tests, you will generally be asked to take this test after you decide to go to a specific school, including most community colleges in Virginia. For more information about the COMPASS, including test-taking tips and sample test questions, go to 14

15 A college degree increases your chances of employment by almost half.
Why Go to College? College graduates earn about $20,000 more per year than high school grads. A high school dropout will earn $1 million less than a college graduate over their lifetime. A college degree increases your chances of employment by almost half. The fastest-growing careers require a college degree. There are more jobs for educated workers than there are qualified people to fill them. Jobs for college graduates typically offer perks like health insurance and retirement plans. Higher level of education = Better standard of living If you go to college, your children and grandchildren are more likely to go too. College graduates earn an average of $368 more a week than a high school graduate – that’s $20,000 more a year! Over a lifetime, a high school dropout working full-time will earn $300,000 less than a high school graduate, and more than $1 million less than a college graduate! A college degree increases your chances of employment by nearly 50%. By 2014, 90% of the fastest-growing careers will require some level of education beyond high school. By the time you’re in your 30s, there’ll be an estimated 19 million more jobs for educated workers than there are qualified people to fill them. Jobs for college graduates typically offer more and better benefits (like health insurance and retirement plans) than lower-skill jobs. Families with higher levels of education tend to enjoy a better standard of living. With more earning potential, you can also give back to your family. If you go to college, statistics show your children and even their children are more likely to go. 15

16 I am the One www.i-am-the-one.com KnowHow2Go www.knowhow2go.org
Web Resources PLANNING AND TESTING I am the One KnowHow2Go GOVERNMENT AGENCIES State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Virginia Depart. of Education U.S. Depart. of Education American Council on Education FINANCIAL AID FastWeb FinAid FAFSA (Remember, to receive any kind of federal financial aid you must complete the FAFSA each year.) CAREERS Virginia Wizard You can use the web to plan your future, choose a career, and find out how to pay for school. Check out some of these sites listed in the “I am the One” planner. 16

17 Any questions or comments?
Any questions or comments? This project was developed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the DOE, and you should not assume endorsement of the federal government. 17


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