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Usually taken before enrollment into a specific college, this set of placement tests allow the college to determine if developmental/remedial classes must be taken before a student takes college-level work. For more information check with your counselor and visit www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer


Usually taken by high school juniors and seniors, this test is designed to evaluate overall educational development and a student’s ability to complete college-level work. Recommended for Junior and Senior years.

AP (Advanced Placement)

AP courses are offered throughout high school which prepare students for college-level work, AND give students who earn qualifying scores on the AP Exam to gain college credit and advanced placement in participating 4-year universities. You MUST take the AP Exam for a chance at college credit!


There is a fee. For more information about AP opportunities in your school, talk to your school counselor

College Entrance and Placement Exams

Exams such as Accuplacer, THEA, Compass are college placement exams which measure your ability to do college-level work and then use the information to place you in classes appropriate for your learning level. This test determines if you must take remedial classes before taking regular college courses.


Exams such as the ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests measure your overall educational development and ability to complete college-level work. Scores are used to determine college entrance into certain colleges. Typically, the more prestigious/competitive the school (ex. Harvard, Stanford, other Ivy League universities) the higher the score needed to be considered for acceptance

Class Rank

Colleges often use class rank as a factor in college admissions. It is a measure of how your performance compares to other students in the graduating class (If your GPA is better/higher than 430 of the 500 students in a graduating class, then your class rank would be 70). The higher your GPA, the higher your class rank. Valedicatorian is the student with the highest GPA while the Salutatorian has the second highest GPA.

College Essay

The college essay serves two purposes: it helps the college get to know you better and shows colleges your writing ability, depth of knowledge, and your ability to do college-level work. It could mean the difference between getting into a college you really want to go to, getting wait-listed, or getting rejected. Start practicing early.

College Orientation

College orientation can be just a one day event or it can be a week long affair before the start of the school year which gives freshmen, transfer students, and their families an introduction to college life. Orientation may be mandatory or optional at your college, but even if you don’t have to attend, go anyway. It’s fun! This a chance to move into your dorm early, get to know the layout of the school, register for classes, AND meet new people


Usually required for Incoming College Freshmen before they begin college courses, COMPASS is an untimed, computerized test that helps colleges evaluate a student’s reading, writing, math, essay writing, and English as a Second Language (ESL) skills if needed. The scores tell you what areas you are strong and in what areas you may need help and determine which classes you will be placed in. Talk to your counselor to determine the requirements and recommendations of the college you are applying to. For more information about the Compass visit www.act.org/compass.

Developmental/Remedial Classes

Classes that some students must take to build up their math, reading, or English skills. These classes cost the same as other college courses but do not count toward a degree

Diploma Plans

Distinguished, Recommended, or Minimum graduation plan that you must choose your Freshman year. Colleges are looking for students who take the tough courses found in the Distinguished plan, so choose wisely! Here are some SAMPLE DIPLOMA PLANS to help you decide

Dual Credit

While still in high school you can earn both high school and college credits by selecting dual credit courses. They’re free! These courses can be counted towards your college degree. Remember, each class you take in college costs money, so any dual credit courses you take in high school will save you money in college

Early Decision/ Early Action

Early decision plans are binding which means you agree to attend the college if you are accepted and receive a good financial aid package. You can only apply to one (1) college through early decision and still submit other applications through regular admission, but if you are accepted through early decision, you MUST withdraw all other applications.


Early action plans are NOT binding which means you can apply early action to MORE THAN ONE college and still submit application to other colleges. If you are accepted early action you can commit to the school OR wait until spring when other acceptances arrive to make your final decision

Emergency Loan

Are loans provided by the college you are attending for a limited number of reasons such as inability to pay full tuition by the due date or late enrollment. Talk to your college financial aid office to find out if you qualify for an emergency loan

Expected Family Contribution - EFC

Amount of money family is expected to contribute towards student’s education. Used to determine eligibility for financial aid

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Distributed and processed by the U.S. Department of Education it collects the information required to determine need and eligibility for financial aid. It is needed in order to apply for virtually all Federal Title IV student aid programs, including Pell Grants, Stafford Loans and the campus-based programs. The FAFSA .

FAFSA Verification

Verification is a process to confirm information you provided on the FAFSA. You may have been selected because your FAFSA was incomplete, the data you provided was not consistent with previous years, or you were chosen randomly. If you are selected, you MUST turn in the information requested as soon as possible. IF YOU DON”T TURN IN THE INFORMATION REQUESTED, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR FINANCIAL AID!!!!!

Fee Waiver

Cover the cost of college entrance exams such as SAT, ACT, SAT subject tests and college application fees. Talk to your high school counselor to find out if you qualify for a fee waiver

Financial aid Package/Award

Upon processing student’s SAR and/or Verification, school will determine total aid through federal, state and college based programs. Awards include grants, scholarships, student loans and work study programs. Some aid awards may cover total cost of attendance, others may not


GPA stands for Grade Point Average, and is an average of the grade points you earn in all of the classes that you will take in high school. (For example, if you earned a total of 9 grade points in 3 classes, your GPA would be 3.0) Good grades = higher GPA.


Why should I care about my GPA? Colleges are looking for high school students with high GPAs. In order to earn a high GPA, you must start off with strong grades your Freshmen year. Failing a class seriously affects your GPA – talk to your teacher to see what you can do to pass the class if you are failing

High School Credits

You need a certain amount of credits in order to graduate from high school! Each class you take counts towards graduation, so you must pass your classes in order to earn credits! Check with your counselor to see how credits are given at your school and to find out if you’re on track for graduation.

Job Outlook

Is the prospect of demand and availability for a particular job or career in the workforce

Learning Style

Are the different ways in which we learn. A person can be a visual learner, auditory learner, kinesthetic learner, or tactile learner

Letters of Recommendation

A letter in which the writer (the recommender) gives an assessment and opinion about the qualities, characteristics, and academic capabilities of the person being recommended (the student). Make sure to provide a resume and give your recommender (teacher, counselor, community supporter) time to write the letter. Don’t expect them to write it over night

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Usually taken in the Fall of Junior year, this test provides firsthand practice for the SAT. It also gives students a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs. For more information about the PSAT, visit www.collegeboard.com/psat. Learn more about the National Merit Scholarship Corporation at www.nationalmerit.org


Students who do not score well on the THEA, COMPASS, Accuplacer or other college placement exams are usually required to take remedial English or Math beforebeginning regular college courses. Remedial courses arae used to build up skills that colleges expect entering college freshmen to possess and apply in class in order to be successful in college. Remember, remedial classes DO NOT count towards a bachelor’s degree, however, they DO cost as much as a college level course.


 Tells your academic or work history and is useful and necessary when applying for a summer job, volunteer work, or summer internship. Your resume should contain positive information that will paint a positive picture of who you are. For resume tips go to www.collegeboard.com/student/plan/high-school/36957.html or www.aie.org/finding-a-career/index.cfm 

SAT Reasoning Test

Usually taken by high school juniors and seniors, this test is designed to evaluate a student’s reasoning skills and ability to complete college-level work. For more information about the SAT Reasoning Test, visit www.collegeboard.com/sat 

SAT Subject Tests

This is the only national admissions test that gives students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of content in specific subjects. Some SAT Subject Tests should be taken as soon as a student completes the course of study in that subject while other subjects, such as languages, should be taken after a few years of study. For more information about the SAT Subject Tests, visit www.collegeboard.csa 

Student Aid Report – SAR

Is a report received after FAFSA has processed. It lists the answers supplied on FAFSA, contains “Expected Family Contribution”, and measures financial strength to determine eligibility for federal aid

TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid)

Students who are not U.S. citizens but who qualify for state residency under House Bill 1403/Senate Bill 1528 are eligible to apply for state financial aid.

Tech Prep

High school technical courses using college level curriculum. You can gain college credit for these courses

THEA (Texas Higher Education Assessment)

Under the Texas Success Initiative, it is the only assessment developed specifically to evaluate the readiness of entering college freshmen students for college-level reading, mathematics, and writing coursework in Texas. Its content is the same as that of the former TASP Test


These forms contain your cumulative course work by grade and by year in school. It will show your grade point average (GPA) and your class rank if that information is available. Transcripts are required by colleges for application purposes and some scholarships to verify enrollment and eligibility. Transcripts are available through the counselor at your high school


Students who transfer-move- to another college do so for various reasons such as relocation. Student who start out in a community college often transfers to a 4 year university once they gain sophomore status or an associate’s degree or certificate

Types of Colleges

Community Colleges are typically smaller colleges where many student begin their pursuit of higher education before transferring to a four- year university. Certificate programs are offered which last between 6 weeks to 1 year. Associate’s degrees can be earned in 1 to 2 years.


Public and Private Universities are four- year universities where students are able to earn their Bachelor’s degrees and may go on to pursue a Master’s degree or doctorate degree

Types of Financial Aid

1- Grants – awards that do not require repayment


2- Scholarships – awards that do not require repayment


3- Loans – borrowed from lending institution


4-Work study – on campus or off campus work to help earn money for student’s education