Tips for College Bound Students

Focus on Learning

    • Colleges are interested in admitting students who are life-long learners.  The Great Hearts curriculum is academically rigorous and contains all the elements for your success in college.  Your part is ensuring you participate in your learning and maintain the very best grades you are capable of obtaining.
    • Develop strong work habits now.  Ask for help outside of class if you need it.  Time management is crucial in learning to balance schoolwork with other interests.  Use quarterly grades as spot check to determine if you need to study more, get more rest, or seek additional help from your teacher.
    • All semester grades (not quarterly) are recorded on your official transcript and reported to a university.  Your GPA is cumulative meaning every semester grade from your freshman year going forward counts.   Scottsdale Prep reports both weighted and unweighted GPA.  Students receive extra grade weighting for all honors level classes; fine arts classes are not honors and, therefore, are not weighted.
    • The better your grades, the more college options you will have!

Develop Your Interests

  • While a strong academic record is key, exploring and developing interests in and out of the classroom is just as important at this stage.
  • You should explore athletic teams, clubs, and community service organizations to discover your strengths and interest.
  • A college admits a cohort made up of students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, different geographic areas, and students with different academic interests, socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs and political views.  Think about what type of unique contribution you will bring to your college campus.  Nurture your uniqueness by getting more involved with what you love.
  • Consider leadership opportunities in or outside of Scottsdale Prep.  Examples include Mayors Youth Council, Boys and Girls Club, Boys and Girls Team Charity, Speech and Debate, Engineering Club, Drama Club, etc.
  • Consider depth versus breadth when considering how many things you can be involved with at one time.
  • Make summers productive—take enrichment courses, attend summer camps or workshops, volunteer or work
  • Participate in competitions that showcase your skills.
  • Keep an academic portfolio and co-curricular record. Document every award, honor, activity, and leadership position you hold. These are crucial elements to many scholarship and college applications. Start a resume on Naviance to help with this process. Work and volunteer experience is also important.

Standardized Testing

  • You will take the PSAT exam in October your junior year. The PSAT taken in your junior year is also the qualifier for the National Merit distinction.  Some families may choose to take a PSAT prep class the summer before or in the fall prior to the October PSAT.  Scottsdale Prep offers discounts through Princeton Review
  • Some students determine early on that they want to strive for admission at highly selective colleges and or earn college credit while in high school.  Students can take SAT Subject Tests, AP tests, CLEP tests or even college classes during the summer to showcase their aptitude.  It is a wise strategy to take standardized tests very soon after the class has been completed so the knowledge is fresh. To learn more, go to: SAT Subject TestsCLEP TestsAP Tests.

Please note that this is not required for admission to the majority of universities and very few students will utilize this strategy.  Consult the university website to determine if SAT Subject tests are recommended or required for admission.  Examples of some colleges that require SAT Subject tests are Harvey Mudd, Princeton and Dartmouth.  Don’t assume you will receive college credit for an AP score.  Every university varies in their policy; check on their website. 

Financial Aid

  • Scottsdale Prep holds two financial aid events a year.  The events are hosted by the HEFAR group or other organization.  who will provide free consultation on paying for college.  It is important to learn early on what you can do to obtain the maximum amount of financial aid.
  •  Families with significant financial need as defined by federal guidelines may be eligible for SAT and ACT fee waivers and college application waivers.  Set up an appointment with College Counseling to learn whether you qualify.

Exploring Colleges

  •  It is not too early to start visiting college campuses during fall and spring breaks.  The summer is another opportunity to visit although there are a limited number of students on campus. If you like what you learn, you can always go back to visit when school is in session. You can schedule a tour by going on the university website.
  • You can take advantage of the college visits that take place on our high school campus, college fairs and special events hosted in the evening. Naviance will keep you informed of all events.  In your junior year, you should participate in the annual Great Hearts College Symposium and Great Hearts Summer College Tour.

College Counseling Help