College Preparation & Planning

Visit the SBISD Website:

Tour the college or university of your choice - without leaving home!

Virtual High School Tours @

Am I taking the right classes?

Do you know if you're on the right path to college or career? Find out with a few helpful tips.

What can I do to get prepared and ahead for college and career?

Whether you are in middle school or high school, there is so much you can do to get ahead and be prepared.

Don't Leave it Up to Chance

Don't miss the opportunity to learn everything you know about paying for college and applying for the FAFSA.

Does a degree equal higher pay?

Career exploration is vital when making decisions regarding your future. Now is the time to look at what you love to do, what you're passionate about, and how you can make a living. There's alot to think about!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Scholarships, Financial Aid and Student Loans just got easier

Finding your dream school can be tough... Finding a way to pay for it can be even more overwhelming...

At paying for school just got easier!

Own Your Own Future

Start owning your own future by exploring resources that will help you on your path to college. Why go to college? How to pay for college. Can you afford it? Find the college best for you. Prepare for college.

Salary Comparison

How much are you worth? What should you pay for what you want? Learn about pay strategies, College salary reports, and the 2013 tipping study at

Seven High-Paying Jobs You Can Get with a Bachelor's Degree

"Want a high-paying job after you earn your bachelor’s degree? Take more technology, business or finance classes. Students who graduate with these degrees draw the highest starting salaries because they have skills in short supply and are entering fields where jobs are plentiful." Click here to learn what job may be perfect for you!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Find the 2014-2015 Freshman Application at

This includes information about college application deadlines, fees, essays, codes, etc.

Help your students avoid these common college financial mistakes

Football rivalry games and all-night study sessions. Meeting new people and being exposed to new ideas. Learning more about who you are and choosing a future career.

When high school students think about what college life may be like, they often picture an exciting world full of opportunities to meet new friends, make great memories, and generally have a good time. They may also be eager to study in their chosen majors, learn from accomplished professors, and prepare for their professional lives after college. They may even daydream about the independence college brings - about making their own decisions free of parental supervision.
But they may not think about one of the most important aspects of college life, one that results directly from that independence: managing money and making financial decisions for themselves. Sadly, this lack of financial forethought often continues well into the college years, with unfortunate results. These results are predictable, but all too common. If you don't study, you get bad grades; if you don't budget, you lose money.
Help your students avoid this scenario. Here are some financial tips to help them avoid freshman financial mistakes and start college on a sound footing.
  • Avoid the credit card trap
    Many credit card companies lure students with free gifts, but the T-shirts and pizza aren't worth the high interest rates and other fees. They also make it easy for students to spend more than they take in, getting them underwater financially before they even get their feet wet in a career.
  • Budget before you buy
    The first rule of financial literacy is really very simple: If you can't afford something, don't buy it. Having a budget - a plan for spending based on your income - allows you to follow this rule.
  • Avoid high roller syndrome
    Many students live beyond their means, a habit encouraged by the hectic pace and intense social demands of college. Too busy to cook? Order a pizza! Going to a party? Buy a new outfit! Students often end up using student loan money and credit cards to finance these spending habits, but they have to pay up eventually. Students should consider getting in the habit of looking for less expensive options like cooking, shopping for clothes on sale or at less expensive stores, and buying used books. When the bills start coming in after graduation, they'll be glad they did.
  • Manage your credit history
    It's never too early to start establishing a good credit history; credit scores affect students' ability to rent an apartment, get car insurance, and even land the job they want after graduation. Paying bills on time and refraining from overborrowing will help students keep their scores healthy.
  • Save now
    Even if they have part-time jobs, most college students have modest incomes. Saving is often the furthest thing from their minds. But getting in the habit now - even if they save just a few dollars each month - will provide a rainy day fund for unforeseen needs. This will make it easier for them to save when they graduate and have a more substantial income. And the earlier students start saving, the more their money will grow over time.

British American Foundation Scholarships

British American Foundation Offers Scholarships for Seniors
The undergraduate award is intended for low income families from Texas and is intended to alleviate the financial burden of funding those college fees. General Description of the Award Tuition only Scholarships awarded for up to one semester for the fall semester.
Scholarship Requirements
  1. A resident of Texas. (proof of residency required, SSN number, Citizen status.)
  2. Enrolled in full time education within the Texas or the UK education system.
  3. Aged between 18 and above.
  4. Consideration partially based on dependable and independent annual household income, FAFSA Report and Statement of Hardship Budget provided.
  5. Maintain a GPA of 3.25 or above.
  6. Be able to attend a 15 minute meeting/interview with a BAFTX panel, either in person, telephone or skype.
  7. Provide a completed Application Form along with the requested attachments.
  8. Be able to attend an Awards Dinner to receive scholarship. (Usually May of the Award year.) For students applying from the UK; you must be a permanent resident of the UK. Documentation required (proof of residency required.)
  9. In possession of a valid passport or eligible to receive one.
Complete online application at website.

Application information can be found in Naviance.

Apply for the Hamilton Award Today!

Leadership Opportunity for Students: The purpose of the Hamilton Award is to recognize high school juniors for their academic, personal, service, entrepreneurial and leadership achievements and to select students for the Hamilton Leaders Academy, where they take steps towards a college education. Enrollment in the Hamilton Leaders Academy is free to students and includes a $500 cash scholarship. Application opens December 4, 2013 and the Deadline is March 5, 2014.
The Hamilton Award

Winners of the Hamilton Award are automatically enrolled in the Hamilton Leaders Academy where they join a distinguished cohort of peers from across the US who learn from one another and grow together as they take steps towards a college education. Enrollment in the Hamilton Leaders Academy also includes the following: a $500 cash scholarship; an autographed copy of Richard Brookhiser's Alexander Hamilton, American; an autographed copy of William Chrystal's Hamilton by the Slice; proclamation signed by Doug Hamilton the fifth great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton; a Hamilton pin courtesy of the Hamilton family and letters of congratulations. Bio-sketches of winners appear on this website, and news releases are sent to city, state, and federal elected officials as well as local newspapers.

The Hamilton Leaders Academy

The Hamilton Leaders Academy is a no student cost program that helps students get into college, transition to college, succeed while in college and transition to the post college world. Currently the program is two years in length. Each year of the program includes an "academic-year" of curriculum, running from September to April, along with a week-long summer leadership camp we call "Leader Week." The academic year consists of individual support through email and phone calls and group support through conference calls. Each "Leader Week" takes place in a different location. The first year takes place in Seattle; the second year concludes with an international service experience.

Application will open on December 4, 2013 at following website:

You're invited!

Join the Houston Hispanic Forum (HHF) for its twenty-eighth annual Career and Education Day (CED) hosted at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Saturday, February 8, 2014.

The event will feature panels of professionals in over 50+ career field workshops; and an exhibit hall with over 200 educational, nonprofit and business organizations that will distribute materials to students and their parents. Special panel session will be held for Middle School students and their parents that will discuss such topics as the importance of a four-year plan; academics; extra-curricular activities; and tips on how to have a successful high school experience.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Paying For College 101

Film Instructor Michael Ortiz uses his own successful experiences in meandering through the financial aid system. His explanations are understandable, real and attainable.

Thanks to Mr. Ortiz for taking his own time to produce this must-see video. Students, watching this could be the best 16 minutes of your high school career.

This is an exceptional explanation of the parts and processes in finding and applying for financial aid for college. Click here to view the video.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Study Abroad Deadline - Dec. 2 - APPLY NOW!

Attention: Registration deadline for Study Abroad Tour is December 2, 2013.

SBISD is offering students a semester of high school Social Studies elective credit for participating in the study tour. SBISD has designed a Study Abroad Israel trip for students (and their family members). This meaningful and enriching tour, plus hands-on archeological dig, will allow students educational and interactive opportunities by seeing and learning about the stimulating culture and extraordinary history of Israel.

The tour will enable students to see, do, explore, experience, and yes, taste all that this ancient land has to offer. Our itinerary is crafted to balance ancient historical and archaeological sightseeing with educational and interactive opportunities, and of course, fun!

We will visit Galilee, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Dead Sea, Masada, and more. June 8 – 16, 2014

For more information, contact
Your $100 check should go to Ms. Reed, 935 Echo Lane, Houston, TX 77024

Using Social Media to Find Your Next Internship

Social Searches: How Social Media Can Help You Find Your Next Internship [INFOGRAPHIC]

Surviving the First Year of College - Infographic

The Ultimate Guide For Surviving Your First Year of College [INFOGRAPHIC] #guide #college

The Collage Collage

The College Collage: Annual Cost of Education [INFOGRAPHIC]

How Parents Feel About Their Child's Transition to College

Friday, November 15, 2013

Coca-Cola and Hispanic Scholarship Deadline Approaching

Apply for Your Opportunity to Win a $20,000 College Scholarship!

Coca-Cola® and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by awarding $100,000 in scholarships to Hispanic students.

Grand Prize: $20,000 Scholarship (1 winner)
First Prize: $10,000 Scholarship (4 winners)
Second Prize: $2,500 Scholarship (16 winners)


Or, visit the HISPANIC SCHOLARSHIP FUND website >>

2014 Youth in Philanthropy Award Program

If you have a passion for helping others and have a created a unique volunteer program, you could win big! The Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Houston Chapter's (AFP-GHC) Youth in Philanthropy program is currently accepting nominations for its 2014 Youth Award.  DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 2. Apply today and win money for school.

The mission of AFP-GHC seeks to develop youth leadership, facilitate youth-driven philanthropy, promote youth awareness of the “common good” and social responsibility, expand youth horizons about careers in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, and increase youth knowledge about the nonprofit sector and local community needs. Through these efforts, AFP-GHC has created several opportunities for non-profit organizations to collaborate with schools and youth in the community.


Eligibility Requirements: Any student or student organization in any public high school, located in the Greater Houston area, may submit nominations for the award. All nominations MUST be submitted using the forms available on the AFP-GHC website.


Visit and search under "About AFP-GHC" tab to access the "Youth in Philanthropy" page.

All winners will be invited to participate in an awards ceremony the evening of Thursday, February 6, 2014 at the reception the evening before the AFP-GHC Ask the Experts Conference. Contact Vida L. Avery, Ph.D, VP of Community Outreach and Diversity, at 713-696-0712 or


2014-15 Freshman Application - NEW ESSAY PROMPTS

Find the 2014-2015 Freshman Application at

This includes information about college application deadlines, fees, essays,codes, etc.

Essay A: Describe a setting in which you have collaborated or interacted with people whose experiences and/or beliefs differ from yours. Address your initial feelings, and how those feelings were or were not changed by this experience.
Essay B: Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? If so, how?
Essay C: Considering your lifetime goals, discuss how your current and future academic and extra-curricular
activities might help you achieve your goals.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reminder - Transcript Requests & Application Deadlines


College admissions deadlines are approaching fast. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you need to make sure requests for any documentation are in before Nov. 26 with your campus counselor. Don't wait!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reminder - Upcoming College Nights!

Mark the Calendar: 2013 College Nights Oct. 8-9

SBISD's College Nights is a two-evening informational program designed especially for high school students and their families, this year the program will be held for the 10th consecutive year on Oct. 8-9 at Spring Woods High School, 2045 Gessner.

The College Nights programs are designed as one-stop “shopping” events and will be held from 6-8 p.m. on both evenings. Students are encouraged to attend on the night their high school is scheduled, but may check the list of participating universities for each evening to insure that they do attend the program that includes the colleges or universities they are most interested in.

High school nights and schedules are:

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 6-8 p.m. This session is recommended for Stratford and Spring Woods high schools and Westchester Academy for International Studies families.

Wednesday, Oct.9, 6-8 p.m. This session has been recommended for Memorial and Northbrook high schools families, as well as students who are enrolled at the Spring Branch Academy of Choice.

Typical sessions attract as many as 200 representatives from regional, state and national colleges and universities, both public and private, as well as many technical and military-related institutions. Representatives share information with students and family members about college cost, size, undergraduate majors and the particular application process, plus other items of interest.

For more information on College Nights 2013, please call Hortencia Vega at 713-251-1992 or contact the campus counselors who may also provide additional details and information.

Online Registration

Juniors and Seniors are being "bulk registered" and will be provided with barcodes for College Nights at their campuses. Please note, however, that students whose parents opted to not allow the district to provide student information to entities outside the district will not be registered in the bulk registration process. They will be able to register on their own. Students can register at the following site.

This will save time standing in line and filling out information cards. College representatives can scan the student barcode and have the student information for future contact and may use the information to target scholarship offers. Most of the colleges registered will have scanners but not all.

Check the Post Secondary site (Dream it. Achieve it.) for the names of colleges and universities registered for the event.

FAFSA VOCAB You Need to Know : Cost of Attendance (COA)

Cost of Attendance (COA): The total amount it will cost you to go to school—usually stated as a yearly figure. COA includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and dependent care. It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer; costs related to a disability; and reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.

For students attending less than half-time, the COA includes tuition and fees and an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, and dependent care expenses, and can also include room and board for up to three semesters or the equivalent at the institution. But no more than two of those semesters, or the equivalent, may be consecutive. Contact the financial aid administrator at the school you’re planning to attend if you have any unusual expenses that might affect your COA.


Accreditation: Confirms that the college or career school meets certain minimum academic standards, as defined by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Schools must be accredited to be eligible to participate in federal student aid programs.


Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.
Here’s a quick overview of Federal Work-Study:
  • It provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school.
  • It’s available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with financial need.
  • It’s available to full-time or part-time students.
  • It’s administered by schools participating in the Federal Work-Study Program. Check with your school's financial aid office to find out if your school participates.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Click here to

FAFSA Question: I am a non-U.S. citizen. Can I get federal student aid?

If you fall in one of the categories below, you are considered an “eligible noncitizen.”
1. You are a
  • U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island) or
  • U.S. permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card), also known as a green card.
2. You have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing
  • “Refugee,”
  • “Asylum Granted,”
  • “Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending),”
  • “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980), or
  • “Parolee” (you must be paroled for at least one year, and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are not in the United States for a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident).
3. You hold a T-visa (for victims of human trafficking) or your parent holds a T-1 visa. Your college or career school’s financial aid office will ask to see your visa and/or certification letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

4. You are a “battered immigrant-qualified alien” who is a victim of abuse by your citizen or permanent resident spouse, or you are the child of a person designated as such under the Violence Against Women Act.

5. You are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau. If this is the case, you are eligible only for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, or Federal Work-Study. Check with your college or career school financial aid office for more information.

Am I eligible for financial aid?

Worried you won’t be able to get aid? Most people are eligible for financial aid for college or career school.  Different types of aid (private scholarships, state grants, etc.) have different rules, called eligibility criteria, to determine who gets the aid.

Here is alisting of reference information from ( about the eligibility criteria for the federal student aid programs.

Repayment: What to Expect

I know about FAFSA...but what other options do I have?

What are my OPTIONS for financial aid?

What happens next?

I completed the FAFSA. Now what?

How do I fill out the FAFSA?

Completing the FAFSA - It's easier than you think!

You Don't Have to Do It Alone!

By Taylor H., college senior
Find out why Taylor H. thinks the financial aid application process is "pretty simple."
To apply for most financial aid — including federal and state student grants, work-study, and loans — you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Although this financial aid form may seem complex, there are many free resources to help you. And completing the form is easier than it used to be, thanks to the new IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Click here to

Webinar from The College Board: FAFSA - What You Need to Know

Watch the presentation and download resources 

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the application required by colleges and states to award federal financial aid dollars. Participants will get a complete preview of the application, find out what information they'll need to provide, and learn about available resources and tools to help complete the form. There will be ample time for questions and answers at the end of the session.

Presenter: Susan McCrackin, Senior Director, Financial Aid Services, College Board.
Watch the webinar recorded Jan. 8, 2013
Play recorded webinar

Webinar resources

Completing the FAFSA: PowerPoint presentationGet the PDF version of the slide show presented in the webinar.
Download (.pdf/3MB)

College Financial Aid Timeline for High School Seniors
Use this handout to keep track of important dates and deadlines as you apply for financial aid.
Download (.pdf/186KB)

How to Complete the FAFSA
Get an overview of how to complete the form.
Read article

Visit The College Board website for more information.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How do I get to my Naviance/Family Connection campus login screen?

Where can I find NAVIANCE/Family Connection?
NAVIANCE is accessible on the distict website ( under STUDENTS > NAVIANCE.  You can access this page from anywhere on the SBISD site.
Or, visit your campus website!

Links to your campus NAVIANCE account are available posted on your campus homepage. Below is a listing of links for your convienence.  Make sure to visit your campus website and bookmark it!  Your campus has information and news you need, so visit it to find out more.
High School Campuses:
Middle School Campuses:

Thursday, August 29, 2013


The Common Application has made the college and university application process much easier for many students. By permitting students to apply to multiple schools using a single application form, the Common Application streamlines the process and saves applicants loads of time.

The idea behind the Common Application is that students need to fill out only one application for all of the schools they apply to. Although the application was first accepted by only about 15 schools, today it is accepted by more than 500 colleges and universities in the United States. This means that you can fill out one Common Application and use it for any of these schools.

It's important to remember that not all schools accept the common application. Be sure to verify whether a school accepts it or not — never assume! Also, never let a school’s stance on the Common Application determine whether or not you apply there. If you use the Common Application or not, just make sure to find the school that's right for you and APPLY!

More Common Application Information:

Start to Plan for Your Future with Family Connection

Welcome to Naviance Family Connection! 

Family Connection is a tool that will help you set goals, and plan for and achieve future success in life!  Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to discover:
  • who you are
  • explore careers
  • explore colleges
  • establish a game plan
  • build your resume
  • apply to colleges

Ready, Set, Log On!

This month all students in grades 7-12 should log on to Family Connection
  • Go to your campus website.
  • Click on the FAMILY CONNECTION link.
  • Enter your SBISD password provided by your school in the PASSWORD field.
  • Click the LOG IN button.
Once you log in, you will see the Family Connection home screen.  The home screen will automatically update you with what's new, and from there you will be able to see the tasks that have been assigned to your by your counselor(s).

ALL SENIORS: If you are a senior this year, in addition to logging on this month, you need to add colleges you will be applying to. The clock is ticking! Graduation will be here before you know it...are you ready for college or starting a career? Log on and kick start your plan today!

For High School SENIORS - How to Add Colleges:
  • Click on COLLEGES Tab
  • Add 3-5 colleges you plan to apply to
  • Click on ADD Colleges
  • Indicate you are applying via the COMMON APPLICATION by clicking on the PENCIL ICON under edit
  • Choose YES to confirm the COMMON APP
  • Click UPDATE APPLICATION (This will alert your guidance office to link the Common App to your Family Connection account.)
Each month we'll share reminders and advise on activities you can do to stay on track with your college and career planning in Family Connection.  Remember, the more you put into Family Connection the more you will benefit!

For more information, contact our Guidance and Counseling Department.  Or, visit the Naviance page on the SBISD website. 

Please note: All middle and high school campus websites have a link to your student's specific Family Connections portal.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I wish someone had told me about freshman year...

Now that I have entered my final year of college, I suppose I am expected to look at the thousands of bright-eyed freshmen who have moved into their dorm rooms for the first time with a certain degree of nostalgia and envy.

I’m supposed to tell them, “This will be the best year of your life” and “You have nothing to worry about” and “You are so lucky. I wish I could go back.”

The August before I moved away to college, which seems both like yesterday and eons ago, those were the things everyone told me.

No one ever said my first year would be difficult to adjust to, or that sometimes I would feel lost or anxious or lonely or homesick.

So, when I did inevitably feel all of those emotions, I kept them locked up inside of me like deep, dark secrets I was terrified of letting out. I felt guilty and defected.

I watched the sea of other freshmen students scream in Beaver Stadium with all the happiness in the world. I scrolled through the Facebook profiles of my friends from home, who suddenly had hundreds of pictures with their new college friends and statuses like, “Loving College!!” I walked through the Welcome Week fair where hundreds of smiling students stood behind booths for every club imaginable.

So, I too, plastered on a smile during that first month of college. When friends or family from home would ask how I was doing, I’d tell them, “I love it!” I went out to parties and laughed and pretended I was having the time of my life.

In reality, I felt like everyone around me somehow knew each other, and I would never find a close group of friends. I achingly missed my boyfriend who was three hours away. I was unsure about my major, and it caused a great amount of anxiety. And the feelings only intensified because I felt like I was walking around acting like a false, giddy version of myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I wouldn’t let anyone else find out either.

But I didn’t dare let anyone see me that way, because I was sure that no one else felt like me.

Then one morning after returning back to school from a weekend at home, I finally told one of my roommates, “I’m really unhappy here.” I felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my chest.

She lay in bed while everyone else was asleep. “Me too,” she whispered.

And just like that, I suddenly wasn’t alone.

Over the next few weeks we had long talks about how we had been feeling. She felt lonely and lost too in our big university. Later, I found myself in my dorm hallway while another friend cried in front of me about how homesick she was. Little by little I realized it was egotistical of me to think that my feelings were entirely my own. A lot of people felt a little bit like I was feeling.

Even the people I knew who seemed so well adjusted had days when they missed the comfort of old familiarities.

I finally stopped worrying that my peers would look at me strangely if I was having a bad day. I didn’t mope around in bed, but I also was honest with the people around me and was able to make stronger, more genuine friendships.

Looking back now, I can sigh with relief that things did get better. I hardly recognize the scared, anxious girl who sat in her first college class three years ago. But I also didn’t suddenly get “happy” overnight. It was a slow process of learning to be who I was when I was away from everything I knew, and learning to make choices and be content with them.

Freshmen, I’m not trying to scare you. For many, if not most of you, this will indeed be a great, worry-free year. But if you are like me and you hit some hurdles along the way, please know: You are not alone. Don’t expect everything to be shiny and picture perfect the second you walk on to campus. It takes time. And if you end up feeling sad, don’t feel guilty.

Things are going to go wrong. You’re going to run out of money. You’re going to break up with your significant other. You’re going to fail a test. You’re going to reassess your major and your goals. You’re going to miss your safety net from home. You’re not going to be able to juggle 20 activities at once. You’re going to make bad decisions. Everyone will. And no one is watching you with a judgmental eye.

That’s what I wish I could have told my 18-year-old self. And finally, everything, eventually, will be OK.

About the Author: Lauren Ingeno is a senior at Penn State and was a Summer 2012 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent.

Mistake I made as a Freshman that I Would DO AGAIN

It’s freshman year. All your possessions are unpacked, you’re officially moved in and ready to take new classes, meet new people and live the college life you’ve always dreamed of.

The way you think college will go is never the way college will go, but that’s the beauty of it. Mistakes happen, and even though they were embarrassing or mind-wrecking at the time, there are some that aren’t just unique to you.

All of us go through the same experiences and they are just a natural part of this time in our lives. As a senior, there are a few mistakes I made as a freshman that I would do over in a heartbeat — if not simply to restart the four greatest years of my life once again.

1. Missing a big party

There’s no denying this: when you’re in college, the only reason you need to party is the simple fact that you’re in college. The minute I realized my daily 8 a.m. economics class would detain me from ever attending weekday parties, I was convinced my future collegiate social life was doomed. But three years and many parties — and even more missed parties — later, I realize there will always be a next one.

2. Doing poorly on an exam

Failing teaches you more than just the simple fact you don’t know the material. It demonstrates to you the kind of effort you will need to achieve your goals and gives you a reason to work harder for what you want most.

While the definition of failure differs from person to person, the first time I did poorly on an exam I had a mental breakdown. But as I went further into my college career, I learned more about the dos and don’ts of college exams (insider tip: talk to your professors, they’re here to help you). As it turns out, the tests got easier. I just needed the first failure to get me going.

3. Going in with the wrong major

The best part about college is that life changes from day to day and year to year. It’s a time in our lives when we’re encouraged to make mistakes and figure out what we’re really passionate about. I changed my major halfway through my sophomore year and haven’t looked back since. Early exposure to classes I didn’t like helped me figure out what career I actually want to have, and changing majors isn’t that dramatic — it’s worth a semester of confusion for a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment. If you do it for yourself and your life now, you won’t have regrets later.

4. Changing friends

As a senior now, some of the friends I have are the very same ones I hung out with my freshman year — but a good majority of them are not.

If you find your group of friends your first year and continue through the rest of college and life together, congratulations! But if not, don’t worry. There are so many people on most college campuses that you have the chance to make new friends every day. Eventually you will find the people you’ll stay in touch with until old age, but don’t feel tied to one group. Personality change is a trademark of college — let your friends change with you.

5. Being scared

I’ll admit it: I was scared out of my mind when I first went to college.

And why shouldn’t I have been? It’s a big change in our lives, one of the first biggest changes we’ll have. If you’re a little nervous about moving, making new friends and experiencing life truly on your own for the first time, that’s OK. Soon, the days will become easier, you will settle into a routine, and you will understand why everyone loves this amazing, one-of-a-kind time in our lives. Good luck!

About the Author: Claudia Tran is a pre-law senior at the University of Missouri studying psychology and sociology. She enjoys reading on the lawn of her sorority house, rooting for Kansas City sports teams and regularly quoting the television show Friends.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coast-to-Coast College Tour

Coast-to-Coast is a joint travel partnership between Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Princeton University, University of California-Berkeley, and Vanderbilt University.

In cities across the country, admissions representatives from each institution help prospective students and their families navigate the seemingly complex selective admissions process while further introducing participants to the defining characteristics of each school.

Register Now >>

The TOP MISTAKES When Filling Out College Applications - AVOID THEM

11 College Application Mistakes to Avoid

1. Inappropriate e-mail address. Because a lot of colleges communicate via e-mail now, it’s important that you have a professional-sounding e-mail address. is probably not how you want to present yourself to admission officers. There are a ton of e-mail programs out there that offer free e-mail accounts (gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc.). Create your own super secret account that you use only for college communication. Just be sure to check it frequently.

2. Naming the wrong school. It’s HARD keeping track of all of these darn schools. No matter how much research you may have done trying to figure out which schools are right for you, human error can ruin the party in one fell swoop. Make sure to check and double-check that the college you name in your application is the college that will receive the application.

3. Forgetting a section. The application is a long document with lots of sections to it. Be sure that you don’t miss any questions or required information. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to talk about yourself! Every inch of space on the application is prime real estate.

4. Waiting until the last minute to ask teachers to write letters of recommendation. Yikes! Asking a teacher to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf is a scary thing, no matter how well your teacher knows you. But just know that your teachers are wise and wonderful and want to help you. Be sure to give them as much time as possible to complete your recommendations. More time generally means a better constructed, more polished rec letter. And your teacher will be grateful.

5. Not double-checking deadlines. Deadlines vary! Make sure you know exactly when a college must receive all pieces of your application. A deadline is a deadline is a deadline.

6. Disobeying word limits or character limits. Make sure you read the fine print and all of the directions in an application. Since a lot of colleges use online applications, they often impose a strict character limit (kind of like your Facebook status does). This means that if your essay or response is longer than asked for, it might get chopped off or it might not appear at all.

7. Not answering the question. Try to answer the question or address the essay prompt as directly and completely as you can. Don’t lead the college admission officers on a wild goose chase. Make it easy for them to get the information they ask for.

8. Assuming the biographical information part isn’t important. The first questions in the application about where you were born, how many siblings you have, and what your parents do are really important in helping the admission officers figure out who you are. Don’t skimp on the details. Do it up!

9. Leaving information about yourself out. Don’t leave information out simply because you feel it’s not important. It’s better to err on the side of sharing too much, rather than too little. For example, if you make dinner every night for your family, the admission officers want to know about it. If you help your parents with their business (even if you don’t get paid), that’s vital 411.

10. Forgetting to check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and factual errors. Ouch! Nothing spells “buzz kill” like a misspelled word. How could such a little mistake be such a game changer? Competition is tight. There are thousands of other applicants who have nicely polished applications. You don’t want to be the one who misspelled.

11. Treating your application like your Facebook page or a text message. Beware of being too casual in your college application. It’s important that everything is polished and revised. When you're filling out your application, don't use texting abbreviations and lowercase letters. Beware of rushing your writing and just clicking "send." Completing an application takes time. Be sure to read through it a couple of times before clicking "submit."

College Myth #2: I tanked my freshman and sophomore years...I can't get into college.

What was it – trouble making the adjustment from junior high to high school? Problems at home? Going through an “I don’t care about anything” phase? Dog ate your homework… every day for two years? Whatever the reason, it isn’t the end of the world.

Sure, an admissions office would prefer to look over your records and see four spotless years. However, there aren’t many students who make it through their entire high school career without at least a little hiccup, and it is much better for your “off” years to have come earlier rather than later. Way better. In some venues, just showing this kind of improvement actually helps ya.

Colleges know that there is a learning curve, and that it takes some kids longer than others to settle into the high school lifestyle and begin to either take things seriously or figure out a system of completing homework and studying for tests that produces sufficient results.

If you got C’s as a freshman and B’s as a sophomore, but A-’s as a junior and A’s as a senior, that’s an awfully promising trend, don’t you think?

An admissions office is probably going to overlook your shaky start out of the gate as long as you were able to pick it up down the homestretch and nose out most of the other horses before reaching the finish line.

However, don’t go thinking you can just blow off your first two years of high school and you’ll be fine. Even if you are a smart kid and a basically solid student, you can engrain in yourself some pretty bad study habits in two years’ time, and it may be impossible to reverse them before it’s too late.

Not to mention that you’d be playing catch-up to most of your peers who actually put in a good deal of effort during that span, and you may have more trouble than anticipated comprehending the material.

The best plan is to strive to do your best for all four years, but not to despair and lose all hope should you bring home a couple C’s on your first report card. Learn from your mistakes, and turn those C’s into B’s, and then into A’s.

College Myth #1: College is way harder than high school!

If I had trouble in high school there is NO WAY I will make it in college!

Wrong.  While college is indeed DIFFERENT than high school in many ways, the college experience offers students new opportunities to challenge themselves and find solutions that work for them.

No one is holding your hand, making sure that you show up for class and that you complete all your homework. Your teacher may care that you’re not taking her class seriously and slacking off, but there’s only so much she’s going to do about it – you’re an adult now, and this is your future, and it is therefore your responsibility to make it a good one.

So, possibly for the first time ever, you need to find a way to self-motivate. You need to teach yourself good time management skills. You need to… grow up. And that isn’t easy to do. Especially for those of us who still find fart jokes hilarious. (Guilty.)

Some students do have a harder time in college for this reason, but others thrive on their newly acquired sense of independence. They take their lives into their own hands, going diligently about their studies because it will prepare them for a better life, not just for some grade, or to get their parents off their back.

If you can make this transition, this adjustment in mindset from “learning for your teachers” to “learning for yourself,” college really doesn’t have to be that hard at all. It’s amazing how easy it is to learn when that’s really what you want to be doing. On paper, college is an absolute breeze.

In high school, your first class is at 7:30, you put in 7 hours of class each day, 35 by week’s end. In college, depending on your schedule, you may not have to get up some days until 10 or 11 (and you are almost certainly going to take advantage of that fact), and on other days you may not have class at all.

You can sleep 36 hours straight if you so choose. You may only have 12-15 hours of total class time in a week. Granted, you will be assigned essays and projects much more elaborate than those you were assigned in high school, so more of your “free time” will be taken up by your coursework, but the fact is that most of your time is your own.

Hopefully you will use (at least most of) it wisely. Your teachers will likely treat you more like a peer than an underling. You will be allowed much more frank, honest discussion than ever before.

It is an amazing forum, not only for learning, but for doing some thinking of your own. Sounds good, right? It is. But it’s not all peaches and cream. The thing that scares many prospective students about college is the pressure of the heightened stakes. And well it should.

In high school, you were working toward being accepted at a great school – a big deal, no doubt. But in college you will be working toward the rest of your life. How much money will you make?

What will you spend practically all of your days doing? Geographically, where are you likely to wind up living based on your chosen profession? Those are some big, big questions, and the level of success you achieve in college - while it does not definitively determine how successful you will be out in the real world – does bear some relation to the thereafter. Each year of college is a microcosm of that pressure. For most courses, you will take a final exam that is worth half of your overall grade.

There will be certain classes that you will absolutely need to pass, preferably with flying colors, in order to graduate in your intended major. Essays are no longer 2-3 paragraphs – they are now 20-30 pages, and they had better be well-constructed, well-researched and basically brilliant in every way.

That’s pressure. It is exactly that pressure that instills such fear in students who are about to embark on their great journey, but if you make the conscious decision to learn for yourself, the road will be much easier, and a lot of that pressure will be lifted from your shoulders.

You will make it in college.  Be prepared and apply yourself.  Work hard.  It's up to you to take charge of your future.  When you finally earn your college degree you'll have a great deal to celebrate, and we'll all be there to cheer with you!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Deadline for PSAT Registration is 10/04/13 @ 4PM

2013-14 Sophomores

Optional Saturday Practice PSAT
Saturday, October 19, 2013

$35 no refunds Registration Application will be available on the web by September 4, 2013 (no on-line registration)

To Register:
Application & payment must be received by 4:00 PM, October 4th at: Advanced Academic Studies/Optional PSAT Test 2100 Shadowdale, Houston, TX 77043

Please note, registration will close when all spots are filled. This is a first-come, first-served opportunity.

*Research indicates Juniors who took the PSAT as Sophomores have higher scores


Test during the school day on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

  • Juniors- PSAT/NMSQT No Registration Required
  • Sophomores - PLAN (Pre-ACT) No Registration Required
  • Freshmen - PSAT No Registration Required
Call Amy Ellingson in Advanced Academic Studies 713-251-2005 for additional information.

Registration available until October 4th, 2013


Trends in Student Financial Aid

This report documents grant aid from federal and state governments, colleges and universities, employers, and other private sources, as well as loans, tax benefits, and Federal Work-Study Assistance.

The report examines changes in funding levels over time, reports on the distribution of aid across students with different incomes and attending different types of institutions, and tracks the debt students incur as they pursue the educational opportunities that can increase their earnings, open doors to new experiences, and improve their ability to adapt to an ever-changing society.

Other Links of Interest:

In 2011-12, undergraduate students received an average of $13,218 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student in financial aid, including $6,932 in grant aid from all sources, and $5,056 in federal loans.

Federal grant aid almost tripled in constant dollars between 2001-02 and 2011-12, increasing from 20% to 26% of the total 185.1 billion in undergraduate aid.

Only 2% of students who first enrolled in 2003-04 had borrowed more than $50,000 from federal and nonfederal sources combined by 2009. Over 40% did not borrow and another 25% borrowed $10,000 or less.

- From the College Board website

Trends in College Education - REPORT

Trends in College Pricing provides information on changes over time in undergraduate tuition and fees, room and board, and other estimated expenses related to attending colleges and universities.

The report, which includes data through 2012-13 from the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges, reveals the wide variation in prices charged by institutions of different types and in different parts of the country.

Of particular importance is the focus on the net prices students actually pay after taking grant aid into consideration.

Data on institutional revenues and expenditures and on changing enrollment patterns over time supplement the data on prices to provide a clearer picture of the circumstances of students and the institutions in which they study.

- From The College Board website

The SAT: Where did it come from and why is it important?


Created by educators to democratize access to higher education, the SAT® is a highly reliable and valid standardized measure of college readiness used in the admission process at nearly all four-year colleges and universities in the United States, including test-optional institutions.

The content on the SAT reflects the reading, mathematics and writing curricula taught in high school classrooms. Uniquely, the SAT also measures how well students can apply their knowledge, a factor that is critical to college and career success.

The SAT is a fair and valid predictor of college success for students of all backgrounds, and SAT performance data illustrate that success on the SAT is linked to the type and rigor of course work completed during high school. Studies regularly demonstrate that the best predictor of college success is the combination of SAT scores and high school grades.

Nearly three million students take the SAT each academic year via nearly 7,000 test centers in more than 170 countries. For further information, visit

-- From The College Board website.

Financial Overview and FAFSA Workshop Events for 2013-14

Mark your calendars!  Don't miss the opportunity to learn everything you know about paying for college and applying for the FAFSA. Contact your campus for more details.

Visit and bookmark the SBISD Events Calendar on the SBISD website for all the lastest events going on in and around SBISD.

FAFSA Sessions





Northbrook HS (NHS)
A119, #1 Raider Circle
9:00 AM - 12:00
9710 Katy Fwy
1:00 - 4:00 PM
Northbrook HS (NHS)
A119, #1 Raider Circle
8:00 AM - 5:30
1625 Blalock Rd
9:00 AM - 12:00
9710 Katy Fwy
1:00 - 4:00 PM
Northbrook HS (NHS)
A119, #1 Raider Circle
8:00 AM - 5:30
  Spring Woods HS (SWHS)
Library, 2045 Gessner
6:00-8:00 PM
1625 Blalock Rd
9:00 AM - 12:00
9710 Katy Fwy
1:00 - 4:00 PM

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Words to Live By

College 101 - The College Board

Sorting it Out

Is a college the same thing as a university? What does "liberal arts" mean? Why are some colleges called public and others private? Here are the basics on the types of colleges.

Public and private colleges

Public colleges are funded by local and state governments and usually offer lower tuition rates than private colleges, especially for students who are residents of the state where a college is located.

Private colleges rely mainly on tuition, fees and private sources of funding. Private donations can sometimes provide generous financial aid packages for students.

For-profit colleges

These are businesses that offer a variety of degree programs which typically prepare students for a specific career. They tend to have higher costs, which could mean graduating with more debt. Credits earned may not transfer to other colleges, so be sure to check with the admission office at each college.

Four-year and two-year colleges

Four-year colleges offer four-year programs that lead to a bachelor's degree. These include universities and liberal arts colleges.

Two-year colleges offer programs that last up to two years that lead to a certificate or an associate degree. These include community colleges, vocational-technical colleges and career colleges.

Liberal arts colleges

These colleges offer a broad base of courses in the liberal arts, which includes areas such as literature, history, languages, mathematics and life sciences. Most are private and offer four-year programs that lead to a bachelor's degree. These colleges can prepare you for a variety of careers or for graduate study.


Universities often are larger and offer more majors and degree options—bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees—than colleges. Most universities contain several smaller colleges, such as colleges of liberal arts, engineering or health sciences. These colleges can prepare you for a variety of careers or for graduate study.

Community colleges

Community colleges offer two-year associate degrees that prepare you to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor's degree. They also offer other associate degrees and certificates that focus on preparing you for a certain career. Community colleges are often an affordable option with relatively low tuition.

Vocational-technical and career colleges

Vocational-technical and career colleges offer specialized training in a particular industry or career. Possible programs of study include the culinary arts, firefighting, dental hygiene and medical-records technology. These colleges usually offer certificates or associate degrees.

Colleges with a special focus

Some colleges focus on a specific interest or student population. These include:
  • Arts colleges
  • Single-sex colleges
  • Religiously affiliated colleges

Arts colleges

Art colleges and conservatories focus on the arts. In addition to regular course work, these colleges provide training in areas such as photography, music, theater or fashion design. Most of these colleges offer associate or bachelor's degrees in the fine arts or a specialized field.Specialized-mission colleges.

Single-sex colleges

All four-year public colleges, and most private colleges, are coed. But there are some private colleges that are specifically for men or for women.

Religiously affiliated colleges

Some private colleges are connected to a religious faith. The connection may be historic only, or it may affect day-to-day student life.

Specialized-mission colleges

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) focus on educating African American students. Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) are colleges where at least 25 percent of the full-time undergraduate students are Hispanic. HBCUs and HSIs may offer programs, services and activities targeted to the underrepresented students they serve.

What now?

For help finding the right kinds of colleges for you, check out these tools:

ACT: Explore Your Career Options

Choosing a career is a big decision.

But you don't have to sweat it—planning for your future is not something you do once. It's a continuous process.

Explore the World-of-Work Map

One way to start is by exploring your career options in the "World of Work."

The World-of-Work Map graphically shows how occupations relate to each other based on work tasks.

You'll find your personalized World-of-Work Map on the back of your ACT score report.

You can make it happen! College Planning Checklist by Grade Level

Get on the path to college and career education! The Make It Happen checklists from gather all of the best college planning and financial aid resources in one handy place to help you determine your next step on your path to higher education.

The checklists are step-by-step guides that are printable and sortable by grade level and category (Prep, Apply, and Pay). Links to useful websites are included with action items on each checklist.

Whether you’re in middle school or an adult degree learner, you’ll find helpful tips, information, and web links to help you navigate the college admissions process. Prepare by taking the right classes and tests. Apply to colleges. And then find the money to pay for your education.

  • Middle School
  • Freshman
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
  • Adult Degree
  • Top 5 Ways to Rock Your Future -

    Back-to-school is a great time to focus on your future, especially your college and career goals.

    Whether you are in middle school or high school, there is so much you can do to get ahead and be prepared. A great way to focus your efforts is to start with this Top 5 list of the best ways to Rock Your Future.
    1. You can’t get in if you don’t apply. Texas makes it easy. lets you submit one application to all Texas public universities as well as many private and two-year colleges.
    2. Your scores matter.Study hard, keep your GPA high, and take the PSAT, SAT and/or ACT for college applications and scholarships. Talk to your counselor, and visit the websites: and for more information.
    3. Visit college campuses.A college education opens doors to boundless career opportunities. College isn’t limited to four-year gigs. Your options for college include two-year schools, technical schools, certificate programs, as well as universities. Visit campuses and make the choice that’s right for you.
    4. Find a mentor.Seek out a knowledgeable adult to guide you through the college application process. An experienced parent, counselor, teacher, or family friend can be a valuable advisor on your journey to college. Talk with someone who works in a career that sparks your curiosity.
    5. Create a brag sheet.It’s never too early to create a brag sheet that organizes all of your accomplishments, community service, awards, internships, etc. This handy document will help you fill out scholarship applications, college applications, prepare for interviews, etc.
    Listen to stories from REAL students:
    • Meet Erica - “Because my family had never gone to college, I didn’t know what to expect or how to go about it.”
    • Meet Devonte - “Being a role model is a lot of responsibility because you have people looking up at you and you don’t want to mess up.”
    • Meet Vince Young - "I didn't think I was ever going to go to college, but when I set my mind to it - it pushed me to be the man that I am today."
    For more college success stories, visit the GenTX website today!

    What is APPLY Texas?

    Apply Texas ( is an online application that allows you to complete your admission applications for most Texas public and private universities.  If you plan to apply to a university in Texas, you will need to complete the admission application on and write at least one of the following essays:

    Essay A:
    Describe a setting in which you have collaborated or interacted with people whose experiences and/or beliefs differ from yours. Address your initial feelings, and how those feelings were or were not changed by this experience.

    Essay B:
    Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? If so, how?

    Essay C:
    Considering your lifetime goals, discuss how your current or future academic and extra-curricular activities might help you achieve your goals.

    Don't wait!  Start to write your essay today.  The more time and thought you can put into your submission, the better.

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    ACT and SAT Testing Dates for 2013-14

    2013 - 2014
    Test Dates
    U.S. Registration Deadlines*
    September 21, 2013
    August 23, 2013
    September 6, 2013
    October 5, 2013
    SAT &
    Subject Tests
    September 6, 2013
    September 20, 2013
    October 16 & 19, 2013
    Check with School Guidance Office
    October 26, 2013
    September 27, 2013
    October 11, 2013
    November 2, 2013
    SAT &
    Subject Tests
    October 3, 2013
    October 18, 2013
    December 7, 2013
    SAT &
    Subject Tests
    November 8, 2013
    November 22, 2013
    December 14, 2013
    November 8, 2013
    November 22, 2013

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