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!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ask an Expert - Career Planning in Action

Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive
Career Planning Update Available to Parents and Students in Family Connection/Naviance

The Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive features more than 3,500 videos featuring leaders who have accomplished unique goals on their own terms. Interviews are conducted by young people who traveled the country asking questions of leaders who inspire them. Students can watch personal conversations with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, filmmakers, scientists, sports writers, entrepreneurs, political activities, and everything in between.

To enable the Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive in Family Connection, navigate to:
Connections > Family Connection> Select and Update Optional Features

Career Planning, including the Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive, is now available to all Naviance users. You can access Naviance from your campus website.  Look for CAMPUS CONNECTIONS.

What if I don't want a four-year degree? What are my options?

Getting an education is important to career success. The tricky part is figuring out what kind of education to get. An Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree, and a Certificate meet very specific needs; therefore, there are many differences between the three.

Click here to compare your options.

Are college degrees important?

To Get a Degree or Not to Get a Degree
Courtesy of: Online Degrees

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

College Planning in Middle School

I'm in middle school - I don't need to worry about college or career planning now!

Wrong.  Now is the perfect time to start investigating your options.

Do you have an idea of what you want to do after high school graduation?  Maybe you want to be a doctor.  Or, maybe you don't know what you want to do...but you know what you are interested in.  Here's a great tool you can use to investigate your interests and how they are related to specific jobs or areas of college study, it's the ACT's World of Work.  This interactive tool can help you turn a passion into a career pathway.

What is the EXPLORE Test?

The ACT EXPLORE Test is designed to help 8th graders explore a broad range of options for their future. It prepares students not only for high school coursework but for their post-high school choices as well.

The test has four subject areas: English, Math, Reading and Science.  Students are tested using multiple choice questions in each subject area.
SubjectNumber of QuestionsHow Long It Takes
English4030 minutes
Math3030 minutes
Reading3030 minutes
Science2830 minutes


  • EXPLORE helps your students plan ahead by identifying content areas they may need to improve and by helping them choose high school courses that will prepare them for college.
  • EXPLORE is a valuable advising tool that provides focus for more effective parental involvement when reviewing students’ academic progress and post secondary options.
For more information about the EXPLORE Test, click here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Register for the SAT Test - TODAY!!!

The registration date for the March 9 SAT Test is Feb. 8!  REGISTER NOW.
AT DateSAT Subject
Tests Available
(Find Dates)
Registration DeadlineLate Registration Deadline 
Deadline for Changes
    Send Reminder 
    56 days left
    Send Reminder 
    83 days left

    Additional fees apply if you register late or make changes to your test type, center or date after registering.
    Sunday administrations usually occur the day after each Saturday test date for students who cannot test on Saturday due to religious observance.

    SAT Testing - How to Take Action & Do Your BEST

    The SAT and other College Board tests are offered several times a year. Most students take the SAT for the first time during the spring of their junior year and a second time during the fall of their senior year.  That doesn't mean only juniors and seniors need to be thinking about the SAT!  Freshman to senior...all students in high school can take action when it comes to the SAT test to ensure they do their best.

    What can I do to plan and take action?  Below is a guide to help you:

    High School Freshman

    Learn about the SAT Subject Tests

    Although most students take SAT Subject Tests beginning in their junior year, there are some tests that you should take as soon as possible after taking the subjects — courses, for example: World History, Biology E/M, Chemistry and Physics.

    High School Sophomores

    Ask if the PSAT/NMSQT® is offered to 10th-graders

    While it’s usually given in the 11th grade, the PSAT/NMSQT is also often offered in the 10th grade. By taking it this year, you’ll receive a score report to help you improve your performance on next year’s exams.

    Think about taking the SAT Subject Tests

    Are you taking any courses this year that are related to an SAT Subject Test? For some subjects, it’s best to take those exams at the end of the year, while the material is still fresh in your mind.

    High School Juniors

    Take the PSAT/NMSQT

    Sign up for the test, which is given in October. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT is the best way to get ready for the SAT.

    Plan for spring tests

    You can take either the SAT or up to three SAT Subject Tests on one test day. Plan your testing schedule carefully if you want to take both types of tests.

    Get ready for the SAT

    Get ready for the SAT Subject Tests

    Take the SAT

    Send scores to colleges and scholarship programs

    If you know which schools you'd like to receive your scores, then consider sending them in the spring of your junior year. Colleges see this as a sign of interest and may use scores to qualify you for special campus visits programs, information sessions in your hometown or for scholarships.

    High School Seniors

    Take the SAT again?

    If you plan on taking the SAT again, the beginning of senior year is the best time. Research shows that students who take the SAT a second time usually improve their score.

    Improve your performance

    Take SAT Subject Tests™

     If you continue to study the subject and take the test again, your score should reflect your increased knowledge.

    Send scores to colleges and scholarship programs

    Many colleges and universities have application deadlines in December or January of your senior year. If you haven’t sent your scores to any institutions or if you would like to send more score reports, now is the time.

    Great Resource for More Information:

    The information provided here is from the College Board.  For more information, visit their website.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    How to Make the Most of a College Visit

    Planning ahead can help you get the most from campus visits.

    Research the College

    You should do some research on the college before you arrive on its campus, especially if you have an interview scheduled. Here are a few ways to get ready:
    • Review the school's viewbooks, course catalogs and any other information of interest.
    • Spend some time surfing the college's website.
    • Talk to currently enrolled students or alumni about the college.
    • Some college website let you contact them online, or you can get their numbers from the admissions office. You may also want to take advantage of these resources to make sure that you'll have a chance to answer any of your own questions.

    Schedule Your Trip

    Pick a time that's convenient to your family, but make sure the school is in session. That way, you can sit in on a lecture or stay in a dorm overnight. You'll only get a true feel for the campus if you are there on a day when classes are in full swing. Schedule the time you spend on campus to make sure you experiences the parts of campus life that are most important to you:
    • Find out how often college tours run, and if you have to sign up in advance.
    • To save time, get a map of the school. You don't want to spend half your day trying to park or find the admissions office.
    • If an interview is suggested, be sure to make an appointment. Also, consider meeting with the financial aid officer.
    • If you're curious about a club, program or a sport, arrange to attend a practice, rehearsal, or meeting.
    The campus visit is really meant to help you get a feel for the college. It is very important that you are able to explore the college. If you're traveling with  family, you should plan to occupy other family members with alternate activities while you explores the campus in depth.

    Pack a Camera and Notebook

    Was it X College or Y University that had that excellent exercise equipment in the gym? Where did I talk to that helpful psychology professor? You may think you'll remember everything, but you may be surprised how colleges start to merge after you've seen a few. Plan in advance about how you can record your impressions, and any crucial information, for future reference. Consider bringing a notebook and camera, if possible.

    What's Important to You

    You should make a list of what college characteristics are most important, so you know what to look for when you arrives. Check out the class size. See what the Greek system is like on campus.Talk to current students or professors in that department.  Once you develop a list of preferences, take it to the schools that you plan to visit, and compare each school to the list when you get back home.

    Are you on track with your college planning?

    Spring break and summer vacation are great times to explore your college options.  If you are a high school student, you should be touring colleges of interest.  The more you know about your options, the better equipped you will be to make the best choice for your future.  Click here to see SAT Testing Dates.

    Start planning now...

    College Prep Timeline - It's never too early to start planning for college!

    College Prep Timeline

    Use the suggested timeline below as your guide to preparing for college.

    Grades 7-8
    • Begin thinking about the high school classes that will prepare you for college.
    • Take the most difficult classes you can handle.
    • Ask your parents or teachers to help you develop good study habits.
    • Practice setting and reaching goals.
    • Volunteer in your community.
    • Take interest and skills assessments to help you think about possible career options.
    • Talk with your school counselor and parents about careers that interest you.
    • Create a tentative high school class plan.
    • Enroll in a summer enrichment program.
    • Do you best on state tests and the EXPLORE Test in 8th Grade.
    • Review your 8th Grade EXPLORE results to determine if you are "college ready". 
    • Use NAVIANCE to explore careers and learn about specific educational requirements. 
    • If selected for the DUKE TALENT SEARCH PROGRAM, do you best on the SAT/ACT Tests.
    Grades 9-10
    • Take interest and skills assessments to help you explore careers options.
    • Talk with your school counselor about career options and the education required for those careers.
    • Talk with your parents about saving and paying for college.
    • Talk with friends, teachers, counselors and your parents about college.
    • Participate in extracurricular activities.
    • Review your high school graduation plan and check your GPA.
    • Take the most difficult classes you can handle.
    • Stay focused on your schoolwork.
    • Sign up for classes that will earn college credit during your junior year through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual credit and the Early College High School program.
    • Explore internships and apprenticeships.
    • Enroll in a summer enrichment program.
    • Do you best on the PLAN in 10th Grade and review your results so you will be prepared to take the ACT in 11th Grade.
    • Research colleges and universities via the internet or by visiting the campuses.
    • Volunteer in your community and maintain a record of your service.
    Grade 11
    • Attend college and financial aid events.
    • Mentor others and have a mentor for yourself.
    • Prepare for the PSAT in October.  Your score may qualify you as a MERIT SCHOLAR which could mean additional scholarships
    • Take the PSAT in the fall to prepare for the SAT, and to identify areas where you need improvement.
    • Consider possible career options and investigate the type of education that is needed.
    • Request materials from schools that interest you and visit their websites.
    • Arrange campus visits to those schools that interest you.
    • Participate in extracurricular activities.
    • Request admissions and financial aid forms.
    • Sign up for classes that will earn college credit during your junior year through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual credit and the Early College High School program.
    • Register for and take the ACT and/or SAT in the spring.
    • Review your high school class plan.
    • Take the most difficult classes you can handle.
    • Stay focused on your schoolwork.
    • Make sure you are meeting your high school graduation requirements.
    • Enroll in a summer enrichment program.
    • Get a job to earn and save money for college, or explore your skills through an internship or apprenticeship.
    • Research private scholarship options.
    • Begin work on the college application either on or or the college specific application.
    • Do your best on the college application essays.  Don't be afraid to ask for help from your teacher, mentor or other adult.  Have them proof your work and provide input and feedback.
    Grade 12
    • Stay focused on your schoolwork and take the most difficult classes you can handle.
    • Take career interest assessments and determine the education needed for careers that interest you.
    • Participate in extracurricular activities.
    • Volunteer in the community.
    September - November
    • Arrange campus visits to those schools that interest you. It's okay to go more than once.
    • Take or retake the ACT and/or SAT in the fall.
    • Meet with your school counselor to review your high school class plan.
    • Select the schools to which you will apply.
    • Make a list of deadlines for each school.
    • Create a resume of your academic, athletic and work activities as well as other achievements.
    • Prepare a portfolio if you're interested in the arts.
    • Ask for recommendations (if required) from teachers, counselors and others who can comment on your abilities and talents.
    • Attend a financial aid event.
    • Check if there is still time to sign up for spring classes that will earn college credit  through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual credit and the Early College High School program.
    December - February
    • Apply to four or more colleges that interest you. Some may have earlier or later deadlines.
    • Common Application: Texas offers a common application for all public universities. This application may be obtained from the counseling center on your high school campus or online at
    • Attend a financial aid event if you haven't already done so.
    • Apply for scholarships offered by the colleges to which you have applied.
    • Apply for financial aid by completing either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Texas Application for Student Financial Aid (TASFA), as soon as possible after January 1.
    • Some colleges or universities also require the PROFILE as part of the financial aid application packet so check the financial aid website of the college or university you are applying to.
    • You and your parents will need the previous year's income tax information to complete the it.
    • Review you Student Aid Report (SAR) for accuracy.
    • March - May Have your final high school transcript sent to the colleges to which you've applied.
    • Choose a college and notify in writing those you don't plan to attend.
    • Send in any required forms or deposits.
    • Submit your Transcript Request From in the Registrar's Office for the final transcript that reflects your graduation for submission to the college/university your will be attending.
    • Get a job to earn money for college.
    • Review orientation materials from the college you selected.
    • If living on campus, check with the college for a list of what's provided by the school and what the school expects the student to provide.
    • Contact your roommate.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Questions to Ask On Your College/University Visit

    Pocket Guide to Choosing the Right College: Download
    Choose One : English Guide / Spanish Guide 
    -- These guides are part of the National Survey of Student Engagement online content.

    Other useful questions you can ask on your campus visit:


    • How much time do students typically spend on homework?
    • How much writing and reading are expected?
    • What is the average class size of introductory classes?
    • How widely used are teaching assistants on your campus? 
    • What is the average class size of upper-division courses? 
    Academic Perks 

    • What opportunities are there for undergraduate research?
    • How many students participate in undergraduate research?
    • Is there a culminating senior year experience?
    • Do you have an honors college?
    • Do you have a learning community or other freshman experience? 
    Financial Aid

    • What is your average financial aid package?
    • What is the typical breakdown of loans versus grants?
    • What percentage of financial need does the school typically meet?
    • What is the average merit award?
    • What percentage of students receive college grants? 
    • What is the average college debt that students leave with? 
    • What work-study opportunities are there? 
    Graduation Track Record 

    • What is your four-year graduation rate? 
    • What is your five-year graduation rate?
    • What does it take to graduate in four years?
    • What percentage of freshmen return for sophomore year? 
    Academic Support 

    •  What type of tutoring program do you have?
    • How do you provide academic advice to students?
    • Do you have a writing center and how do I access it?
    • What kind of learning disability resources do you have? 
    Outside Opportunities

    • How many students at the college get internships?
    • What percentage of students study abroad?
    • What type of career services do you have? 
    Student Life

    • What kind of dorm choices are there? 
    • What percentage of student live on campus?
    • How long are dorm accommodations guaranteed?
    • How many students live on campus?
    • Do most students go home on the weekend? 
    • What percentage of the study body belongs to a sorority or fraternity? 
    • What activities are offered to students?
    • What clubs do you have on campus?

    College Visits 101 - Plan Now for Later

    Spring break will be here soon...and that means more than just fun in the sun and sand between your toes.

    For many high school juniors and seniors, it's time to visit college and university campuses as part of their college planning process.

    Visiting schools during spring break is an annual tradition, and it marks a major milestone in the college planning process.

    Make sure when you go to visit your college or university of choice, you're spending time wisely and utilizing every minute!

    Picking a school is a huge planning before you go will help you in the process.  Spending a little time planning for your visit now will help keep you on track, optimize your experience and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.  Regardless of which schools you visit this spring, here are some ways to make the experience more valuable:

    Talk to other students.
    You don't want to limit your conversations to the tour guide, who is, after all, being paid to present their schools in a positive light.  Stop a  few students during your time on a campus and asking them these questions:
    • Why did you decide to attend this college? 
    • What do you like best about this school?
    • What do you like least about this school? 
    •  If you could change anything about your college what would it be?
    You determine if a college or university is a good fit for you if you ask targeted questions. Click here for your college question guide.

    Talk with staff and faculty.
    Arrange to speak with a professor in your possible major. Professors are usually  happy to answer questions and give a tour through their departments.  It's a great way to see the facilities and get a feel for the department culture and leadership.

    Don't be afraid to take notes, photos and video.
    You might think that you will remember what you saw and heard at a school, but don't count on it, especially if you are visiting more than one campus. Always ask you campus guide if it's allowed to photograph or video campus housing, classrooms or other facilities.

    Take a class.
    Attend a class in a subject that interests you or that you hope to major in. This will be another opportunity to ask students what they think about their college.

    Stay overnight on campus.
    Consider spending the night on campus in one of the dorms.  Many colleges will allow accepted students to spend the night in a dorm with a student host if they are given enough advance notice.

    Take full advantage of your opportunity.
    The stakes are too high to treat your campus visit as a lark. Too many students end up unhappy with their schools because they made rash decisions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 1 in 5 students transfer from one four-year college to another. Don't let that happen to you!

    For student advise on planning your college visit, click here.  The website is a great resource to find out all kinds of information on college planning and the college experience.