High School Planning Guide



Freshman Year


  • Get involved in extracurricular activities.  Colleges look for well-rounded students with diverse interests.  This will show your ability to work with others and succeed.


  • Start exploring career options.  The internet is a great way to begin your career search.  Use your Explore test (8th grade ) results to help guide your search. 


  • Make a list of your awards, honors, paid or volunteer work and extracurricular activities to put on your academic resume. 


  • Take your subjects seriously; take classes that challenge you academically while providing you with an opportunity to do well.  Grades are important, but colleges are more impressed by respectable grades in challenging courses than outstanding grades in easy ones.


  • Explore admission/scholarship requirements for your post secondary education choice.  Early scholarship research can lead to more potential funding.  But be aware of scholarship scams – avoid services that charge high rates or “guarantee college money”. 


Sophomore Year


  • Take the Pre-ACT test and follow by attending the parent information session that will thoroughly explain your scores and what they represent.   


  • Review your six-year plan with your counselor and parents.  Adjustments may be made to reach career goals.


  • Now may be the time to challenge yourself with new activities branching out into new academic areas of interest. With college lingering in the future, you should be making the most of your education.  Not sure how to get involved or what opportunities are available?  Check in with your counselor.


Junior Year


  • You will be taking the state mandated ACT.  You must have a 19 in each sub-test to avoid remedial/developmental classes in college.  The Lottery Hope Scholarship requires a 21 composite score or a 3.0 GPA.  To improve your chances of receiving a scholarship you must have impressive scores.  If you need to re-take your ACT you must register on-line.   


  • Begin narrowing down your college choices and further explore various careers and their earning potential.  Check with the colleges you are interested in to see what test and test scores they require. 


  • Dual Enrollment classes are offered to those who qualify.  These classes are given a twenty percent curve at TCHS.  The college will not use this twenty percent curve in their calculations.  These classes are on-line classes, they are not taught by teachers at TCHS.  Students will be responsible for buying books and paying tuition.  There is a dual-enrollment grant that each student will have to fill out to receive grant money. 


  • Go to college fairs and college-preparation presentations by college representatives.  Visit with college representatives who will be visiting our school.


Senior Year


  • Start a binder to hold all of your documentation.  Include the following sections: calendar of deadlines, application and contact details, recommendation letters, test scores, budgets (cost for tuition, meal plan, books, housing) and miscellaneous.


  • Apply to the colleges you have chosen early in the first semester.  Prepare your applications carefully.  Follow the instructions and PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO DEADLINES!  Research and apply for scholarships (online preferred) offered at your college/technical school.   Know and meet these deadlines. 


  • Well before your application deadlines, ask your counselor and teachers to submit required documents (e.g., transcript, letters of recommendation) to the colleges to which you’re applying.  Write thank you notes to teachers for writing letters of recommendation. 


  • Continue to investigate sources of financial aid.  Search your college for departmental scholarships that may be available.  Attend the financial aid workshop that will be held at TCHS. 


  • During the first semester, get a FSA ID number to prepare for filing your FAFSA.  You and a parent need one. Your FSA ID will act as your electronic signature on your online FAFSA. This can be done online in the guidance office at https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm


  • Re-take the ACT early in your senior year.  If you don’t score as high as you’d like, this gives you several more times to re-take the ACT during your senior year.  You must have a 19 in each sub-test to avoid remedial/developmental classes in college.  The Lottery Hope Scholarship requires a 21 composite score or a 3.0 GPA. 


  • Complete your FAFSA as soon after October 1st as possible. Remember to get aid you must apply for it! You and your parents should have completed your tax returns before completing the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.  Don’t delay filling out your FAFSA due to your taxes not being done, you may estimate your financial information.  You will have to finalize it at a later date. 


  • Federal student aid comes from the federal government.  It’s money that helps a student pay for education expenses at a postsecondary school.  The four categories of federal student aid are:


Grant- Grant money usually doesn’t have to be repaid.  Most U.S. Department of Education grants are based on the student’s financial need.


Scholarship- U.S. Department of Education scholarship money is awarded based on a student’s academic achievement and does not have to be repaid.


Work-Study- Work Study money is earned by a student through a job on or near campus while attending school and does not have to be repaid.


Loan- Loan money must be repaid with interest.


For details about the federal student aid programs, including maximum annual amounts and loan interest rates, visit



  • Apply for local scholarships in the spring of your senior year.  These applications will be available in the guidance office.  Check the guidance bulletin board for important dates, upcoming events, scholarship availability and much more. 



Studying Tips:

Homework is an important part of classroom learning.  Here are some tips that may help you to develop better study habits. 

  • Choose a regular study area, one that will keep you focused on what you are dong.
  • Study difficult subjects first; get the out of the way.
  • Remember noises (talking, television, etc.) are distracting –try to avoid them.
  • Try to study at the same time every day- it will become a habit.
  • Study for major tests over a period of time.  Don’t cram at the last minute!
  • Don’t fall behind in your homework assignments.  Stay on top of your work!


Parents—10 Steps to Planning for Your Child’s Education

  1. Save money as early as possible to help pay for your child’s education.
  2. Encourage your child to prepare academically for higher education, by taking the right classes.
  3. Discuss with your child his/her skills and interests, career options and schools that he/she is interested in.
  4. Meet with the high school guidance counselor to determine what schools match your child’s academic abilities.
  5. Gather information about the schools that your child is interested in attending- including information on financial aid.  Review the junior year tips and follow the senior year calendar to help your student prepare for admissions and financial aid.
  6. Help your child apply for admission.  To apply for financial aid, assist your child by completing the FAFSA.
  7. Consider scholarships, grants, loans and work-study programs.  Complete any necessary applications and forms.
  8. Consider Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS loans);only after you have researched your free financial aid.
  9. Consider the loan programs available to you and your child.

    10.Help your child to manage his/her student loan debt by deciding    how  much you and your student can afford to borrow and pay.