Instagram YouTube

College Planning








The panel in the video below expands on the information shared in Ms. Holmes and Ms. Nelson’s presentation for Junior Post-High School Exploration and Options Night. Please see the presentation above prior to the panel, as it includes important context.


Click here to watch our Panel Q&A Video

The College Application & Tips

Each college to which you apply has different requirements.  Come up with a system to keep track of the various components and deadlines.  Below is one checklist that can help you stay organized:  

Be sure to watch your deadlines!  Plan to complete your applications in September, October, and November. 
The Common Application

The Common Application can be completed and submitted to multiple schools.  There are over 900 public and private universities which accept the Common Application. If you plan to apply to multiple private schools, you should consider using the Common Application. Many schools may require other supplemental forms, so be sure to check all materials that must be submitted to each school to which you apply. Make sure you connect your Common App account to your SchooLinks account on the College Application Manager to ensure that important documents such as your transcript are sent to your colleges. You will also request letters of recommendation on SchooLinks.

To see a list of schools who use the Common Application, click here:

This video offers a brief overview of the Common App


College Entrance Exams

      Use this site to register online for the ACT tests.  The ACT site also offers free test prep as well as other college & career planning resources.  
      Visit the College Board website to explore colleges and find out information about the PSAT, SAT, Subject Tests and AP tests. 

                                                                        The Maine West CEEB Code is 141597




Practice for the SAT:


Practice for the ACT:

1. – This is a great site offered by the State of Illinois.  It has Test Preparation under its College Planning section.  You can also use this site for career research and exploration.  Create an account and come back often.



Some colleges are TEST OPTIONAL.  This means that they do not require an ACT or SAT for admissions.  They will focus on the other aspects of your application (transcript, essay, activities, letters of recommendation, interview, etc.).  To see a list of Test Optional schools, visit this website:

Essays, Letters, etc.

Writing the College Essay

The college essay can take time.  See the following tips for help in preparing your essay.  Be sure to write a few revisions and have a teacher look over your work.  This is something that can be worked on over the summer between junior and senior year!

Ultimate Guide for Writing Your College Essay             How to Write a College Application Essay 

Check out more from “The College Essay Guy” on YouTube. He’s got tons of helpful videos!

Helpful Guide for Drafting your Essay

Writing Your College Essay- Presentation

How to Write a Short Essay (Supplemental)

Letters of Recommendation

Some schools require that you submit letters of recommendation.  Others “recommend” that you do so.  If there are other special circumstances, students should ask their counselors if letters of recommendation would be advised.  If letters are required or suggested, you should submit the number that are specified.  There are two types of letters.  One is a counselor letter.  The other is from a teacher. 

If you are applying to multiple colleges, the same teacher recommendation can be used for each application. You do not ask different teachers for additional recommendations.  Your teacher will be happy to change the name of the school and send multiple versions.

Important things to know about requesting a letter of recommendation:
Teacher Recommendations –
·  You must give teachers a MINIMUM of 10 work days (2 weeks) notice.  They would appreciate more notice.

  • You must submit a form with specific information about yourself at the time of your request.  The link to the form is on the CCRC homepage.

Note:  Some recommendations will be online (such as with the Common Application).  Once you connect your SchooLinks and Common App accounts, you can request letters of recommendation on SchooLinks’ College Application Manager. 
Counselor Letter of Recommendation –

  • You must give your counselor a MINIMUM of 10 work days (2 weeks) notice.  They would appreciate more notice.
  • Complete the Counselor or Scholarship recommendation form (located on the CCRC home page) Submit this at the time of your request for a letter of recommendation.
  • Submit any form that the college requires.  Be sure you have filled out all sections for the student (name, address, etc.).

Miscellaneous Information

How to Interview
Some colleges recommend or require an interview.  This might take place at an admissions office at a school, or you may set up a meeting with an alum from that college who lives in the Chicago area.  See Ms. Adams in the CCRC to access additional tips on preparing for your interview. 


NCAA Eligibility Center –  Students interested in participating in college athletics must register at the NCAA Eligibility Center.  Information regarding eligibility, rules, regulations, and more can be obtained from this website.  The Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete can be downloaded from this site. 
Click Here – To see lists of colleges and universities by sport and division. 

Helpful Websites

(See the sections on Financial Aid and Scholarships for specific information and links for those topics.) – Along with information about the PSAT, SAT, and AP tests, you can find information about colleges, as well. – Information for students and parents about planning for college, finding a college, and financial aid.

Step by Step: College Awareness and Planning – Post-secondary awareness and planning resource offered by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).  – College Board’s site for college, career and test prep

Resources for Latino Students:
College Resources for Hispanic Students Provides a variety of resources for students and their parents.  These include scholarships, undocumented students, first generation students, and more.