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College Planning


Please click here to view the presentation slides in English.

Please click here to view the presentation slides in Spanish.

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

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.

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

This video offers a brief overview of the Common App.



College Entrance Exams

Materials for college entrance exams can be found in the CRC.  This includes registration packets as well as study material.
      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 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!

Tips for Writing College Essays                      More Help For Writing the College Essay               How to write a College Application essay 

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 will need to give the teacher three items:

1. 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

2. You can use your own envelope or obtain a “Recommendation envelope” from the SS office (B102) or the CCRC (R203).  You must address and stamp the envelope and give it to the teacher.  The envelope should be addressed to the admissions office and include the full college address.

3. Give your teacher any form that the college requires which was part of the application.

Note:  Some recommendations will be online (such as with the Common Application).  You can send your links to the teacher to complete the recommendation.
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. Manning in the CCRC to access additional tips on preparing for your interview. 


Parent Pointers – the State of Illinois oversees this website.  It has good information for parents and responds to many commonly asked questions.


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.