School Counselor

Gearing up for getting in

All 4-year colleges require specific college preparatory classes for admission purposes.  Specific requirements can be found in college catalogs or college websites.  In general, colleges will minimally require the following:

  • 4 English credits
  • 3 Math credits – algebra I, geometry, algebra II or beyond
  • 3 Science credits – recommended are biology, chemistry, and physics
  • 3 Social Science credits – credits earned in history, economics, psychology, sociology, and government, are included among others
  • 4 Elective credits – foreign language (some colleges require 2 credits of a single foreign language), fine arts, computer science, or credits earned in any of the above core academic areas

The UW System minimally requires 17 credits as outlined above.  Think about this when picking senior year classes – would you ask a coach what you could do minimally and still play varsity??  Please check the Introduction to the UW System guide for more specific information. Math Matters!  All 4-year college reps clearly said that high school students should take math all four years regardless of whether or not they took algebra in 8th grade.  Computer classes do not count.

Class rank and cumulative grade point averages are considered for admission purposes along with standardized test scores on the ACT or SAT.  The UW System has started taking a more holistic approach to evaluating potential students and will more closely evaluate extra curricular activities, demonstrated leadership, and community service among other factors.  Colleges always look for a rigorous senior year.  High School seniors are advised to not lighten their academic load or “slack off”.

Deadlines matter!  While planning during the junior year may seem premature, the bottom line is that more and more colleges are scheduling application deadlines early.  Students who apply early have a better chance of getting on-campus housing, financial aide, and scholarships.  So what’s a junior to do?  Check out the following list!!

Junior tips:

  • Start a file for all your mail - “Keep” and “Throw away later...”
  • Register to take the ACT; think about when you want to re-take the test if necessary.
  • Begin your research and schedule college visits this year; visiting colleges in spring will allow you to see what they look like in action – before you submit an application and fee.
  • If considering Blackhawk Technical College, schedule a time to take the Compass test and register to visit the campus on a Preview Day; this is the best way to learn about their programs.
  • Applications should be submitted in early September of the senior year.
  • Plan for fees, fees, fees!  Blackhawk Tech does not have an app fee, $50 for each UW app (UW Madison $60), $42.50 for the ACT plus $16 if you are required to take the writing test; start saving now.
  • Potential college athletes should complete an NCAA Clearinghouse application if considering playing at a Division I or II college; information is available on line or in the guidance office. 

Campus Tour Information: 

Juniors are encouraged to visit colleges with their parents throughout the year.  Parents or students may call to schedule an appointment or attend a Campus Preview Day.  Campus visits must have prior approval from the Guidance Counselor.

Blackhawk Technical College:  Interested students should check out Tech Exploration Days with Mrs. Flory.  BTC has a schedule and will follow up with the student.  Students simply complete a registration form, which we will fax.

Private College Preview Days are located in the guidance office.  During Private College Week, students can visit the colleges and the application fees are waived!

Questions to ask:   

  1. How many large lectures will I have?
  2. Do I need an audition or portfolio? 
  3. Do professors teach undergrad courses or do graduate students?
  4. Are professors easy to reach?
  5. What about internships?
  6. What about study abroad?
  7. How soon am I enrolled in the college/major of my choice?
  8. Is there a “wait list” or are requirements subject to change?
  9. What % of grads find work related to their major and where?
  10. What % of grads are accepted into professional programs i.e. medical, pharmacy, vet, dental schools?
  11. What % of students pass their boards or professional exams (teaching, nursing, etc…)
  12. Will I graduate in 2, 4, or 5 years?
  13. Where/who is my academic advisor and how do I make an appointment?
  14. Am I required to live on campus (and for how long)?
  15. Where is the financial aid office? 
  16. How do I locate an on-campus job?
  17. What about the ‘undecided’ student?
  18. How about transfer students? When should I transfer?
  19. What computers or specialized facilities are available for students - fitness center, banking, and health...
  20. Do most students stay on campus during weekends?
  21. What do students do for fun (clubs, extracurricular activities)?
  22. Do you offer my major?
  23. How much will this college cost? 
  24. What about scholarships?
  25. What about campus security?
  26. Do I really need a car?
  27. Does the pizza delivery guy accept debit cards?

ACT Registration materials are in the guidance office or www.act.org . While important, the ACT and SAT are only part of the entire application process.  Both tests can be taken again with the higher score being accepted. Note that all juniors in Wisconsin will take the ACT in the spring. While we'll do some prep work prior to that time, students are encouraged to take the test more than once, and may wish to test prior to the state test date. 

10 timely tips for taking a standardized test:      

  1. Get plenty of sleep the night before.
  2. If you feel nervous, try to relax by taking a few deep breaths.
  3. Maintain your confidence in your abilities and plan to do your best.  Your attitude will affect your performance.
  4. Listen carefully to all instructions and ask questions for clarification.
  5. Focus your attention entirely on your work.
  6. Position your answer sheet next to your test booklet so you can mark answers quickly and accurately.
  7. Before answering a question, read it completely, as well as the response.
  8. When uncertain of the answer, choose the one you think is best and go on to the next.
  9. Pace yourself by occasionally checking the time.
  10. If you complete the test with time to spare, check your work.

Will you need to write on the ACT?  It depends on the college you plan on applying to.  ACT has an optional writing assessment. Students are responsible for logging on to www.act.org in order to see if their college(s) requires the writing assessment.  There is an extra fee for the writing assessment.  Students wanting to take the writing assessment must take the whole battery of tests and the writing assessment on the same day.

Don’t have a ‘major’ idea?

Students who are at a loss about what they want to do after graduation may schedule an appointment to learn about Career Locker and Career Cruising.  Both are internet sites which offer a wealth of information about various careers, 4-year and technical college programs.  Undecided students may take an interest inventory, or enter test scores from tests previously taken at school, in order to generate a list of matching careers.  They can access anywhere with the internet.