Counseling Department

College Starter Kit

Preparing For Your Junior 1-on-1

  1. Review the rest of the College Starter Kit found on this page.
  2. Complete a college search in Big Future
    1. Save those colleges in Naviance “Colleges I’m Thinking About”
    2. Complete the College and Scholarship survey on Naviance
    3. Under About Me tab, on left hand side of screen
  3. Complete the Student Brag Sheet/Counselor Letter of rec. on Naviance
  4. Have your parent complete the Parent Response Form either paper or online version

College Planning Checklist for 12th Graders


  • Review college choices and the application process for each school
  • Create a Common Application account and get started on filling out the Common App that can be used to apply to schools.
  • Meet with your counselor
  • Update Naviance – add “colleges I’m applying to”
  • Request Letters of recommendation (in person and on Naviance)
  • Consider retaking the ACT and/or SAT
  • Take the SAT subject test if required by the college(s) you are applying to
  • Pay attention to college deadlines, if you are applying early action or early decision
  • Search for scholarships
  • Apply for a FAFSA Pin number


  • Attend at least one Colorado College Fair hosted at local high schools
  • Meet with college representatives when they visit the Future Center
  • Complete early action and/or early decision applications one month before the deadlines (October)
  • Complete the CSS profile if required by your school (opens October 1)
  • Continue to search for scholarships
  • Apply for FAFSA, application opens on October 1


  • Attend GWHS FAFSA Night workshop, provided by DSF
  • Complete college applications by December 1st for regular college admissions
  • Continue to search for scholarships


  • Complete college applications by December 1st for regular college admissions
  • Continue to search for scholarships


  • Continue to work on college applications
  • Request mid-year transcripts and reports be sent, through Naviance
  • Continue to search for scholarships


  • Notify colleges of your final decision by May 1st
  • Send enrollment forms and deposit to the college you selected
  • Complete all financial aid verification documents, if necessary
  • Final Naviance update – Senior Check Out – Graduate

Understanding What Colleges Look For

  1. Strength of High School Curriculum. Keep the momentum and senior year challenging!
  2. Grades (GPA and steady increase)
  3. Standardized Test Scores (SAT, ACT)
  4. Passionate involvement in a few activities (depth, not breadth)
  5. Personal Accomplishments: work or out-of-school experiences, including summer activities and programs
  6. Community Service
  7. Well-written Essay/Short Answers
  8. Letters of Recommendation
  9. Demonstrated Interest/Supplemental Information
  10. Anything special that makes the student stand out, connect all elements and tell your story.

College Search Resources

Your first resource! The college search list is extensive.

College Board’s Big Future
A great search engine for colleges and universities.

A company that guides you through the full college process.

Videos from students at the schools and popular top 5 lists.

Search engine with plenty of info regarding a limited amount of colleges and universities.

College Prowler
College reviews by students

College Confidential
College searches and online discussions

eCampusTours and YOUniversityTV
Virtual college tours

College Search
Start your search

College Results Online
Excellent resource to compare value of colleges by numbers.

College Completion
compares 4 year graduation rates across the nation

College Navigator
Federal site that provides college facts and figures

Fair Test
A list of every college that does not require standardized tests for admission


What To Know About Applying Early

If you find a college that you’re sure is right for you, consider applying early. Early Decision and Early Action plans allow you to apply early (usually in November) and get an admission decision early (usually by Dec. 15).

You agree to attend the college if it accepts you and offers an adequate financial aid package. You can apply to only one college for Early Decision. You may also apply to other colleges through the regular admission process, but if you’re accepted by your first-choice college early, you must withdraw all other applications.

Get advice from your school counselor before applying Early Decision. While it may seem appealing to get the process over with early, it might be too soon to know that you’ve made the right college choice.

While the college will tell you whether or not you’re accepted by early January, you have the right to wait until May 1 before responding. This gives you time to compare colleges, including their financial aid offers, before making a decision. You can also apply Early Action to more than one college.

This plan works the same way as other Early Action plans, but candidates may not apply early (either Early Action or Early Decision) to any other school. You can still apply for regular admission to other schools and are not required to give your final answer of acceptance until the regular decision deadline.

You shouldn’t apply under an Early Decision plan if you think you’ll be better off weighing financial aid packages from several colleges later in the spring. While you can turn down an early acceptance if the college is unable to meet your need for financial aid, “need” in this context is determined by formulas, not by your family.

More than 400 colleges offer an Early Decision plan, an Early Action plan, or both; but that is less than 20 percent of all colleges.

Get it together for College, 2nd Edition. © 2011 The College Board. 

Standardized Test Prep

Standardized Test Prep

There are private vendors who offer services such as tutoring, study skills or test preparation.  Because these are non-school enterprises, Denver Public Schools and GWHS cannot recommend or endorse any specific program.  Please contact the companies directly to inquire about their services.

George Washington High School will be offers a free practice ACT every fall to all juniors.

Check out the following free online test prep materials:

College Board Test Prep

FREE Test Prep

Number 2 FREE Test Prep

Test Prep and Practice Tests from the US Army

Veritas Prep FREE SAT test prep

Union Test Prep

Prep Factory


Offered to 11th and 12th graders

SAT Test Dates and Locations

SAT Test Preparation

Schools that Superscore the SAT

About the PSAT- offered to tenth grade students


Taken by 11th and 12th graders

Test Dates and Deadlines

ACT Fee Waiver Form
Please see Ms. Hall in the Future Center for a waiver. Documentation is required.

Explore Careers and Majors

ACT Test Prep Booklet

Personal Statement / College Essay

Personal Statement – What Is It?
Personal Narrative – Nonfiction narrative writing that tells a true story about an event or series of events. The writer can (and should) use “I”. The focus of these statements – regardless of the topic – is YOU! It is an opportunity to provide YOUR voice/identity/personality to your application! Essays are the highest ranked non-academic feature of an application. The less a college relies on data points, the greater the importance of the essay. Essays/Personal Statements are the one thing over which students have absolute control.

Brainstorming Essays

  • What is an activity in which you participate and you never look at your watch?
  • Describe the world you come from – for example, your family, community or school – and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
  • What makes you different from everyone else?
  • Think of a time when you truly helped someone. What did you do? How did this impact the other person? How did your actions impact you?
  • What person that you know do you admire the most? What person in your life has most inspired you?
  • Each essay should highlight a specific detail that demonstrates a student’s distinctive traits.
  • Share essay topics with the counselor and teachers. Counselors and teachers should not duplicate a student’s efforts, but complement them.
  • The package of essays counts…
  • Revise, revise, revise….but don’t “shop”!

Two Types of Essay Questions

  • “You” Questions
    • Provide personal anecdotes and lessons learned…find the story first, then the message. Why do you do something?
    • “Topic of your choice” essays should fall within this category.
    • Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
  • “Creative” Questions
    • Reflect your values, personality and possibly ambitions
    • What idea, invention, discovery, or creation do you think has had the biggest impact on your life so far? Briefly explain.

Into, Through, & Beyond

Into – It’s the way you lead the reader into the piece – images, examples, context. This lead must exemplify a core characteristic.

Through – Take the reader through your story. Use the first person. Show, don’t tell. Use great summarizing and powerful images at the same time.

Beyond – Optional but, often required by prompt. Connect to who you are now and who you want to be. Describe impact on you. Provide an ending that evokes key characteristics and conveys moral.

Tips on Essays

  • Be specific, give details
  • Be yourself and be human- the reader wants a picture of the writer
  • Remember that the counselors and Future Center are here to help you

Financial Aid Resources

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (Must be completed to receive grants!)

This estimates your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) before you complete the FAFSA

Calculators for adding up the cost of loan repayment

CSS Profile
(College Scholarship Service) is required by many colleges for financial aid especially selective colleges

College Affordability and Transparency Center
Website from US Department of Education regarding cost of attendance for different colleges

Explanation of Financial Aid, Eligibility, etc

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau- compare college costs and financial aid

Quick and easy way of finding out the cost of a university or college. Check it out!

Western Undergraduate Exchange- Pay only 150% of in-state tuition for participating colleges and universities of Western
states. Could save you $20,000!



Scholarship Resources

Students interested in knowing about scholarship opportunities are encouraged to follow the steps listed below.

  1. List your email address in Naviance. We commonly communicate scholarship info through Naviance. When logged into Naviance follow these steps:
    1. Go to the ABOUT ME tab
    2. Scroll down to PROFILE
    3. On the bottom right beside Email, click on the pencil icon
    4. Enter your email address and save
  2. Go to and and to create accounts about many scholarship options
  3. Talk to the Future Center Advisor to find out about unique scholarship opportunities
  4. Check out Denver Scholarship Foundation’s website as well–

Describes all federal financial aid programs and requirements
Tool for estimating the EFC (Estimated Family Contribution)
Nonprofit financial aid resource for students, parents, and financial aid professionals

Loan guarantor for Colorado and applying to College Opportunity Fund (COF)
Colorado’s not-for-profit college finance experts
College Goal Sunday is sponsored by CAFAA and CollegeInvest and is a free workshop for parents, students and families to assist with filling out the FAFSA.


Western Undergraduate Exchange- where participating Western state public college programs give 150% of in-state tuition.







Daniel’s Fund



Brown Bag Lunch - Senior Year

Confused on how to request a transcript? Don’t know what Naviance does? Need help with planning for your future? There is help for you!

From late September through October, the counseling team will be meeting with every senior during lunch in order to streamline our communication regarding post-secondary processes. You will receive your meeting date in August. Here are a few of the things we will be going over:

  • Senior year calendar
  • Plans after high school
  • College application process
  • Requesting transcripts
  • Early Decision VS Early Action VS Regular
  • Requesting ACT scores
  • Fee waivers
  • Scholarships
  • Financial aid/CSS profile

This is a mandatory meeting and a senior graduation requirement. Those who show up late will be rescheduled and you may not switch dates.

Understanding Naviance e-Docs

Naviance eDocs is the easy way to send all of your school forms, recommendations and transcripts electronically over 1,200 colleges — including all Common Application members! Naviance eDocs consists of a print driver that lets counselors upload all of your documents to a student folder in your Naviance account and web-based tools for completing Common Application forms and for bundling and sending all your forms, recommendations and transcripts.

Common Application
The Common Application is a not-for-profit organization that serves students and member institutions by providing an online admission application that students may submit to any of its over 500 members. Once completed online or in print, copies of the Application for Undergraduate Admission can be sent to any number of participating colleges. The same is true of the Secondary School Report, Midyear Report, and Final Report.

When completing the application, you will not be prompted to enter counselor information in the School Forms Section of Common App Online. Instead, you will receive a prompt explaining that the forms will be completed through Naviance, either online or in a printed version, depending on the school’s policy.

Other Applications
Some schools do not accept the Common Application and may use their own application. Please pay close attention to the process at each school you are applying to.

Requesting Letters of Recommendation from Teachers

  1. Log in
    1. Click HERE to be directed to the Naviance log-in page
    2. Email/Username: student ID
    3. Password: 6 digit birthday
  2. Click on Colleges tab
  3. Click on Colleges I’m Apply To
  4. Go to the Bottom of the screen, where it says Teacher Recommendations and click on add/cancel requests
  5. Select the name of the Teacher who you are asking for a recommendation from.
  6. Add a Personal Note to the Teacher. (Ex: My resume and personal essay are available on Naviance. I need this letter for CU by 1/15/2016)
  7. Click on Update Requests, at the bottom of the page.

Click on images to enlarge


Requesting Letter of Recommendation from Counselor

  1. Log in
    1. Click HERE to be directed to the Naviance log-in page
    2. Email/Username: student ID
    3. Password: 6 digit birthday
  2. Click on the About Me tab
  3. Click on Student Brag Sheet/ Counselor Letter of Recommendation
  4. Fill out the “Brag Sheet”, making sure you answer the required questions.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save and I’m Finished.

Click on image to enlarge

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College App FAQs

College Application FAQs


    AFTER applying, move the college in Naviance from “Colleges that I’m Thinking About” to “Colleges that I’m Applying to”. Make sure to request a transcript through Naviance under Colleges. For help on how, click HERE or watch this video below:
  • How do I match my Common App with Naviance?

    If the school that you are applying to offers the Common App, you must either:

    • Match your email address in Naviance to the same as Common App and also complete the FERPA waiver on the Common App website to allow us to send your transcript electronically…or
    • Indicate on Naviance that you will not be applying via the Common App.
  • How do I log in to Naviance?

    Email = your 6 digit student ID

    Password = your 6 digit birthdate MMDDYY (ex: 081198)

Glossary of Terms

ACT Plus Writing
The ACT Plus Writing is a standardized test accepted by all U.S. colleges and universities. It is a multiple choice test scored from 1 to 36. There are four subtests: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. A composite test score is the rounded average of the four subscores. Colorado offers the test without the writing section for free to juniors in the month of April. It is best to check which colleges recommend students to register for the optional writing test. The website is

Advanced Placement: these are college-level courses offered by GWHS and endorsed by the College Board. After an AP course is completed, students generally take AP exams, which are scored on a 1-5 scale (5 being the highest possible score). Colleges may offer either credit, or advanced standing, to any student who has received a recommended AP exam score.

Candidates Reply Date
The National Candidates Reply Date is May 1 and is the national deadline for submitting a deposit to guarantee a spot in the freshman class of one college.

same as “School Code” -GWHS’ school code is 060413.

College Scholarship Service is a division of the College Board devoted to the financial aspects of a college education. CSS processes information provided by financial aid applicants on the PROFILE form and distributes that information to colleges.

College Board
A not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Among its best-known tests and programs are the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests and the AP Program. Their website ( offers several test preparation products (including “SAT Question of the Day”) and descriptions of each test/product.

Common Application
A standard application form accepted by more than 450 colleges. A student completes one application form and submits it online to member colleges. Many colleges require individual application supplements be submitted as well. The website is

This is an admission decision which may be received if a student has applied under an Early Decision or Early Action plan. A deferral means that the applicant has not yet been admitted or denied; the application will be placed in the regular round for another review, and an admission decision will be rendered in March or April. Students who apply Early Decision and are deferred are no longer bound by the Early Decision Agreement and may apply to other colleges.

Double Deposit
Committing to enroll at more than one college by sending a financial enrollment deposit to multiple colleges is considered unethical. Don’t do it!

Division I, II, III
These are designations for college athletic programs as defined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Division I and II programs are the most competitive athletically and are the only programs that may award athletic scholarships. Division III programs, most commonly found at smaller colleges and universities, do not require NCAA certification* (see below). Potential athletic recruits should meet with their college counselor early in the process, to be certain that all the appropriate requirements will be met before graduation and to insure that students understand the process of working with college coaches.

*Students interested in playing at Division I or II colleges must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly known as the NCAA Clearinghouse) at the end of their junior year.

Early Action (EA)
A process whereby an application is submitted and a decision received early in the senior year. Usually, an application is submitted by November 1 and decisions are sent by mid-December. Early Action is a non-binding plan; students will not receive a financial aid package until April, the same time as regular decision applicants. Students will typically have until the Candidates Reply Date (May 1) to decide if they will enroll.

Early Decision (ED)
A process whereby application is made to one Early Decision school early in the senior year, and if accepted, the student agrees to enroll at that institution and withdraw applications to all other colleges. This is a binding agreement among the student, the college, and the parents. For financial aid applicants, an estimated award is provided with the admission decision and finalized once tax returns are completed. Some institutions offer both an EDI and an EDII plan; the EDII plan is later and allows more time for students for testing, additional academic work, etc. (Most EDI application deadlines are November 1 or 15; EDII deadlines are typically January 1 or 15 and often coincide with Regular Decision deadlines.)

Early Decision Agreement
A form requiring the signature of an ED candidate, their parent and their college counselor, declaring that if admitted, the student will enroll. Some colleges now use an online system to collect these signatures.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid: As the name implies, a no-cost federal form used by colleges to determine a student’s and family’s eligibility for Federal financial aid funds.

Federal Methodology
The formula used (via information provided on the FAFSA) to determine eligibility for federal funds; some states use it as a rationing device for state funds as well.

Fee Waiver
Those students who demonstrate a substantial need for financial assistance may be eligible for a waiver, exempting them from paying some application and/or testing fees. Specific eligibility guidelines must be met. See the Future Center or a counselor for more details.

Financial Aid
Need-based aid offered by the Federal government and by colleges; packages generally include grants (which do not need to be repaid), loans (which must be repaid) and often work-study (funds earned by the student through on-campus employment during the school year). Need is determined through a combination of the CSS PROFILE form, the FAFSA, and the college’s own form (if they have one). International students generally complete a different form and are not eligible for Federal funds unless they are permanent resident aliens and have a “green” card.

A term used to describe a financial aid package that does not meet demonstrated need. The package leaves a “gap” between a family’s need and the offered financial assistance.

Grade Point Average: a number (such as 3.0), which indicates the average of all grades for courses earned in a term, a year, or cumulatively. An unweighted GPA reflects the numeric value of a student’s grades divided by the number of courses in which they were enrolled for credit. A weighted GPA gives additional numeric “weight” for Advanced Placement classes as well as classes that exceed graduation requirements in math and world languages. Park Tudor provides both the weighted and unweighted GPA on the student’s transcript.

International Baccalaureate: these are college-level courses offered junior and senior year by GWHS for students working towards the IB diploma. After an IB course is completed, students take exams, which are scored on a 1-7 scale (7 being the highest possible score). Colleges may offer either credit, or advanced standing, to any student who has received a recommended IB exam score or IB diploma.

Institutional Methodology
The formula used by a college to determine eligibility for its own financial aid packages.

A college research database program utilized by Denver Public Schools. Students and counselors will use this program to manage the student’s “college list”.

National Collegiate Athletic Association: The governing body for many college athletic programs. The NCAA must certify an athletic recruit who wishes to compete at the Division I or II level. The website for the NCAA is:

NCAA Eligibility Center
Formerly known as the NCAA Clearinghouse. A branch of the NCAA established to monitor the eligibility of student-athletes. If a student plans on competing in collegiate athletics at the Division I or II level, he or she must register at The student must complete Forms One and Two and give to Mr. McCann to submit to the NCAA. The Eligibility Center must also receive official transcripts as well as official test scores (sent directly from the testing agency) in order for a student to be in compliance.

Net Price Calculator
A financial aid tool that allows students and families to calculate an estimate of the net price of attendance at an institution. Net price is defined as cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid and estimates are typically based on what similar students paid in a previous year.

An application deadline instituted by some colleges and universities to indicated a date by which students should apply in order to receive maximum consideration for admission. These deadlines are commonly implemented for scholarship consideration or admission to more selective academic programs within the university.

The financial aid form processed by the College Scholarship Service (a division of the College Board) and used by approximately 600 colleges to further define a family’s need for financial aid funds.

Preliminary SAT: Recommended of all students for practice during their sophomore and junior fall semesters. The test is taken during a school day in mid-October. The junior sitting may qualify students for consideration in the National Merit Scholarship competition.

Regular Decision
The most common admission plan. Most deadlines for regular decision applicants are in January or February, although some colleges/universities may have an earlier deadline (for example, the University of California system).

Restrictive Early Action
A non-binding application plan by which an applicant may be restricted from applying to other institutions through an ED, EA or REA plan. Typically, an REA application carries a deadline similar to EDI/EA applications.

Rolling Admission
The practice at some colleges and universities of making decisions on applications as they are received. Since, under this plan, colleges are accepting students every day, and classes begin the fill up, the later one applies, the more difficult it may become to be admitted. Many state systems operate with rolling admission.

A standardized exam administered by the College Board and accepted by all U.S. colleges and universities. The SAT consists of three multiple choice sections: critical reading, math and writing (including an essay portion). Each section has a maximum score of 800 with a combined maximum score of 2400.

SAT Subject Tests
Formerly called SAT IIs. Individual subject tests (such as Spanish, Biology, and Math) may be required by particular colleges for admission.

School Code
Sometimes referred to as a CEEB code (College Entrance Examination Code). National testing agencies assign a six digit number to each secondary school for identification purposes. GWHS’s school code is 060413.

Score Choice
The College Board’s SAT score reporting feature gives students the option to choose to send designated SAT scores by test date (not by test section; critical reading, math or writing) and SAT Subject Test scores by individual test. Score Choice is optional, and if students choose not to use it, all scores will be sent to the designated college or scholarship recipient.

Secondary School Report Form
A required portion of the application that must be submitted to all colleges. Your counselor submits this form on behalf of students. All students applying to a Common App school will require this and a letter of recommendation to be submitted.

Single Choice Early Action
A non-binding application plan that prohibits an applicant from applying to any other institution via an ED, EA, “SCEA” REA or SCEA process. A SCEA application deadline usually corresponds with most ED1/EA applications.

The process in which a college will combine the highest scores from individual sections of a standardize test (either the SAT or ACT), from multiple sittings of the exams, to create a higher combined score.

VIP Application
A non-binding application that allows a student to apply earlier and receive a decision earlier than through Regular Decision.

Wait List
A list of regular decision applicants who, although qualified for admission, are placed “on hold.” Wait list candidates are usually given the opportunity to decide whether or not they wish to wait for a final decision, which usually occurs over several weeks. (In the meantime the student should deposit at another college by May 1st). Wait lists are usually maintained for the shortest possible period. Students sometimes remain on several waiting lists, but if admitted at one of the colleges will typically have only a week or less to decide.

The percentage of accepted students who matriculate. Generally, the higher the yield, the more competitive the institution.