Four-Year College

Your path to an Undergraduate Degree

If a four-year college is your next step, read on. Just eight steps to success.

Must do's:

  • Make sure that your email address in BlackBoard is correct
  • If you are planning to apply to colleges early, please notify your counselor to schedule a senior interview sooner than later.
  • Come to Senior Student and Parent night

Step 1:  Take the SAT and ACT or TOEFL.  

Register online here for the SAT.  Register online here for the ACT.

CEEB Code: 470080

  • Exams offered during school year.  Look for ones offered at AHS.
  • Fee Waivers available if you have free or reduced meals assistance.
  • Have all of your tests done by winter break.
  • SAT will send scores to 4 colleges as part of the registration fee
  • AHS cannot send SAT or ACT scores to colleges,  You must have your scores sent directly from the testing companies

SAT Registration instructions

  • You must register for the exam beforehand (Walk-ins not allowed)
  • NO Test day changes
  • You MUST present an admission ticket and an acceptable picture ID or you will not be allowed to take the test.
  • Your FULL name on your photo ID must be exactly the same as the full name on your admission ticket.
  • You are required to upload a recent, front-facing, clear photo online during the registration process.  This photo appears on the test admission ticket.
  • Cost is $45 without essay and $57 with the essay.
  • CollegeBoard is now sending out verification emails to select students.  IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND, YOU WILL NOT BE REGISTERED FOR THE TEST!  After you register, check your e-mail DAILY!

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

More than 9,000 universities, agencies and other institutions in over 130 countries accept the TOEFL test, including top universities in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.

If English is not your first language and you have been in the country 5 years or less, you should think about taking the TOEFL.  Fee waivers are available.  Ask your counselor for more information.

The TOEFL iBT® test, delivered via the Internet, is an important part of your journey to study in an English-speaking country. In addition to the test, the ETS TOEFL® Program provides tools and guides to help you prepare for the test and improve your English-language skills.

The TOEFL iBT test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. And it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.

More than 30 million people from all over the world have taken the TOEFL® test to demonstrate their English-language proficiency. The average English skill level ranges between Intermediate and Advanced.

Step 2:  Select your top colleges and apply!

Narrow down the number of schools you are going to apply to (6 to 8 is the average number)

  • What are your "reach" schools:  which ones stretch your academic and financial ability?
  • What are your "match" schools: which ones are likely to meet your needs and accept you?
  • What are your "safety" schools:  which ones are you fairly certain would accept you?
  • Narrow your choices by utilizing the "Scattergrams" on Family Connection. How do you compare to the college's freshmen class profile?  GPA and ACT scores?

Look for a school that matches you and what you want.  Consider:

  • Cost
  • Size and Setting
  • Academic programs
  • Campus life
  • Academic competitiveness

Use Family Connections to research schools and see where you stand based on GPA and test scores.

Step 3: Request Transcripts

  • Go to Family Connection and add your schools to the "Colleges I"m Thinking About" under the "Colleges" tab.
  • Your transcript will be sent using one of the following three methods:
    • Electronically via eDoc (applies to most colleges) 
    • Common Application via US Mail
    • Paper forms via US Mail (rarely used)
  • All official transcripts require a Transcript Release Form.
  • Carefully follow the instructions on the form and return it to Ms. Lopez in Student Services 
  • JMU & VA Tech will accept ONLY ONE letter of recommendation and it MUST be sent with your transcript
    • For these schools, specify which person will be writing the letter under the “Counselor Recommendation” column on the Transcript Request form (either write your counselor’s name if you want him/her to write the letter, or write the name of the teacher who will be writing your letter)
    • f you ask a teacher to write your recommendation letter, ask him/her to give the letter to your counselor no later than 3 weeks before the college application deadline (it’s preferred that they turn it in to your counselor around the same time you turn in your transcript request form. 
  • The forms are located in Student Services or in the Family Connections document library.
  • If you have any questions about completing the transcript request form, please email or stop by your counselor’s office so he/she can help you.   
  • Submit transcript request forms 3 weeks before the application deadline
  • If you have an early January deadline date, the form is due by the last day of November. The earlier the better.

Step 4:  Complete Activity Sheet

  • This is a record of what you have done or currently do outside of the classroom (clubs, part-time jobs, sports, volunteer opportunities, summer programs)
  • Include leadership positions, honors, and awards
  • Keep to one page if possible and turn it in with the transcript release form
  • E-mail a copy of it to your counselor

Step 5:  College Applications

Go to college websites to create accounts for applications.  Keep track of and meet all of your deadlines.

Determine the type of admission:

  • Early decision is a binding agreement of admission to the school (if you are accepted, you agree to attend)
  • Early Action: you can apply to as many of these colleges as you want.  The acceptance is known in late fall.  You can choose to attend any of these schools that grant you admission.
  • Regular Decision:  You must apply by a set deadline date and admission is typically known by April.
  • Rolling Admissions: Decisions made throughout the year

Using the Common Application to Apply to Colleges (Common App)

What is the Common App?  

  • Only one application needs to be completed online and the information will be submitted to the participating schools that you've selected -- with the same information going to each one.
  • The website is
  • Many colleges use the Common Application.  A listing of these colleges on their website.

The College Essay

What to put in the essay:

  • Something that is not already in the application
  • Make it personal.  Write about something or someone that impacted you.  Don't  just give facts.
  • Focus on a small piece of your story, event, or experience
  • Have several people proofread your essay
  • Do not rely on spell check

Step 6: Counselor and/or Teacher Recommendations

  • If you need a counselor recommendation, mark it on the Transcript Release Form and attach the required "Request for Recommendation Letter" form
  • Give counselor and teachers a minimum of 3 weeks to write your letter of recommendation
  • Teachers may have you fill out a form to help them write the letter (located in Family Connection's document library)
  • Supply them with a stamped envelope with the university's address for each school, if necessary or send them the link via e-mail

Step 7: College Visits

  • Attend college visits in the AHS Career Center.  Several college representatives will visit AHS during the fall months.  A complete list can be found on Family Connections.
    • Register for visits through Family Connections to receive a hall pass.
  • Visit the college campus.  Check the college website to see if you need a reservation and set up a time to talk to an admissions rep when you visit.
    • Visit when college classes are in session
    • Demonstrate to the college that you are interested (a lot of schools document how many times they interact with you).
    • Always remember to notify the AHS attendance office to excuse an absence for a college visit.

Step 8: File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application

The office of Federal Student Aid provides grants, loans, and work-study funds for college or career school.

  • Online applications for FAFSA begin October 1 and should be submitted by February 1.
  • AHS hosts FAFSA workshops each fall.  Watch for notices from the Career Center.