College Information

College Preparation Checklist is for all students considering or planning for college. The checklist includes steps to get ready for college, as well as a brief introduction to federal student aid and the FAFSA process. College Preparation Checklist
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - Sign up for your PIN during the fall of your senior year. Fill out your application online after January 1 of your senior year. Parent income tax information is used to determine your EFC (estimated family contribution). All students are encouraged to register regardless of financial situation. Colleges, universities, and trade schools will use this EFC to determine the financial aid you will receive, regardless of where you attend.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

A financial aid calculator can be found at the following website:
Information about financial aid specific to Texas:
Online registration, test preparation, SAT information and scores. SAT College Board
Registration information, test preparation, sample questions and scores. ACT
Information about TEKS, TAKS, Assessments, Communication/Publications. Texas Education Agency (TEA)
A resource to guide students on how to finance and succeed in college:
Provides links to GEAR-UP Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation; Texas Grant and Paying for College as well as other helpful websites. Texas Higher Education Coordinating; Gear-Up Board (THECB)


How Is College Different From High School?

Mandatory & Free Voluntary & Expensive
Time structured by others. You manage your time.
Permission required for extracurricular activities. You decide extracurricular activities.
Parents & teachers set responsibilities & priorities. You set your responsibilities & priorities.
Daily classes are one after another, 30 hrs. per week. Random day & evening, 12 to 16 hrs. per week.
Not required to know what it takes to graduate. Required to know complex graduation requirements.
School year is 36 weeks long. Academic year is 32 weeks long.
Classes are no more than 35 students. Classes may number 100 or more.
Home study is no more than 0 – 2 hrs. per week. 2 - 3 hrs. per hour of class time is required per week.
Seldom need to read, just listen in class. Need to review class notes & text material regularly.
Read assignments to be cover or re-taught in class. Assigned substantial readings … may not be covered.
Teachers: check homework. Professors: may not check homework.
remind students of incomplete assignments. may not remind of incompletes.
approach students if they seem to need help. expect student to come if help is needed.
available before, during, & after class. have office hours for conference.
have been trained in teaching methods. are experts in area of research.
provide students with missed information. expect missed information to come from classmates.
Frequent testing & covers small amounts of material. Infrequent testing & large amounts of material.
Makeup tests are often available. Makeup test are rare; if done, must be requested.
Test dates can be changed. Tests usually scheduled & set; can’t be changed.
Review sessions are done before testing. Rarely are review sessions offered.
Grades are given for assigned work. Grades may not be provided for all work.
High grades on homework can raise overall grade. Grades come from tests & major papers.
Extra credit projects are often available. Extra credit is not available to raise grade.
Test grades may not effect the final grade. All tests count and can affect your final grade.
Can graduate if you pass required with D or above. Can only pass if you meet the 2.0 standard.


How to make the transition to college:

    • Take control of your own education: think of yourself as a scholar.
    • Get to know your professor; they are your single greatest resource.
    • Be assertive.
    • Create a own support systems, and seek help when you realize you may need it.
    • Take advantage of study sessions, workshops, tutorials, etc.
    • Take control of your time. Plan ahead to satisfy academic obligations and make room for everything else.
    • Stretch yourself: enroll in at least one course that really challenges you.
    • Make thoughtful decisions: don't take a course just to satisfy a requirement, and don't drop any course too quickly.
    • Think beyond the moment: set goals for the semester, the year, your college career.