Preparing for College
College Entrance Exams
The PSAT is given every year at GCA to sophomores and juniors. The test date for this year is Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019.
Practice for the PSAT beginning in the freshman year at collegeboard.org/psatpractice.
ACT & SAT at GCA
Right here on our own campus, we will offer the ACT and the SAT! Sign up January 1-31 using the button below. Each test is $60. After signing up for one or both, you will be billed through your GCA account.
SAT - 8 a.m. - noon Wednesday, March 25, 2019
ACT - 8 a.m. - noon Tuesday, April 7 - All juniors & seniors should take.
2018-2019 Test Dates
ACT: Register at actstudent.org; Free test prep at act.org/academy
June 8 (Register by May 3)
July 13 (Register by June 14)
SAT: Register at sat.org/signup; Free test prep based on personal previous test results at satpractice.org. Daily practice app for the phone available at sat.org/practice.
June 1 (Register by May 3)
CEEB Code (for PSAT, SAT & ACT testing): 440111
Schedule your test date at least 8 weeks out and notifiy the academic advisor immediately so your application has time to be approved.
About Christian Colleges
Christian or secular? Research shows the impact of both
Research suggests that college choice has an impact on religious commitment. In this article, Dr. Steve Henderson, president of Christian Consulting for Colleges and Ministries, presents his ongoing research on the relationship between college affiliation and religious commitment, in conjunction with the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles.
Money for College
Finding Your Career
Applying to College
Students at these schools pay no tuition, but there's usually a work or service obligation. Find out more HERE.
Here are 10 websites to help you search for college scholarships.
College Board Opportunity Scholarships are given monthly during the senior year for completing tasks on the journey toward college. Students must sign up in June immediately after the junior year. Put this on your calendar! Here is a video explaining it.
If you are trying to figure out what type of career might fit you well, take a look at this great resource: MYNEXTMOVE.org . You can search careers with key words, by industry or by interest. If you take the interest profiler test, you can see all the careers that fit your interests.
When you look at each career, you can see what type of training and experience is required, what the salary levels are for that job, and what the current and projected demand is for that career. This is a GREAT tool from the Department of Labor. Play around with it, consider your future, and what your NEXT MOVE should be.
There are several paths to college. One path is to go to Collin College or another community college to finish your first two years and then go on to finish at a larger university. This route is economical and might suit your student better than a traditional four-year university.
If you are not going the community college or even the local route, then there are a few other steps you will need to take. They are abbreviated below. For a more in-depth look at each step, read a book about the process and/or ask people who have been through the process. We aim to be a resource for our students and want them to be well-prepared for college.
Step 1. Learn how to take the SAT or ACT test. GCA offers a course in ACT test prep.
Step 2. Take the SAT or ACT as many times as you need to improve your score to a point that is reasonable and nets you the most money from your university of choice. Take the PSAT in October of your junior year. It's offered one time a year. The highest scores are awarded the National Merit Scholarship. The score that it takes to be a National Merit Scholar changes every year. You won't know if you've got it until fall of the senior year.
Step 3. Keep track of your volunteer hours and annotate them on ParentsWeb so that your hours will appear on your transcript. Start tracking your hours and keeping a record of them beginning the summer after your 8th grade year and continuing all through high school.
To record your volunteer hours so that they will appear on your transcript, follow the procedure HERE.
It is best to also list more specific information about your community service hours on your resume that will accompany your high school transcript when you apply to college.
Step 4. Create a resume for college application. This is a list of your activities, awards, community service (volunteer) hours and paid working positions. You will submit this with your transcript whenever you can. If you can personally hand your resume to a university staff member (admissions counselor, faculty in the field you want to study, etc.), that's even better. Personal contact with your resume makes it more likely that they will carefully consider the information on your resume when recommending you for scholarships or scholarship events. Sometimes just an invitation to a scholarship event can be worth thousands of dollars, even if your student is not awarded the scholarship. You can find examples of a resume for college application HERE.
Step 5. If you are not limited in choices by the subject you intend to study, visit at least six colleges or universities to learn how they differ and what is important to your student. The only way you will know is by going to see for yourself.
You'll get the most information in the least amount of time by attending an organized prospective student day. For the colleges that make it to your final three choices, go back for a second look and talk to different people. Talk to your admissions counselor or a student you know there to make an overnight visit, if possible. You want to get a real feel for the campus environment during non-school hours.
Step 6. For the colleges that you are very interested in, personally meet your admissions counselor. This personal connection can make a big difference when you are competing for financial aid, including scholarships. Attend a financial aid session at the prospective student day to get the most information. Scour the university's website to be sure you understand terms and conditions.
Step 7. Complete your FAFSA. That's your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It's FREE to complete this application, and unless your student plans to attend one of the rare universities that does not accept federal aid, you will need to complete this intrusive federal form to receive any type of financial aid from the university, even if it's not federal. In university-speak, financial aid is any discount off full price of the education, even if it does not involve the federal government.
The reason universities want the FAFSA information is that it gives them a the same baseline to judge everyone's financial need. When you complete your FAFSA, which takes an hour or two the first time you do it, the result is you will receive a number called the EFC: the Expected Family Contribution. You will find this number is usually a ridiculous supposed estimate of how much your family can afford to pay out of pocket each year for college. Do not be anxious. Colleges know this number is ridiculous, too. They adjust their figures to be more in line with the real world.
The FAFSA must be completed during your student's senior year as soon after January 1 as possible, using the previous year's completed income tax form, as well as currrent bank statements with your current cash on hand. Here are the numbers that do not count toward your personal wealth for the purposes of the FAFSA: the value of your house and the value of your retirement savings. Having less cash on hand at the time you complete the FAFSA will net a smaller EFC. Paying for more than one child in college will also result in a smaller EFC. The smaller your EFC, the more financial aid you will be awarded, according to need. If your child gets married during college, then he will be considered an independent adult and complete his own FAFSA.
You can estimate your EFC right now by using the FAFSA4caster, which is an abbreviated online form that will give you a quick ballpark estimate.
Step 8. Apply to universities in September-November of the senior year. Scholarships are often awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so the earlier you get the application in, the better. Merit-based and need-based scholarships are free money. Most people who have either also get federal loans as a part of their financial aid package. This is how most people afford college.
Subsidized loans means the federal government subsidizes them so that you don't have to pay interest on them until after graduation. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest while your student is still in school. The interest rate on these is still better than what you will find on commercial loans.
All federal loans are issued in the student's name.If you are deliberating whether to pay for all or most of your student's college education, consider having your student pay for at least her first year of college. That way, your student is invested in making the most of her time at school, and any temptations to pursue goals that don't contribute to academic success are minimized.
Step 9. Figure out where your student wants to live on campus and send in deposits for dorms or desired living spaces in October-November of the senior year to be sure you have a place reserved. If you decide not to attend that university, you can usually request your deposit back in May of the senior year.
Step 10. You will receive your award letter in March. This is the letter from the university that tells you how much of a discount or scholarship they will give you off of the full price. The award letter will tell you the deadline by which you need to accept or reject their offer.
Step 11. If you find you still need a bit to help you over the "hump," often universities can give small loans for the duration of the four years with little or no interest. If you need still more, consider going back to talk to the financial aid office in June or July. Make an appointment and be winsome. July is when the universities have received news from students who will not be coming and accepting the scholarship money offered to them. So there's a pile of money that doesn't have a home right at the moment in July. And then there's your charming student and winsome you.
Ask for those untapped funds in a way that matches your student's strengths with the stated goals of the university. Does the university emphasize servant leadership? Then have YOUR STUDENT tell how his hours and hours of volunteer service show how he will contribute to the university's stated desire to produce servant leaders. Talk should be geared to being an asset to the university.
There's a fine line between persistent and pushy. Your tone, demeanor, and words, along with your student's, will help you aim for winsome persistence.