Road Map to College!
The path to college can feel overwhelming! The following activities can help you prepare each year and stay on the path to finding your perfect fit after high school!
- 9th Grade - Explore careers through the Partnership Program and use of Naviance Career search. Maintain strong grades and develop great study habits. We have Advisement every Wednesday with many of the lessons geared toward College and Career.
- 10th Grade - Continue to explore careers and start to research the differences between ACT and SAT. Take a free practice test at any of the local test prep agencies such as Applerouth, Kaplan, C2 Education, Sylvan, and others (GSMST does not endorse any specific agency but will list the services). GSMST continues to offer College and Career lessons. Dual-Enrollment options are taught as many of the GSMST students will take classes through Georgia Tech, Gwinnett Tech, and other colleges. We have several proprietary programs that enhance our Computer Science, Science, and Math offerings to extend beyond traditional curriculum.
- 11th Grade - GET READY!! This is when we start the big stuff. All juniors are expected to take an ACT or SAT by December/January, to get a good benchmark score. Then focus on studying for the test and take it again, before the summer. We will begin Junior College Planning meetings at the beginning of Spring term. Those meetings are scheduled using an online scheduling tool. Our PTSA works on parent workshops that will begin in the Fall of Junior year. Alumni return at the end of Junior year to help students begin their applications and college selections.
- 12th Grade - The college application season begins! All seniors will receive several lessons in applying to college, using the Common App, requesting recommendations, and more. GSMST Language Arts department helps with the essay polishing process. We highly, highly encourage students to apply to at least one school by October 15th. Families should begin the FAFSA in October (details below) to have all documentation processed early. The e-Class page for seniors is packed with information and guidance!
ACT & SAT Information
General Testing Information
Students take either the ACT or SAT test as part of the college application process. Almost every student that attends a college has taken the ACT or SAT. What exactly are these tests? Which one should you take? We strongly encourage students to take both tests at least once. This will give you an idea of which test showcases your abilities, and you can concentrate on increasing the score of your "best" test.
The ACT contains four sub-tests in English, Math, Reading, and Science. A separate ACT Writing Test is also available. Each sub-test has a high score of 36. These sub-test scores are averaged together for a Composite Score. Some colleges look at the sub-tests individually, others consider the entire Composite Score. To register for the ACT, follow this link: ACT Registration
The SAT assesses your math and English skills. It also contains a writing portion. Each section has a maximum of 800 points, with a high score of 1600 for the math and verbal sections. Many college websites will discuss their "freshman profile" and list the SAT scores out of 1600. Please check with your prospective college or university admissions office to see what test are required for admission. To register for the SAT, follow this link: SAT Registration
Students that receive Free or Reduced Lunch
If you are on Free or Reduced Lunch, you are eligible to receive waivers for the ACT and SAT. Students can obtain a waiver by seeing Mrs. Czarick in the West Wing TAP office or sending her an email: Mrs. Chris Czarick. All Free and Reduced students receive two waivers.
The College Board has an outstanding tool that lets you search for a college and view the AP credit policies!
Financial Aid and FAFSA
All seniors and their parents/guardians will need to complete the FAFSA. One of the best resources is the FAFSA customer service, as they are used to all types of questions! There are many companies that will also help you through the FAFSA, but I encourage you to follow the government's website first. It is full of useful information and tips, for every entry you need to make.
Websites to use
- FAFSA Homepage - Make sure you are on the .gov site and not another website. There are fake websites out there that charge to fill out the FAFSA. Remember that the F at the beginning of FAFSA stands for FREE. The customer service at FAFSA is wonderful and are there to help EVERYONE through the process if you have questions. On this website is the FAFSA4Caster. This gives you the opportunity to estimate your financial aid numbers.
- GA Futures - This is where students get information about the HOPE Scholarship. It is critical to stay updated on the HOPE Scholarship requirements and changes.
- Yale's Net Price Calculator - Each college should have a Cost Calculator on the website. These give an estimate of what the family would owe if the student attended. It is 100% dependent on the information entered, but provides a great estimate for families who want a quick look at what they might receive in financial aid. This link connects you to Yale's Net Price Calculator.
GA Futures, HOPE & Zell Miller Scholarships
The HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships are available for students that meet certain academic requirements. Students that graduate with a 3.0 HOPE Calculated GPA (you can find your HOPE Calculated GPA on the GA Futures website) will receive a portion of their tuition at any college or university in the State of Georgia. Students that graduate with a 3.7 Hope Calculated GPA and an ACT Score of 26 or a combined SAT Score of 1200 will be awarded the Zell Miller Scholarship that pays 100% of a student's tuition at any public college or university in the State of Georgia. Zell Miller Scholarship recipients will be awarded a portion of their tuition at private colleges or universities in the State of Georgia.
For more information on the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarship programs, please visit GA Futures.
It's never too early to start preparing. If you are in 9th and 10th grades, be aware of the requirements for each military academy and make sure your grades are UP.
If you are a JUNIOR, you need to be looking at the websites for each military academy. You also need to be familiar with the process of nomination. If you are thinking of applying to a military academy for college, please see your counselor to familiarize yourself with the process. The military academies begin their processes much earlier than traditional colleges.
Also, there are summer opportunities at the military academies that are VERY COMPETITIVE to attend and give you the "feel" of that particular academy. Look for those applications in the Spring.
Students: Please access our scholarship list on the GSMST Counseling E-Class page under "Scholarships."
It is recommended students keep an eye out for scholarships, but we encourage our seniors to finish college applications first, then move forward with scholarship searches. Spend a few minutes each evening, or an hour each weekend, or more. Use different databases and create notification profiles. Students who dedicate a portion of their week to scholarship searches will have success! It just takes effort.
ALL seniors receive the END OF YEAR FINAL transcript for free. All other transcripts are $5 per transcript. Hard copy transcripts are sealed in an envelope with a copy of the school profile and picked up by the student. Students are responsible for mailing their own transcripts.
PAYMENT IS MADE using My Payments Plus or in the Counseling Reception Office. Cash or Check is acceptable. Please let counselors know if there are any issues for payment.
Electronic transcripts also require a $5 fee per transcript. Most colleges prefer transcripts electronically when possible.
Students are responsible for requesting their own transcripts for any scholarships or non-college needs. Students must allow 2-3 days for transcripts to be printed. Students can obtain official transcripts for scholarships or non-college application needs by filling out a Transcript Request Form (available in the Counseling Office). Turn in all requests to the Counseling Office with payment (for hard copies).
For college application transcripts, students MUST use Naviance to request transcripts, even if the college requires a hard copy. We MUST have the Electronic Transcript Waiver on file before we can process online transcript requests. The waiver is available in the Documents section of Naviance. (Instructions on how to request in Naviance are located on the Counseling eClass page).
**From September to December, students need to allow 2 weeks for transcripts as the volume of requests will be extremely high.**
An unofficial pdf copy of the student's transcript is available in the Parent Portal under the "Documents" tab. Unofficial transcripts are typically accepted for summer programs, internships, and some scholarships. However, most colleges/universities, and some programs may require an official transcript. Please confirm with your organization what type of transcript they require.