The following page will provide students with an array of resources that will assist through the entire college search and application process. Check back often for reminders, deadlines, event updates and more.
College Counseling Announcements
Prairie subscribes to an online college planning program called Naviance. It offers college counselors and families many tools for the search and application process, including the all-important college list that we develop with you, information about college visits to our campus, scholarship postings, and much more.
ADDITIONAL LINKS & INFORMATION
- College Visit Schedule
- Financial Aid Guidelines
- College Scholarships Webpage (Included tools listed below)
- Links to 70 online scholarship search sites
- Online GPA calculator
- Links to colleges with comprehensive programs for students with learning and other disabilities
- Links to Catholic and Christian colleges by state.
- Information on online colleges, community colleges, and four-year colleges by state.
THE COLLEGE PROCESS
The college counseling process spans all fours years with an emphasis on supporting students and their families as they determine their goals, assess their strengths, and determine which schools will offer the best opportunities for growth. We encourage students AND parents to follow our guidelines and recommendations as they move through the process.
STANDARDIZED TESTING & PREPARATION
Here are a list of resources pertaining to PSAT, ACT and SAT testing.
STANDARDIZED TESTING & PREPARATION
Prairie sophomores and juniors are automatically registered to take the PSAT on campus in mid-October.
Sophomores take it for practice. The PSAT is written for juniors, so sophomores should view their scores in light of the fact that it tests some material they have not yet learned.
For juniors, the PSAT is important for two reasons: First, it’s a general indicator of likely performance on the SAT and, more specifically, it reveals areas of relative strength and weakness. Juniors can use that information to shore up skills in anticipation of taking the SAT later in junior year. Second, particularly high scores on the PSAT qualify a student for National Merit Commendation and Scholarship competition. The National Merit Corporation notifies students who qualify at either level through the College Counseling Office, and we work closely with those students who choose to compete for a scholarship.
ACT & SAT
We strongly recommend that students take one ACT (the version with Writing) and one SAT Reasoning Test (the basic SAT) in late winter or spring of junior year. That timing works well because students will have learned more of the test content by then, and taking both tests allows students to discover if they have a clear preference for one or the other test, and to plan retesting in senior year accordingly. Some students choose to retake their preferred test only once (i.e., a total of twice for that test), while others will choose to retest twice (a total of three times for that test). We recommend that, except in unusual cases, students not take their preferred test more than three times.
Test dates and registration deadlines are available here: ACT-SAT Dates 16-17. For complete registration and testing information, practice tests, testing tips, and other helpful material, visit the testing agency websites:
SAT SUBJECT TESTS
Each year, Upper School teachers recommend that some students consider taking one or more SAT Subject Tests in the spring. These are advanced-level tests in a wide variety of specific subjects. Some of the most selective colleges require Subject Tests, sometimes in one or more specific topics. Many others will accept the ACT (with Writing) in lieu thereof. See the College Board website for a list of colleges that require subject tests, but be aware that colleges’ policies change from time to time, so be sure to confirm testing requirements on any college’s website.
Many colleges that do not require Subject Tests will nevertheless consider Subject Test scores with an application. So while it is not necessary to take SAT Subject Tests for colleges that do not outright require them, a student who is confident of scoring well (high 600s or better) should consider taking them. Less confident students should not take Subject Tests “just to see how I’ll do.” Why? Because some colleges require the whole history of either the SAT or ACT, so if a student is sending the SAT to colleges, that history will include scores from any Subject Tests, and weak Subject Test scores can disadvantage an otherwise acceptable application. Practice Subject Tests, available online and in print, are a good way to gauge mastery of the material. Students should consult with teachers and Mrs. McDonough as needed.
Various forms of test preparation are available. The simplest form is “homeschooled” test prep, namely a self-imposed regimen of practice SATs and ACTs (available online and in print). Becoming familiar with each test’s content, timing, methods, and scoring makes a more efficient tester, and that alone can boost performance.
However, it behooves all students, even strong testers, to undertake formal test preparation in the form of a test prep course or one-on-one work with a qualified test prep tutor. Weaker testers typically find formal preparation significantly improves their scores, while stronger testers competing for coveted spots at highly selective colleges benefit from any increase in scores. Test preparation options include full courses at test prep agencies, such as Sylvan Learning (Kenosha), Princeton Review and Kaplan (Milwaukee); shorter courses at Prairie (see summer programs), local high schools, and universities; online courses and real-time tutorials, such as PrepNow; and local private tutors (see the College Counseling office for referrals).