Preparing for College

9th grade: Guidance Orientation for students, and they have the chance to meet their individual counselor. They are encouraged to start looking at colleges and their requirements. Start collecting award certificates, programs from events they have been involved with, photos of activities, etc. to make up a portfolio for college interviews (this is required for Sci Tech students, and a good idea for all students!)

10th grade: The PSAT is taken by all 10th grade students in fall or spring. This is paid for by the school. Other grades must pay the fee (around $15). A good result from this test in 11th grade can mean scholarships!

11th grade: Take the PSAT in October; good results can mean scholarships!  Take the SAT in May/June or earlier. SAT2s, which are subject tests, can also be taken in 11th grade. Check the Junior page of the school website for announcements. Look under Students, Juniors.

12th grade: Students can take the SAT in October, but it might be too late for the results to get to colleges in time for early admission. The deadline is early November for many colleges, including UMD (and they give all their merit scholarships to early applicants). There are quarterly meetings for parents and students in senior year. Check the school web page

 for announcements of the dates. Look under Students, Senior Class. In December there is a Financial Aid meeting for parents. Seniors should file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Both the student and parents must apply for a PIN to sign the online FAFSA. You will need federal income tax information for the last tax year. (If you are applying early, financial aid forms should also be completed by the Nov 1 deadline. Students should request transcripts from guidance at least 10 days before the deadline.)


The Student Journey in Naviance:

 Naviance Student Tour and Overview:

Reference guides are at 

Common App Registration and Account Matching:

 Request Transcripts in Naviance:

 Letter of Recommendation Requests:

 eDocs Series – Video 1 – Introduction:


The school provides after-school SAT Prep in the 3 weeks leading up to the test, for Seniors in the fall and Juniors in the spring.  Typically the classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Information is given out on the morning announcements. You can also check the announcements on the school web page.  There is usually a practice SAT/ACT on a weekend in January, costing $15. This is a fundraiser for the Sci/Tech department. There is free online prep here through Kaplan:

You are responsible for signing your child up for the SAT or the ACT; the school will not do this for you. Visit or to register. There is a fee, and there may be additional late fees if you register too close to the test date. Some years ERHS hosts the tests, but other years you may need to travel to another location for the test. In 2017 DuVal High School was hosting the SAT and ACT.

Some of the top college also require SAT Subject Tests, so check the college web pages and be sure to register for subject tests if you need them.

Useful Links

US News & World Report - schools ranked by experts

Rugg's Recommendations - school rankings - information about scholarships and deadlines

Common Application - to apply online to many colleges (not UMD)

Common Market reciprocity - get in-state tuition at participating colleges in other states

NACAC - information about college fairs, etc. - Leadership Education and Development - a blog about many aspects of college applications, understanding financial aid, etc. - information about online colleges - information on paying for college, tips on filling out Financial Aid forms, scholarships, etc. - ratings and information about online colleges. - information about scholarships and reviews of scholarship search platforms - a free platform to connect high school students with college counselors and current college students


Make sure you are signed up for the PTSA email list, for communications about scholarship opportunities. These opportunities are also sent out to students' school emails.

Students who are majoring in gerontology or senior care can apply for these scholarships:

Tips for College Admissions

Colleges only spend about 25 minutes looking at each application.  They look at:

1. Academic record: high level courses, A's and B's.

2. Testing - SAT/ACT. Take subject tests relevant to the area you want to major in. Most colleges require about 3 subject tests. You can take up to 3 on an SAT testing day. AP's - need a score of 4 or 5.

3. Letters of Recommendation - from the guidance counselor and 2 or 3 others such as sponsors of extra-curricular activities and pastors. Student should tell the counselor about all their awards and activities.

4.  Essay. Should be well thought out, following directions and answering the question(s) given. Stay within the word limit. If you submit online it will be truncated if it is too long. Talk about the impact of your experiences. Try to appeal to a broad audience, and give a picture of who you are. Even after admission, faculty members will read the essay for placement in Honors and scholarship programs.

5. Extra-curricular activities. Show growth, commitment, leadership roles. Talk about high school and possibly middle school activities, nothing earlier than that. Can also talk about enrichment programs attended, especially if they are related to area of career interest or are competitive to get into.  Don't assume that the admissions officers know what the programs are; explain what you did and what your role/contribution was. List part-time employment. Start writing down awards and activities starting in 8th/9th grade so that you don't forget anything. But only submit about one page, highlighting the most important things.

* Apply as early as possible! Honors and scholarship programs are filled on a first-come-first-served basis. By January it is probably too late to get into these programs.

* Work on an "elevator pitch": in case you end up in an elevator with the head of admissions - be able to say why you are interested in that school. Do mock interviews.

* Scholarship interviews can include non-traditional questions such as "what book did you recently read for fun?" or "what did you do this weekend?"

* Sci/Tech Portfolios - you can take these to interviews, but be able to explain your research so they can understand it.

* If anything changes after submitting the application, e.g. further awards or good grades, then you should submit those as additional information, even if is after the deadline.

* Start your Research Practicum research early, so that you can talk about it in the application.

* Make a spreadsheet of all the colleges you are interested in, with the deadlines, requirements, etc.

* Show passion, drive, determination and self-awareness.

Financial Aid

Handout 1

Handout 2