For High School Students

Getting ready for college year by year

Freshman year

  • Explore careers and jobs you find interesting. Talk with professionals in those fields and find out the kind of education you need as well as which colleges offer those majors.
  • Sample some of the cool activities that your high school offers. Stay with organizations and activities that interest you. Focus on organizations that allow you to develop, give you responsibility, and offer leadership potential. 
  • Talk to your parents about your plans for college. Begin thinking about how you will pay for college. Look at the U.S. Department of Education website that explains how to pay for college. 
  • Create a portfolio for report cards, projects, awards, honors, and activities.

Sophomore year

  • Stay involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges tend to look favorably upon the following:
    • Student newspaper, especially in leadership positions.
    • Student government, especially if you hold an executive office.
    • Varsity sports, particularly if you are a captain or an all-star of some kind.
    • Leadership positions with substantial time commitment in organizations or community service activities.
    • Activities with a special significance at your school or in your community such as Student Council president or a community service coordinator.
    • Anything unusual that took a lot of time and effort, such as organizing a major community service project, founding a new club at school and seeing it through, or being a volunteer.
  • Ask your counselor about available Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Are you eligible for the classes you want to take? How do you enroll in them during your junior year?
  • If you cannot take part in extracurricular activities, then find a part-time job after school. The best after-school jobs are the ones you stick with for an extended period and ones in which you rise to positions of responsibility. If you have to work so that your family can make ends meet, be sure the colleges you apply to know that. Helping to support a family is a serious, adult responsibility, and it demonstrates something good about your character.
  • Take the PSAT in October. The scores will not count for the National Merit Scholarship database but the test will prepare you for the PSAT and SAT your junior year.
  • Begin your college research. What would you like to study? Consider admission requirements, tuition, facilities, degree programs and the student body profile. Visit each college's website.

Junior year

  • Take honors and AP classes if they are offered. 
  • Attend a college fair to gather information and talk with representatives from several schools. Ask your guidance counselor for a schedule of college fairs in your area.
  • Continue your extracurricular activities and assume additional responsibilities and leadership roles. Explore opportunities in your community; part-time employment and volunteer activities can influence your college admission.
  • Attend an Open House at Gallaudet. If you can't make any of the Open House dates, contact the Admissions Office for a personal visit.
  • Take the PSAT in October. Taking this test will enter your name into the National Merit Scholarship database.
  • Take the ACT and the optional Writing Test to assess your skills and aid in your class placement at Gallaudet. If you don't take the ACT, take the SAT.
  • Begin precollege/transition plans with your school counselor and/or vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor. Each state VR agency is required to have an agreement with public schools and residential schools to assist you in the transition from school services to VR services such as college entrance examination, summer camps, and admissions fees.
  • Attend a Bison athletic event at Gallaudet or away. Check the Athletics website for sports schedules.

Senior year

  • Take a full load of academic classes, including honors and AP classes, even if you have completed your graduation requirements early.
  • Arrange to take the ACT and/or SAT again early in the year if you wish to improve your score before you start applying.
  • Apply to Gallaudet online at

  • Apply for federal financial aid at in January.
  • Complete the Gallaudet institutional financial aid application at
  • Contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office to see if you qualify for VR assistance.
  • Take Advanced Placement tests for any AP classes you took to see if you can be awarded college credits for those classes.

Each year

The U. S. Department of Education recommends that each year you take at least four college-track courses from the listing on the back.

Participate in summer academic programs during your summer high school breaks. Gallaudet offers summer programs for high school students.

High School Academic Course Load

The U.S. Department of Education recommends the following high school academic course load for students interested in college:

  • English - 4 years
  • Mathematics - (including Algebra II or Trigonometry) 3 years
  • History & Social Studies- 2 years
  • Foreign Language - 2 years
  • Natural Sciences- - 2 years
  • Visual & Performing Arts - 1 year
  • Challenging Electives - (from the list above) 1 year

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