Jump to content


Now that you're equipped with some great information about going to college, it's time to put it to use. The following activities are designed for you to do as many times as you'd like.

Look for the portfolio icon Portfolio — it means that activity is a keeper and should be filed in your portfolio.

Choosing a college

  1. Use the College Finder or College Matching Wizard to answer some important questions about your preferences for college. Then search for colleges that match your choices and review your results with your guidance counselor and parents. Identify five to 10 colleges about which you would like to find out more information.
  2. Talk with your IEP team about the required courses you should be taking for college admission.
  3. Read through Campus Visit Tips [PDF]. Follow the guidelines and coordinate a visit with a college you are seriously considering. What did you learn? List the pros and cons for that school.
  4. Compile a list of schools in which you are interested. Remove any that won’t accommodate your disabilities very well. Then divide the schools into the following lists:
    1. Your dream school – You may not get in, but it is worth a try.
    2. Your best bets – You are likely to be accepted and the schools would meet your needs.
    3. A fall-back school – They will definitely accept you and you will go there if you are rejected by the other schools on your list. For many students, this is the local community college.

    Source: Brown, D (2000). Learning a Living, p 59.

  5. Portfolio activityComplete the Comparing Colleges activity form [Word document]. The activity will help you answer questions about colleges that you are interested in to get a better idea of which college may be the best match for you.

Deciding on a major

  1. Draw a picture of your IDEAL life with some colored pencils or pens and a large piece of paper. Imagine and include where you live, what you do for a living, who is with you, what your dwelling looks like, where you take vacations, etc., without considering any barriers (such as money). Don’t worry about your artistic skills; use symbols and colors to express your ideas, thoughts and interests. Bolles (2006) What Color Is Your Parachute?
  2. Think about everyone you know, everyone you’ve seen on TV or read about, and ask yourself, “Whose job would I most like to have?” Then make a second and third choice. On three separate sheets of paper write down what each of the three people do. Under that, break the job into its parts. What is it that attracts you to the job? List as many things as possible. Then look at all three sheets of paper, choose which job is actually of greatest interest to you, and figure out how you would go talk to someone who is actually doing that job. Bolles (2006) What Color Is Your Parachute?
  3. Portfolio activityTake the “Discover Your Perfect Career Quiz.” This quiz ties your personality type into potential career paths for you to consider. Schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor to talk about the results of your career quiz and other available resources to assess your career interests. Develop a plan to conduct research and narrow down your interests.
  4. Go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Explore Careers and choose several areas that you are interested in and read about the potential careers. With help from your parents, guidance counselor or teacher, find someone to talk with who is doing that particular job in which you are interested. Ask the person the following questions:
    1. How did you get in this field?
    2. What do you like best about it?
    3. What do you like least about it?
    4. How much of a demand is there for people who do this work?
    5. What skills do you use in this field?
    6. What is a typical day like?
    7. Who else would you suggest I talk with to learn more?
  5. Read about and complete the Career Values Test. This test will begin to identify what you would value in a job or career. Print out the results of your survey and discuss with your teacher, guidance counselor or friend on how a specific career choice would support or conflict with your values.
  6. Choose one to two careers from the Occupational Outlook Handbook  in which you are interested and read about the requirements, work environment and projected trends. This source is nationally recognized for career information and is designed to provide valuable assistance to individuals making decisions about their future work lives.

Applying for college

  1. Review the tips in Write an Effective Application Essay. Write a draft essay and have your teacher, parent or a counselor provide initial feedback.
  2. Portfolio activityThink of one or two individuals who you would like to write you a letter of recommendation. Jot down a listing of the activities that you participated in with that individual. Did you demonstrate leadership, teamwork, responsibility or dependability? Write a short paragraph about the positive skills you exhibited.
  3. Portfolio activityUse the College Application Checklist [Word document] to be sure that you meet college application deadlines and include all requested information for your top three choices of colleges.

Getting financial aid

  1. Virginia View: Senior Year Financial Aid Planning Calendar [PDF]: Review the Financial Aid Planning Calendar for your senior year. What can you do right now to help you be more comfortable with this process?
  2. Begin planning for your visit to schools you are interested in attending. Find out the contact information for the financial aid office at each school. Generate a list of questions that you would like answered. If you are having a difficult time knowing what questions to ask, review the CollegeBoard Ten Questions for the Aid Office. Next, contact the office and ask to meet with a representative on the date that you will be visiting the college.
  3. Portfolio activityGo the CollegeBoard Web site. Enter the name of a school in which you are interested. Click on the cost and financial aid link. Write down the projected costs for tuition and housing. What information and suggestions are listed for financial aid at that institution? Print out a summary sheet for each college you wish to apply to and place in your portfolio.
  4. Complete the Financial Aid EasyPlanner. Click on each of the seven steps and follow the instructions provided.

Taking standardized tests

  1. Research the colleges in which you are interested, find out if a standardized test is required; if so, does the college prefer the SAT or ACT.
  2. Talk with your guidance counselor to help you register for the PSAT or the PLAN to prepare you for the SAT or the ACT.
  3. Talk with your guidance counselor or teacher about taking the SAT or ACT. Find out:
    • If there are prep classes available in your community
    • If it is better to guess at questions you are uncertain or if you will be penalized for wrong answers
    • The deadline for signing up for the SAT, ACT, PLAN or PSAT
    • The deadline for signing up for these exams with an accommodation request
    • The documentation requirements for getting accommodations on these tests
    • The fee for the test you plan to take

    Consider paying an additional fee to receive your ACT or SAT test questions, your answers and the correct answers. After you receive this information, review it with your teacher or guidance counselor and develop a plan for improvement. Information about this service can be found on the ACT and SAT Web site (see eSources).

  4. Portfolio activityAfter you take your standardized test, place a copy of your SAT and/or ACT scores in your portfolio. Also, include a listing of the schools who received your scores.

High school “To Do” lists

  1. Portfolio activityGo through the “To Do” lists with your guidance counselor, parent or teacher. Consider putting your “To Do” items in an online calendar. You can even add your own “To Do” items that relate to college. One free calendar available is called HipCal. You can enter your tasks into the calendar and then have reminders e-mailed or text messaged to you. If online calendars aren’t for you, you may want to try a yearly wall calendar. This way you can see all of the things you have going on in one location.
  2. Make your own timeline for the next three months. Get three packs of medium-sized sticky notes, each a different color. Read through the “To Do” list (see eSources) for your current year in school. For example, if you are a junior, read through the To Do list for the junior year. For the next three months, choose three tasks you want to accomplish or get underway. Prioritize the tasks for each month. Select the sticky note color to represent top priority or most important (maybe hot pink), followed by the second in importance (maybe mellow yellow) and third in importance (perhaps lime green). Write the three tasks for each month on the appropriate colored post-it notes, according to priority. Place the post-it notes in your weekly planner, on your desk calendar or in another visual spot where you are sure to see them. Begin your most important task. When accomplished throw away the note and move on to the second priority task. Explore what works for you to notice the post-it notes and accomplish each task. You can move them around as needed.