Prattville High School
1315 Upper Kingston Rd.
Prattville, AL 36067
THE QUESTION: WHAT'S NEXT?
Life is full of decisions. Some are relatively easy to make,
such as what to wear or what movies to see, but making decisions
about your future can be confusing. It is difficult to know
where to start because there are many things to think about.
While considering your next step, the following 7-step
Decision-Making Model will help give you structure while processing
and identifying the necessary information.
Step One: Identifying the Decision to be
Before you begin gathering information, it is important that you
have a clear understanding of what it is you are trying to decide.
Think about what you want to achieve and state that as your
goal. Some decisions you might be facing include:
- 1. What do I want to do after graduation?
- 2. What will I do to prepare for the next phase of my
- 3. What are my short-term and long-term goals?
- 4. Where do I want to be in five years and what is the best way
to get there?
Step Two: Know Yourself
Before you begin exploring careers and trying to identify jobs
and careers which will prove satisfying, you must first get a sense
of what makes you YOU- your skills, interests, values, and
personality characteristics. Your journey of self-knowledge will
never end, but to get started, use an interest inventory and other
available assessments. The internet is a great resource for these
tools. Questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- 1. What can I do best?
- 2. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- 3. What are my most prominent skills and abilities?
- 4. What skills do I want to use on the job?
- 5. What skills do I need to acquire?
- 1. What am I interested in doing?
- 2. What activities have I enjoyed most?
- 3. With what kinds of people would I like to go to
- 4. What kind of school/job settings would I enjoy?
- 1. What satisfactions do I seek in a career?
- 2. In what ways must I be challenged and rewarded on the
- 3. In what type of school/work environments would I be
- 1. What personal qualities do I possess that will help me on
- 2. How will my personal style influence my career choice?
- 3. How will I get along with my supervisor? Co-workers?
Dream: (Dream BIG. Your crazy idea might not be so crazy.)
- 1. If I could do anything, what would my life look like?
- 2. What do I feel passionate about?
- 3. What your best workday would look like 10 years from
- 4. What makes you feel energized or connected?
Step Three: Identify Options
- 1. Post-Secondary Education
- 2. Military
- 3. Workforce
- 4. Apprenticeships and Internships
- 5. Self-employment and Entrepreneurship
- 6. Other
Step Four: Gather Information and
- 1. Examine the information and resources available to you.
- 2. Visit your counselor, career center, library, and the
- 3. Network -- take advantage of all networking opportunities
with peers, recent graduates, parents, staff, college and military
reps, business contacts, and community members.
- 4. Identify what additional information and resources you will
- 5. Seek out and utilize new information.
- 6. Use career connections website for academic and career
- 7. Seek out learning through experience opportunities
(volunteer, job shadow, etc.).
Step Five: Evaluate Options That Will Solve the
If you have completed your research, you are ready to evaluate
each of the options you have identified:
- 1. Identify the pros and cons of each alternative.
- 2. Identify the values and needs that are satisfied by
- 3. Identify the risks involved with each alternative.
- 4. Project the probable future consequences of selecting
- 1. Will I feel good about this choice? How will my parents feel
- 2. Will certain risks be involved? Am I willing to take such
- 3. Will it be satisfying for me? How will I feel about this
choice five years from now?
Step Six: Select One of the
Based on the information you have gathered and analyzed, you
should be able to choose one of the options. Do you have enough
information to choose one option over another? If not, you might
need to do more research. Consult with your parents, counselors,
school staff, experts in your field of interest, or other community
members. Don't forget to talk with graduates who have just
experienced a similar option.
Step Seven: Design a Course of Action to Implement
Having chosen one of the options, you can now begin developing
and implementing a plan of action. Confirm that the following have
- 1. What information or resources are needed to complete each
- 2. What are the obstacles to implementing my decision and how
can I overcome them?
- 3. Identify steps to implement the decision.
- 4. Identify when to begin and end each step.
- 5. Identify the information or resources needed to complete
- 6. Take time to review your course of action and/or change
direction if necessary.
Remember, not very many courses of action or career pathways are
direct. Sometimes it is in the process that we learn what the next
step needs to be.
Decision-making is a lifelong skill, so know you will have a lot
of opportunities to practice this important process. The more you
are willing to contribute to the process and to be open to the
variety of resources and people available to you, the more likely
it is you will meet with success! A little luck helps, too!
The Answer: "Five Gateways"
High school graduation is just around the corner! Most
students do not realize that there are different options to
consider after high school. These options are called "gateways" and
are listed below:
- 1. POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
- a. 4 year College and Universities
- b. 2 year Colleges and Community Colleges
- c. Technical and Professional schools and colleges
- 2. MILITARY
- a. Army
- b. Navy
- c. Air Force
- d. Marine Corps
- e. Coast Guard
- 3. WORKFORCE
- a. Full-time permanent jobs
- b. Combination of two or more part-time jobs
- c. Contract service on short-term basis
- 4. APPRENTICESHIPS AND INTERNSHIPS
- a. Carefully monitored work experiences with intentional
- 5. SELF-EMPLOYMENT AND ENTREPENEURSHIP
- a. Start a business
- b. Buy a business
- c. Take on a franchise
- d. Consult or freelance
- o Make decisions regarding post-secondary education.
- o Visit your school guidance counselor to see if you are on
track for colleges.
- o Continue college search and acquire admission applications to
- o Visit with the college reps at PHS for admission
- o Work on college applications and outline essay topics.
- o Organize your calendar with deadlines.
- o Check your transcript for correct credits.
- o Finalize resume.
- o Develop and organize a scholarship folder.
- o Begin to apply for available scholarships. Have an adequate
supply of senior photos.
- o Register by mail or online for the ACT and SAT. Have scores
sent to colleges.
- o Contact colleges you hope to attend and arrange on-campus
visits. Attend the Autauga County
- o Continue checking your school's scholarship files and the PHS
website under the guidance section and apply for scholarships that
you are interested in and qualified for.
- o Retake the AHSGE if needed.
- o Confirm with teachers writing recommendations.
- o Attend Senior Night for financial aid information
- o Apply to colleges with early admission application deadlines
- o Continue the college application process and visit
- o Attend post-secondary school rep meetings at your
- o Mail ROTC and military academy applications.
- o Last chance to register by mail for ACT/SAT. These test
scores are a requirement for most scholarships.
- o Finalize transcript requests and college applications.
- o Pick up a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- o Continue to apply for scholarships.
- o Dec. 1 is the deadline for most universities
- o Retake AHSGE if needed.
- o Remember to tell your counselor of college acceptances and
- o Complete and mail FAFSA forms.
- o Send thank you notes to teachers who have written your
- o Continue to apply for scholarships and notify your counselor
of any scholarships or awards.
- o Retake the AHSGE as needed.
- o Continue to notify your counselor of any scholarships or
awards you receive.
- o Let your counselor know about college acceptances.
- o Turn in all scholarship offers to Mrs. Harvard
- o Last chance to notify your counselor of scholarships or
outstanding academic achievements.
- o Attend Honors Night, and Graduation.
- o Remember to thank scholarships donors, teachers, and others
who have helped you.
- o Request that the high school registrar mail a final
copy of your official transcript to the college of
- o Register for summer orientation programs.
Application Deadline: The date by which
applications, including transcripts and SAT or ACT scores are due
at a college. Deadlines vary by college. Check each college for the
College Calendar: The calendar explains the
basic method used to divide the academic year (for instance;
semester, trimester, quarter) and lists all important dates for
beginning terms, holidays, vacations, exams, etc.
Common Application Form: This is a single
application form which is accepted by 391 institutions. After
completing the original application, you make copies and submit
these copies (electronically or by mail) to each of the
institutions to which you are applying that accept the Common
Application. Participating colleges pledge to view this common
application as equal to their own application.
Concentration: Usually referred to as a major,
a concentration is the particular subject or area in which a
student specializes. Usually most of the courses taken in the
junior and senior year are in the major field.
Consortium: This is a program where several
colleges and universities within close proximity of each other that
allow students to use the libraries or take classes at all member
institutions. Consortium members often present joint lecture
programs or unusual courses.
Deferred Admission: Deferred Admission is a
plan which permits a student, once accepted, to postpone
matriculation (application to be a candidate for a degree) for one
year in order to pursue other plans.
Deferred Decision: The college or university
determines that more information is needed to make a final decision
about a candidate's application. Often the decision is delayed
until the 1st semester grades and/or new test scores are
Early Action: Early action is a plan that
invites early application but does not require the student to
attend if accepted. Application deadline is usually early November
through December. Preferred date may be in October. Students may
apply to as many "EA" schools as they wish.
Early Decision: Early decision, a plan offered
by select number of colleges, allows a student apply between
October and mid-January (generally) for an early determination of
admissibility. Strong academic students, who are sure where they
want to go to college, may apply to their preferred school early.
If accepted, the student is obligated to attend. The student may
submit other application during this period, but only one can be
early decision. If accepted through the early decision program, the
student must withdraw all other applications.
Freshman Profile: This is a document published
by a college that includes a summary of the GPAs and SAT or ACT
scores of the previous freshman class. It can give you a sense of
where you stand in relation to other students.
Grade Point Average (GPA): The GPA is a
cumulative average of all your grades. The GPA is calculated at the
end of each year, and after the 1st semester of your senior
Rolling Admissions: The process of "first come,
first served" is often referred to as "rolling admissions. A
decision is made on the application as soon as the admissions
folder is complete.
Semester System: This is the academic school
calendar where the academic year is divided into three parts.
Transcript: A student's academic record is kept
on a transcript that is sent by the high school to the college or
university where the student is applying. This includes courses
taken, final grades, and cumulative GPA.
Waitlist: This is a list maintained by
selective schools containing names of students predicted to succeed
at the institution but not accepted until those accepted outright
decide whether or not they will attend. If space remains available,
the school contacts students on the "waitlist" generally between
May 1 and August 1.
Colleges and Universities
Students who wish to pursue a general academic program usually
choose a four-year college or university. Such a program lays the
foundation for more advanced studies and professional work.
Four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees (the
B.A. and B.S.) in most areas in the arts and sciences, such as
English Literature, foreign languages, history, economics,
political science, biology, zoology, chemistry, and in many other
Here are the main differences between four-year colleges and
Four-Year Colleges: These are post-secondary
schools that provide four-year educational programs in the arts and
sciences. These colleges confer bachelor's degrees.
Universities: These are post-secondary schools
that include a college of arts and/or sciences, one or more
programs of graduate studies, and one or more professional schools.
Universities confer bachelor's degrees and graduate and
When a student earns a bachelor's degree it means that he or she
has passed examinations in a broad range of courses and has studied
one or two subject areas in greater depth. (These one or two
subject areas are called a student's "major" area(s) of
"concentration.") A bachelor's degree is usually required before a
student can begin studying for a graduate degree. A graduate degree
is usually earned through two or more years of study beyond the
typical four years of college. This might be a master's or a
doctoral degree in a particular field or a specialized degree
required in certain professions such as law, social work,
architecture, or medicine.
What Colleges Look
College admissions officers are looking for well-rounded
students who will be academically successful at their institutions.
Since most colleges have more applicants than they have available
space, they establish certain criteria for selection:
Strength of the Program
Letters of Recommendations
Leadership Positions and Awards
While the criteria may be the same from school to school, their
order of importance will vary. No single factor will determine
acceptance or rejection. Some colleges may look only at grades and
test scores. Most, however, are interested in more than just the
academic record. They want to know about accomplishments,
interests, and future goals. The most important thing is to take
challenging courses and hard work.
Many colleges require applicants for admissions to take entrance
exams. College catalogues refer to these test requirements under
Admission Procedures. The test usually required is either the SAT I
or the ACT. Some colleges also require the SAT IIs, the Test of
English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the English Language
Proficiency Test (ELPT).
Each year registration procedures are revised and modified. It
is the student's responsibility to read the materials provided by
the colleges they are applying to and the Educational Testing
Service. Students are strongly encouraged to register on-line.
Registration materials may also be picked up in the Guidance
This three hour and 35 minute test, which is administered by the
College Board, measures critical reading and mathematical
reasoning, language usage, and writing. Each of the three areas has
a total possible point score of 800 and is reported as part of the
top score of 2400. All scores are reported to the colleges that you
requested them to be sent to. Colleges then have the option of
taking the best scores from all the tests you have taken or
selecting the best single combination of scores at any one
These are four 35-60 minutes tests in the academic area of
English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Students
receive four separate scores plus a composite score. Each score is
reported as the accurate portion from a total of 36. There is an
optional writing assessment which is required by certain colleges.
Check the ACT websites (www.act.org) or the college website
to determine if you will need this section.
College bound students might also need to take the SAT IIs.
These are one-hour, primarily multiple-choice tests in specific
subjects such as: American history, European history, Biology,
Chemistry, English Literature, Mathematics Level I, Mathematics
Level II, Physics, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Chinese,
Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. Some colleges require or recommend
one, two or three of these tests for admission or placement
purposes. Check the
requirements of colleges under consideration before deciding which
tests to take.
Registration and Test
Registration materials and preparation booklets are located in
the Counseling and Guidance Office. Most students are now
registering online. All students should prepare for the tests by
taking practice tests. Other excellent resources included: www.act.org and www.collegeboard.com.
Test dates for both the ACT and the SAT are listed on
the PHS website. They are also posted in the Counseling and
Guidance Office on the bulletin board.
Comparison of the SAT and ACT
Review your ACT composite score and your SAT I score in the
columns below. The score that is the highest on the scale of either
column is your best score. There are times when your score on one
or both tests will be significantly higher than the other.
Colleges/universities use this scale or a similar ACT/SAT
(equivalency table) to compute your best score.
Admission is based on these scores and your high school GPA in
No order of difficulty
Grammar and heavy reading
Need Algebra, Geometry, and Trig
Based on school curriculum
Not as tricky, less distracting
No guessing penalty
Science reasoning section
English grammar tested
Scoring: 0-36 points
Proceeds in order of difficulty
No score choice
Need Algebra and Geometry
Not based on school curriculum
Tends to be tricky
Writing section added
Scoring: 200-800 points per section
Assured admission to state universities is dependent upon being
ranked in the top 25% of the graduating class, with no
To register with the NCAA Clearinghouse, fill out the online
form at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net,
or call the NCAA publications hotline at 800-638-3731 and ask for a
free copy of the "Guide for College-Bound Student Athlete" which
contains the registration forms and Clearinghouse brochure. This
guide can also be viewed at the NCAA website listed above.
For questions about whether your transcript, student release
form, etc. were received, or about when you will be cleared, call
the automated system at 877-861-3003. You will need your Personal
Identification Number (PIN) and Social Security Number.
If you've misplaced your PIN number or if your need other
information, you may contact the Clearinghouse at:
Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse
2255 N. Dubuque Road
P.O. Box 4044
Iowa City, IA 52243-4044
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday
Letters of Recommendation
Many colleges ask you to supplement your application with
letters of recommendation. It is your responsibility to determine
what letters, if any, are required. Colleges may specify that
recommendations come from:
- Teachers in academic subjects who can attest to your academic
- Coaches and teachers who can attest to your athletic or
- Teachers/ Employers who can address your personal strengths,
accomplishments, and special circumstances which might have an
impact on an admission decision; or others, such as club sponsors,
religious leaders, employers, who can give evidence of your
character and leadership ability.
Steps for Securing Recommendations:
- Read the directions on applications. How many recommendations
do you need? Who should you contact for a recommendation? Prepare a
short list of teachers who you think would write good
recommendations for you. Most colleges prefer a variety of
disciplines. Generally, the teachers should be ones you have had
either junior or senior year.
- Ask your selected teachers if they are willing to write you a
recommendation. Do not assume they will do so. Confirm the request
in writing. Ask for the letter to be printed on letterhead if that
- If the letter needs to emphasize a special accomplishment or
skill indicate the emphasis to the person writing the letter.
- Provide all necessary forms and information to your
teacher at least one month before the
recommendation is due. Provide a resume of
activities and interests beyond the specific teachers' course.
Include a pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelope for each college for
your teachers' convenience. Ask your teacher to provide a copy of
the letter to your counselor.
- Approximately one week before the letter is due, thank
your teachers for writing the letters for you.
Prattville High School College Visitation
Students are encouraged to use vacation days to visit college
campuses for the purpose of tours, information, and
interviews. If this is not possible, school-day visits may be
arranged by the following regulations listed below:
Seniors are allowed 2 excused days per semester to visit
colleges. You must have the following prior to the visit
A note from the parent to Mrs. Harvard/ teachers prior to
the college visit
Upon your return from the visit, you must bring written
verification form the college that you made a visit. The
written verification along with an excuse from your parents will be
filed by the student center to indicate you have an excused
absence. Remember, we will be taking field trips to Troy
University, Auburn University, University of Alabama, and
University of Alabama at Birmingham.
A student applying for college must submit an official
transcript from Prattville High School. To have a transcript sent
to a college, a transcript release form must be signed by a parent
(unless you are 18 years old). The transcript release form may be
downloaded from the PHS website or you may pick one up at the
registrar's office. Prattville High School does not fax or
allow hand carried transcripts. It is the
student's responsibility to request a transcript at least
two weeks ahead of any due dates.
Due to the December 1st deadline (for most
colleges and universities) all seniors must turn in their request
two weeks before Thanksgiving break.