skip to main content
Social Image 1 Social Image 2
Home Banner1 Banner2 Banner3 Banner4

Senior Handbook


Senior Handbook

Prattville High School
1315 Upper Kingston Rd.
Prattville, AL 36067
Work 334-365-8804
Fax 334-358-0011



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.

Decision-Making Model

Step One: Identifying the Decision to be Made

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 life?
  • 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 (Self-Assessment)

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 school/work?
  • 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 job?
  • 3. In what type of school/work environments would I be happy?


  • 1. What personal qualities do I possess that will help me on the job?
  • 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 now?
  • 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 Data

  • 1. Examine the information and resources available to you.
  • 2. Visit your counselor, career center, library, and the internet.
  • 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 need.
  • 5. Seek out and utilize new information.
  • 6. Use career connections website for academic and career planning.
  • 7. Seek out learning through experience opportunities (volunteer, job shadow, etc.).

Step Five: Evaluate Options That Will Solve the Problem

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 each.
  • 3. Identify the risks involved with each alternative.
  • 4. Project the probable future consequences of selecting each.

Ask yourself:

  • 1. Will I feel good about this choice? How will my parents feel about it?
  • 2. Will certain risks be involved? Am I willing to take such risks?
  • 3. Will it be satisfying for me? How will I feel about this choice five years from now?

Step Six: Select One of the Options

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 the Decision

Having chosen one of the options, you can now begin developing and implementing a plan of action. Confirm that the following have been evaluated:

  • 1. What information or resources are needed to complete each step?
  • 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 each step.
  • 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:


  • a. 4 year College and Universities
  • b. 2 year Colleges and Community Colleges
  • c. Technical and Professional schools and colleges


  • a. Army
  • b. Navy
  • c. Air Force
  • d. Marine Corps
  • e. Coast Guard


  • a. Full-time permanent jobs
  • b. Combination of two or more part-time jobs
  • c. Contract service on short-term basis


  • a. Carefully monitored work experiences with intentional learning goals


  • a. Start a business
  • b. Buy a business
  • c. Take on a franchise
  • d. Consult or freelance

Senior Planner


  • 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 selected colleges.
  • o Visit with the college reps at PHS for admission information.
  • 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 College/Career Day and Countdown  to College Night.
  • 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 o Confirm with teachers writing recommendations.


  • o Apply to colleges with early admission application deadlines by November.
  • o Continue the college application process and visit schools.
  • o Attend post-secondary school rep meetings at your school.
  • o Mail ROTC and military academy applications.
  • Take the ACT


  • o Finalize transcript requests and college applications.


  • o Pick up a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • o Continue to apply for scholarships.
  • Dec. 1 is the deadline for most universities for scholarships.
  • o Remember to tell your counselor of college acceptances and scholarship awards.
  • Take the ACT


  • o Complete and mail FAFSA forms.
  • o Send thank you notes to teachers who have written your recommendations.


  • o Apply for scholarships


  • o Continue to apply for scholarships and notify your counselor of any scholarships or awards.


  • 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.
  • Request a final transcript through Parchment
  • o Register for summer orientation programs.


College Terminology

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 deadline.

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 received.

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 year.

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.


Four-Year 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 fields.

Here are the main differences between four-year colleges and universities.

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 professional degrees.

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 For

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:

Academic Record
Strength of the Program
Test Scores
Letters of Recommendations
Student Essay

Other factors considered:
Sports Involvement
Special Talents
Summer Experience
Volunteer/Community Work
Music Involvement
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.

College Admissions Tests

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 Office.



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 time.


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 ( 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 Preparation

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: and


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 Scores

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 core classes.


No order of difficulty
Score choice
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
Vocabulary heavy
Need Algebra and Geometry
Not based on school curriculum
Tends to be tricky
Guessing penalty
No science
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 deficiencies.


To register with the NCAA Clearinghouse, fill out the online form at, 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:

Customer Service: 877-262-1492

24-hour Voice Response:                    877-861-3003

Fax:                                                  319-337-1556

Mail:                                                 Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse
2255 N. Dubuque Road
P.O. Box 4044
Iowa City, IA 52243-4044

Office Hours:                                     8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday


Application Essentials

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 strengths.
  • Coaches and teachers who can attest to your athletic or artistic talent.
  • 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 applies.
  • 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 therecommendation 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 Policy

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.             

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.