Tips for College Bound Students

Focus on Learning

  • Colleges are interested in admitting students who are life-long learners.  The Great Hearts curriculum is academically rigorous and contains all the elements for your success in college. To prepare for college, you should participate in your learning and maintain the very best grades you are capable of obtaining.
  • Develop strong work habits now. Ask for help outside of class if you need it. Time management is crucial in learning to balance schoolwork with other interests.  Use quarterly grades to help determine if you need to study more, get more rest, or seek additional help from your teachers.
  • All semester grades (not quarterly) are recorded on your official transcript and reported to a college or university.  Your GPA is cumulative meaning every semester grade from your freshman year going forward counts towards your GPA. Great Hearts Irving reports both weighted and unweighted GPA to prospective colleges and universities. Students receive extra grade weighting for all honors level classes. Fine arts classes and PE are not honors and, therefore, are not weighted.
  • The better your grades, the more college options you will have!

Develop Your Interests

  • While a strong academic record is key, exploring and developing interests in and out of the classroom is just as important at this stage.
  • You should explore athletic teams, clubs, and community service organizations to discover your strengths and interest.
  • A college admits a cohort made up of students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, different geographic areas, and students with different academic interests, socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs and political views.  Think about what type of unique contribution you will bring to your college campus.  Nurture your uniqueness by getting more involved with what you love.
  • Consider leadership opportunities in or outside of Great Hearts Irving.  Examples include Boys and Girls Club, Boys and Girls Team Charity, Speech and Debate, etc.
  • Consider depth versus breadth when considering how many things you can be involved with at one time.
  • Make summers productive—take enrichment courses, attend summer camps or workshops, volunteer or work.
  • Participate in competitions that showcase your skills.
  • Keep an academic portfolio and co-curricular record. Document every award, honor, activity, and leadership position you hold. These are crucial elements to many scholarship and college applications. Start a resume on Naviance to help with this process. Work and volunteer experience is also important.

Standardized Testing

  • You will take the PSAT/NMSQT exam in October your sophomore and junior years. The PSAT/NMSQT taken in your junior year is also the qualifier for the National Merit distinction.  Some families may choose to take a PSAT prep class the summer before or in the fall prior to the October PSAT/NMSQT.  Great Hearts Irving offers discounts with Varsity Tutors for test prep classes.
  • Some students determine early on that they want to strive for admission at highly selective colleges and or earn college credit while in high school. Students can take SAT Subject Tests, AP tests, CLEP tests or even college classes during the summer to showcase their aptitude.  Students should consider take these types of tests very soon after the class has been completed so the knowledge is fresh. To learn more, go to: SAT Subject TestsCLEP TestsAP TestsPlease note that these tests are not required for admission to the majority of universities and very few students will need to take any of these tests. Consult the university website to determine if SAT Subject tests are recommended or required for admission.  Examples of some colleges that require SAT Subject tests are Harvey Mudd, Princeton, and Dartmouth.  Also, don’t assume you will receive college credit for an AP score.  Every university varies in their policy; check the university’s website. 

Financial Aid

  •  Families with significant financial need as defined by federal guidelines may be eligible for SAT and ACT fee waivers and college application waivers.  Set up an appointment with College Counseling to learn whether you qualify.

Exploring Colleges

  •  It is not too early to start visiting college campuses during fall and spring breaks.  The summer is another opportunity to visit,  but often there are a limited number of students on campus. If during a summer visit you like what you learn, you can always go back to visit when school is in session. You can schedule a tour by going on the university website.
  • You can take advantage of the college visits that take place on our high school campus, college fairs, and special events hosted in the evening at GHI. Naviance will keep you informed of all events.

College Counseling Help

  •  Sign up for an appointment with Dr. Smith ( Your college counselor will be one of your greatest advocates and responsible for writing a letter of recommendation on your behalf.