College Counseling Plan for Freshmen

Challenging curriculum builds a strong transcript.
  • Enroll in a challenging curriculum and achieve your best. This is the foundation year of your Barstow transcript.
  • Attend a college fair. All local fairs will be listed on the college counseling calendar.
  • Become involved in activities that showcase your skills and passions.
  • Attend the Upper School Club Fair in early fall. Colleges look for meaningful involvement in 2-3 extracurricular organizations, with a progression to a leadership position.
  • Complete service hours in an area of interest, while focusing on underserved populations. Hours start accumulating the summer prior to ninth grade.
  • Attend Information Night for Freshman and Parents held in the spring.
  • Maintain a portfolio and resume of all achievements, honors and leadership positions.

How to Conduct a Self Evaluation

A self evaluation can help you begin and refine your college search process. Identifying your personal values, goals, strengths and interests can guide you in your search for the right fit school. Consider these categories in your evaluation: 
  • Goals and values
  • Academic interests
  • Abilities assessment
  • Activities inventory
  • Outside interests
  • Career awareness
  • Learning style
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Short-term & long-term goals
  • Relationships with others
  • Personality
  • Likes & dislikes

Testing Timeline

List of 4 items.

  • Freshman Year

    • No testing
  • Sophomore Year

    • PSAT & PreACT in fall
    • ACT in June
    • AP Exams when appropriate
  • Junior Year

    • PSAT for National Merit Scholarship Competition
    • ACT/SAT/TOEFL in fall, spring and/or summer
    • AP Exams when appropriate
  • Senior Year

    • AP Exams optional

Testing Information

A growing number of institutions are now test optional or test free. Our college counselors can discuss whether this is a suitable option for you.

Curriculum for College-Bound Students

25 credits required for graduation

List of 8 items.

  • English

    4 credits
  • Mathematics

    4 credits
  • Science

    3 credits
  • History & Social Sciences

    3 credits
  • World Languages

    3 credits
  • The Arts

    2 credits
  • Physical Education

    1 credit
  • Leadership & Service Learning

    ½ credit

Prepare Yourself Academically

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Decide on your program of study.

    Choose from College Prep, Honors or Advanced Placement/Honors College options.
  • Choose extracurricular activities and seek leadership roles.

    In addition to robotics, theatre and debate signature programs, students will find a wide variety of clubs and organizations that align with their interests. These may include Knowledge Bowl, Cybersecurity Team, Agathon, B-Line Newspaper, Young Playwright’s Roundtable, Amnesty International, French Club, Pretenders, Weathercock Yearbook and many more.
  • Consider offerings from local colleges.

    Enhance your academic preparation with classes at a community college or a four-year institution.
  • Check out summer enrichment programs and internships.

    Online and in-person summer enrichment programs are offered at many colleges and universities. They vary in content, length, deadlines, cost and dates. 
    If there is a particular college of interest to you, check out their website to see what may be available on campus this summer.
  • Consider adding a Certificate of Emphasis.

    The Certificate of Emphasis (COE) program gives highly motivated upper school students the opportunity to conduct advanced, hands-on student in an area of special interest. Students who complete the program’s three main components (rigorous coursework, mentorship by a professional in their field and a capstone project) receive a designation on their transcript.
  • Job Shadowing and Mentorship

    Short-term work-based learning experiences allow students to observe a professional in their field of interest. Professional mentors can offer advice and  expertise as a student considers a major and career path.

For Academic Accommodation

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Jessica Chanos

    Jessica Chanos 

    Director of Social and Emotional Counseling Services & ID+E Co-Director
    (816) 277-0372

Admission Factors

The college admission process varies with the type of school you consider. Many factors influence admission decisions, including:
  • Grade point average
  • Rigor of curriculum
  • Standardized tests (or test-optional)
  • Leadership experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Community service
  • Activities outside of the classroom
  • Application short answers & essay
  • Character
  • Reputation of high school
  • Major
  • Special talents, skills, interests
  • Diversity
  • Audition or art portfolio
  • Legacy
  • Engagement
  • Admission cycle
  • Cross-cultural experience
  • Special traits (entrepreneurship, research, global education)
  • Digital reputation

Types of Applications

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Early Decision (ED)

    Early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college.
  • Early Action (EA)

    Early action plans are nonbinding. Students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1.
  • Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA)

    Applying SCEA indicates to a college that it is a student’s first-choice school. Student signs an agreement that they will file only one early application at a private institution.
  • Regular Decision (RD)

    The normal process by which students apply by published deadlines, with an admissions decision received no later than April 1 of their senior year. Students make their acceptance by May 1.
  • Rolling Admission (RA)

    Schools evaluate applications as they are received versus waiting to evaluate all applications after a deadline. They process applications until they fill all slots for an incoming class.

College Campus Visits

As you visit college campuses across the country, it’s important to make the most of your time on each campus. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do all of these things on every campus, but remember, the student should take the lead on these visits. Here are some important tips. 

Keys to a Successful Search

List of 8 items.

  • Be Organized

  • Timeline

    Create a timeline and start early.
  • Fit

    Consider academic, social and financial fit.
  • Balance

    Build a balanced list.
  • Visit

    Visit colleges early, in person or virtually.
  • Network

    Network with college representatives.
  • Communicate

    Be responsible with communication. Read & respond to email.
  • Options

    Realize that more than one school might be right for you.

Helpful Books

List of 2 items.

  • Fiske Guide to Colleges

    Edward Fiske
  • Colleges That Change Lives

    Loren Pope