College Planning and College Testing the Focus of the College Board
We are nearing the time of the year that many high school seniors and other college applicants receive their college acceptance letters. This is a time of great anticipation, and many decisions need to be made. The organizational challenges can be stressful, particularly for students who may not have family or friends who have gone through the process for assistance and advice. There is an overwhelming amount of resources online, but one of the oldest, the College Board, continues to rank among the best. MuniNet Guide chooses Top Picks to be among the very best resources online in a particular category; in this case, education and schools, but we also focus on healthcare, public policy, citizen engagement, and more. College Board is truly a Top Pick for college preparation.
College Board was founded in 1900 as a mission-driven non-profit organization, and helps over seven million students make the college transition annually. Among the many services they offer, the most notable are test prep and information, college search and financing resources, aids and materials for teachers, and research for policy makers.
The College Board offers resources to the SAT, multiple versions of the PSAT, and resources to identify and sign up for AP courses. The College Board works with over 6,000 education institutions, including more than just schools. After creating an account, clicking the Register Now button on the Take the SAT page takes the student on a step-by-step process, including a preview of all the materials you will need to complete registration. This saves you from getting halfway through and realizing you don’t have the documentation you need. Students can register for the SAT, and get scores from previous tests. Students can then send them to colleges and universities, all from the same page, all with a click. Official practice tests can be downloaded for free in PDF form, along with answer sheets.
Beyond testing, the College Board site offers fact sheets on financial aid and college planning decisions. Subject matters include financial aid, and resources to find grants and scholarships. It also helps students avoid financial aid scams, and view the various types of public and private loans available.
Making a Plan
My favorite feature has the student answer five multiple-choice questions. Based on the answers, it then develops a customized to-do list for the student, with a recommended order of priority. The questions are:
- What grade are you in?
- When it comes to searching for colleges, which best describes you?
- How much help do you want finding ways to pay for college?
- Do you think you’ll start out at a 2-year or a 4-year college?
- When you imagine college, what are you most excited about?
I created a profile based on being in 10th grade, and having some colleges already in mind. I also answered looking for a lot of help finding ways to pay for college, planning to attend a 4-year college, and being most excited about living on my own. The questionnaire took me to Winter of 10th Grade. The plan shows six activity categories throughout, from Making School Count to Applying for College; the emphasis the plan gives to each category changes based on the season and year, and your answers. A list of recommended activities, from finding a mentor, reading case studies on life in the dorms vs. off-campus, and a list of key upcoming dates are provided. More than a checklist, the activities offer practical resources on how to accomplish each item. You are also able to mark things off as you complete them, to keep yourself organized.
Making it Count
College has the potential to be one of the most important and rewarding times in a person’s life. The College Board helps set priorities and expectations, and get on the right path for success. The site offers more for students than the features discussed here. Numerous items are also available for parents and teachers at all stages in the process. I highly recommend utilizing the College Board to any individual or family looking for a leg up in seeking higher education, and greater opportunity.
by Jeffrey L Garceau
Note: No commercial or other relationship exists between Top Pick sites and MuniNet Guide, MuniNet LLC, or the author. One of MuniNet Guide’s missions is to direct visitors to valuable online resources that are hand-chosen, rather than algorithm-directed by common search engines.