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Senior Resources

Resources below are available for students and parents to help plan and prepare for after high school. 

ACT Information

The ACT is a test that helps college’s know how academically prepared you are for college-level work.

For more information, test registration, test prep and anything else you might have questions please visit ACT's official Website. 


The counseling office also offers ACT Test Waivers for students who qualify for them. Waiver requirements can be view here

In hopes to help students access the ACT, the GHS Counseling staff offer the ACT during the April and October testing window. Test dates can be seen below. 


2019-2020 Test Dates (National)

Test Date Registration Deadline (Late Fee Required)
September 14, 2019 August 16, 2019 August 17-30, 2019
October 26, 2019 September 20, 2019 September 21-October 4, 2019
December 14, 2019 November 8, 2019 November 9-22, 2019
February 8, 2020 January 10, 2020 January 11-17, 2020
April 4, 2020 February 28, 2020 February 29-March 13, 2020
June 13, 2020 May 8, 2020 May 9-22, 2020
July 18, 2020 June 19, 2020 June 20-26, 2020

Alternatives to College

Here are four alternatives to a four-year degree program (from US News)

1. Earn a certificate: “In this economy, you have to demonstrate some sort of aptitude in a particular area. If it’s not with a college degree, then some sort of postsecondary education is still required and important,” says Lateefah Durant, officer of college and career readiness and innovative programs for Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Community colleges offer more than a cheaper path to a four-year degree. Students can earn certifications in various industries, some high-paying, and get to work in less time than it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree.

[Read about four degrees that are better to earn at a community college.]

2. Try an apprenticeship: Students who want to get paid while they learn a trade in an in-demand field that can lead to a high-paying job should consider apprenticeships. The length of an apprenticeship varies and in some cases, trainees have the opportunity to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree, without the student debt.

“I have paid you a full salary. I’ve given health care. I’ve given you a 401(k). I’ve given you a skill set that you can clearly take anywhere in this country because it’s highly sought after and I don’t require you, if you left the day after graduation, to pay me back,” says Bill Ermatinger, corporate vice president and chief human resources officer at Huntington Ingalls Industries, a shipbuilding corporation that owns two apprentice schools.

The programs can be competitive. Ermatinger says that he receives more than 10,000 applications to fill about 480 spots.

[Learn more about the ins and outs of apprenticeships.]

3. Join the military: The military is another way for students to get specialized training in a wide range of fields and free or reduced education.

“The military provides superb training in various areas,” says PGCPS’ Durant. The military gives candidates an assessment to help them find the best fit, Durant says. “Following your service that training is something that you carry with you for the rest of your life.”

Some high schools offer JROTC programs, which can give students some insight into military life and procedure.

4. Consider a gap year: Dale Stephens, 23, dropped out during his freshman year of college.

“I ended up being really frustrated with my college experience because I found that most people who were there really didn’t have a lot of intention as to why they were there. They wanted to be told what to do, and there wasn’t really a lot of freedom to have agency or choice in what I was learning,” he says.

Stephens was in the first class of the Thiel Fellowship, which gives participants a grant to focus on work, research and education outside of a university. After he dropped out of college, Stephens wrote about his experiences on his blog, landed a book deal and developed UnCollege, an organization that teaches participants practical skills to help them with personal and professional growth. His goal is to teach young adults the skills that they need to be functioning and successful self-learners so they can advance in any path they choose, even if that’s college.

[Determine how a gap year can make a student successful.]

Organizations like the Thiel Fellowship and UnCollege can be a great way for teens to explore their interests before they commit to a path. But with limited space, the programs can be competitive.

5. Have you ever considering being an exchange student?  If so, consider checking out Greenheart International at https://www.cci-exchange.com/

College Planning

The path to going to college is a very exciting one!  The HS school counselors, absolutely love working with students and families to figure out what school is the right one, to help with attaining scholarships, and then seeing our kids walking across the stage at graduation knowing they are heading to the school of their dreams. Please check out the appropriate one for you.  Also, we have set up a quick list of the basics of the college admissions process.

When it comes down to it the process of going from a high school senior to becoming a college freshman is pretty easy.  The tough part is making sure that things are done correctly, determining which college is the right fit, and students and parents are getting the best deal possible in attending that school. Here is are a few things that really need to happen in order to make the college transition:

1. Visit the campus. (junior year or throughout the senior year)

2. Apply for admission as early in the senior year as possible. (August through October of the senior year)

3. Apply for housing if the student is planning on living in the dorms. (ASAP after being accepted from a college)

4. Apply for scholarships from multiple sources, but most of all, investigate how to get as many scholarships from the colleges the student is applying to for admission. (Junior and Senior year)

5. Have all college entrance exams been taken?  ACT? SAT? ALEKS?

6. Apply for financial aid by the priority deadline by using the FAFSA form as soon as possible after October 1st during the senior year.

7. Once award letters from all the schools have been received (January to March of the senior year) students will see a more detail picture of what the costs of attendance will be and the financial aid package the college is offering.

8. Accept and decline the award letters. Let the colleges know if the student will be attending or not. (Before May 1 of the senior year)

9. Set up a time for orientation at the school. (Early summer after the senior year if at all possible)

10. Send a final transcript after graduation. (Late May. We do this automatically!)



College/University Visiting Information...Coming Soon

Concurrent Enrollment/College Classes... Coming Soon

Financial Aid Information

A college education is one of the largest financial investments you'll make for your future. You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a program and a school that's right for you, all of which cost some money and most of which cost a lot. Fortunately, you also have several options when it comes to managing your financial commitment.

Whether you are just now exploring how much college costs or planning your continued education, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Don't let that stop you from pursuing your dreams. Remember:

The money you spend now is an investment.

With a college education, you can earn up to $800,000 more over your life than you would with only a high school diploma, according to a 2007 College Board study. With costs rising yearly, a semester of college costs less now than it will later on.

Average Tuition Rates in Iowa

  • Private four-year college - $12,850 - $50,714 per academic year
  • Public four-year university - $8,420-$8,973.50 per academic year
  • Public two-year college - $151 - $194 per credit hour

Remember, you'll also have to pay for room and board, transportation, fees, and personal expenses. Most colleges have an estimated cost for these expenses.

Make a Plan to Cover Costs

You might be shocked when you see the cost of college for the first time. Take a deep breath — financial assistance and other options are available.

First, consider what money you have available to you right now. Perhaps you and/or your parents have been able to save enough money to pay for at least some of college. Even if you haven't, it's not too late to start. The more money you can contribute up front, the less you'll have to pay back later.

Talk to your parents about savings or investments you may be able to tap. This is also the time to discuss how much of your education you can each pay for.

Keep in mind that, with financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans, you may pay less than the average. So, keep a positive attitude and keep working toward your dreams.

Types of Financial Aid

Financial aid is simply the grants, scholarships, work-study and/or federal loans you qualify for. To apply for aid, you'll need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education. The FAFSA is a free form that may be completed without professional assistance via paper or electronic forms provided by the U.S. Department of Education. If you need help, ICAN offers no-cost assistance. We invite ICAN to our HS in the fall and spring to help with questions and FAFSA completion. 

  • Grants are given by the government, schools or organizations to help you through school. Grants do not need to be repaid and are usually given based on financial need. Grants are awarded as part of your overall financial aid package.
  • Scholarships also don't need to be repaid and are usually given based on financial need or merit (meaning you've earned it by being a good student, a good athlete or meeting some other qualification). Scholarships are awarded by private donors or schools.
  • Work-Study involves a part-time job, usually on campus, so you earn a paycheck (usually to cover personal expenses) while attending school. Work-study jobs are awarded as part of your overall financial aid package, but you'll need to check the openings and apply for jobs.
  • Student loans must be repaid (with interest) and are often used to cover expenses that can't be paid for in other ways. Many college loans are set up so you don't need to begin making payments until after you graduate.

Letters of Recommendation

As students complete college applications and start thinking about scholarships, most of you will need a letter of recommendation. 

  • The counseling department will be asking students to complete this Google Form to request those. It will help us keep them updated but also will allow students to see once it is completed. 

Scholarship Information

Scholarships are essentially gifts of money given to help fund a college education.  With college tuition rising at dramatic rates earning scholarship money can really help.  There are two basic types of scholarships:  Merit-based and need-based scholarships:

  • Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students that have a particular skill (musical talent, athletic ability, etc.), high academic achievements, community service, among other things.
  • Need-based scholarships are given to students that financially need the money in order to be able to afford college.  Fortunately, there are a lot of scholarships available for students to help pay for college. It is a common belief for parents to feel they will not qualify for need-based.  For most need-based aid, completing the FAFSA form can be a requirement to earn need based scholarships.
  • Automatic Scholarships are when seniors apply for admission and many colleges have scholarships that are awarded automatically to the student. These scholarships maybe for a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars (or more). These tend to be merit-based scholarships based on GPA, the classes taken, and/or ACT or SAT scores. (Iowa State’s Automatic Scholarships)
  • Athletic Scholarships are given to athletes who compete at a high level and are recruited by a college team to come and play for them. You can apply and find out more at NCAA Eligibility Center.

How do students get/earn scholarships?

Apply for Admission Early: Students tend to get the most scholarship money from the college that they attend.  In order to get the most scholarship money, students should apply for admission as early as possible. Seniors should try to apply for admission to any college that they are considering during August, September, or October of his or her senior year.  This will help the college communicate with them about scholarship opportunities that the school is offering.  If a student puts off applying to the colleges that they are considering the colleges will not know they are interested and will not send information specific scholarship opportunities.  I see students nearly every year that lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships because they put off applying for admission until December or later.

Private Scholarships: There are literally billions of dollars awarded each year in private scholarships.  There are several ways to find these scholarships.  Each spring we have many local scholarships available here at Gilbert High School.  Throughout the year I receive many scholarship opportunities in the mail and I post listings on this page (see the top of this page!), in the district newsletter, in the hallways of Gilbert High School and also I hand deliver the listings to the seniors!

There are also ways to find scholarships by going to the colleges’ websites.

There are other places you can find scholarships as well.  Google is your friend.  I once had a student who had chronic psoriasis.  She Googled “scholarships for people with psoriasis” and she found a scholarship and was awarded a $1000 check.  Check with your church, your employer (https://www.hy-vee.com/company/scholarships/default.aspx), your parent's employer, your bank, and all of the community organizations in your area (Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, etc.). There are scholarships all over the place.

There are also several websites that help students find private scholarships.  Here are some of the best:

Fastweb.com | Scholarships.com | Meritaid.org  www.schoolsoup.com Ι ICan Scholarships Ι State Grants

Scholarship Tips:

  1. Apply for admission to the colleges you are considering very early (summer to fall of your senior year) and apply for as many of their scholarships as possible.
  2. Apply! It is true, there is a lot of scholarships that never get awarded to anyone because there are no applicants.  I know of full-tuition scholarships where they have more scholarships than applicants.  Every year I have to beg for students to apply for $500 to $1000 scholarships where I know a Gilbert student will get the scholarship and no one has applied yet.  We usually have a few scholarships where there is only one applicant.  The winner usually gets awarded $500 to $1000 for putting 20-30 minutes into the application.  As I often say, students can make more money per hour filling out scholarship apps than they may make for the rest of their life.
  3. Work hard on your studies and shoot for the best GPA for you!  There are many students with very average GPA’s that get a lot of scholarship money, especially when they have been very involved in school and/or their community.
  4. Get involved in something whether that is school-related or not.
  5. Write out a resume so you can add it to your application and to give it to the people who need to write you recommendations.
  6. You will need letters of recommendation from people.  Nearly everyone is willing to write you a recommendation so don’t be afraid to ask.  Make sure you give them at least a week to write it and give them a resume to help them put specifics into their letter of recommendation.  Lastly, let them know what they need to do with the recommendation.  Do they put it in a sealed envelope and return it to you? Do they need to mail it?  Do they email it or upload it? What are they supposed to do with it.  May sure you let them know.
  7. Be aware of the deadlines and make sure your application is turned in well before the deadline. If you do not know what you are supposed to do with your finished application please come and see me.  It isn’t always clear how you are supposed to turn them in so please let me know if you have questions.
  8. Keep every essay you write as you may be able to use it, or a version of it, again for another scholarship.
  9. If you have questions please ask me or contact the scholarship organization.
  10. When you look at a scholarship and you think you don’t have good enough grades or haven’t volunteered enough or….. whatever it is other people feel the same way.  This is why scholarships tend to have very few or no applicants.  Try to see writing out scholarship apps like a job and you will do very well for yourself.

Applications MUST be completed by the applicant. Under no circumstances can parents, teachers or counselors complete a scholarship application for a student, nor should they. This is the first step in High School students learning to be independent and responsible as they transition to college. No scholarship or applicant information will be discussed with or released to anyone other than the applicant for most scholarship applications.