Department of Defense Education Activity

College Information

Planning for College: A Guide for Students and Their Parents

College Bound? If you are interested in attending college after graduating from high school, this page will help you get started.

While it's true when it comes to preparing for college. "the earlier. the better", it is never too late to plan for higher education.

Your College Checklist:

To make your dreams of college a reality, you will need to formulate a step-by-step plan. The following checklist is one possible way to carry out your preparations for college:

  • Assemble a portfolio; this can be achieved over several years, or in a short time, if necessary.
  • Make an appointment to talk with your guidance counselor.
  • Research different colleges and their admission requirements through the MyROAD computer program at your high school.
  • Explore financial aid options.
  • Make plans to learn about and take any required college admission tests.
  • Once you have decided where you want to apply, complete all applications and supplemental information to create a well-organized college admissions packet.

You may choose to order your preparations for college differently, but remember that the key to successful college selection and admissions is careful planning. Good luck to you as you plan for college!

Your Portfolio

A portfolio is an excellent way to get started in planning for college. This method of preparing to enter college should begin early, usually by the eighth or ninth grade, but can be started at any time. Your portfolio will contain information about your extracurricular activities, awards, jobs (including volunteer work), and grades at school. It's a good idea to collect the information about these important milestones - in the form of notes, report cards, award certificates, newspaper articles, photographs, etc. - as they happen. That way, you won't have to remember and collect everything when you are ready to apply for college.

Your Guidance Counselor

Start with your school's guidance counselor. Make an appointment to talk about your plans for college - thoughts on your future study and career, type of school (a two-year community college or a four-year college), location, and expenses. Make a list of questions you'd like to ask your guidance counselor before your appointment. Some examples might be: 

  • What courses should I take in high school to help me prepare for college?
  • What would be some good colleges for me to consider, based on my career interests?
  • Could you give me some advice on completing my application for admissions?


Don't overlook the power of the Internet when you start considering different colleges. Although actually visiting the colleges you're interested in is desirable, "cyber visits" to colleges can also provide very helpful information for the prospective student. Colleges and their admission requirements can vary greatly. One of the best sources of information about college is already available to you through the MyROAD computer program, which is available at all DoDEA high schools. MyROAD is updated every year, and has proven to be a very useful tool for students and their parents to plan for college. If you don't already know how to use MyROAD, ask your guidance counselor how to get started. There are excellent resources available to you through the Internet: 

  • Preparing Your Child for College - a publication available from the Department of Education.  It provides a good general overview of information students need to prepare for college.
  • Getting Ready for College Early - This is a Department of Education guide for middle school students who want to get a head start on planning for college.
  • And don't overlook the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) website for more college-related information.

Financial Aid

One of the big topics you will have to consider when you plan for college is how you will pay for it. In general, there are three types of financial aid available to supplement any funds you already have: 

  1. Scholarships and grants - This is money you do not have to repay. Loans - These usually feature low interest rates and often do not charge interest while you are attending school.
  2. Work programs - Colleges frequently offer these types of programs, where you earn money at a part-time job while pursuing your studies. Information on these types of financial aid is available from a wide variety of sources; examples are college catalogues, your school bulletin board, government and private programs listed on the Internet, and the MyROAD computer program at your school. Ask your guidance counselor where to find more information.
  3. FinAid provides comprehensive information about applying for financial aid for higher education.


Most colleges require some kind of standardized test as part of your application packet. If the college you want to attend requires the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, for example, you will want to become familiar with what it is and how to take it. Talk to your guidance counselor and check the MyROAD program at your school to learn more. You can also log on to The College Board Online , which includes a number of helpful resources, including a daily practice question for the SAT.

Information on DoDEA Schools for College Admissions Officers

DoDEA - Exceptional, Civilian Run Public Schools

The United States Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) administers two exceptional, civilian run public school systems that serve the dependents of US Military personnel in 7 states, the territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and fourteen foreign countries. These two school systems are federally funded institutions adhering to the highest standards demanded of American public schools.

Academic Certification of DoDEA Schools

All DoDEA high schools actively maintain academic certification by recognized American educational certification agencies. The North Central Association (NCA) certifies the academic integrity of DoDEA overseas schools. Specific NCA information on DoDDS schools is available on the NCA web site. In 1998, DoDEA operated 59 accredited high schools. The Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS - overseas) has 51 high schools located in 14 countries. The Defense Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS - domestic) has 8 high schools in three states, Puerto Rico and Guam. Addresses for the location of these schools are available on this web site.

High Performance on Standardized Tests

Students in DoDEA schools perform above national academic norms for U.S. public schools. DoDEA performance on standardized tests (CTBS/4, Terra Nova) are usually in the 60th percentile range for all grade levels tested (grades 3 - 11) both in overall battery measures and individual subtests. High school participation on the SAT tests exceeds national averages and performance information by school is available on this web site.

Email Contact with Individual Schools

When necessary, College & University admissions officers may write email to individual schools within the DoDEA system.

DoDEA high school graduates have received millions of dollars in scholarship monies from U.S. Universities and Colleges. A summary of Post-secondary plans for DoDEA high school graduates is available from the DoDEA Research and Evaluation Branch. DoDEA maintains extensive internet based information on school academic performance and demographics. Systemwide information is available for DoDDS and DDESS schools. It is also possible to retrieve information for DoDDS Europe Area, Pacific Area, and Americas Area (Panama & Cuba). Performance and demographic information on individual schools is also available. High school course offerings (individual school master schedules) and enrollment statistics for the current academic year may also be viewed for all DoDDS schools.

Students attending and graduating from DoDEA schools have a broad range of intercultural experiences far beyond that available to most graduates of US public high schools. Daily activities include exposure to rich cultural experiences, opportunities to use foreign language classroom instruction in real life situations, and an interaction with people of very diverse histories and backgrounds.

For references on the establishment of DoDEA schools as U.S. public schools, please reference: 20 USC Chapter 25a; 32CFR 68; 32CFR 71; and DoD Directive 1342.6.