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.