College planning

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Choosing a College

Generally, we encourage seniors to apply to  at least 3 Colleges in the fall: a 'sure thing' school, a 'maybe school' and a 'dream school'. Here are resources to help you choose a college.

  • College Search is here to help you make the best decision for you. Either use MatchMaker to generate a list of colleges that match your preferences. Use QuickFinder to research a college that you already have in mind.
  • Colleges and Universities at U.S. College Search - Search for Colleges in the US by major or state
  • - A link to the College Board, a comprehensive guide to College planning and SAT registration.
  • The "Best 366 Colleges," according to The Princeton Review.
  • - great resource
  • - good information on two year and technical colleges in Washington
  • - if you plan to go to college out of state, apply here to see if you are eligible to request a reduced tuition rate of 150% of resident tuition at participating two- and four-year college programs outside of their home state. Current WICHE states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming See complete college/program listing on website.
  • Free guide to colleges and help in navigating the steps in college research and selection.
  • : Online college Info

College Admission Testing

The College Application Process

  1. Take the SAT or ACT College Admission test by December of senior year
  2. Start the College Application- Go to the college website, OR get paper copy from college
  3. Complete the Application- fill out completely, including essays, and submit it online before winter break. Make copies and save copies of essays. Cost involved for most colleges.
  4. Request Official Transcript by 1 of 2 ways: 1) Go to our secure online website and request: or  2) Print, complete & return a Transcript Request Form from the Counseling Office (get blue form in office). We will prepare it for you and either mail it for you or get it to you to mail.
  5. Request your SAT/ACT test scores to be sent to the college through Collegeboard website or ACT website.
  6.  Apply for Financial Aid-Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at  for either loans, grants, or work study awards. Applications open October 1st of Senior year-complete as soon as possible.
  7. Get and complete a Letter of Recommendation Form from Counselor or Teacher IF college requires. Give teacher 2 weeks notice. We can either mail it with your transcript for you or get one from your counselor for you to mail.
  8. Accept college admission offer- Notify the college you want to attend that you accept their admission offer and put down a deposit. Most colleges have a deadline of May 1st. Be sure to check with the college you plan to attend to make sure you meet all deadlines.

Helpful Tips & Tools

College Information and Comparisons


Two-year colleges offer academic programs allowing a student to earn an Associates in Arts or Science Degree, which may then be transferred to a four-year college.   Students who complete the AS or AAS degree are generally able to transfer two years of college credit (90 credits) to any public or private institution in the State of Washington.  In addition, community colleges  have vocational training programs.


Students  pursue a bachelor’s degrees at public and private four-year colleges and universities.    Most degree programs require two years of general study (may be taken at a community college) and two years of study within a major.  Universities offer a full range of undergraduate majors, and graduate degrees (masters and doctorate).      

Four-Year Public Colleges in the State of Washington

There are 6 public universities in Washington:

Central Washington University  Ellensburg   

University of Washington  Seattle  

Eastern Washington University Cheney        

Washington State University Pullman     

Evergreen State College  Olympia           

Western Washington University Bellingham

Four-Year Private Colleges

There are several private, or independent, universities in Washington.  An independent college does not receive money from the state.  Private colleges have a smaller student population and a small student/teacher ratio.

 Gonzaga University        Pacific Lutheran University

 Seattle University         Seattle Pacific University

 St. Martins College        University of Puget Sound

 Whitman College            Whitworth College

Although a private college is more expensive, they also have more resources to find aid for students.  Private colleges from out-of-state do not cost more than in-state private colleges.

Students must request applications directly from the private college or apply online.           


College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR)

Baccalaureate Institutions

Students who aspire to attend a baccalaureate institution in Washington must apply for admission. Factors influencing admission include high school grade point averages, test scores, and extra-curricular activities. Read the full admission standards policy.

Required high school courses are known as the College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR). Washington Administrative Code (WAC 392-415-070) requires that each school district determine which of its high school courses meet CADR requirements and ensure students' standardized high school transcripts designate such courses as meeting the requirements.

Completing CADR courses does not guarantee admission to one of the state's six baccalaureate institutions. Institutions consider a number of criteria when making admission decisions.

Minimum college admission standards for public baccalaureate institutions include: 

  • 2.0 GPA
  • Taking the SAT or ACT and having the scores sent directly to the college or university
  • Completion of CADR courses

The information is available at:

All four-year colleges in Washington require admissions testing, and will accept either the ACT or SAT Reasoning Test.

 SPECIFIC HIGH SCHOOL COURSE SELECTION INFO: It is important for students to work with their counselor and choose their high school courses based upon what is acceptable for a Four-year college.


Vocational trade schools offer career-oriented degrees in a variety of high-growth occupational areas, so you can get the education you need to succeed.  Trade schools and vocational colleges offer programs in accounting, art & design, business, computers and IT, dental assisting, nursing, medical and health care, criminal justice and paralegal, multimedia and more.  If, after graduation, you find that you need additional "job skills" Vocational/Trade Schools would be an excellent start for you!  A few Vocational/Trade Schools in Washington include:

  • ITT Technical Institute
  • DeVry University
  • Gene Juarez Academy
  • Ashmead School of Massage
  • Bryman College
  • University of Phoenix
  • The Art Institutes

Timelines for College-Bound Students

See timelines on our homepage Quick links to find out what College-bound students should be doing, and by when, throughout the school year, by each grade level. 


  • SAT registration, test prep., college major searches & more
  • helps simplify the college admission process for teens and their families, including info & DVDs on why a college education is important, how to find financial aid, standardized test prep, what to do once you’ve been accepted