I'm not sure what I should be doing. Is there a checklist I should follow? Yes, there are two checklists. One for Freshman and Sophmores and the other for Juniors and Seniors.


What are College Information Sessions? Juniors and seniors can sign up to attend information sessions held on our campus through their personal Naviance account: Students are allowed to attend up to seven information sessions in the fall. There will be a limited number of sessions offered in the spring (primarily for juniors). To view the most up-to-date list of colleges visiting LASA and to RSVP for a session, go to Naviance, click on Research Colleges in the Colleges section and then choose College Visits. Once you RSVP, you will receive an email reminder 24 hours before the visit. Students need to come by the main office the day of the scheduled visit to pick up their pass.


Standardized testing is an important factor in admissions decisions at most selective colleges and universities. A few institutions have downplayed the importance of scores, and some have eliminated test requirements entirely, but those institutions are in the minority. At most colleges standardized testing still matters.

We want our students to understand the testing requirements and, just as importantly, to keep testing in perspective. Students' academic achievement is more important than test scores, both in terms of acquiring a first-rate education and in terms of enhancing their chances of admission to selective institutions.

The PSAT, or the Preliminary SAT

The PSAT, or the Preliminary SAT, is a standardized test administered by the College Board. Students in ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade will take the PSAT in school in mid-October. While many students just think of the PSAT as a practice for the SAT, the PSAT taken in junior year also serves as their National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test: . National Merit Finalist recognition could yield generous scholarship offers from certain schools. The PSAT for sophomores and freshmen is still a true practice test but familiarizes them with the format and types of questions they will encounter when they take the SAT for college admission.

SAT Reasoning Test

The SAT Reasoning Test is primarily a multiple-choice test containing verbal and math sections designed to measure critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Colleges and universities use the test as a "standard" measure when evaluating your credentials during the admissions process. In general, taking the test more than three times is not helpful. Most highly selective colleges will focus on your best verbal score and math score, even if they are achieved on different days. The College Board offers online registration at

Note: If you took the SAT through the Duke TIP Talent Search program in 7th grade, you may encounter this message when trying to register for the SAT: "You have not entered a "Previous Registration Number" and/or "Previous Testing Date", but our records indicate that you have registered for an SAT in the past. Please enter a "Previous Registration Number" and "Previous Testing Date" from one of your past SAT Admissions Tickets or Score Reports." This means that College Board is still recognizing your registration from 7th grade. To proceed with the registration process, you will need to call College Board Customer Support at 866-756-7346 (available M-F, 7am - 8pm) and explain the situation so they can reset your account information.

SAT Subject Tests

SAT Subject Tests are one-hour, primarily multiple-choice tests designed to measure knowledge in a particular subjects and the application of that knowledge. There are twenty-two subject areas. Some colleges may require SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT Reasoning Test and/or the ACT. Most colleges that require the SAT Subject Tests insist that students take either the Math Level I or the Math Level II and one additional test left to the discretion of the student. These scores are used as part of the admissions process and for placement after admission is offered. Requirements, including "how many" and "which" tests should be taken, differ from institution to institution. The College Board offers online registration at

LASA students typically take three SAT Subject Tests in either May or June of their junior year; and, depending upon their performance, they retake one to three more tests in October, November or December of their senior year.


ACT is a battery, which combines elements of aptitude and achievement test in one single instrument. Like the SAT Reasoning Test, the ACT helps predict academic achievement in college and serves as a standard measure by which students from diverse educational backgrounds can be compared. The ACT is a content-based multiple-choice test with four sections: English, reading comprehension, mathematics and science reasoning. Students receive a score for each section as well as a composite score ranging from one to 36.

The ACT focuses more on grammar, punctuation and general comprehension than the SAT. It is recommended that, if possible, students take both the SAT and ACT. The ACT offers online registration at .


Financial Aid

Financial Aid is based solely on demonstrated financial need (your family's ability to pay for college expenses based on an analysis of income and assets) versus the cost of attending a college (tuition, fees, room, board, books, and personal expenses). If there is a gap between the expected family contribution and the cost of attending the college, this gap is referred to as demonstrated financial need. Since college costs vary, the financial aid package is also likely to vary from college to college. The only constant is usually the amount a family is expected to contribute. To determine a family's expected financial contribution (EFC) and the amount of demonstrated need, colleges require your parents to submit a financial statement called the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This form is available online at Many colleges also require the CSS: Profile, also available online at These forms should be completed by parents and submitted as soon as possible after October 1st of the student's senior year. For the CSS Profile, in cases where your parents are divorced or separated, most colleges will still require information from both parents.

Need-based financial aid typically comes in the form of a "financial aid package" that includes grants (gift aid that does not have to be paid back), loans (money that has to be repaid), and student employment (money that is paid directly to you for work on campus). Grants can come from the federal and state governments, the college, and private endowments. Loans are available to students and parents from the federal government, private lending agencies or banks, or the college, itself. Employment (or "workstudy") comes through the college as compensation for an assigned job. For more information about the types and sources of financial aid, visit


In contrast to financial aid, scholarships are not based on need but are awards made in recognition of academic merit and/or outstanding talents. Areas such as leadership, academics, music, and athletics are frequently among those singled out for scholarship awards. Students who will be applicants for financial aid/scholarship should indicate their intentions on their admission applications and adhere to the requirements and deadlines of their schools' required financial aid applications (if applicable).

While the FAFSA may not be filed before October 1st of the senior year, students applying for Early Decision or Early Action may apply earlier for financial aid. All colleges offering early admission programs provide some type of early need analysis form, and all colleges accepting students under ED/EA will provide an estimated financial aid package. Most selective private colleges will use the CSS Profile online form for this purpose. Students who file early for financial aid must also comply with the college's FAFSA and CSS Profile requirements after October 1. Consult each college's admissions and financial aid Web sites for specific instructions on how to apply for financial aid as an ED or EA candidate.


LASA is pleased to offer Naviance, a comprehensive website that allows students and parents the opportunity to investigate, research, plan for, and manage the college admissions process as well as research careers and corresponding majors.

Through Naviance, you can:

  • Keep track of the admissions process - build a resume, complete on-line surveys, manage timelines and deadlines for the college admissions process, and request transcripts to be sent to colleges or scholarship donors

  • Research colleges - search for colleges based on criteria that you select

  • Sign up for college info sessions (juniors and seniors only) - review which schools are visiting LASA, sign up, and receive reminders

  • Research careers based on your interests

  • View local and regional scholarships

  • Receive updates about campus news and events

For seniors, this tool is critical in facilitating the college application process as we are now able to send transcripts and letters of recommendation electronically through Naviance to Common Application member schools.


Login to the portal and find the Naviance tile:


Parents may also create an account that will be linked to their students record. Contact your student's academic counselor to receive your temporary access code.

While Naviance is now available on the AISD portal for both students and staff, parents will still log in here: Naviance did change their password requirements so parents that had accounts will have to reset their password. They can get a temporary password from their student's academic counselor or click forgot password.

We hope that you will find this resource helpful. If you have questions about Naviance, please feel free to contact your student's academic counselor.


GUESTS to the site may log in with limited feature access with the following password: aisd


Below is a compilation of so much information that will help with the College Process. Please read all the information below before seeking help from the counseling staff.


Applying to college, though exciting, can be overwhelming and stressful at times. For the majority of colleges and universities, there are many components to the application. Once you break down each item, the process becomes much more manageable. Note: not all items listed below are required for all colleges. Check your colleges’ websites or the application website for specific requirements.

Be sure to know and adhere to your deadlines for each college you are applying to as application deadlines must be strictly met. Watch for the phrases “Postmarked by” and “Received by”. “Postmarked by” means the envelope must be stamped with the college’s deadline date but may arrive in the admissions office after that date. “Received by” means the envelope and contents must usually be in the admissions office by 5:00 pm of the date listed.


The majority of colleges and universities that LASA students typically apply to use one of the following applications in the admissions process: (a) the ApplyTexas Application, (b) the Common Application, or (c) of their own design. It is the responsibility of the student and/or parent to determine which application is required.

Apply Texas ( is used for application to all public colleges and universities in Texas. There are also a number of private colleges in Texas that accept the Apply Texas application. See the website for more details on participating institutions.

Common Application ( is used for application to colleges and universities who share a commitment of promoting access through holistic admission. There are now over 800 Common Application members. See the website for a complete listing of member institutions. Common App Member schools require these important forms in the application process: School Report, Mid-Year Report, and the Teacher Evaluation.

College’s own application is available on the college’s website (examples include MIT, Georgetown, and the University of California system) or might be sent directly to the student as a “VIP” or “choice” application.

For many colleges and universities, students must also decide if they are applying through an early application plan, like early decision (binding) or early action (non-binding). See your college counselor for more information about the differences between Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision, and Rolling Admissions plans.


The application fee is paid through the electronic application via credit card. Students on free/reduced lunch may qualify for college application fee waivers. See your college counselor for more information about waiver forms if you qualify.


The college application essay is often referred to as the most stressful component of the college application. It provides the opportunity to present your view of yourself. Admissions officers want to learn about you; they are looking for a sense of who you are and how you think. Try to give them a positive impression of you, write well (a clear thesis and conclusion should be apparent even in the most imaginative piece), and carefully edit for proper grammar. Don't be afraid to ask your English teacher, parents, college counselor, or anyone else to proofread your essay. Answer the question the school asks and stick to any other restrictions such as length.

Essays are submitted at the same time as the electronic application. When applying to a Common Application member school, be sure to check the Supplement, as additional personal statements or short-answer essays are often also required. Seniors will work on one of their college application essays as an assignment in their English class during the fall semester.


This is the official record of your coursework, grades, and weighted GPA. Seniors must request transcripts for ALL colleges and universities through their personal Naviance site: Click on ‘colleges I’m applying to’. After students have submitted transcript requests through Naviance (for ALL schools), they must pay Ms. Dwinells, LASA Registrar, in Room 281. Transcripts will NOT be sent until the processing fees are paid. The first ten transcripts are processed free of charge as well as the final transcript (sent after graduation to the college the student decides to attend); after that, each transcript processed will cost $3.00. Remember to submit transcript requests and make payment in plenty of time (at least 3 weeks) before the application deadline to ensure receipt by the college.

*If requesting a transcript for a Common Application member school, your transcript will be sent via Naviance at the same time your counselor sends his/her recommendation letter and the secondary school report.


SAT/ACT scores are not listed on the transcript. Students must request that these score reports be sent to your colleges via the official testing site: for SAT and/or for ACT. Though most colleges receive these scores electronically via the testing sites, be sure to request your scores 2-3 weeks before your application deadline to ensure that the college receives them on time.


Students are responsible for knowing which of their schools require recommendation letters and how many.

Common Application member schools do require letters of recommendation.

Apply Texas public universities do not require letters of recommendation (exception: some honors programs), though they may be encouraged in some cases.

Students need to complete a resume and brag sheet and ask parent(s) to complete a parent brag sheet (see file below for brag sheet questions) to give to their recommendation writers along with a folder (see file below for folder system instructions) for each person listing colleges and deadlines and including recommendation forms and stamped, addressed envelopes (if necessary). Students: please give your teacher, counselor, or college advisor a minimum of four weeks before the deadline to complete and submit their letters of recommendation on your behalf. This is especially necessary for December 1st deadlines (Thanksgiving holiday falls before this due date) and January 1st deadlines (winter break falls before this due date).



For most applications, you will be asked to list your activities, organizations, community service, work experience, etc. as well as hours per week/weeks per year of involvement, but many students find the space provided somewhat restrictive. If you find that you are not able to fully explain a particular activity, consider sending an expanded resume.


Most schools do not require or even offer interviews as part of their application process. Check your colleges’ websites to see if interviews are part of the process. When you travel to a college or meet with a college representative on the LASA campus, remember that your manner, knowledge about and interest in the college, maturity and thoughtfulness are being noted. So, even if the interviewer announces, "We do not count interviews in our consideration of candidates; this is strictly an opportunity for you to ask whatever questions you may have," treat the conversation as an interview. They will note with pleasure a well-informed, thoughtful student who asks alert, engaging questions; they will also note those who do not.


Below is a compilation of so much information that will help with the College Process. Please read all the information below before seeking help from the counseling staff.


What is the senior class size? The senior class (2011) total is 295 students.

Should I list my class rank? Common App asks about class rank under the Grades portion of the Education section. By default, your class rank will not be reported on your transcript sent to Common App schools. If you choose not to report it to Common App schools, choose ‘none’. If you would like to report your rank, list ‘exact’ for the class rank reporting question. If you list rank, you will need to complete and return the rank reporting form to Ms. Dwinells, LASA Registrar, to indicate which of your schools you want your rank reported to along with your high school transcript. If you have questions about whether you should report rank or not, feel free to talk to your college counselor.

Which GPA should I list? The only GPA we report on your transcript is the weighted GPA. Next, you’ll be asked to select the GPA scale. Choose ‘4.0’ on a weighted scale. This may not, initially, make sense, but the theoretical maximum GPA is 4.8 on a 4.0 scale, reflecting the number of required unweighted courses as well as 1 additional grade point for pre-AP, AP, and advanced courses. All courses are included in the cumulative GPA.

Are there any senior year courses I shouldn’t list? Common App allows you to list up to ten senior year courses. Do not include an off-period if you have one. If you have more than ten courses, which is possible because of semester courses, prioritize your list. Your core classes should be listed first followed by electives. Credit value for a year course is 1.0; semester courses should be listed as 0.5.

Which counselor should I list on the Common Application, and how can I find their contact information? You should list your academic counselor. Contact information is available here.

What does it mean to 'waive' or 'do not waive' access to my recommendation letters? You will see this on the Common App FERPA Release & Authorization section (under Assign Recommenders in the My Colleges tab) and perhaps some application forms. Waiving access to your recommendations means you will never, in the future, be able to see them. Colleges prefer that you choose this option because they consider those letters to be the more truthful assessment of you and your abilities and hence, they are given more weight in the admissions decision. If you choose, however, not to waive your access, you can see your recommendation in the future, but ONLY at the school at which you decide to enroll (after you are enrolled). Consider this: by that time, you've already been really, what's the point?

What is a CBO? In the Education section of Common App, there is a question about community-based organizations (CBO) or programs that have provided you with free assistance in your application process. Examples include Breakthrough Austin, Educational Talent Search, and Questbridge. If you have worked with one of these programs or any of the ones listed, answer accordingly.

Common App asks me if I wish to self report standardized test scores. Should I? Though you will submit your official SAT and/or ACT scores via or , you should report your scores here. This section also allows you to report scores for your SAT Subject tests (if applicable) and AP scores you are most proud of. We recommend only listing AP scores of 4 or 5.

The Activities section allows me to list only ten activities, clubs, internships, etc., but I have more. What should I do? There is an Additional Information option in the Writing section where you can list anything that you couldn’t include in the Activities section or if you need to elaborate on any piece of your application.

What is LASA's school code? The code (referred sometimes as the CEEB or ETS code) is 440-069. You'll need to list this code on just about every college application and when you're signing up to take SAT, SAT Subject tests, or ACT.

How many colleges should I apply to? A majority of LASA students apply to 6-8 colleges usually consisting of 2-3 reach schools, 3 likely or target schools, and 1-2 safety schools. Typically, the more schools you apply to, the more stress is involved. Our suggestion to those students applying to more schools would be to plan, organize, and prioritize your process accordingly. Be aware of all of your deadlines and create those checkpoints along the way. You want every application you send to be the strongest representation of you as possible.

I see that the colleges I'm applying to are visiting LASA this fall, but I've already been on their campus and have heard the admissions presentation. Do I still need to attend the info session? Yes, even if it's just to pop in and say hello to the admissions counselor. More likely than not, the person visiting our campus is the first reviewer of your application. They could be very influential in your admissions decision. Introduce yourself, express your strong interest, get their business card, and follow up with a thank you email. Demonstrated interest is very important for some schools, and a small gesture could go a long way.

I heard that LASA no longer has to report class rank to colleges. What does that mean for me? In accordance with the AISD Board of Trustees’ ruling in January of 2013, LASA is no longer required to report class rank on transcripts sent to colleges and universities. The primary exception to this, of course, is reporting class rank for students in the top ten percent of their class for admission to Texas public universities. There could be other exceptions when a student might choose to report their class rank, e.g. admission to Texas A&M University for students in the top twenty-five percent with a specified SAT or ACT test score.

When requesting transcripts for colleges, understand that the default option will be not to report rank on your transcript. If you elect to have your class rank reported, you must complete the rank reporting form (available soon!) and an official statement certifying your GPA and class rank will be sent along with your transcript to all the schools you plan to apply to. Please return form to LASA Registrar, Cindy Dwinells , in room 281.

Keep in mind that once class rank is submitted to colleges, this information cannot be retracted.


Which high school diploma plan should I select in Apply Texas? Choose “Foundation Prog – Distinguished Level of Achievement”, the highest diploma plan in the state of Texas.


How and when do I ask for Teacher/Counselor Recommendations? Before adding a teacher or counselor recommendation request in Naviance, you must first ask that teacher or counselor in person if they will write the recommendation on your behalf. You don’t need to ask teachers and your counselor until early in the fall semester of your senior year. Be sure to ask at least a month in advance of your first application deadline.

How many recommendation letters do I need? The more selective colleges and universities (Common Application member schools) typically require three letters of recommendation as part of the application process. These come from:

  • High School counselor

  • Two classroom teachers (typically one Math or Science and one English or Social Studies)—teachers from core academic subjects in the junior year are preferred.

  • Letters from mentors or members of the community are usually permitted (check with your specific colleges), but these are considered supplementary letters and are sent in addition to (not in lieu of) your counselor and teacher recommendations. Same thing goes for letters from fine arts elective teachers.

Note: when you ask a teacher or a counselor to write your recommendation, they will write one letter and send it to all of your schools. You do not need to ask 5-6 teachers to write for different schools.

I’m only applying to public institutions in Texas. Do I need a recommendation letter? Texas public institutions, e.g. UT, Texas A&M, etc., do not require recommendation letters, but these letters, in some cases, can help strengthen your application file. Be aware that some schools, like Texas A&M University, will only read two recommendation letters. Also, some Honors programs, like UT Business Honors or Natural Sciences Honors, do require a teacher recommendation.

Once my teachers and counselor have agreed to write my letter, what do I need to give them? You will give your recommendation writers a two pocket folder with the following documents:

  • a list of schools you’re applying to with appropriate deadlines

  • copy of your resume

  • brag sheet responses

  • parent brag sheet responses

  • teacher interaction sheet (class highlights page)

  • any other related documents

  • stamped, addressed envelopes (if applicable).

Most LASA teachers and all LASA counselors use Naviance to send your materials to your schools. The only exception might be Mr. Davis. Since he mails everything, you must provide him with paper teacher evaluation forms and envelopes for all of your schools.

Add your teacher recommendation requests in the letters of recommendation link in Naviance under the colleges section. Once this is completed, they may send documents on your behalf electronically via Naviance.

How much time should I give to my recommendation writers? Please give your teacher, counselor, or college counselor a minimum of four weeks before the deadline to complete their part of your application. This is especially necessary for December 1 deadlines (Thanksgiving holidays fall before this due date) and January 1 deadlines (winter holiday break falls before this due date).

What are you looking for exactly in my brag sheet responses? Students—this shouldn’t be cause for stress. Think about it as good practice for your college application essays. We’re especially looking for things that won’t already be presented in your application. We want to provide a new, interesting glimpse of you as a student and individual.

Parents—this is your chance to brag, brag, brag since most students tend to be pretty modest in their responses. We love the brag sheets, especially parent brag sheets. Give us lots of examples and anecdotes; they make your letters come to life!


What does the FAFSA stand for? Free Application for Federal Student Aid—note the word “free”. Never pay to complete the FAFSA. Stay away from sites like that charge you to complete the application…this is a scam. After all, what’s not ‘free’ about ‘free’ application? The official FAFSA site is: Use only this site to complete the FAFSA.

When do students apply for financial aid? Students apply for financial aid during their senior year. The FAFSA is available October 1st of the senior year. CSS/PROFILE is also available October 1st of the senior year – early decision and select early action schools may require this by November 15; most others don’t need it until sometime in February--check college websites for specific dates.

What’s the difference between the FAFSA and the CSS/PROFILE? The FAFSA is the federal application a family completes to determine eligibility for need-based aid, i.e. grants, loans, and work-study. The CSS/PROFILE, required only by a select group of schools, determines a family’s eligibility for need-based institutional (grant) money provided by the college itself. The CSS/PROFILE is a much more comprehensive document asking more detailed information than the FAFSA. Also, where the FAFSA is free, the PROFILE is not. The initial set-up and first school application costs $25; each application after that is $16. One more thing: the FAFSA only asks for the custodial parent information; the CSS/PROFILE usually asks for both parents regardless of which parent the student lives with.

I’m an undocumented student (non-citizen). Can I apply for financial aid? Undocumented students are not eligible to comlete the FAFSA, but if planning to attend a college in Texas, you may complete the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA), which may qualify you for state-funded grants (free money) like the TEXAS Grant at public universities or the Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG) at private universities. As a Texas resident, you are also eligible to pay in-state tuition costs. The TASFA is a paper application available October 1st of the senior year. See your college counselor for a copy or go to this website: . There are also a number of scholarships which don’t require citizenship to apply.

How do I know which application my school accepts? All schools accept the FAFSA if you are applying for need-based aid. A list of the schools requesting the CSS/PROFILE is available on the College Board website:

If a school requests the CSS/PROFILE, they almost always want you to submit the FAFSA as well.

We got our EFC from the FAFSA. What does this mean? When you submit the FAFSA, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated. Your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) are all considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year. Schools use the EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and financial aid award. The general rule is that the closer the number is to zero, the more need-based aid a student will receive. Note: Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive.

We make too much money to qualify for need-based financial aid. Do we still have to fill out the FAFSA? No, there is rule saying you have to apply. If you don’t apply, the only aid available will be merit-based scholarships (fingers crossed) and perhaps a parent loan. If applying to a private college, it is recommended that you fill out the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE (at least the first year) because those schools are known for offering more money than public institutions.

What happens once I apply for financial aid as a senior? To receive a financial aid award, a student must first be accepted to the college. With the FAFSA being available much earlier (October 1st) than it has ever been before, this will likely change the awarding process and notification timeline significantly. Unfortunately, not every college is awarding financial aid packages any earlier, choosing to award in March. As usual, if a student is applying early decision, the student will receive their tentative financial aid award at the same time they receive an acceptance letter. This may or may not be the case with early action plans. Stay tuned as colleges and universities publicize their processes and timelines on their websites.

I’m thinking of applying early decision to my dream college. What does my financial aid timeline look like? If applying early decision, you are usually required to submit your financial aid application (CSS/PROFILE or comparable school form) by November 15. If accepted, you will receive the financial aid award at the same time you are notified of your acceptance (mid-December). If the financial aid works for your family, you’re essentially done once you accept the award and pay your enrollment deposit. Since early decision is a binding agreement, you do not have the option of applying to other schools and comparing financial aid awards. We urge students, with the help of their parent or guardian, to use the college’s net price calculator to identify what that college might expect them to pay/contribute toward their college education for the following year. This should be done prior to submitting the early decision application.


Scheduling a Visit to LASA

LASA's college visit calendar is now on RepVisits. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Jamie Kocian (rhymes with ocean) at or 512.414.1903 to schedule a visit to meet with interested juniors and seniors. Information sessions are scheduled between 8:15 a.m. and 3:55 p.m.

The Liberal Arts and Science Academy is located at 1012 Arthur Stiles Road, Austin, TX 78721.

Visitor parking is located at the front entrance of the building (on Arthur Stiles Road).