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For Students

There are more than 3,500 colleges and universities in the United States. How do you find, apply, get into, and enroll at the right one? We're here to help you in that process, and it starts sooner than you think.

Freshman and Sophomore Years

The grades you earn now will show up on your high school transcript, and colleges will have access to those grades. You’ll also have the opportunity to do practice standardized tests. In your grade 9 Guidance course you will complete the Self-Directed Search Interest Inventory and research careers using Career Kokua, the State Department of Labor’s Computer Information System. You will also research two colleges for a class presentation, and in doing so will have a formal introduction to the College Counseling Office.Now is also the time to further develop your interests outside of the classroom. Get involved in a couple activities that you truly enjoy – even more important than “looking good” on a college application, it’s good for you as a person to have varied interests!

Junior Year

The college process gets into full swing during your junior year. This is the year you’ll take a number of standardized tests, start researching colleges, and start thinking realistically about going off to college. A vital part of the college application process is the taking of tests. Students follow the sequence listed below during their junior year:

October Preliminary SAT / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT)
SAT Reasoning (for students who have prepped)
March College Board SAT Reasoning
April ACT Test
June College Board SAT Subject Tests - Some students will take two of these exams. These usually include mathematics, and a terminal subject such as history, language, or science.

During the senior year some students may repeat some of these tests to improve their scores. During the second half of your junior year your class will have weekly meetings with the College Counselor. Each student meets with the counselor twice individually and prepares a self-evaluation in preparation for specific college planning. The College Counselor will guide you in your research and decision making. You are encouraged to use the many resources online and available in the College Counseling Office.Juniors are also exposed to career options through five panel presentations by alumni and Iolani parents, and a one-week career shadow program in June that will allow you to visit three different job sites.The College Counseling Office conducts college tours to the East Coast, Pacific Northwest, Northern and Southern California, and the Midwest during summers and spring breaks on a rotating basis, and sophomores and juniors are encouraged to consider joining one of these trips.

Senior Year

Senior year brings more specialized counseling during the first semester of the year. Weekly group meetings are held September through January, covering specific aspects of the application process. Students will meet twice more with the College Counselor in September and November to further narrow the college list toward appropriate institutions. The first meeting will be to touch base and see where you’re at in the process, the second will be about settling on the 6-8 schools to which you’ll apply.Applications to selective universities and colleges usually are due by January 1 or 15. Many Early Decision and Early Action programs have November 1 deadlines. Our goal is to be done with applications certainly by Christmas break, and ideally sometime before then. All requests for transcripts and the filing of secondary school recommendation forms should be done through the College Counseling Office at least two weeks in advance of the college deadline. By April of your senior year you should have heard from all your schools, and you’ll have until May 1 to commit to a specific institution.


Colleges spend a great deal of time and money in putting together Web pages and brochures that convey life on their campuses. When you start receiving materials from colleges you’ll read them in great detail, but after awhile you’ll probably starting glancing at the name and little more. The key is to strike a balance between reading everything and reading nothing. Consider setting up three boxes to file your materials: Definitely Interested, Maybe Interested, Probably Not Interested. Once a week go through the materials that arrived and glance/read through them, filing each as you go. Or do it everyday; just don’t let them all pile up until it’s too large a pile to manage!Use other resources in addition to the materials the colleges produce. College counselors, teachers, and Iolani alumni currently attending schools are all great sources. Read guidebooks, both purely factual and subjective, and if ever possible visit during summer trips.

Asking Questions

The college representatives that visit Iolani (and Hawaii in general) are frequently the more senior members of the staff. In an attempt to get the most out of their visit, you should plan to ask questions that require a more personalized answer. Don’t ask a question to which you could look up the answer on your own. Some examples are listed below:

Okay Question Better Question

“How is your English department?”

“What makes the English department at your school unique?” OR “Could you tell me about the nature of the English department?”

“How is your baseball team?”

“Where does your baseball team usually rank in your conference?” AND “Do students walk-on to the team or is the roster filled by recruited athletes?”

“What’s the student to faculty ratio?”

“What's the largest class I'll have as a freshman and what's the smallest class that I'll have?" "How about as a senior?"

“Can I study abroad?”

“What percentage of students study abroad?” AND “Can I study abroad and still graduate in 4 years?” “Even if I’m in a regimented major (like Engineering, nursing, or music)?” AND “What are the most popular study abroad destinations?”

“How’s the weather?”

“How do Hawaii students adjust to the weather?” OR “Are winter days overcast (cold, snowy, rainy, etc.)?” Remember: 60° is not considered cold by mainland standards!

“What’s your retention rate?” (How many students return for their sophomore year)

Follow up with “Why do you think those 15% do not return for their sophomore year?”

"Are the dorms nice?" "Are most of the residence halls new or have they recently been renovated?" AND "Are most of the residence halls configured for doubles or suite style?"

“What’s there to do?”

“How do students spend their time outside of class?”

“Are there fraternities/sororities?”

Follow up with “What percentage of students participate?” AND “Is the social scene on campus driven by the Greek organizations?”