College Planning


When planning for college, many important things must be considered. KTS works with families to help them negotiate the entire application, and pre-application, process. The pre-application process consists of the following:

  • Rigor of high school curriculum
  • Junior and Senior year course choices
  • Commitment to extra-curricular activities

The application process consists of the following:

  • College essays
  • College applications
  • Teacher/Counselor recommendations
  • College visits (with CHECKLIST) and personal interviews.


For many schools, the most important thing that they consider is the level of difficulty of courses that the student has taken. Colleges want to know that you are intellectually ready to tackle college coursework and succeed. You should take the highest level of courses that you can realistically handle.


If you are planning to take SAT II subject tests in any of the sciences or U. S. history, you should take two years (one regular and one AP) of the subject, if possible, prior to taking the subject test. Because, like most students, you will probably take your SAT subject tests at the end of your junior year or beginning of your senior year, you should take the second year of the subject during your JUNIOR year. If it is impossible to do so, KTS can provide tutors who can help prepare you for the subject tests.

If you take AP courses during your JUNIOR year and you score well on the AP exams, these scores can be considered as part of your college application. If you wait until your SENIOR year to take any AP classes, the scores will not be available to be considered when applying to colleges; they will only be considered for college credits and course placement.

Even though you may be tempted to plan an easy SENIOR year for yourself, don’t do it. You should definitely take honors and AP courses, if you can handle them, and other courses that demonstrate to colleges that you are a serious student. KTS can help you make these important curricular decisions.


Whether you play on a sports team, participate on the school band or newspaper, or join the Mock Trial, Math, or Debate team, it is important that you make such a commitment for at least two years (or more, if possible). Colleges want to see that you are truly interested in and working hard at an activity, rather than merely selecting a bunch of activities to “look good” on your application. The same advice applies to students who have jobs or participate in community service. Commitment is the key.


College applications can sometimes be confusing and difficult to fill out. KTS personnel are available to work with you to be sure that all forms are filled out properly and promptly.

Students are required to submit a personal essay along with their applications. Some colleges also require supplementary essays. All of these essays provide admissions personnel a chance to get to know you, and they provide you with the opportunity to stand out from the pack of applicants. KTS tutors can offer valuable expertise in critiquing these essays. We can be involved from the beginning–helping to brainstorm and select an appropriate topic–to making sure the final version is interesting and completely error-free.

Many schools accept the Common Application, also known as the Common App, and the essay that accompanies it. The Common App can be submitted electronically by going to the Common App website, Select COMMON APP ESSAY to find out this year’s topics and to find out some important tips to keep in mind while writing the essay. You should also check with individual schools to make sure they accept the Common App essay and to find out if they require supplemental essays.


“The admissions committee sent us an email saying our son’s essay ‘stood out among many.’ I know you gave him a lot of advice on his essay, and I just want to thank you for your help.” Barrington High School Parent

“Several of the colleges actually sent our daughter a handwritten letter commenting about her essay…a big thank you for all of your help with the essays!!!” Barrington High School Parent


Visiting college and universities is important, as websites and brochures cannot substitute for actually being on a campus. In addition, many colleges and universities keep track of who visits, as a visit to the school demonstrates a high level of interest in the school. A CHECKLIST is provided for you to use when comparing schools.