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College Counseling

Our team of experienced and knowledgable counselors guides families through the college admission process. With a wealth of college options available to our students, our counselors work hard to get to know the students, the college and the college admissions staff. Our goal is to equip our families with the knowledge and tools necessary to find the right college fit.

Through our service, example, discipleship, encouragement, prayer and accountability, we are called to honor Our Lord, help strengthen The Kingdom, guide each student toward the fulfillment of the Portrait of a PCA Graduate and, as colleagues, impacting where possible, the institution's academic and spiritual culture. - College Counseling Office Mission Statement

Counseling Philosophy

Our team of experienced and knowledgeable counselors guides families through the college search and application processes. Our college placement program starts in 8th grade and consists of a series of (1) grade-level seminars to educate students and parents on the college admission process, including the roles of course selection and rigor, standardized testing, and extracurricular involvement, and (2) individual guidance meetings which tailor the college search and application processes to a student’s needs and calling. With a wealth of college options available to our students, our counselors seek to build relationships with students, parents, teachers, and college admissions representatives to enable students to identify and attend best “fit” colleges in terms of opportunities for academic, spiritual, social, professional and citizenship development.

On Campus College Connections

Students have the opportunity to meet with different college and university representatives throughout the academic year on the PCA campus. These visits allow students to establish strong connections with each college representative and to learn more about each institution.

Over the years, a variety of colleges have visited our campus, including the University of Alabama, University of Oklahoma, Pepperdine University, Texas Christian University, Louisiana State University, Ouachita Baptist University and many more.

College Matriculation

Last year's graduating class earned over $10 million in merit-based and athletic scholarships. They now attend a variety of colleges in places all over the world.

2017 College Acceptances

Christian College Fair


During the fall of each school year, students are encouraged to attend the Christian College Fair. This event will allow students to meet with representatives from colleges such as The King's College, Ouachita Baptist University, Gordon College and Westmont College. You may view the full list of this year's attendees here.


Camp College

Camp College is a summer seminar designed to help rising seniors prepare their college applications. Attendees complete sample applications for the Common Application and Apply Texas application. Students will also edit and polish essays and resumes; complete a college search and college comparison chart; and participate in a mock interview. Attendees also have an opportunity to hear a panel discussion of actual college admission representatives talk about the application process. Camp College is open to all rising seniors. Registration is through Summers at Prestonwood.

Naviance

Prestonwood Christian Academy students use Naviance to organize personal student data, assess learning styles and personality traits, research careers and career paths, research and maintain a list of prospective colleges, and track the college application process.

This web-based tool complements our college placement program. Students in grades 9 through 12 have accounts to access Naviance through Naviance Family Connection.

Resources

Testing

ACT and SAT standardized tests scores are a key factor in the college admissions process. PCA administers the PSAT and a residual ACT to students each Fall. The PSAT is a practice test for the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). This test is also used in the junior year to select National Merit Scholars. The residual ACT is a “retired” ACT exam that is administered for practice for the ACT exam. The PCA Guidance Office tracks student test results year-to-year and can help direct students to test services that can partner with students working to maximize test scores.

SAT versus ACT

Can't decide which test to take? Many students struggle to choose between the ACT and SAT, so you are certainly not alone. To get a better understanding of each test, take a look at the table below:


SATACT
Test Format Math

Reading
Writing and Language
Optional Essay

Math
Reading
English
Science
Optional Essay
Length3 hours (without essay)
3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)

2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)
3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)
Reading 5 reading passages 4 reading passages

Science
NoneOne science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)
MathCovers:
Arithmetic
Algebra I & II
Geometry, Trigonometry & Data Analysis
Covers:
Arithmetic
Algebra I & II
Geometry & Trigonometry
Tools Some math questions do not allow you to use a calculator.You may use a calculator on all math questions.
EssaysOptional. The essay will test your comprehension of a source text.Optional. The essay will test how well you evaluate and analyze complex issues.
How It's ScoredScored on a scale of 400-1600Scored on a scale of 1-36.

Test Preparation

Preparation is a must! You would not expect the football team to win without practicing and you wouldn't ask the band to play a concert without practicing! Certainly for such an important test you must practice.

You may be self disciplined and create a practice schedule on your own. For this student, working online or out of a test preparation booklet provides great options. HINT: Certainly anything you do is better than doing nothing but remember using a test prep booklet for practice is the most similar to the way you will take the actual test.

If you're like most students, you need a little more structure for your "practice" rather than self pace. If you're looking for a disciplined structure, contact the college guidance office for a list of recommended test preparation organizations.

Study Skills

Suggested methods for improving study skills:

Reading

  • Survey the reading material beforehand to get the big picture. Glance at content summaries, boldface headings, charts, graphs and key words.
  • Read for 30 minutes, then take a 2-5 minute break and resume.
  • Ask questions.
  • Review each chapter when you are finished. Sometimes you can get bogged down with the details and forget the whole concept.

Organization

  • Write specific directions for all assignments in your assignments notebook.
  • Create folders that you can clip into your 3-ring binder with labels for each; assigned homework, completed homework and homework to be filed.
  • Do your homework in the same, non distracting place every night.

Memory Aids

  • Use chunking. This short-term memory trick helps you group random facts like numbers into chunks. A number like 303411650 becomes 303 41 1650.
  • Learn acronyms. Remember the Great Lakes with the word HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).
  • The beginning and the end. Studies show that you best remember material from the beginning and the end of a study session. Study 20 minutes, take a 5 minute break.

Time Management

  • Create a weekly schedule that shows when you are in school, at practice, at church, doing homework, etc. Map this out beforehand and display it somewhere you can refer to it easily.
  • Be specific. Estimate the amount of time you plan to spend on each subject (math problems: 25 minutes).

Time Preparation

  • Pay attention to what your teacher writes on the board.
  • What type of questions will be on the test? How much from notes?
  • Avoid cramming - begin at least a week before the test; reviewing material, notes and key words and recite important parts aloud as you read them.
  • Each hour spent in planning actually saves 3-4 hours of doing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I take BOTH the SAT and ACT and how often?

Yes! Although some students' SAT and ACT test scores are similar, there are a significant number who perform better on one than the other. Therefore it is in your best interest to take both tests at least once to discover which one best suits you. The right time to take the SAT/ACT is spring and summer of your junior year. WE suggest taking it at least twice to ensure that you have achieved a score that meets your college admission criteria and makes you a strong candidate for academic scholarships.

Should I guess?

On both the ACT and SAT, always guess! You are not penalized for guessing, so never leave it blank. On earlier versions of the SAT, test-takers were penalized for incorrect guesses, but fortunately, this does not apply to future test-takers.

Is it a good idea to hide my scores until I see how I do?

No, for several reasons. When you register for the SAT and ACT you are give the opportunity to send your score reports to colleges for no additional charge. If you wait until after testing to send your scores to the college, you will be charged a fee for each score sent to each college. You cannot "hide" certain SAT scores from colleges. The SAT score report sent to a college will include ALL of your test scores, not just the highest score. For ACT you can choose to send only specific ACT scores to a college.

Testing Links

Applying

Applying to college may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be. If you follow the proper steps, you will complete your applications with ease.

How/When to Apply

How to Apply:

  • Contact the Undergraduate Office of Admission at the college of your choice to get the application (many applications may be accessed and submitted online).
  • Complete a rough draft of the applications and essays. Bring them to your guidance counselor for review, to answer questions and to offer suggestions.
  • Request official transcripts for each college in the Guidance office. They will be mailed directly to the college. Please allow 2 weeks to process your request.
  • Complete the final draft of your application by completing an online application (if available) or by typing it on a typewriter. NO handwritten applications!
  • Make a copy of all materials for your files.
  • Send one packet that includes everything; application, check, resume, essay, etc. Be sure student name and social security number are written on the check. Remember to have SAT and ACT scores sent directly to the college from the testing center. Even though scores are reported on the high school transcript, some colleges do not consider this official.
  • Each college will create a personal file for you. As your applications, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are received, they are placed in the file. Only when your file is complete, will it be reviewed by an admissions counselor.
  • When to Apply:

    Many schools offer the opportunity to submit college applications early. This is typically a good idea if you know the college or colleges you most want to attend. To learn more about each type of applications, check out this article from College Board.

    Application Types

    Early Decision

    • All materials are submitted by the early application deadline.
    • If accepted, the student is committed to the college.

    Early Action

    • All materials are submitted by the early application deadline.
    • If accepted, the student is not committed to the college.

    Regular Admissions

    • All materials are submitted by the final application deadline.
    • If accepted, the student is not commited to the college.

    Rolling Admissions

    • Admission decisions for qualified students are made on a first come, first serve basis.
    • Students are usually notified by the colleges within 4-6 weeks after the application file is complete.

    Letters of Recommendation

    Counselor Recommendations

    • Counselor recommendations are required for all Common Application schools.
    • Give your counselor a typed copy of your resume so he or she is familiar with all of your activities.
    • This letter focuses on personal characteristics and involvements that make you unique.
    • Allow at least two weeks for the counselor to write/edit the recommendation.

    Teacher Recommendations

    • Colleges typically require 1-2 teacher letters of recommendation.
    • Ask a teacher who will provide positive feedback about you.
    • Allow at least two-weeks for the counselor to write/edit the recommendation.

    Letters from employers are other community people can be submitted with your application as well.

    College Links

    Selecting

    Choosing your college may be simple but it may be a difficult decision. It is vital to take advantage of any opportunity to better inform your choice.

    Summer Programs

    Colleges throughout the country an even in Europe hope to attract the brightest high school students to attend special summer programs on their respective campuses. Summer is a great time to investigate a college through their summer programs. Many of these college programs begin application and enrollment after the holidays and the coveted spots are quickly filled.

    College administrators know if high school students spend a week or more on their campus, they will be more likely to want to attend that particular college. There is comfort in familiarity. These special programs come in all sizes and shapes: some are actually extensions of high school study; some may even offer prep courses for study skills and SAT or ACT; some provide a true college experieince for the gifted high school student allowing the student to take college level courses for credit.

    You name it and there is probably a summer program of interest for you. Make a list of colleges of interest to you. For each college on your list, investigate summer opportunities on each campus. You may even be able to attend more than one of these special programs if you plan ahead. The college admissions office typically does not run the summer program. However they can probably direct you to the right office on their campus for registration.

    Many gifted students find coursework at the college level both stimulating and enlightening. Its a great opportunity for students to "test drive" the college while at the same time experiencing the intellectual and academic rigor of college. Students work hard and play hard at these programs giving them the "edge" for transitioning from high school to college. For many, this is the first time in their lives where they are completely responsible for their own time, actions and activities - including their own laundry. Students experience first hand what it's like to live in an 8x10 room with a roommate! They learn how to balance academic demands with their social life - critical skills necessary for success at the collegiate level.

    Parents may be concerned about safety and security at these programs. Realize the college has their reputation on the line as well so students are typically well supervised by experienced residential staff. Staying in a dorm, eating cafeteria food, making friends from different parts of the country and world, while studying something the student is already passionate about provides a great test drive to university life.

    College Visits

    “You gotta go to know!” Visiting a campus for a few hours will tell you much about the college and your fit for the university. You will want to visit colleges during your sophomore and junior year of high school. Try to visit when school is in session to get a more accurate picture of the school.

    Find more information on college visits here.

    Paying

    Thanks to the Internet, it is easy to search for college scholarships and awards. The resources listed below will help you begin your scholarship search.

    Scholarships

    College Scholarships come from two sources, College Discretionary Funds or Private Scholarships.

    College Discretionary Funds are college scholarship dollars given to students based on merit. This may include National Merit standing, SAT/ACT test scores, Grade Point Average (GPA) and/or student ability (athletics, arts, etc.). Inquire about these scholarships in the university financial aide office or contact your college representative.

    Private Scholarships are awarded for a variety of reasons: ethnicity, talent, academic interest, etc. They range in amounts from $50 to $5,000. Specific information about scholarships can be found in your guidance office or through online scholarship databases.

    Warning! You may have heard that each year millions of dollars go unclaimed in scholarship money. This is simply not true. If a company "guarantees" they will find college money for you, beware. They do not have privileged access to any scholarships that you yourself cannot find. The web is a great resource for scholarship searches, as well as published books and other materials.

    Financial Aid

    FAFSA (www.fafsa.ed.gov) is a free government website to apply for federal financial aid programs. The FAFSA application must be completed to be considered for these financial aid options:

    • Federal Pell Grant: Money given to the student that does not need to be repaid. Grants range in size from $400 to $2470 per year.
    • Federal Work-Study: Funds are earned through on-campus employment.
    • Federal Stafford Loan: The largest student loan program that increases borrowing limits each year. Subsidized and unsubsidized options are available.
    • Federal Perkins Loans: This loan is borrowed directly through the college, so no loan fees are incurred.

    Warning! Make sure you are using the website www.fafsa.ed.gov. There is a fafsa.com website that will charge you money to file the free form.

    Scholarship Links

    Below is a handful of helpful links to aid in your scholarship search:

    To find many more scholarship opportunities, please click here.

    "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

    Portrait of a PCA Graduate

    Reverence For God

    "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." -Proverbs 9:10

    Reverence for God is the beginning point of wisdom. Without reverence and recognition of God, education essentially is secular. Learning to think and discern as a mature believer in Christ is undergirded by authentic respect and love for our Lord.

    An Eternal Perspective

    "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward." -Colossians 3:23-24

    An eternal perspective is interdependent with reverence. This type of perspective gives us purpose in our work and it develops a strong work ethic because we know and understand that we are working to please and honor God. The Latin phrase on our school crest, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (for God's greater glory) frames our motives.

    Humility

    "Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." -Philippians 2:2-3

    Humility is cultivated when one recognizes that our life is about Him, we are 'serving-as-His leader'. Recognizing that God has bestowed intellect, talents and gifts upon us takes the focus off of us and rightfully places it on our Lord. This compels us to demonstrate the love and attitude of Jesus Christ to all people, characterized by selflessness, servanthood and a lifestyle of obedience to seeking first the Kingdom of God.

    The Process of Learning or Scholarship

    "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." -Ephesians 2:10

    The process of learning or scholarship is conditioned by reverence, eternal perspective and humility. The Christian liberal arts environment nurtures the mind to become eager to learn, think and analyze. All knowledge and every academic discipline is appreciated and not for a 'grade' per se, but because the very process of learning-scholastic excellence becomes a commitment to discipline the mind. Using our mind to not only magnify God but to serve as His ambassador in areas of law, business, medicine, engineering, education, ministry and any assignment God calls us to as an act of obiedence and reverence. The development of a biblical worldview is the fruit of this process.

    Rigor, High Expectations and Accountability

    "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." -II Corinthians 10:5

    Rigor, high expectations and accountability complement the entire learning environment as students grow accustom to striving for excellence. Problem solving, thinking, critical analysis and synthesis strengthen the mind and become natural thought processes. The apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthians to strengthen their mind-- including all systems of philosophy, opinions and powers of reason being subject to the word of God. A culture of rigor serves as a catalyst to pursue excellence in every area of one's life.