DHS Senior Guidance Handbook


Dixon High School

Senior Guidance Handbook






Hope you find the following Senior Handbook helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at any time in person, by e-mail or by phone at 573-759-7163  Ext. 4003.


Carol A. Kirk

 Guidance Counselor



Senior Year Planning................................................................................................................... 1

Month by Month action steps…………………………………………………………………………………………………2

Tips for Completing College Applications..............................................................................5

The Etiquette of Asking for a Recommendation.................................................................6

Sample Resume ............................................................................................................................7

Questions to Ask College Reps ............................................................................................... 8

Making the Most of Your College Visit ................................................................................. 9

Financing Your Education ........................................................................................................ 11

Helpful Web Sites .................................................................................................................... 14



As a Senior at Dixon High School, you will be busy!


This is an exciting time full of questions about your future. As you progress through this year, my hope is this handbook will give you some useful information that will answer some of your questions about being successful in this journey of completing your senior year. 


YOU have many choices to make. As you have heard me state many times over your high school years “all Graduates of Dixon High will have a GOAL that includes additional post-secondary (college) training, military or job employment”.  Our goal at DHS had been to prepare you for your next step in life.


I know that each senior will come to this career process in his/her own way. Many will come with additional knowledge of the process because of siblings or parents’ experience. I do not expect students to get through this process all alone. However, I do expect students to take control of the process. I hope this handbook will help you do just that. Please feel free to come to the counselor’s office for any questions you may have.


If college is not the avenue you are choosing right after DHS, please let me help you to discuss other options.  There are great military opportunities as well as work opportunities. Let me know if any of these options interest you so I can set up appointments with the proper individuals.



Your senior year is your opportunity to strengthen your skills and broaden your experiences, in school and out, to prepare for all of the challenges ahead. A successful senior year can help launch you on the path to a successful future. Make the most of your senior year:


- Maintain a challenging course load. You should take the most rigorous courses available.

- Stay active and involved. Continue involvement in activities, sports, volunteer work, etc. Take advantage of internships or career-focused jobs.

- If you have excelled at high school classes, consider taking college classes.


SIGN UP for your SENIOR INTERVIEW with Mrs. Kirk

Page 1.



Register to take your ACT for college acceptance and college class placement. (can do up to 12 times)



Test Date




Registration Deadline




(Late Fee Required)


 September 9, 2017

 August 4, 2017

 August 5 – 18, 2017


 October 28, 2017

 September 22, 2017

 September 23–Oct. 6, 2017


 December 3, 2017

 November 3, 2017

 November 4 -17, 2017


 February 10, 2018

 January12, 2018

 January 13-19, 2018


 April114, 2018

 March 9, 2018

 March 10-23, 2018


 June 9, 2018

 May 4, 2018

 May 5-18, 2018


July 14, 2018                           June 15, 2018                              June 16 – 22, 2018


** Cost of ACT is $46.00 for no writing, $62.00 for Writing! Subject to change each year!!   College of Ozarks requires writing, however most colleges do not require and unless you are a strong writer, it can cause your score to be lower.



  1. Sign up for your SENIOR INTERVIEW with a parent and Mrs. Kirk.
  2. Begin and maintain a college calendar of all admission and financial aid deadlines. Keep a 3-ring binder or the expanded folder (given to you during SENIOR INTERVIEW) with all of your college/financial aid information.
  3. During your SENIOR INTERVIEW we will review your transcript in detail and check credits for graduation. Your course selection says volumes about your ability, motivation and maturity. Tempting as it may be, taking an easy course load your senior year sends the wrong message about you to colleges. It is extremely important to have both English IV and a Math class during your senior year.
  4. Register for ACT as soon as possible whether you are retaking or taking for the first time. The October test date is your best choice.
  5. Attend the DHS Career Fair on September 26th from 1 – 2:30.Excellent time to gather lots of good information from many colleges.Parents are welcome.
  6. If Military may be an option, be sure to request an additional ASVAB test.

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  7. During your SENIOR INTERVIEW you will be asked to make a list of colleges that interest you this will insures you and your parents are on the same page. Iron out any area of disagreement
  8. before the search process gets too far along. Keep a folder on every school in which you are interested.
  9. It is highly recommended that you have all college applications and college-given- scholarship applications completed by December 1st.The sooner the better.
  10. If you haven’t already, make plans to visit the colleges of interest to you.
  11. Continue to volunteer or get involved in a service project. (This can help make you stand out from the crowd in your application.)
  12. Attend Monday Night Application/Scholarship labs with Mrs. Kirk in the Library after school.


  1. Narrow colleges of interest to 3 – 5 colleges. Research these thoroughly. (Go to www.connectedu.net/members to register to use the free college planner and college search site)
  2. All high-school athletes wishing to compete in Division I or II college sports must register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. Information about the Clearinghouse can be found in the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net. The Clearinghouse maintains and processes all of the initial-eligibility certifications. See the website for the eligibility standards. If you have further questions about NCAA eligibility, you may call the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse at 877-262-1492.
  3. Begin preparing applications with great care. MOST are done on the web.MANY institutions recommend applications for admissions be submitted by Oct. (Go to www.connectedu.net/members for an application organizer that will help you see at a glance what is done, what needs to be done, and deadlines.)
  4. Begin requesting teacher recommendations. Ask at least 10 school days prior to deadline and give them a completed Letter of Recommendation Info Form about you.
  5. Plan to attend the FAFSA Financial Aid night with lab on October 3rd, 2017. Start gathering identity and financial documents necessary to complete FAFSA. Visit FAFSA on the Web for a list of required documents. www.fafsa.ed.gov
  6. Both student and parent should request a Department of Education PIN number. The PIN serves as an electronic signature for FAFSA on the WEB and significantly reduces processing time. www.fafsa.ed.gov
  7. Male students who will be 18 at the time they complete the FAFSA are required to register with Selective Service to be eligible for federal and state aid. (www.sss.gov).
  8. After applications are complete, then complete all college institutional scholarships and foundation/alumni scholarships. These scholarships represent the LARGEST amount of funds and often are not all given because of lack of applications or missing deadlines.

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  1. The Student Aid Report (SAR) should arrive two to four weeks after the FAFSA is submitted. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) figure is printed on the front page at the upper right. If the SAR has not been received four weeks after submitting the FAFSA, call 1-800-4-FED-AID. If there are any errors on the SAR, make corrections and mail back immediately. If you provided valid email address, you can view and make corrections online.
  2. Continue to search and apply for scholarships. Many scholarship deadlines fall on or around Dec 1.Be checking the DHS Guidance Web page for the lateness listing of scholarships which have notified the district.
  3. Applications for some scholarships can be picked up in the DHS Dual Credit room along with the latest Scholarship listing
  4. Acceptance letters and financial award letters may arrive with the early admissions. Please bring a copy of that to Mrs. Kirk for recognition purposes and if you have questions about the financial aid award. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the award before making a final commitment.


  1. Continue to apply for all types of scholarships. (National, College and Local)Everything that comes through the district will be posted in the weekly Scholarship listing found on the DHS website and in the DHS Dual Credit room.
  2. After FAFSA is completed, one in three parents are asked for verification of financial aid information from the various colleges.


  1. Avoid Senioritis. Senior grades can be crucial to your admission (including 3rd and 4th quarter grades, especially for those on waiting lists or on the cusp of admissions). All acceptances are conditional until colleges deem your final grades have met their standards.
  2. Apply for housing ASAP - Watch deposit deadlines for housing.
  3. Colleges will continue notifying students of admission status and financial aid. Discuss any questions with your counselor.
  4. If financial aid is not adequate, call the specific financial aid office. The first offer is not necessarily firm! Perhaps you can provide special circumstances that exist.
  5. If you have applied for more than one college, compare the financial aid package from each to get your best decision.
  6. Continue to apply for scholarships- Local scholarships will start to arrive. Apply! Apply!


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  1. Continue to apply for scholarships.
  2. Inform Mrs. Kirk what DECISION you have made so that it can be announced at the DHS Decision Day assembly and posted for the Graduation insert.
  3. Be sure to inform the other colleges you have been accepted to that you are not attending.
  4. Make request for your final DHS transcript during your final interview with Mrs. Kirk.


  1. Complete the semester with good attendance and academic standing
  2. Request in writing or electronically all Dual Credit classes Transcripts from the various colleges to be sent to the college you plan to attend.This will take several weeks and there will be a fee. DHS cannot do this for you.



“The application folder is your single opportunity to influence the admissions process. Approach each aspect of the application as an opportunity. Devote time and thought to each of the various portions.”

As you think about your folder circulating among an admissions committee, consider the following:

  • Be aware that along with your application, colleges review your academic transcript for grades 9-12 including your senior course load. Special attention is given to your grades, your grade pattern, your overall grade point average and the courses you have taken.
  • ACT performance can be helpful in supporting your academic record. (Check your college’s requirements.) Many 4-year institutions require a “21” on the ACT. University of Missouri system requires a “24”.
  • Some consider extracurricular activities, recommendations, the applicant’s personal essay, personal interview, alumni connections, and personal strengths.
  • Read every word of the directions before you even print your name.
  • Make a copy and use as a work sheet.
  • Always print a copy of your application prior to sending it on line.
  • Always call or email the college within 14 days to verify receipt of your on-line application if you do not get a response.
  • Demonstrate your best work ~ something of which you are proud.
  • Essays should be error-free, thoughtful, logical and organized. Use comfortable vocabulary. Be yourself. The essay should say something the rest of the application doesn’t say ~ elaborate on a

    talent, an interest, and thoughts on a world or local problem, a personal accomplishment.

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  • Stay within the length limit for the essay, but always write close to the limit to showcase your positives.
  • Do not write what you think the admissions office wants to hear. The committee reading your application wants to know you ~ whatever you think and do. No matter how ordinary you may feel; your folder represents a different individual from all others.
  • Use specific examples when describing your interests and achievements. Explain your involvement ~ why things you chose to discuss are important to you. It is better to emphasize the degree of involvement in a few activities than a long list of superficial interests.
  • Why are you going to college? To learn? To learn what? Why? A college should be convinced that you truly want an education. Avoid simplistic answers and reasons. If you want to be an engineer, for example, cite some experience from your own life or deed and thought that led you to this present choice.
  • If humor is a part of your style, feel free to use it.
  • Typing is required. In very limited cases, you will be required to write an essay in your own handwriting. Neatness and legibility are obviously essential.
  • Proofread. Spelling errors are unacceptable. Proofread!
  • Copies (clear ones) are perfectly acceptable, but sign each one individually. Your name should be on each page or article submitted in addition to the application.
  • Proofread again!

The Etiquette of Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

  1. Ask the teacher in person.
  2. Ask in such a way that the teacher is free to decline your invitation if he/she feels a strong, positive letter is not possible. (Would you be willing to write a college letter of recommendation for me?)
  3. Ask the teacher as soon as possible: Ask for 5 or more original letters for future use. Ask the teacher what date would work for you to pick up the letters.
  4. If there is a form, make sure you fill out the student section NEATLY of the form before giving the form to the teacher.
  5. Provide a resume/intake form for those whom you request a letter of recommendation.
  6. Write a note of thanks to the writer of your recommendation(s).
  7. When you hear from the colleges, make sure you inform the teachers who wrote for you the results of your application. Remember that they have something invested in your college process.
  8. Above all, remember that writing a good letter of recommendation requires a significant amount of time, time that is above and beyond the call of duty. Make sure that you stay on top of deadlines and paperwork, so that you do not make unnecessary work for the teacher and so that writing the recommendation is as uncomplicated as possible.

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Educational Background

Dixon High School, 106 W. Fourth Street, Dixon, MO  65459

                            (If you have attended other high schools also list them with dates you attended.)

College and Career Plans

                                Basic Educational Statistics

                           Your GPA:  Weighted & Unweighted

                        Your Graduation Date

                            Your ACT score

Academic Achievements

Examples: Honors and DC classes enrolled in; research projects completed; special academic, contests

Awards, Achievements, and Honors

                                Academic Awards; Leadership Awards; Music Awards; Sports Awards, etc.

Extracurricular Activities

                  Clubs, Sports, etc.


Church membership, nursery worker, youth group, etc.

Community Service

                             Christmas baskets, blood drive, etc.


Colleges and universities have varying admission practices. Information pertaining to the policy of a prospective school will be found in its publications. Some of the most frequently mentioned practices are:

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 EARLY DECISION (ED) Students who have demonstrated sound academic ability apply for admission to their first choice college during the summer or very early in their senior year. Notification of admission is given usually in Dec or Jan. Restrictive policies vary with each school and must be checked carefully to see if early decision works to the individual’s advantage. This plan is binding. If you apply ED, you also sign a commitment to attend if accepted and withdraw all other applications. You should apply under an ED plan only if you know that you can make a well-reasoned, first-choice decision.

 EARLY ACTION (EA) This plan does not require a commitment to matriculate. There are certain schools that have single choice early action (Stanford, Yale, and Harvard). If you apply to those schools, you must adhere to their restriction about applying early to other schools. This plan allows the applicant to compare admissions and financial aid offers.

 WAIT LIST This process allows institutions to initially delay an offer or deny admission. If on a wait list you are extended the possibility of admission in the future.

 REGULAR DECISION This is a plan in which institutions review most of their applications before notifying the majority of candidates of their admission. Colleges set a deadline for completing applications and respond to completed applications by a specified date.

 ROLLING ADMISSIONS This application process allows colleges to review applications as they are received and offers decisions to applicants as soon as the application has been processed.

 DEFERRED ADMISSION High school seniors are guaranteed admission to college a year after graduation.

 OPEN ADMISSION Students are accepted upon application (usually community colleges). Some programs in these same schools may have more selective admissions.



Each year college representatives visit Dixon High School to talk with students.  (College fair & School visits). The representative with whom you visit may be the same one who will process your application and participate in your admission decision. These visits will be posted in the DHS bulletin Make arrangements to meet with the reps that you wish to see.


 Am I eligible for admissions?

 What tests are required?

 What are the deadlines?

 What high school course preparation is needed?

 What academic demands can I expect to find? How intense is the academic atmosphere (avg. hours spent studying, library full on weekends, avg. SAT/ACT scores)?

 What percentage of students return after their freshman year?


 How much will it cost?  What is the average loan amount of your graduates?

What kind of financial aid is available, what kind of Scholarships do you offer?

 What majors and study programs are available? Does the school offer the major I want?

 How many students are in my area of interest?

 If I am undecided, will I have the chance to explore some areas of interest?

 Does the school have any kind of internship program, co-op, etc.?

Social Life

What is the dorm life like?

What extracurricular activities are available?

Is the college a part of the surrounding community or set apart from it as a self-contained unit? If rural, how far to the nearest town and how do students get there?

What method of transportation do students use to get around campus?


How difficult is it to get on-campus housing?

Do all freshmen live in dorms?

 What is the cost?

How do I apply? Is it a separate process from the admission application?


NOTE: In order for college visits not to count against your school attendance, a yellow College Field Trip Permission form must be completed a week before the event.  All teachers, office, Mrs. Kirk and Parent must sign off on this form. Seniors are allowed four college visits but this does include registration and housing visits.

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The yellow form must be returned to the DHS office after the visit with the name and number of the College Office of Admissions tour guide. Students not following this procedure will have their college visit coded as an unexcused absence.

Visiting prospective colleges can be a big help in selecting the right school. Its value is in providing a first-hand impression for you and your family about people, programs and facilities. Your presence on the campus and your readiness to talk about yourself and your college plans are indications of your serious interest in the college. Seeking and exchanging information with college officials is all part of the process in the campus visit.


  • Make a list of prospective colleges and write to them. Be specific concerning your interests.
  • Contact colleges you plan to visit well in advance. Make appointments at least two or three weeks before your intended visit. Experts recommend that you visit during the academic year to get the feel of the campus in full swing.
  • Research the colleges you plan to visit. Colleges want candidates who are educated about their campus programs and facilities.
  • Take an unofficial copy of your transcript. Request a copy from the Guidance Office a few days prior to your visit.
  • Be prompt for tours and appointments.
  • Pick up an application form, scholarship information and a campus map.
  • Don’t hesitate to discuss finances and ask about scholarship, loan and work opportunities.
  • Campus “musts” to see: the library, academic facilities, living quarters, and talk to students when the official tour is over. It is important to get some idea about the kind of people you will live and work with on campus.
  • Visit the neighborhood where the campus is located. Look for transportation facilities.
  • Parents are always welcome on college campuses. Prospective candidates, however, should take an opportunity to interview alone with the college official. Parents are often invited in after the interview to ask questions and obtain further information.
  • Remember the sunshine factor: a beautiful sunny day can make the campus seem terrific; a rainy day can dampen you and your interest. Try not to let the weather affect your judgment.
  • Campus tour guides are not all alike: some are lively, interesting students who are reliable spokespersons for the school while others may not be as well-versed or informed. Don’t judge a school solely by the one student tour guide. Meet many other students to get a true picture.
  • Your interview may be with an admissions staff member, a student or alumnus.
  • Dress comfortably and neatly...RELAX.
  • Ask about your chances for admission; this is why it is important to bring a copy of your transcript or give the admissions officer an accurate profile of your high school record and test scores. Most admissions officers will be able to give you some idea of your chances of being

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admitted, but don’t expect a definite answer. Usually that can only come later when the college has more complete information on you and its overall admissions competition for that particular year.

  • Remember: the interview can have a positive effect on your admission, rarely a negative one.
  • After your visit, make some notes on your reactions to the college. They may be helpful later when you are trying to remember and evaluate each institution.
  • If questions come up after the visit, don’t hesitate to contact the people you have met.
  • If you are definitely interested in the college, follow through by filing your formal application as soon as possible. If you are not interested, don’t consider your visit a waste of time. Chances are you will have learned about the kind of college you do want, and about what other colleges are likely to expect from you.
  • Send thank-you notes to those whom you had appointments.



The primary responsibility for paying a student’s educational expenses belongs to the family. However, the choice of a college should not be determined by family finances alone. A student and family should choose a college based not only on finances, but on the student’s desire and ability to attend that college. If the proper procedures are followed, a financial aid partnership of parents, student, government and university can become a reality.


Basically, there are two types of financial aid: merit-based and need-based.

 Merit-based awards are typically given by a private institution, your college, or the government. These awards recognize your academic, athletic, musical and various other talents.

Need-based aid is awarded according to your ability to pay for college. Colleges calculate your need using this formula:                                       Cost of Attendance

- Your EFC (Estimated Financial Contribution on FAFSA)

- Outside aid (scholarships)


You do not need to be poor to receive aid. There are funds available to help all students who demonstrate need. In order to receive financial aid you must ask for it, i.e., complete the forms and applications. And remember, if you apply for assistance early, you may be more successful in finding the aid you need.

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Financing Methods

(Financial aid usually comes in a “package” ~ a combination of the following methods.)

1. Scholarships (monies you don’t pay back)

2. Grants (monies you don’t pay back)

3. Loans (monies you must pay back)

4. Employment (money you earn)


Private scholarships - FREE Scholarship Searches are available via the WEB. (See pages of this handbook for a partial list of these websites.)

College Automatic scholarships - Many institutions offer “automatic” scholarships. Applications are screened upon admissions and monies are awarded if applicant meets criteria. Most of these scholarships are renewable and based on ACT and GPA.

College Foundation/Alumni and Department Scholarships – These usually have early fall deadlines, and many students do not apply for each of these categories.  Monies are left each year.

Dixon Area Local Scholarships – most of the time arrive in the Guidance Office in the spring of the year, Feb – March.

National Scholarships – Tough to get, but thousands out there via the web searches. While there are thousands of scholarships, many of them have strict requirements or are so competitive that they are available only to a few students.


  • Pell Grants
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
  • Loans: (Check in the Guidance Office for free resources.)
  • Perkins/Stafford Loans
  • Parent Loan (Federal PLUS Loan) (highest %)
  • Employment: Students may seek employment on their own while in college, or they may be eligible for Work-Study if financial need is demonstrated. (no taxes taken out)



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A quick summary of steps to Financial Aid:

1. Complete the FAFSA (Oct. 1) which is required by all colleges. Colleges may require supplemental financial aid forms but they will contact you.

2. Apply for federal and state funds by checking the appropriate boxes on FAFSA. On the FAFSA you will list each college you are applying to so your FAFSA will be sent there.

3. Check for scholarships for which you are eligible:

  • from each college
  • those posted through the Guidance Office, on the DHS website, and posted/placed in the DC classroom.
  • local scholarships and awards that will become available in the Spring
  • corporations where parents are employed
  • military
  • ·various search engines as listed in this booklet

4. Begin your student loan application by checking appropriate boxes on the FAFSA.

5. If you have properly filled out the financial aid forms, you will receive a Student Aid Report in approximately 2-4 weeks (sooner if you apply online). It will give you your eligibility index for federal and state aid. You will be asked to sign an acceptance of the amount received, and the money will be sent to the college. Colleges will notify you of further grants/loans you are to receive in their financial aid “package”.

6. Ask your counselor for assistance if you have general questions. Specific questions should be directed to the college financial aid offices or the financial aid agencies.



(to help with Financial Aid, Scholarship Searches, and other College Planning)

www.actstudent.org (The Registration Page for ACT test, checking scores, and submitting a pic)

www.finaid.org (The Financial Aid Information Page)

www.missourimost.org (Missouri MO$T Program)

www.ed.gov/inits/hope (Hope Scholarship & Lifetime Learning Tax Credits)

www.upromise.com/mohela (New ways to save for college)

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www.fafsa.ed.gov (FAFSA on the Web)

www.pin.ed.gov (get your PINs for the web-FAFSA)

www.fastweb.com (Scholarship search)

www.srnexpress.com (Scholarship search)

www.gocollege.com (Scholarship search)

www.wiredscholar.com (Scholarship search)

www.scholarships.com (Scholarship search)

www.ncaa.org/about/scholarships/.html (Sports scholarships & internships)

www.connectedu.net (Online college search and planning)

www.act.org (Online registration for ACT)

www.collegeboard.org (College Board)

www.ncaaclearinghouse.net (NCAA Clearinghouse)

www.dhe.mo.gov (Missouri Department of Higher Ed)

www.ed.gov (US Department of Education)

www.ed.gov/parents (Free publications to download)

www.petersons.com (Peterson’s Education & Career Info)

www.skill-ed.com (Career & College information)

www.collegequest.com (College Search)

www.stats.bls.gov/oco/ocoiab.htm (Career Info Occupational Outlook Handbook)

www.mapping-your-future.org (Career Planning)

www.commonapp.org (Common Application online)

www.collegefund.org (Multi-cultural students)

www.ncld.org (Students with Learning Disabilities)

www.sss.gov (Selective Service)

www.militarycareers.com (Military Career Guide Online)

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