Special Populations

The College application process is different for each and every senior.  Your unique situation may require you to complete different steps or seek out additional support.  Below you will find some specific information for:

Artists, Athletes, First Generation College Students, Minority Students, Students with Disabilities

Please see your counselor if you have additional questions.

Students planning to pursue studies in the visual arts, music, or performing arts can have a more difficult time finding the right school for them.  Take time to speak with your teachers, directors, private tutors, and any local artists or musicians you know.  Ask where they went to college and if they know of any good schools.  You will likely hear recommendations for Art institutes and Music Conservatories that specialize in these areas.  You should also consider general colleges that may have strong programs in visual and performing arts.  Visit both types of schools and try to determine which feels right – is Art your life?  Or do you want to maintain your creative side while also studying business?

Make sure to review the audition and/or portfolio requirements for schools you are considering.  Visual and performing art students usually have very unique admissions requirements, but they can vary greatly from school to school.  Consider if you will have to schedule on campus auditions, what pieces you must prepare, and who can help you.  Talk with your subject area teachers early and often as well as your counselor for support!


Student Athletes hoping to play in college must educate themselves about the various rules for eligibility and recruitment.  To learn more about recruitment, check out www.ncaastudent.org, speak with your high school coaches, or check the guidelines of the college you are interested in.

 When you select courses each year of high school, specifically check with your counselor to make sure you are taking NCAA approved classes and will meet minimum eligibility requirements.  Also make sure you understand how your GPA and SAT scores will affect your eligibility.  Athletes should take note that the NCAA now requires a core GPA of 2.3 for full eligibility.  Core GPA is different than your regular GPA.  It is calculated using just your NCAA core classes - not electives.

 In the Junior year students planning to compete at Division I or II schools must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center (Division III athletes DO NOT register).  Register at: http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/eligibility-center

When making a commitment to a school, make sure you clearly understand all the terms.  What will be required of you academically once you are on campus?  Are there required study halls or tutoring sessions on top of practice, work outs, and class work?  What exactly is the financial aid offer?  Are you guaranteed scholarship money each year or are you competing with other first year athletes for an ongoing scholarship?

First Generation College Students

If you are the first in your family to attend college, you often need extra support from your counselor.  Please share this information with us so can help you and your family through this process!  We know you will have many questions not addressed in this handbook.  We would love to meet with you and your family to help create a college plan.

 First Generation students can become overwhelmed with all the information out there.  Try http://www.firstgenerationstudent.com/ for a website that was created with you in mind.

 Minority Students

Students in a minority group here at SWHS – whether because of their race, religion, gender identity, or any other factor – may find that college is just the breath of fresh air they have been looking for.   Still, not every school will be a perfect fit.  Most colleges boast about diversity and inclusiveness on their website – but what’s the real vibe on campus?  Do you want a campus where you will be in the majority (for African American students, consider a Historically Black College or University)?  Do you want a large school with lots of people of all types?  Do you want a small, progressive school where all the groups mingle?

 When visiting campuses ask specific questions about college services and student groups that cater to your needs.  Also try to feel out how active on-campus groups are.  There may be a Jewish Student Association, but do they meet regularly and have plenty of events for members?

 Students in a minority group should also consider scholarship opportunities unique to them.  A quick google search will bring you a host of options.

 Students with Disabilities

 Students with special needs will take extra care to make sure their chosen college is a good fit.  Talk with your counselor and case manager about your college plans.  They can help you consider the right type of college for you.

 If you would like to request accommodations on the SAT or ACT (extra time, extra breaks, special answer sheet, etc.) talk with your case manager in 10th grade.  It can take months to request accommodations and receive approval. 

 Use the internet to search for “colleges for students with (ADHD, Asperger’s, etc.)  You will find tons of webpages and lists.  Once you see the name of the same school on several different lists, it’s a good bet you should add it to your list as well!  You can also use resources like the K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities.

When you visit a college, ask specific questions about the disability services program.  In all cases, you will have to start speaking up for yourself more in college.  However, at some colleges you may have to fight harder than others.  Seek out schools that have resources in place and see how easy they are to access.  Remember that you are the one going to college – not Mom and Dad – so you are the one that needs to understand the services available.

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