College Info & Planning

Welcome to the Hanover Park Regional High School District College Planning Guide. This resource is available to all students and parents. You may check on individual links for specific areas of interest. 

College Planning Guide



Search and Timeline Information​​​​​​​

Finding the Right Fit

Helpful Information​​​​​​


Application Glossary​​​​​​​

Dispelling College Admission Myths​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

SAT vs. ACT Comparison​​​​​​​

Important Websites

Visiting Campus​​​​​​​

College tips​​​​​​​

Some Words of ​​​​​​​ Advice for Seniors Applying to College​​​​​​​

2020-2021 Common Application Essay Prompts

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Coalition Application 2020-2021 Essay Prompts

1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?

4. What is the hardest part of being a student now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

5. Submit an essay on the topic of your choice

Click here for an article on essay writing from US News

 My College Corner is a detailed all inclusive resource for all things college.  You are encouraged to take advantage of the information available.

Helpful Websites​​

Common Application

College Board:


ACT Preparation


NCAA Eligibility Worksheet: See the workbook below

Financial Aid

Test Optional Colleges

NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority


Please see the attached file at the bottom of the page for additional useful websites. 

Helpful Hints About Writing  Your Essay

Write about something that's important to you. ...

Don't just recount—reflect! ...

      What did you learn from your experience?

      How will you use this experience in the future?

Start early and write several drafts. ...

      Do not wait till the last minute. 

      Do not try to write it all in one sitting.

Answer the question being asked. ...

     Do not write about what you think they want to hear.

The essay should tell them something not on the application

    What are you bringing to the college campus?


College Planning Timeline - Senior Year of High School

Make sure you have all applications required for college admission and financial aid. 

Make sure you link your Common Application and Naviance account

Check on application and financial aid deadlines for the schools to which you plan to apply. They may vary and it is essential to meet all deadlines!

Meet with your counselor to be sure your list includes colleges appropriate to your academic and personal record. Review your transcript and co-curricular records with your counselor to ensure their accuracy.

Register for the SAT Reasoning Test and/or SAT Subject Tests, or ACT.

Meet college representatives that will be visiting the high schools in the fall. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and find out important information about particular colleges. You can sign up for these visits using Naviance.

Plan visits to colleges and set up interviews (if you didn't get to them during the summer or if you want to return to a campus for a second time). Read bulletin boards and the college newspaper. Talk with current students and professors.

Work with your counselor to ensure that applications are submitted in time to meet deadlines.

If you need financial aid, look at the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form which can be completed on line at This is most important financial aid form that all colleges look for when students are applying for financial assistance. Check to see if the colleges to which you are applying require any other financial aid form. Register for the CSS Profile if required and obtain the college's own financial aid forms, if available. The FAFSA form may be submitted after October 1 using your prior- prior tax return.

The transcript of your first semester grades are sent to colleges to which you applied.

Complete scholarship applications. You may be eligible for more scholarships than you think, so apply for as many as you can.

Review your college acceptances and financial aid awards. Be sure to compare financial aid packages in your decision-making process. If you are positive you will not enroll at one or more of the colleges which accepted you, please notify those colleges that you have selected another college.

By May 1, decide on the one college that you will attend and send in your tuition deposit. Notify the other colleges that accepted you that you have selected another college.

Make sure you end the year in a strong fashion- Sprint to the finish, do not coast."

Your final transcript is mailed to the college you plan to attend.

Know when the payment for tuition, room and board, meal plans, etc., is due. If necessary, ask the financial aid office about a possible payment plan that will allow for you to pay in installments.

Congratulations, you've made it through high school! Enjoy your graduation and  get ready for  college.

See this article about colleges and extracurricular activities.


Click here for an article on handling college decision stress.

NJ HESAA  Reach Higher Booklet​​​​​​​

How to Explore Colleges Virtually​​​​​​​

How to Write a Great Letter of Continued Interest for students who have been deferred or put on the waitlist.