College Planning

College Exploration

College admissions experts suggest that students create a list that includes at least 3-5 realistic college choices and 2-3 dream options. Students and families should take time to check out the websites of these schools and consider creating a comparison table to help in making an informed decision. Students should also plan to attend at least 5-7 college rep visits at LSW during their Junior/Senior year. Check out the FAQs About College Rep Visits to learn more about why you should attend these visits and see who’s coming to Southwest in the future. The resources below may also help in your search for the perfect post-secondary institution — remember, it’s never too early to begin planning for what’s next after high school!

  • Common App – The Common App gives you the ability to apply to over 900 member colleges with a single application. Search for your top college choices and if they accept the Common App, you can really simplify your college application process! You can also use this feature to explore colleges and find your best fit.
  • Midwest Student Exchange Program – The MSEP provides more affordable opportunities for students who want to attend college out-of-state. Over 50 colleges and universities in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin participate in this program, so if you’re interested in going out of state for college but still want to stay close to home, this is a great program to explore!
  • Big Future – Another college exploration resource that many students also use in Take Charge (Junior year). Since transferring from one college to another can be expensive and stressful, you should look carefully at all of your options and consider what matters most to you in a school – take the time to do this now and save yourself the struggles that can result from making an uninformed choice in the future!
  • College Exploration Spreadsheet – Keep track of everything you’re learning about potential schools with this interactive spreadsheet. Click on the “Make a copy” button to create your own copy of this useful tool!

Worried About Paying For College?

In these tough economic times, when students and families are worried about how to make ends meet more than ever, paying for college can seem like an impossible burden. Thankfully, there are many programs and resources available for students who meet the income requirements to qualify for free/reduced meals at school. Even if you have no intention of eating at school, completing the application for free/reduced meals is the first step in qualifying for several of these programs. Families can learn more and complete the application for free/reduced meals on the LPS website at

If your family qualifies for free/reduced meals, please contact your LSW counselor to let us know you’re interested in connecting with any of the resources/programs described below. Additional programs and scholarships can be found on the EducationQuest website at

ACT or SAT Fee Waiver – Covers the basic cost of taking the ACT or SAT. Students can receive two waivers through ACT.  For SAT, an eligible student would be entitled to use fee waivers to cover the cost of two SAT registrations and two SAT Subject Test registrations. Waivers are available from your school counselor. Please make your request well in advance of any registration deadlines.

Waiver of College Application Fees – Colleges and universities will frequently waive or reduce the application fee for students who qualify for free or reduced meals. Work with your school counselor to explore this possibility well ahead of any application deadlines.

ACE Scholarship – Pays tuition and mandatory fees for qualified, low-income high school students to enroll in college courses from Nebraska’s colleges or universities, either through dual-enrollment or early enrollment agreements with these institutions. Learn more and apply on the ACE Scholarship Program website.

Learn to Dream Scholarship – The Learn to Dream Scholarship covers tuition and fees for up to 60 credit hours of courses at Southeast Community College. Any LPS student who qualifies for free/reduced meals in high school will receive the Learn to Dream scholarship as long as they apply. Learn more on the Learn to Dream website and contact your school counselor to apply.

See Also…