Ballard High School

High School
Counseling Center Dashboard

Applying to College

Applying to College Overview

Refer to this page for answers to commonly asked questions about applying to college – both 4 year and 2 year as well as upcoming events and opportunities.

Ballard HS
Counseling Team

Sonja Petersen
A – Deg (M-Th)

Maya McKenzie
Deh – Kar

Tom Kramer
Kas – Pes

Gail Olson Laing
Pet – Wat

Katie Huguenin
Wau – Z (T, W, Th)

Students & Families

Explore the sections below for details and specifics on each topic for Seniors and their families.

Resources are also available on the Counseling Schoology page.

Students you can also Book an Appointment with your Counselor too.

Check back regularly, as new content is being added.

Counseling Center News

Seattle Promise Seniors

Attention Seattle Promise Seniors: FAFSA & WASFA Workshops. Learn more on the Counseling Center page.

How Financial Aid Works

For most students planning to attend college or career school, financial aid is essential. Visit the Federal Student Aid site for more detailed information or refer to your BHS Counselor.


The 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is available. Complete the form to apply for financial aid to help pay for college. Learn more on our Counseling page. The Wa. Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) is also available. Learn more about the WASFA on the Wa Student Achievement Council site.

Counseling News & Updates

Refer to the Counseling News, Seattle Promise Scholarship Application, Financial Aid, Scholarships, Events and more!

Counseling Center Dashboard

Applying to College Resources for Students

Seattle Promise College for Every Seattle Student

Students must start in September following their June graduation. No gap years allowed.

Seattle Promise logo

Free Tuition is Just the Beginning | Seattle Promise brings college education within reach for every Seattle public high school student, no matter your grades or finances. Students accepted to the program can receive up to two years (or 90 credits) of free college tuition at North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, or South Seattle College, as well as personalized support to transition from high school and succeed in college.

The Support You Need To Thrive In College

Focus on your studies without the financial burden of tuition. During your senior year of high school, we’ll help you complete college and financial aid applications, choose your first classes, and help you prepare for college success.

Seattle Promise Includes

Free Tuition: Two years (or up to 90 credits) of free tuition at the Seattle Colleges.
College Preparation: Support preparing for life on campus, assistance choosing and registering for classes, introductions to college instructors and more to help you get ready for college.
Year-Round Support: Regular check-ins with the Seattle Promise team to help you navigate your college experience from start to finish.
Long Term Planning: Advising to help plan your next steps, including opportunities for gaining a summer internship and work experience.
Financial Support Beyond Tuition: Assistance with other school-related expenses such as books, child care, food, housing, and transportation.


Apply | Complete your application by February 16, 2024.
Visit the Seattle Promise website for full details.  Sign up to be on the Seattle Promise contact list to receive regular updates about events and deadlines.

BHS Outreach Specialist | Seattle Promise Scholarship

Trinity Covington
Seattle Promise Website

Seattle Promise and 2-Year College Applications

  1. Seattle Promise | Visit the Seattle Promise
  2. All Seniors should complete application for free 2 years at North, Central or South Seattle Colleges.

The Seattle Promise program provides financial support and ongoing college and career guidance for students to attend one of three Seattle Colleges. All graduating seniors are encouraged to apply.

Seattle PromiseBHS Outreach Specialist; Trinity Covington; Seattle Promise FAFSA Tips

Seattle Promise Support

Seattle Promise logo

Seattle Promise Students & Parents FAFSA/WASFA support

Seattle PromiseBHS Outreach Specialist; Trinity Covington; FAFSA Tips: Seattle Promise FAFSA Tips List of documents needed to start working on applications. Additional questions? Reach out to BHS Counseling Secretary Ms. Bristol;

Visit the College Visits and Events page OFTEN for current information about ongoing Virtual College Visits and upcoming College Fairs.

If a college is under a test-optional policy , colleges still welcome test scores from students who choose to submit them and consider them a valuable data point and part of the review process if testing is available.

At the same time, they are confident in reviewing a file without a test score and still rendering a fair decision—in other words, students without scores are not disadvantaged. In contrast, if a school is test blind , it means they will not consider standardized testing at all. Even if you send it to them, they will not consider it as a part of your file.

Application Websites

  • Common Application | 900 Colleges, 1 Application | Examples: Seattle U, Lewis & Clark, Chapman. The Common Application is a popular college and university application platform. Visit the Common App website for more information.
  • Coalition For College Application | Over 100 colleges, 1 Application | Examples: UW Seattle, University of Oregon. The Coalition For College is another popular college and university application platform.
  • College Specific | Examples: WSU, CWU, Boise State
  • WA State Community & Technical College Application. Visit the WEB Admissions Center for Quick Start Instructions.

What is the Common App? (2:29 min)

Watch on YouTube

Common App Getting Started (4 min)

This gives a brief overview of the Common App.

Watch on YouTube

Common App Comprehensive Help for First Year Students (21 min)

This video is a more comprehensive tutorial on completing the different sections of the Common App with helpful advice and hints for what to include on your application

Watch on YouTube

The My Colleges Tab on the Common App (1:20 min)

This video walks through all the information that is need on the Colleges Tab on the Common App which is the location for ALL the colleges that you are applying.

Watch on YouTube

Submitting Your First Year Application (1:20 min)

This video outlines the 3-step process for completing your application and submitting it.

Watch on YouTube

Follow and view videos on the BHS Counselors YouTube Channel.

How Financial Aid Works

For most students planning to attend college or career school, financial aid is essential. We’ll walk you through how financial aid works, resources to pay for college, and loan repayment options.

  1. Start Planning Early
  2. Fill out the FAFSA Form
  3. Review Your Aid Offer
  4. Get Your Aid
  5. Graduate and Start Repayment

Visit the Federal Student Aid site for more detailed information.

Financial Aid Overview

There are many steps students should take to be prepared for college. The Department of College and Career is here to support students as they navigate this process. Read more about College and Career Readiness at Seattle Public Schools.

Completing the FAFSA or WASFA is the first step in accessing college financial aid. It is required for most scholarships, grants, and loans. High school seniors should apply early to get all of the financial aid that they are eligible for.

Federal — The FAFSA is the application that citizens and eligible non-citizens (i.e. permanent resident card/green card, conditional permanent resident, refugee) complete to access financial aid. Apply online for free FAFSA. More information in the Financial Aid Applications tab.

Washington — The WASFA is the application undocumented non-citizens complete to access financial aid. Apply online for free WASFA. More information in the Financial Aid Applications tab.

Seattle Promise Scholarship  | Visit the Seattle Promise website for updated information. The program provides financial support and ongoing college and career guidance for students to attend one of three Seattle Colleges. All graduating seniors are encouraged to apply.

What do I need to apply for FAFSA?

  • Basic information, such as legal name, birth date, etc. 
  • Social Security Number(US Citizens) or ARN (non U.S. citizens)​ 
  • Parent and student tax returns, W-2’s, and other records of money (Note: you may be able to transfer your federal tax return information using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool)​ 
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)​ •Records of untaxed income (if applicable)​ 
  • An FSA ID to sign electronically ​

What do I need for WASFA

  • Basic information, such as legal name, birth date, etc.
  • Parent and student income tax returns, W-2’s, and other records of money
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)​
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)​
  • Your list of colleges (Washington state colleges only)
  • Your DACA number or Social Security Number (if you have one)
  • Your WASFA log-in information ​

More Information

  • The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the first step to receiving aid for college and is used by most schools to award financial aid. Many financial aid deadlines are in mid-January so complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Visit
  • CSS/Financial Aid Profile is used by some colleges in addition to the FAFSA to determine financial aid which can be offered from sources outside of the federal government. Visit the CSS CollegeBoard site for more information.
  • WASFA The Washington Application for State Financial Aid or WASFA is a free application for state financial aid for students who are not eligible for federal aid because of immigration status, including undocumented students. Visit the site.
  • FAFSA Help – This guide on the Nitro College website will walk you through the why and how of the questions on FAFSA.
  • FAFSA Help with Otterbot!
    Otterbot is a free texting service designed to help Washington students navigate financial aid. Students can access Otterbot via text message 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting “Hi Otter” to 360-928-7281. After a student signs up for Otter, they will receive periodic messages with need-to-know financial aid information, resources, suggestions, dates, and deadlines. 

    When a student gets a text from Otter, they may follow-up with questions by replying directly to the message. Visit the WA Student Achievement Council site for more details.

FAFSA & WASFA Updates!

Ballard HS Counselors wanted to share a couple of quick updates about the much-awaited launch of this year’s FAFSA. The Federal Student Aid is currently soft launching the 2024-2025 FAFSA application. This means that the 2024-25 FAFSA form will be available for short periods of time while they monitor site performance and form functionality. 

FAFSA Waiting Room

Student with backpack, student in wheel chair all waiting in line.
Online FAFSA Waiting Room

When the Federal Student Aid website is experiencing high traffic, a waiting room will be enabled. This waiting room does not include an estimated amount of time before being able to access the website. 

To Note

  • Students that complete the 2024-25 FAFSA during the soft launch will receive a confirmation email with an estimated Student Aid Index (SAI) and estimated eligibility for Federal Pell Grants.
  • Students and families will have ample time to complete the 2024-25 FAFSA, and do not need to rush to fill out the form immediately when the soft launch period opens, as FSA will not transmit results to schools until later in January.
  • The schools a student selects will receive their FAFSA eligibility information starting in late January.  Students will receive an email informing them when that information has been sent to the schools.
  • Students should begin to receive aid information from schools they have been accepted to several weeks after the school received their FAFSA information.

Commonly Asked for Resources and Links

Thanks for your patience with this process in this unusual year. We are still hoping to do a FAFSA completion event in-person at Ballard, but are waiting until the site is at full functionality so the event can be as useful as possible. Completion of the FAFSA is strongly recommended for ALL college-going students and is a requirement for Seattle Promise, so please do make a plan for completion. ~ Ballard HS Counselors


The WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) is available. Simpler, more generous 2024-25 financial aid applications now available—but process will be slower. Learn more about financial aid available on the Wa Student Achievement Council site.

Applying for Financial Aid

Seattle students follow many paths upon graduation from high school. For seniors interested in college, completing a FAFSA or WASFA is one of the first steps to receive college financial aid.

The BHS Counselors will be presenting to all Seniors an overview of the College Admissions & Options Resources for 2023-24 in their Language Arts classes at the end of September.

Resource List

* These resources are also posted on the BHS Counselors Schoology page. 

  • G.P.A. (cumulative grade point average) This is unweighted, 4.0 highest, and is on your transcript.
  • Class Rank | This uses a weighted G.P.A. (grade point average) with bonus points for AP, Honors, CIHS classes. Some colleges and universities ask students to submit their class rank as a part of their application process. Ballard High School reports class rank by decile. Decile reporting means that rather than reporting the exact number rank, we report the decile in which a student falls (i.e. Top 10% of the Senior class, top 20%, top 30% etc.). To request your decile rank, email Counseling Secretary, Ms. Bristol at

Letter of Recommendation from your Counselors

Seniors needing a letter of recommendation from their BHS School Counselor will need to answer questions on the “Student Information Sheet” form & attach a resume or activity log during the beginning of each school year.

Counselor Letters of Recommendation describe the student holistically as a person. Please allow a minimum of 2 school weeks before your first deadline. Letters will not be provided without this form being completed within this time frame.

Complete the online “Student Information Sheet” by logging on with your SPS school email address.

Benefits of Letters of Recommendation From Student’s Teachers

  • Helps Admissions Counselors get a complete picture of applicant
  • Not all colleges request recommendations (check each schools requirement)
  • Teacher Letters of Recommendation describe the student as a learner in the classroom
    • Choose a teacher you’ve developed a rapport within a core subject
    • If a second is required, ask a teacher in a different subject area–so if you asked an LA or SS teacher then ask a math/science, WL or elective teacher

Official and Unofficial Transcripts

  • An Official Transcript is one that is sent through official channels directly from BHS staff to a college or university.
  • An Unofficial Transcript is one that can be e-mailed directly to you for your use on your application. For details of how to submit your transcript to each school you are applying to, go to the college admissions website of the school you are applying to find out how they want this information.

Requesting a Transcript Guidelines

  1. 1. If you need an unofficial transcript, please email Ms. Bristol; to request one.
  2. If your application is on Common App & Coalition platform, add your School Counselor to your profile on the platform. Your school counselor will send your transcript for you directly through that platform (depending on the school – i.e. UW does not require a transcript).
  3. If the first two options do not apply, request your transcripts through Naviance. Visit the district Naviance page if you want to know more about Naviance.

Former Students and/or Employees Seeking Graduation Verification

Former Ballard HS Students and/or Employees seeking graduation verification, if it has been more than 2 years since you’ve graduated or withdrew from Ballard High School, please contact Seattle Public Schools Student Recordsonline or via phone 206-252-0139.

Visit the district School Records webpage for additional details and information.

The High School & Beyond Plan is a WA State requirement which helps students set goals and plan for their future including a post high school career/college plan. Seattle Public Schools uses Naviance to support students in creating their High School Graduation Plan.
You can’t graduate without one!

Naviance is the district’s tool for students in grades 6 -12 to explore colleges and career paths, analyze skills and talents with career and personality assessments and help stay on track to reach academic goals. 

Naviance is part of the High School and Beyond Plan: A Graduation Requirement.

Visit the district Naviance/High School and Beyond for more information for parents and students.

Graduation Requirements Checklist for Class of 2021 & Beyond | (24 Credits Required to Earn Diploma). Visit the SPS Graduation Requirements page for district updates.

BHS Students What Counts For What?

Students wondering what courses count as CTE Credit or CTE or Science or ART or if Choir counts for PE view the What Counts For What list and find out for sure! If you have any questions at all you can contact your School Counselor too.

Refer to the Ballard HS Assessments Overview for detailed information about the different kinds of testing that occurs for students at Ballard HS.

Please visit SPS Testing and Assessments for updates and news on how assessments are used and their requirements in Seattle Public Schools.

ACT | | SAT |

  • Used for college admissions decisions and in awarding merit based scholarships.
  • SAT Subject Tests – required by a handful of schools
  • Request scores be sent directly from SAT or ACT sites. Send scores as soon as you begin applying to a college. Do not wait!
  • Many schools are going test-optional -Check each schools current testing policy!
  • Testing Policies -If a college is under a test-optional policy, colleges still welcome test scores from students who choose to submit them and consider them in the review process. If a school is test blind, it means they will not consider standardized testing at all.

Check testing policies on the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

College Admissions Options

Early Decision | Binding? YES | Due? Nov | Commit? Upon Acceptance

Early Action | Binding? NO | Due? Nov | Commit? By 5/1

Regular Decision | Binding? NO | Due? Nov, Dec & Jan | Commit? By 5/1

Rolling | Binding? NO | Due? Varies depending on how quickly spots fill up | Commit? By 5/1

Early Action and Early Decision allow students to apply to their first-choice schools earlier than regular applicants and to receive admissions decisions before regularly admitted students. While the timeline varies, most colleges and universities set November deadlines and send out results as early as mid-December.

An article in the Best Colleges Guide provides details about the differences between early action and early decision so that you can pick the option that best suits your needs.

Study Abroad | Gap Year

Study Abroad

Applying for University Abroad? Here’s some helpful links

Gap Year

Gap Year Opportunities. A gap year is typically a year break before college during which students engage in various educational & developmental activities such as travel or work.

Visit the Go Overseas site for more information and assistance and refer to the other options listed below as well.


  • If you’re thinking of enlisting, start with some research
  • It’s a big decision you’ll have important choices to make when you sign up
  • As an active duty enlisted member, you’ll learn job specialty and do hands on work.  You’ll sign a contract, usually for 4 years.
  • The military has 5 branches: Airforce, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, & Navy.  Each has it’s own focus, job specialties, base locations and more.

Visit the Todays Military website  for more information and help or Join the Military website.

The Essay Basics

  1. To find out more about you that can’t be seen on any other part of the application
  2. To see how you utilize critical thought and apply i to a variety of situations
  3. To get a glimpse of your writing “voice” and how you communicate ideas
  4. Allows you a voice in the decision process

Essay Tips

  1. Leave yourself plenty of time
  2. Research prompts (both main & supplements – if required)
  3. Ask someone to read it
  4. Write out potential paths
  5. Use whatever method fits your personality
  6. Outline
  7. Write, read, let it sit, repeat

Essay Examples

Examples of Essays that worked. Visit the Connecticut College and the College Essay Guy as well as the examples of Essays that worked section on John Hopkins University.

Personal Insight Resources, visit the University of California Admissions for details.

Examples of Essays and activity lists at WWU Essay and Activities Tips.

Read more about College Essays.

High School Resumes

  • Tips for writing a High School Resume(s)
  • Resume Building | Instructions on how to create and build a resume in Naviance.

The Service Learning Hours Requirement is currently 60 hours as part of graduation.

When is the SL Documentation due to earn the Above and Beyond Service Learning Award (240 or more hours). If students (seniors) already have 240 or more hours turned in, they do not need to do anything else in order to receive the award. Forms must be submitted and completed by TBD. Hours beyond the required 60 do not appear on The Source. To keep track of SL hours beyond 60, contact Carol Bristol at:

PE Waivers will be granted for only 1 Semester at a time.

  • A student must take other classes to make up for the missing credits to meet the 24 credit requirement.
  • A student who is a Teacher / Office Assistant or has “late start” / “early release” cannot receive a “Full Academic Schedule” waiver
  • PE Waivers are available to download or on your counselor’s Schoology page.

SPS & BHS Scholarship Resources

Seattle Public School and Ballard High School Scholarship Bulletins | Review the published Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Scholarship Bulletin opportunities as well as the list on Naviance. In addition view the posted Ballard High School (BHS) Scholarship opportunities such as the Golden Beaver Scholarship and others as they become available.

Seattle Promise Program Scholarship 

  • Seattle Promise is a program offered to all Seattle Public School Graduates who wish to attend one of the local Seattle colleges, North, Central, or South. The program provides the first two years (or up to 90 credits) of tuition, additional financial support for books, transportation, housing, etc. to those with financial need, and personal guidance to succeed in college. All Seattle public high school graduates are eligible regardless of grade point average (GPA), income, or country of birth. Visit the Seattle Promise website for more information.

More Scholarship Resources

  • Naviance, log onto your student Naviance account and search for scholarships.
  • Fast Web, Free scholarship resource matched to you. Refer to the fastweb website for more details.
  • The Washboard is a free, web-based, nonprofit scholarship clearinghouse for Washington students seeking college scholarships. Visit for more information. 
  • The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), is an agreement among WICHE’s 16 member states and territories, through which eligible students can choose from hundreds of undergraduate programs and pay no more than 150 percent of that institution’s resident tuition rate. Visit the WUE for more details.

Many undergraduate students can cover some or all their college costs with the Washington College Grant (WCG) and Federal Pell Grant (Pell).​

To get an estimate, you’ll need to enter information about your family size and income. You can optionally enter the estimated family contribution (EFC) from a current, completed FAFSA or WASFA to estimate awards.​

Visit the Financial Aid Calculator site for more details.

Big Future is a college search engine through the CollegeBoard. Students can explore for colleges and universities that fit their interests.

College Like provides free, fast, and helpful information for college searches and the application process.

Arrow College Planning YouTube Channel has videos and topics that may be helpful in your college planning.

Whether transferring to a university, training for a career or getting the basics, Washington state community & technical colleges have classes, programs and majors for you. 

Visit the Wa State Community and Technical Colleges website for more information about community and technical colleges and programs of study.

Apprenticeships a system of education & training using a planned, closely supervised combination of hands-on, on-the-job training, and academic classroom-style education. 

  • Seattle City Light Apprenticeship program– training for a variety of craft positions in the electrical utility industry. Visit the Seattle City Light website for more details.
  • ANEW -Offers high-quality, pre-apprenticeship training programs that help individuals obtain careers in construction trades. Visit the ANEW website for more information.
  • YEAR UP – One-year training program offers real access to today’s best companies and a proven path to career success. Visit the YearUp site for more details.
  • Job Corps – Offers free education and vocational training to young men & women ages 16 to 24. Visit the Job Corps website for more information.

Counseling Center Office

Counseling Secretary
Carol Bristol

BHS Student Counselor
Assignment List

Sonja Petersen | Co-Head Counselor
Student List A – Deg (M-Th)

Maya McKenzie | Counselor
Student List Deh – Kar 

Tom Kramer | Counselor
Student List Kas – Pes 

Gail Olson Laing | Co-Head Counselor
Student List Pet – Wat 

Katie Huguenin | Counselor
Student List Wau – Z (T, W, Th) 

Career Connected Learning Coordinator
Mr. Martin; at 206-252-1122

Counseling Center Contacts

School Psychologist 
Melissa Hoang

BHS Nurse
Beth Guynes
Office: 206-252-1007
Confidential Fax: 206-743-3106

BHS Teen Health Center
Teen Health Center Info 206-390-3355

Testing Coordinator
Katie Huguenin (AP, PSAT & SAT)

Testing Coordinator
Eric Enign (State Testing)

Service Learning
Carol Bristol | 206-252-1014

Erin Hayes

Fiscal Specialist
Jana Pitman | 206-252-1075

Follow Us!

Subscribe to the Counselors YouTube Channel: bhsschoolcounselors and follow on Instagram @bhsschoolcounselors

Can’t Find What You Are Looking For?

Email me with tips on information you would like located here or better ways to support your searches on the Ballard HS website. Diane Taylor at  Thank you!