Thanks to everyone who attended the August 29th, 2018 SME College Planning Presentation. Below are links to materials presented, for those who were unable to attend:

SME College Application Presentation

University of Kansas presentation

Drake university presentation

College Applications - Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to do first?

  • Every senior should request a copy of their unofficial transcript so that they can check it for accuracy (grades and test scores) and use it when completing applications online.

  • Students must pick up a transcript release form from the SME Registrar, Melanie Lowe, and return it to her in person, completed with signatures (you must also obtain a parent’s signature if you are not yet 18). 

  • Mrs. Lowe is available in the Student Services / Counseling office from 7:00-3:00. You can also email her with questions at However, you will need to submit a transcript request in person. (See more information about transcripts below.)

  • After you've submitted your transcript release form, you may request that transcripts be sent to colleges and universities through your Xello account. (See directions, below, in the Transcripts section.)

  • For counselor recommendations, you should see SME registrar Melanie Lowe first. She will explain the process and next steps. (See more in the Recommendations section below.)

How do I apply to a college or university?

How can I find my GPA?

Your transcript includes both your weighted and unweighted GPA. You can get an unofficial copy of your transcript from the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, between 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. 

Your weighted GPA can be found on Skyward on the Gradebook page (look for the small "GPA" in blue letters to the right of the student's name).

If you have questions about your grades or GPA, contact Mrs. Lowe.

What GPA scale is used at SME?

For both regular and weighted GPA, the GPA scale is 4.0

Which grades are included on my college application?

  • If you apply during the summer or fall, your six-semester transcript is used; this includes your freshman, sophomore, and junior year semester grades. You will also enter your senior class schedule (if you are self-reporting courses and grades). If a college you're applying to requires a transcript it will include your full senior year schedule. 
  • After fall semester grades are placed on transcripts, some colleges and universities require students to submit an additional transcript and a report of any schedule changes. (Check each college's admissions requirements to see if this applies in your situation.)
  • If you submit your initial application after fall semester grades have been posted in January, your GPA will be a seven-semester GPA and transcripts submitted to colleges will include fall semester grades and the courses you're taking in spring semester. 
  • Quarterly progress reports and percentage grades are not official grades, do not appear on transcripts, and are not sent to colleges and universities. (Only final semester grades are sent to colleges and universities.)
  • A final transcript that includes spring semester grades and your eight-semester GPA will be sent to the one school you indicate you will be attending on your senior exit survey.

Do colleges and universities use my weighted or unweighted gpa for admissions?

Policies vary from school to school, so check the admissions website of the schools you’re applying to.

What is the size of the SME Class of 2020? -updated August 19th

The class size for the SME class of 2020 is 400.

How do I find my class rank?

Officially, Shawnee Mission does not rank students. Class rank does not appear on a student’s transcript, and we do not provide it as part of a student’s official student record. There may be some rare circumstances where rank may still be required. Please contact SME Registrar, Melanie Lowe, if you have questions.

What is the SME school CEEB code?


This code is used when you register for the ACT and SAT, and is sometimes included on certain college and scholarship applications.

Getting In to College

What are the admissions criteria for KU, K-State, and other state universities in Kansas?

Kansas Board of Regents institutions include KU, KSU, Emporia State, Ft. Hays State, Pittsburg State, and Wichita State, and use Qualified Admissions criteria. 

In addition to SMSD graduation requirements, in order to be admitted directly, students must also meet both of these Qualified Admissions requirements:

  • Math:  Must complete either:
          Option A - 3 approved units and earn a minimum 22 math ACT subscore or
          Option B - 4 approved units, one of which must be taken in the graduating year

    • Math "approved units" does not include the Consumer Math course

  • Science:  Must complete one unit of either Chemistry or Physics.
    (The SMSD course “Physical Science” meets the physical science graduation requirement and helps prepare students for either Chemistry or Physics, but does not meet the Qualified Admissions Physics or Chemistry requirement.)

Students must also have a 2.0 overall gpa AND one of the following requirements:

  • ACT composite score of at least 21; or 
    SAT score of at least 980, or 
  • graduate in the top 1/3 of their class.  

Additional requirements for the University of Kansas
Beginning in 2016, KU implemented stricter gpa and test score requirements:  

  • For assure admission, students must have a 3.0 minimum GPA
    • With a GPA between 3.00-3.25, students must have a 24 or higher ACT composite
    • With a GPA of 3.25 or above, students need a 21 ACT composite score.

If you do not meet the GPA, ACT, math and/or science requirements for direct admission, you may be eligible for alternate admission. Contact the admissions office of the school you're applying to determine your options.

How do I know whether I will be accepted to a particular college or university?

  • Some schools use only a student’s gpa and coursework to determine admission, while more selective schools may also consider some combination of test scores, essays, recommendations, activities, leadership positions, community service experience, and other criteria. Carefully review admissions criteria on the website of each school you’re interested in.

  • To find colleges and universities that are a good fit for your interests and academic credentials, try the College Board's Big Future search tool, which includes a personalized, interactive search tool.

  • JCCC:  admission requires graduation from a state-accredited high school. The ACT is not required for admission, but JCCC may use it, or a student’s scores on the JCCC Accuplacer test, to determine course placement.

  • Many colleges and universities make exceptions and/or have an appeals process for students who do not meet all of their admissions requirements. If you are concerned about your eligibility, contact the admissions office of the school you’re interested in to identify your options and next steps.

Do I need high school credit in a World Language to be admitted to college?

World Language credit is not required for admission to a state university in Kansas, however, it is recommended for college preparation, and many other colleges and universities in the U.S. recommend or require two-to-four years for admission. (For example, U of Missouri-Columbia requires two years.) See KU's Foreign Language placement policy and check individual college websites you're applying to for details on their requirements and placement policies.

What's the best way to contact a college or university if I have questions?

  • Always check directly with the admissions office, beginning with their website, so you are seeing the most current and accurate information.
  • In Google or another search engine, enter the name of the school and "admissions" or "new students" or "freshmen"
  • Most schools assign specific representatives to a region or state, so look for "Find My Representative" or "Contact My Representative" on the admissions website to find the SME rep.
  • Contact is usually best when it comes directly from the student (not a parent).  

Timelines and Deadlines

What is the deadline to apply to KU, K-State and other state universities in Kansas?

  • State universities in Kansas use a rolling admissions method, which means they will usually provide you an admissions decision within a week or two after you have submitted all of your application materials. While there is no specific deadline, students are encouraged to apply early in order to be eligible for priority scholarships, housing, etc. Click here for an update from K-State on their admissions and scholarships.
  • Be aware that some programs or majors within a state university may have specific deadlines (for example, the deadline to apply to the KU Honors Program is November 1st).
  • Also, keep in mind that many schools that use rolling admissions do have a specific deadline for scholarships and financial aid. For example, the priority deadline for scholarships at KU is November 1st, and for K-State is it December 1st. Check the Financial Aid or Scholarships website of schools where you're applying to find their specific financial aid deadlines. (See more in the Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions section of this web page.)

When do I need to submit applications to private colleges and state universities outside of Kansas?

  • Every school has different deadlines and processes, and they sometimes change from year to year. Most schools will open their applications during the summer before your senior year, but it is very important to read all information on each school’s website very carefully. Get started EARLY! Do not wait until the last minute, especially if you need recommendation letters.

  • At some schools the deadline for admissions may be different from its scholarship deadlines. Carefully review all deadlines on each college’s web site.

What do the different deadlines mean?

(These are general descriptions; be sure to check details on each school’s web site to determine how they define these terms!)

  • Rolling:  You may submit your application at any time and will usually receive a decision notification within days or weeks. (E.g. KU, K-State and JCCC)

  • Early Action: (usually in the fall)

    • No admissions decisions are made until after the deadline and students are usually notified within 1-2 months after the deadline. Usually non-binding.
      There are several variations, such as Single Choice Early Action and Restricted Early Action. Read all of the details carefully and see the SME registrar in September!

  • Early Decision: (usually in the fall)  

    • ​​​​​​​Almost always binding (if you are accepted, you must attend).
      No decisions are made until after the deadline and students are usually notified within 2-3 months after the deadline)

    • You, a parent, and your counselor will be required to sign submit a document acknowledging you understand your acceptance is binding.
                See the SME registrar in September!

  • Regular Decision (usually Dec 1 or later): Specific deadline and no admissions decisions are made until after the deadline. Students are usually notified 2-3 months after the deadline.

Many schools use a combination of these deadlines to allow students many options. Read details on each school’s website very carefully and never make assumptions!

See this article for more detailed information.

When should I meet with my counselor?

Important:  if you need a recommendation letter from your counselor, you must see the registrar first.

You should see the registrar a minimum of 6-8 weeks before your earliest application deadline.

The registrar will give you a questionnaire and after you return the completed questionnaire, she will then schedule an interview appointment for you to meet with your counselor.
Your counselor will not begin writing your recommendation letter until after this meeting.

If you have questions after you see the registrar, or if you have questions about other aspects of the college application process, send your counselor an email and she can help you.

What do I need to submit with my application?

Every school is different! For some you only need to complete an online application. With others, you may need to also provide a transcript, essay, test scores, and/or recommendations.
Generally, the more selective a school is, the more of these items they require for admissions.

Carefully check each school’s website for specific requirements. Do not submit information that is not requested. See more below in the Transcripts and Test Scores sections.

How/when do I use the Common Application or SendEdu or a similar application method?

  • These websites allow you to enter your information online once and have it sent to multiple schools. So if you are applying to more than two or three schools, it might make sense to use one of them.

  • Check each college’s website to determine which application methods are available (this varies a lot from school to school). Keep in mind that not all schools use Common App.

  • If you are using the Common App or SendEdu, you do not need to wait for your counselor or teachers to submit their recommendation materials. As soon as your submit your application, the college can download it.

  • However, an individual college or university cannot download your transcript and recommendations from Common App until you have submitted your application to that specific college.

See the Common App or ask your counselor for more information about which method is best for you.


Do I need to send a transcript to all of the colleges I’m applying to?

No, some schools (for example, KU & K-State) use the “self-report” method and do not want you to send them a transcript when you apply. You will enter your courses and grades online when you apply. (Obtain an unofficial transcript from the registrar to make it easier to fill in your application.)

How do I know whether a college or university needs a transcript?

Follow instructions on each school’s web site. Do not send a transcript to a school that does not want or need it. It could delay processing of your application.

How do I have a transcript sent to a college or university?

  • You must see the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, first for all transcript submission methods (mailed, electronic, or uploaded). Students must submit a completed transcript release form, in person, to Mrs. Lowe.

  • Before requesting a transcript, you should always confirm first that your college or university actually needs and wants a transcript right now---many do not! If the school uses self-reporting for courses and grades, you'll just enter them yourself. Do not request that a transcript be sent now unless you're sure they want and need it.

  • If you're sure the college needs a transcript, you may request it through your Xello account, but only after you have seen the registrar and signed a transcript release form. Only students may do this (parents are not able to request transcripts using their child's Xello account). See this attachment for directions and screenshots. Please allow at least two business days after you submit the request for your transcript to be sent.

  • If you are applying to a school via Common App or SendEdu, your counselor may upload your transcript at any time (after you have completed a transcript release form and met with your counselor). However, each college will download it only after you have submitted your application to that college.

  • Some schools allow your counselor to upload your transcript directly to their portal. Discuss this with the registrar when you sign your transcript release card and she will let your counselor know.

  • For all other application methods, the registrar will send your transcript to the college or university.

  • Keep in mind that it may take several days (or even weeks, during busy times), for a college or university to download and match your transcript to your application file. This must be done manually, even with transcripts sent electronically. Your application status may continue to indicate they have not yet received your transcript if they haven't yet matched it to your file (even if it has already been sent by SME). If you have questions, first check with your college's admissions department directly.

What about transcripts for scholarship applications and other programs?

Some scholarships, honors programs, and other special programs may require a transcript, even if you don’t need to submit one with your general application for admission.

 *NOTE:  The KU Honors Program no longer requires a transcript as part of their application process. Follow instructions on their website.

For other programs, check details on their website; some will allow you to upload an unofficial transcript. If they need an official transcript sent directly, see the registrar.

How do I have my transcript sent to the NCAA?

See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, in the Student Services / Counseling office.

Will you send my final transcript to the college I’m attending after I graduate?

In April, each senior will complete a senior survey, which includes designation of the college they’ve decided to attend. SME will send your final transcript to that school in June.

Test Scores

Are my ACT/SAT test scores on my transcript?

Yes, if you indicated you wanted them sent to SME when you registered for the test.

If you did not mark the box to have your scores reported to SME when you registered for the test, we do not have your scores and cannot place them on your transcript (unless you later request that they be sent to us from the testing agency).

Am I able to remove my test scores from my transcript?

If you do NOT want your test scores on your transcript, you must request in writing to the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, that they be removed.

At your request we will remove all or none of your scores (you cannot choose to have only some scores removed).
Once they are removed they cannot be put back on your transcript.

Keep in mind that some selective schools require that you send all of your scores to them, so removing them from your transcript may not prevent them from seeing all of your scores. Check policies and requirements on the website of each school you're applying to.

Do I need to send my test scores to every school I apply to?

  • Every college has different admissions requirements. Some schools are "test-optional" and do not require any test scores, while others require all of them. Some allow students to report only their highest score in each component. It is the student’s responsibility to determine what test scores are required and whether a college or university will accept test scores that are on a transcript.

  • SME will transfer your test scores from your score report onto your SME transcript. (We do not send a copy of your score report to colleges along with your transcript.)

What are “official” test scores?

  • Each college or university determines what types of scores they consider official and what scores they will accept. Some will accept scores on a student's transcript or self-reported on the application, while others will only consider scores sent directly from ACT or College Board (for the SAT). Therefore, students must carefully check each college’s admissions web site to determine their policy.

  • If the school requires scores sent directly from the testing agency (ACT or College Board, for SAT), it is the student’s responsibility to request them from ACT or College Board. This can take several weeks, so check on this early in the application process.

  • Keep in mind that some selective schools require that you send all of your scores to them, so removing them from your transcript may not prevent them from seeing all of your scores.

Are my AP test scores on my transcript?

No. If your college or university needs official AP scores you will need to have them sent directly from College Board using their Score Reporting Service.

Recommendation Letters

Do I need to have recommendations for all of the colleges I’m applying to?

No, many schools do not need---and do not want---letters of recommendation.

Be sure to check each school’s admissions website for specific details.

If the school does not require or suggest or allow letters, do not ask teachers or a counselor for one “just in case.” Some schools will not process your application if you submit unwanted or unnecessary materials.

When should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

Good recommendation letters that are personal and detailed require a lot of time for the writer.
If you want a good recommendation letter, you must give your teacher(s) or counselor plenty of time (a minimum of one month, not including holidays).

Which teacher(s) should I ask to write a letter? How many recommendation letters should I include in my application?

Check each school’s website to determine what type and how many letters you need.
Some schools are very specific about who should write your letter.

More is not necessarily better:  some schools will not process your application if you do not follow directions and send more letters than the number specified.

How do I have a teacher write a recommendation for me?

  • Ask the teacher in person (not by email) at least one month before your application deadline.

  • Allow the teacher time to think about your request, since they may have multiple requests.

  • Follow up with the teacher afterward and ask what information they need from you (for example, a resume).

  • Be sure to let the teacher know the method they will need to submit the recommendation (online or Common App) and be sure you use their correct email address in Common App.

  • Always write your teacher a thank you note after they have submitted a recommendation for you.

What is FERPA and should I sign a waiver on my college applications?

The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act allows a student to see information sent to an outside institution, including colleges and universities.

You will have the ability to waive this right when you apply to colleges and universities, which means you will not be able to see any recommendations that teachers and counselors submit for you. 

A positive recommendation for a student who has waived their FERPA right carries more weight with an admissions committee. It is to your benefit to waive your right to see recommendations.

For a thorough discussion of this issue, see this article on PrepScholar.

Do I need a counselor recommendation for every school I’m applying to?

No, most colleges and universities do not need a counselor recommendation.

Some schools ask for just one recommendation letter. In this case, it is better to ask a teacher who knows you well and can best describe your academic performance in the classroom.

How do I have my counselor write a recommendation for me?

  • See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, first. She will give you a questionnaire to complete and when you return it, she will schedule an appointment for you to have an interview with your counselor.

  • The counselor will use the questionnaire and interview to write your recommendation.

  • To provide a thorough, detailed, and personal recommendation, your counselor needs to interview you a minimum of one month before your earliest deadline, so you’ll need to return the completed questionnaire to the registrar six to eight weeks before your deadline.

School Report

What is a School Report?

This is a document completed by your counselor that includes demographic information about SME and basic information about the student (gpa, course history, etc.), and often includes a transcript.

A school report is only required by selective schools and is often submitted via the Common App or SendEdu. 

Does every college need to have a School Report completed by my counselor?

No, only selective schools or schools that use Common App or SendEdu or have an online School Report portal require this.

Check each college’s admissions website carefully for details. If you need a School Report in order to apply to a college or university, be sure to contact your counselor at least a month before your application deadline.

What is a Midyear Report?

This is an update to the School Report and is submitted in January, after fall grades are added to transcripts. We also report any schedule changes made after the initial school report was submitted.

SME School Profile

Where can I find the SME School Profile?

The Class of 2018 profile is located here on the SME Student Services/Counseling website. (The Class of 2019 profile will be posted in the fall.)

You can find AP and IB course lists, ACT & SAT test score averages, and other community and school demographic background information on the profile.

NCAA & Sports

How do I know whether I am eligible to play sports in college?

You need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center as soon as possible.

There is a fee to register. If you qualify for free/reduced lunch, see your counselor for a fee waiver.

You can also use CoreCourseGPA for free to track your eligibility. Follow these steps to create an account:

  1. Go to
  2. Click "Free Member Account"
  3. Enter School ID and School Code
  4. Fill in appropriate fields to complete registration form.

SCHOOL ID: 172473

SCHOOL CODE: 706288901

If you have additional questions about playing sports in college or NCAA eligibility, contact SME Athletic Director Debbie Katzfey,

I am being recruited; how do I send my coach an unofficial copy of my transcript?

See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, in the Student Services / Counseling Office,

You'll need to sign and submit a Transcript Release Form.

How do I have my transcript sent to the NCAA?

See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, in the Student Services / Counseling Office,

You'll need to sign and submit a Transcript Release Form.