Welcome to College Counseling at Dowling Catholic High School! Colleen Koppes
provides personal support at every stage of the college search and application process.
Step 1: Preparation
The first step in preparing for college is to plan visits and complete the appropriate course work during high school. Parents and students should begin planning as early as freshman and sophomore year.
Representatives from several colleges also visit Dowling Catholic in the fall and spring semester.
Step 2: Applying to Colleges
Students may begin applying to colleges following their junior year. It is important to visit college websites for detailed information on specific admissions requirements, deadlines and instructions regarding the application process. Please note, many colleges and universities have moved to test optional admissions criteria. Please take a look at the list
of test optional colleges and universities.
Step 3: Paying for college Tuition
Your student may qualify for scholarships and/or federal or state loans and/or grants to assist with college tuition. It is important to apply early and track specific application deadlines. Be mindful that the requirements and amounts for scholarships vary at each school.
In the first year of high school, students are encouraged to focus on themselves — primarily on their academic life, to challenge themselves, and to find their interests and passions both in and outside the classroom. This is the time to develop work and learning habits.
Students continue to hone academic and extracurricular identities. Counselors introduce themselves again and introduce the college prep tests 10th graders take this year: the practice ACT and the PSAT. While it is early to be specific about certain colleges, conversations about general college characteristics may be helpful and fun. These characteristics may include school size, location, majors offered, co-ed vs. single sex, religious affiliation, cost and sports programs. If travel brings you near a college, you may want to take a tour, strictly as a non-stressed tourist.
October - Take PSAT.
Winter – Study PSAT results to analyze academic strengths and weaknesses; focus on improvement where needed.
April – Take PreACT.
Summer - Consider attending virtual college information sessions or touring some local colleges as examples of certain categories of schools, such as large public, small liberal arts, or medium-size Catholic.
The college search process begins in earnest. An in-person college visit is helpful for the student to determine the right fit. College tours, open houses and information sessions are available by contacting specific colleges. Please contact Colleen Koppes
for assistance in planning your college visits. Be ready to look closely at yourself and to think about the kinds of learning environments that appeal to you.
October – Take the PSAT. Look at your calendar and start to set aside dates to take the ACT and SAT over the year. Consider test preparation.
January-February – Work with Mrs. Koppes on researching colleges, and developing a good list of schools that fit your desires and profile.
March-May – Continue researching colleges; maybe visit some. Begin to narrow the list. Mrs. Koppes will hold essay sessions in junior English classes to help you draft a good essay. Mrs. Koppes is happy to have individual meetings with students.
June – Continue any college testing as well as in-person college visits.
The culmination of the college search journey. Individual meetings with your counselor continue as needed. Drop-in visits are welcome; we offer essay consultations and field any questions or anxieties along the way.
Fall - Retake entrance tests as needed. Complete applications. Athletes apply to NCAA Eligibility Center
as soon as possible and request a transcript. Apply for financial aid and continue to research and apply for scholarships.
October/November – Families encouraged to apply for financial aid through FAFSA
and continue to research and apply for scholarships.
January – Midterm grades sent to colleges with applications as needed
April 15 – College response deadline.
May 1 – National Reply Date. Deposit must be made to one, and only one, college to hold a student's place.
College Entrance Exams
Students may take the test multiple times as colleges will take the best score. There are several testing sites available in Des Moines, including Dowling Catholic. The ACT is offered three times a year at Dowling Catholic including: September, October, and June. All juniors are required to take the ACT in school the spring of their junior year.
Dowling Catholic's six-digit code is 161190 and the test center code is 190810. Both are required to register to take the ACT at DCHS. Students may select where to have scores sent when they register at no charge. There is a charge to send scores after registration. For more information and to register, please visit ACT
The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is taken in the fall of junior year as a qualifying test for national recognition and in preparation for the SAT. The SAT may be taken in the spring of junior year and is generally used by east and west coast colleges and universities as part of their admission requirements.
The PSAT score is used to determine National Merit Scholars. Sophomores are welcome to take the PSAT test for practice purposes but the score used for National Merit designation is from junior year. PSAT booklets are available in the Student Services office and include a practice test. Please visit PSAT
for more information.
We would love to have you visit! Find us on RepVisits or via this link here
We have many colleges/universities that visit our school in-person or virtually in the fall. Students interested in meeting with admissions representatives should sign up through Naviance Student. Students needing a space to attend a virtual visit at DCHS should see Mrs. Koppes in the Student Services office if they need a space to attend the visit. Visits typically last 30 minutes.