College and Career Counseling
 /  College and Career Counseling

St. Thomas More offers a college preparatory curriculum that academically prepares its students for success in universities across the world. College counseling discussions begin freshman year in guidance lessons and continue throughout the four years of high school. We kick off each school year with “College and Career Planning Day” in which every student participates within their grade level. We end each year by recognizing the accomplishments of our graduating seniors. We believe that each student has a unique personal mission, and we celebrate all college and career pathways.

Angela Peñaflor
Dean of College and Career Advancement

Angela Penaflor x112
College and Career Counselor

The two most widely accepted college entrance exams are the ACT and SAT. Wisconsin traditionally uses the ACT suite of assessments. All STM students take the Pre-ACT during second semester of sophomore year, in order to give them a full year of preparation, before their first official test date. Teachers use the data from the Pre-ACT test results to create improvement plans for the class and incorporate them into the junior year curriculum. STM places a special emphasis on the mathematics portion of the ACT by providing mandatory test prep sessions once a week, culminated by a practice test in February. Students are also offered an optional test prep seminar in February. All juniors are expected to take the ACT at least once by the end of the school year, and we recommend that all students take the ACT at least twice.

Students are also offered the PSAT, which is similar in that it is a preliminary SAT test. More importantly, by taking the PSAT, qualifying students are entered into the National Merit Scholarship Program. This is a competition for academic recognition and a potential college scholarship. The highest scores on the PSAT in the nation will receive this honor.

Some students choose to take the SAT in addition to the ACT. The main differences are that the SAT is a reasoning test with less geometry, no science, and more time per question. The ACT is Wisconsin’s preferred test, our students are prepared for it, and all colleges will accept it. Keep in mind that some colleges additionally require SAT Subject Tests for admission, which is different from the SAT.

St. Thomas More hosts the ACT several times a year. We are mandated by the state to hold one testing date in February of each year for all juniors in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. In addition, we opt to host the ACT on the Saturdays of the April, June, September and October test dates each year. For Saturday test dates, students must register on and can be from any school in the area. Our students can choose the testing site that is most convenient for them, and all options are found on the website during registration:

The ACT can be taken with or without the writing portion of the test. Refer to the university to find out if writing is required, or take it at least once to be on the safe side. ACT charges $52 per test, or $68 with writing. Fee waivers are available to students from low-income households and can be requested from the college counselor.

Upon registering for a college entrance exam, students can name up to four universities to which they will send their test scores. These four universities will automatically receive the test results to complete that portion of the college application. Any additional universities to which a student may want to submit test score results will incur a $13 fee for each score report via

Freshman Guidance
During the freshman year, students engage in an orientation to high school. The transitional phase may be difficult, and counselors are on-hand to help students through. At the beginning of the school year students are provided a review of note taking techniques, study tips, and test-taking strategies.  Students learn about graduation requirements and college admissions standards. Students are encouraged to form healthy relationships and friendships while at STM. Goal setting is highlighted throughout the year at various checkpoints with the students documenting their participation in extracurricular activities and academic successes.

Sophomore Guidance 
During the sophomore year, students explore the world of work, aptitudes, and interests. The focus is on college and career entrance requirements and preparation. Classroom guidance sessions focus on test scores analysis and the continuum of college prep courses. Students take various inventories and assessments to discover learning style, personality type, and work values. Students are encouraged to continuously set learning goals, assess progress on their four-year plan, and set their sights on independent post-secondary prospects. The PreACT is administered this year to encourage planning and the analysis of academic strengths and weaknesses, allowing students to better prepare for college entrance exams.

Junior Guidance
During the junior year, research on colleges, apprenticeships, the military, and exploration of post-high school options begins in earnest. This is accomplished through college entrance exam administration, informational meetings, and classroom interventions.

Students are encouraged to research colleges by taking advantage of visits from college representatives, ­information on Naviance, and by touring college campuses. A parent meeting explores post-high school options and offers information on public and private colleges, tips on the selection process, and information on financial aid and scholarships. Any student athlete that wishes to participate in college athletics at the Division I or II level must be certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse.  Information and applications can be found at

In Spring students take the ACT, create resumes and write college essays. Each junior has the opportunity to meet with the college counselor to discuss ACT results and create an outline for the college application process that will occur senior year. Students are asked to identify chosen colleges, majors and career goals.

Senior Guidance
In the first semester, individual and group meetings are held with seniors to review the college application process, discuss transcripts, and make decisions regarding post-high school plans.  A parent meeting provides information on college financial aid and scholarships.

Students pursuing any type of postsecondary education are asked to submit applications by Dec. 1st. Many competitive colleges and universities have earlier deadlines, such as Nov. 1st. We encourage timely application so that our students will have the best chance for acceptance, along with the greatest possibility to receive financial aid.

Families who desire to make college more affordable must submit a FAFSA, which is an acronym for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The application becomes available on on October 1st and requires tax returns from the previous year. We recommend that all eligible college-bound students apply with the FAFSA. Even if you do not qualify for grants, this is how you get student loans, and it is oftentimes a prerequisite for scholarship applications.

College applicants will generally get acceptance letters as early as October and as late as March, depending on when they apply. Schools with “rolling admissions” accept applications year-round and look at applications as soon as they are submitted and send a response within 2-4 weeks. Schools with a deadline have “pooled admissions” and look at all applications at the same time, after the deadline. Seventh and eighth semester (senior year) transcripts will be requested by colleges/universities and can affect admission status. Therefore, it is important to remain diligent with school performance.

College-bound students must have made a final decision by May 1st and should make a deposit to the chosen college/university. Simultaneously, they should inform all other institutions to which they were accepted that they are respectfully declining the offer.

For a printable timeline, click here.

Official transcripts are required to complete a college application. At STM we use an electronic delivery service,, to allow for easy, quick access to high school transcripts. Juniors will create an account at the end of junior year so that they are familiar with the process.

A nominal fee is charged for each online transaction. Fee waivers can be assigned to a student, allowing for up to four free transcripts. Please see your counselor for details.

Order Transcripts

The college application process can become a financial hardship for some families. The cost for college entrance exams, college application fees, sending test scores, and sending transcripts can add up. Talk to your counselor about fee waivers that could be available to qualifying students. To find out if your family qualifies, fee waivers generally look to Federal Poverty Guidelines that are adjusted each year and can be found here.

Keep in mind that not all fees can be waived, and families should plan ahead for certain application expenses.

College Entrance Exams: qualifying students can receive up to two fee waivers for the ACT or SAT. Waivers available in Student Services.

College Application Fees: Some schools have a standard form to complete, and for others, you just need to ask, explaining your financial situation. Here are two popular links:

UW-System Fee Waiver

NACAC Application Fee Waiver

Test scores: Students are able to list up to four colleges on each ACT or SAT they take, sending their scores to those schools. This is included in the test fee. However, if students wish to send their scores to an additional school, the test company charges a fee, and there is not a waiver available. One solution is to call the college admissions office and ask if they would accept the unofficial test score report.

Transcripts: An official transcript must accompany each college application. charges a fee for each transcript. Qualifying students can receive up to four free transcripts, but beyond that number, the student must pay the fee. One solution is to call the college admissions office and ask if they would accept an unofficial transcript.

Connecting with college admissions representatives is a crucial part of the process. Not only is it helpful for students to learn more about a college by talking and asking questions, but it is also a way for the college to get to know the applicant—in person.

We encourage students to visit as many of their top choice colleges as possible. During all four years of high school, families can utilize days off and school recesses to schedule college tours. If students visit colleges, attend college fairs, take placement tests, etc. during the school day, a Class Release Form must be completed and returned to the General Office.

Aside from encouraging students to tour college campuses, we ask that they continue the communication by meeting and talking to our school’s assigned college reps. STM invites college admissions representatives to our school each year, either for general recruitment or small group chats. Local colleges and universities come every year, but if there is a particular college that you want to see at STM, please contact your counselor and make a request for the college visit of your choice. We will extend an invitation to any school that you want to see! College visits occur during the Enrichment Period at the end of the day. Students can sign up for a college visit on Naviance, which serves as their pass to be dismissed from Enrichment.

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School Information

St. Thomas More High School
2601 East Morgan Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207

Phone: (414) 481-8370
Fax: (414) 481-3382
Email: [email protected]

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