College Guidance

We hear from Admissions across the country that our Grace graduates stand out in their community service, their extracurricular activities, their high test scores as well as in their rigorous academic courses. We have colleges seeking our students because of their preparedness and success rate in college.

Preparing for Education after Grace

The purpose of the College Guidance program at Grace Community School is to aid students in planning and preparing for their education beyond high school. The guidance curriculum is rooted in a biblical worldview and is consistent with the school’s mission of assisting Christian families in educating, equipping, and encouraging their children to influence the world for Christ.

100% of the class of 2021 was accepted into college and received over $9 million dollars in scholarships. This year, Grace has 1 National Merit Scholar. These numbers continue to be the norm at Grace where our excellence in academics, athletics, and fine arts stands out in the college application process.

The guidance counselors at Grace Community School are excited to help our students discover their strengths, find the college that matches those strengths and then walk with them through the process of applying and being accepted into that college. We hear from admissions offices across the country that our Grace graduates stand out in their community service, their extracurricular activities, their high test scores, as well as in their rigorous academic courses; we have colleges seeking our students because of their preparedness and success rate in college.

$9 Million

In Scholarship Offers


National Merit Finalists


2021 Class Accepted into College

College Guidance Philosophy

Our Philosophy

We believe every student is carefully and lovingly created by God with a unique set of gifts, abilities, passions, and interests (Psalm 139:13-16, 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:4-8), which can have a significant effect on his or her choice of education and career path, and it is possible, and even probable, for students to begin identifying this uniqueness while in high school. We believe all productive work is good and pleasing to the Lord in that it builds the Kingdom of God on earth and promotes human flourishing (Colossians 1:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Jeremiah 29:7). In that sense, no distinction exists between sacred and secular careers because all can bring glory to God (Colossians 3:17, 23-24). When students are able to find vocations that match their God-given skills and interests, it usually results in careers that are successful, effective, and rewarding. We also believe education is a gift from God, which He uses to develop our personal sanctification, expand our sphere of influence, and refine our effectiveness for His Kingdom (Proverbs 3:13-18, 4:1-10, 15:14, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 2:3 ,8). We reject the idea that education is a passport to privilege, and instead, we encourage students to become lifelong learners for the glory of God.

Our Goals

With this foundation in place, our guidance program aspires to accomplish three primary goals in the lives of our students. First, it is our desire that every GCS graduate will continue his or her education after high school. Regardless of whether a student chooses a traditional baccalaureate degree, vocational or job training, junior college/community college, an advanced professional degree, or a discipleship/apprenticeship program, we encourage each student to find the best fit for his or her particular goals, and we celebrate the success of each graduate. Second, we desire that our students pursue their education and practice their respective vocations as intentional acts of worship toward God, recognizing that their identity is not found in their work or career, but only in Christ himself. Third, we prayerfully strive for our graduates to find a sense of calling in their lives so they can successfully impact the world for Christ. Frederick Buechner famously said, “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” and we long to see that reality fulfilled in the lives of our graduates.

Our Plan

We have developed a comprehensive four-year curriculum to guide our work with students and their families and to help achieve these goals. We will assist families in identifying each student’s individual gifts and abilities, developing ideas for potential career paths, and establishing appropriate educational goals through a variety of resources. We will educate students on the college application procedures and timeline, directing them through the process and assisting them upon request. Throughout the four-year journey, we encourage parents to actively engage in their child’s future planning and to take the initiative in learning about educational options. In addition, students should serve as the sole authors of all applications, essays, and supporting documentation. We will also take every opportunity to encourage students in their individual journeys and celebrate with them as they embrace their uniqueness, pursue their dreams, find their calling, and commit all their work to the Lord.

Our guidance office is honored to walk this journey with each family and count it a privilege to serve our Lord by serving you. Please contact us anytime you need assistance.

Ninth Grade

This is the year to dream big! As a freshman, high school is new and exciting; it holds endless possibilities. In the college guidance office, we encourage ninth grade students to discover their God-given gifts and talents, to try new extra-curricular activities, and adapt to learning at the high school level. This is the student’s opportunity to learn how to learn. There will be a time of transition and growth, but students should not be afraid of failure because great lessons can be acquired through making mistakes and improving oneself.

During the freshman year, the guidance office will introduce Scoir, a web-based college and career readiness program available to every Grace student.

Tenth Grade

Sophomore year is the time for each and every student to develop the gifts and talents given by God. This is a year to know yourself and know your strengths. With drive and determination, students can improve on the academic and extra-curricular foundations they began freshman year.

The guidance office will provide parameters to direct tenth grade students they continue to dream and plan for the future. Students will develop a career profile through Scoir.  Within the Profile, students can explore their aptitudes, review personalized career matches, and develop affirming language to better highlight their assets in interviews and resumes. The YouScience assessment links careers, majors, and colleges with each student’s personality type, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. Developing and applying these strengths throughout the sophomore year will help students build confidence and be successful in their school activities.

Eleventh Grade

As upperclassmen, juniors need to create depth in their classes, extra-curricular activities, and college preparation. Since most students will apply for college before December of the senior year, this will be the last year to improve their high school grade average. Eleventh grade is the year to dedicate oneself to improving grades, to assume leadership roles in extra-curricular activities, and to serve in the school and the community. Taking on more leadership roles and responsibility is important for juniors who want to distinguish themselves from the crowd, and all juniors will focus their efforts on admissions testing and college research.

In the guidance office, we provide resources for test prep as well as college research. Whether it’s the ACT/SAT, college fairs or college visits, we are excited to help students grow in knowledge and preparedness as they go deeper this school year.

Twelfth Grade

Senior year has finally arrived! This is the year to deploy the God-given gifts and talents the students have been working to discover, develop, and deepen over their high school career. The school year will be busy with completing applications, writing essays, visiting campuses, and searching for scholarships. It’s also important for every student to follow through with school commitments and finish the year strong. After four years of dreaming of all the great possibilities the future holds, every student will have to make a decision about what to do after graduation. The guidance office understands the weight of this decision, and we are here to help in any way possible.

College Guidance Resources

Forms & Guides


Money for College

  • (Department of Education home page for federal student aid)
  • (College tuition costs & affordability)
  • (Instructions for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
  • National Scholarship Search in Family Connection or (Both of these scholarship search tools create a custom list of scholarships based on your preferences and both will protect your privacy and not generate spam)
  • (East Texas Communities Foundation is a local organization that manages over 35 different scholarship programs.)
  • (Independent listing of unique scholarship programs around the country. No personal information is taken.)
  • (Online resource book created by the American Legion that lists scholarship programs and offers financial aid assistance)
  • or (Nationwide scholarship search engines)
  • (Register for the ACT, check or send scores, and prepare for the test)

Testing and Prep

  • (Register for the ACT, check or send scores, and prepare for the test)
  • (Register for the SAT, check or send scores, and prepare for the test)
  • (Customized listing of upcoming courses and programs offered in Tyler by Kaplan Test Prep)


College Guidance News

Jay Blogs – The Goodness of God

Jay Blogs – The Goodness of God If there’s one descriptor that’s used often to describe God, it’s that He is “good.” We are invited in the psalms to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (34:8). James tells us that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down…

Jay Blogs – 50 First Days

Jay Blogs – Transformed by Truth

Jay Blogs – A Generation of Hope

Our Team

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Kelley Bell

Director of College Guidance

Kelley Bell

Director of College Guidance

M.Ed., Angelo State University

Kelley has worked in the field of education for 31 years, serving as a professional school counselor in both public and private Christian schools for the past 16 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling, and a postgraduate certificate in Mental Health Counseling. In addition to school counseling, Kelley is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate. Working as a school counselor, she has a desire to encourage her students to recognize their value and embrace their worth in the Lord, seeking His direction for their future. Kelley has been involved in various prayer ministries for many years and is passionate about sharing the privilege of being in God’s presence. She is a member of Grace Community Church in Tyler where she is active in the women’s ministry. Kelley and her husband have been married for 31 years, and they are blessed with two children, two children-in-law and two grandsons.

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Diane Carnes

College and Career Counselor

Diane Carnes

College and Career Counselor

Diane has worked as the college and career counselor since 2023 at Grace Community School, along with 34 years of experience in education with Tyler ISD as a teacher/coach but primarily as a counselor.  She received her bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and her master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin University.  She is married to Craig Carnes of 31 years, and they have two children – Case is 27, and Claire is 24.  They all love the outdoors and especially hiking and walking! Diane also loves to cheer on her Baylor Bears and the Arkansas Razorbacks! She truly enjoys watching most sports, reading, planting flowers, AND spending time with family and friends – most important to her!  She and her husband attend Marvin Methodist Church.

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