College Counseling Guidebook
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Table of Contents
Walter Moore, College Counselor
Two-Year College Counseling Calendar
At a Glance
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT)
Individual meetings with college counselor; introduction to Naviance, College Board & Common Application websites
Initial visits to colleges and universities
SAT/ACT/TOEFL test options available; additional meetings with college counselor
- May 1
Completed Common Application practice and personal essay draft due
Tentative college plans discussed; request that two teachers write letters of recommendation
6th Form & Post Graduates
- September & October
Individual student appointments with college counselor
- October & November
Early Decision, Early Action and Rolling Admissions applications submitted to colleges
SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests administered at SKS
Regular Decision applications submitted to colleges
- December & January
Early Decision and Early Action results received
Early Decision II, Early Action and Rolling Admissions results received
All Regular Decision results received (except Wait-Listed students)
Candidate's Reply Date (May 1); SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests administered at SKS; Advanced Placement Examination administered
The College Counseling Process
Starting in the fall of Form 5, students begin the College Counseling process, taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test in October. This is a shorter version of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) used only as practice - no colleges receive these scores.
Then beginning in January, 5th Form students meet with College Counseling. In the initial meeting students receive log-in account information for Naviance, a computer based college and career readiness program. Students also create user accounts for the College Board, the website used to register for the SAT, and Common Application, the universal application used by 488 colleges and universities. Parents of Form 5 students are invited to attend a College Counseling session held during Fall Family Weekend.
In April and May, 5th Formers have a choice of testing dates for admissions tests (SAT/ACT/TOEFL). SAT II Subject tests are also available. Families are encouraged to use March vacation to visit colleges. After March break, students complete a mock Common Application with essay as an initial draft for the final work due in the fall of senior year. In May, juniors ask two teachers to write Teacher Recommendations on their behalf. By June, each Form 5 student will have developed a list of colleges to consider. Summer vacation is used to visit and interview.
Returning in the fall, 6th Form students meet with the college counselor to discuss summer visits and to define more clearly their goals and aspirations for college. Seniors should have at least one application filled out by this time, especially the personal essay. Any college admissions testing should be completed by December, and applications are submitted throughout the fall semester by the deadlines posted. Students continue to meet with the college counselor, keeping her posted as to the decisions.
Throughout January and into spring of senior year, students learn of their decisions and make their final choice, generally by May 1, as to where they will enroll. A final transcript is mailed to the college upon graduation.
Getting Started - Naviance
Naviance is a web-based program that allows you to research colleges and universities in the US, Canada, and the world. Using self-assessment and survey tools built into the program, you can develop a keener awareness of your personality, strengths and blinds spots, and learning styles as you consider your future plans. Go to http://connection.naviance.com/southkent.
You will have access to the following:
- Personality Type
Self-discovery assessment generating a report that provides information about your personal characteristics that match you to possible careers and colleges
- My Game Plan
Questionnaire regarding your college plans
- Career Interest Profiler
Assessment to discover the types of work activities and careers that match your interests
- Cluster Finder
Identifies activities that interest you, personal qualities you have, and subjects that you enjoy studying leading to career cluster suggestions
- College Information
Detailed information on more than 4,700 US, Canadian and International colleges and universities
- Career Information
Detailed information about more than 700 jobs including specific skills required, tasks involved, wage information, and majors leading to these careers
- College Visits
A list of all colleges and universities visiting in the fall with reminders sent out automatically regarding time and day of visit
Creating a "Colleges I'm Thinking About" List
In the College Tab, you should be developing a list of colleges to consider. Use all the features in Naviance to learn about certain colleges. Once you've done the research in Naviance, add colleges to your list. There are several ways for you to add colleges to your list of prospective colleges.
- Do a College Lookup, type in the college name, click the Add To List link found midway down on the first page of the college information
- Use the Search feature to sort by type, size, location and other criteria to get a list of colleges, click on Pick to add the colleges you are interested in to your Hand-Picked list and click Add To My Colleges
- When your college counselor suggests a college, you will see it listed as Added by Counselor
You should work on developing an initial list of at least 25 colleges and universities.
College Admissions Testing - SAT & College Board
The College Board is responsible for the SAT, the admissions test most often submitted to the colleges. You will create an account with College Board to register for the SAT. It is your responsibility to register for all tests by the posted deadlines. A recent photo of yourself is required when creating your account.
Creating a College Board Account
- Go to College Board website - http://www.collegeboard.com.
- Click on Student Tab (on the left side half-way down the home page).
- On the left side under My Organizer, select Create a free account.
- Make your username the first part of your SKS email (last name, first initial of first name) If your last name is too short or not available, add sks to the end of your first initial (Ex. smithj or smithjsks, etc.).
- Create a password that you will remember easily.
Registering for the SATs
You are responsible for registering for all SAT tests using the College Board website.
- From the College Board website, click on the SAT Tab located at the top of the site. On this page you will be able to see all test dates available, registration deadlines, practice options, and much more.
- Click on any of the Registration tabs that bring you to upcoming tests and deadlines.
- Select the test you wish to register for.
- Fill in your username and password and verification of password.
- You will be run through a series of questions that form your personal profile. Some information is required; much of the other personal information is optional. The additional information is helpful to College Board but has no bearing on your eligibility for admissions, so it is up to you whether you wish to complete the optional information.
- Check the box indicating that you understand the Terms and Conditions of Registering.
- Select the test date and location you wish to take the test.
- Upload a recent photo following the directions.
- Make payment using a credit card.
Where can you take the SAT?
South Kent offers the SAT on campus in May of your 5th Form. The test is also offered in October, November, and December of your 6th Form. You may take the SAT at other times available off campus (Kent School or close to your home), but you are responsible for registering and transportation to and from the test site.
Additional College Admissions Testing - SAT II & ACT
What are SAT II Subject Tests?
SAT II Subject Tests are additional tests in specific subject areas - Biology, Physics, Foreign Languages, etc. Each test is one hour in length, and you can take one, two, or three tests at a time. Some colleges require that you take at least two Subject Tests along with the SAT, so you have to consider when you will take these tests. You cannot take the SAT and the SAT II during the same day. Most students take these tests at the end of their junior year - in June. If you are unable to take the tests in June of 5th Form, you should plan to take the Subject Tests in October, November or December of 6th Form.
What is the ACT?
Many colleges will accept the ACT instead of the SAT. This test has a different format than the SAT and is scored on a different scale. You can practice the ACT to see if this format is better for you. South Kent does not give this test on campus but will provide transportation to the test site on two occasions - April & October. You are responsible for your registration and transportation to and from the test site to any other ACT test dates than April or October. To learn more about ACT, you can go to http://www.actstudent.org.
Admissions Testing Dates 2014-2015
- SAT - On-Campus Administration
October 11, November 8, December 6, January 24, May 2
(6th/PG Forms - Fall/Winter, 5th Form - Spring)
- ACT - Off-Campus - Transportation provided
December 13, April 15
(6th/PG Forms - Fall; 5th Form - Spring)
- TOEFL - Off-Campus - Transportation provided
September 27, November 21, December 12
TOEFL registration priority - 6th/PG Forms, 5th Form, 4th Form. 4th Formers may register for the May TOEFL only if space is available.
- SAT II Subject Tests
If Subject Tests are required, you should take them in June of 5th Form (Off-Campus) OR in October, November, or December (On-Campus) of 6th Form.
IMPORTANT: You are responsible for registering for college admissions testing by the registration deadline.
Submitting Your Application
Common Application is an on-line application used by 488 colleges and universities throughout the United States. When you fill this one application out, each college will receive your application automatically. South Kent is also able to send your support materials - transcript, letters of recommendation, and school profile electronically, making it a fast and efficient way to apply. Chances are you will have at least one, if not all of your colleges listed on Common Application. You will also be practicing on filling out your application using this format.
Creating a Common Application Account
- Go to the Common Application website: http://www.commonapp.org.
- Under the section Apply - Never Registered? - Go Here.
- From the drop down menu, select I am Applying as a First Year Student.
- Fill in all required fields - full name, gender, birthdate, permanent home address (do not use your South Kent address), etc.
- From the drop down menu, select High School Guidance Counselor for How did you hear about Common Application On-Line.
- Fill in your email address (whichever one you prefer - personal or SKS).
- Fill in the two optional Yes or No questions.
- Create a username and password that you will remember (suggest that you use your last name and first initial similar to your SKS email address; verify password.
- Check the box after reading the legal notice.
- Click Register.
Once you register, you should see the My Colleges at the top of the page. You will also see a Common App ID# at the upper left hand corner of the page - this is your personal identification number. Parts of the application are listed on the left.
First Sections to Fill Out on Common Application
- Your name, home address, current mailing address, telephone, and email address
- Click on the Education Section - left side of Common Application page
- Click on the Look Up link to select South Kent as your secondary school. This will automatically populate the school's information
- Fill in your College Counselor's Information:
- Counselor Name (Lynn Worthington)
- Counselor Title (Director of College Counseling)
- Counselor Email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Office Phone (860-927-3539 x250)
- Office Fax: (888-803-0140)
- You don't have to fill out the remaining questions in this section.
- School Forms
- Click on the School Forms Section - Release Authorization - Check the box to allow SKS to send transcripts and other support materials on your behalf. We need your permission.
- FERPA - Do you want to see your letters of recommendation when you are enrolled in college? Waive means give up your right. Translated - When enrolled at the college, do you give up your right OR keep your right to see what your teachers wrote about you. We recommend selecting WAIVE.
- Type in your name and date to sign off on the privacy section.
- Inviting your Recommenders
- Select Counselor button - the counselor contact information will automatically appear.
- Click Invite. This will send an email to your counselor with the link to Common Application to add your transcript and school letter of recommendation.
- Select Teacher button - type in the name and email address of a teacher you have asked to write a letter of recommendation. Select the subject he/she teaches.
- Click Invite - Repeat same for second teacher.
- Two teacher letters of recommendation are usually required. One from a teacher of English or Humanities or History AND one from a teacher of Math or Science.
- Add Colleges
- From the My Colleges tab, add the colleges to which you will be applying using the Search or QuickAdd options and Add.
Additional Sections - You can fill out in any order
Future Plans - General questions having to do whether you will be applying for financial aid, or whether you want to live in a dorm, or whether you have any academic interests.
Demographics - Basic background information regarding resident status, birthplace, languages, etc.
Family - Basic information regarding your family members. You may need help from your parents, as you are asked about their education and should list the colleges they attended, if applicable.
Academics - How many students in your class, grade point average (We do not list grade point averages nor weigh grades more than others, so you do not have to list your GPA), SAT/ACT/TOEFL/AP/SAT II information, current courses, any academic honors.
Activities - Your principal extracurricular, volunteer, and work activities in their order of importance to you. You can list up to 10 but can also add an additional page if you have more, so don't limit yourself.
Writing - Personal Essay
Along with your coursework and record of academic achievement, the college essay is very important to your application. This essay and any additional supplemental short essays work to capture your personality while also showing the admissions committee that you can write clearly and concisely, that you know the rules of English grammar. Take this section very seriously and consider the following:
- Must be between 250-500 words - Take full advantage of the word limit; stay within the word count limit
- Select a topic comfortable to you - Don't try to write about something you don't know about; make it personal
- Your subject should not be a retelling of your coursework or list of activities; they want to learn something about you that they don't already know from your grades, test scores, and activities
- Read examples of well written essays; http://www.writeforthefuture.com provides an Essay of the Week
- Have several people read your writing drafts, including your college counselor.
Many colleges and universities ask for additional information as supplements to the Personal Essay. You should treat these writing supplements just as importantly as you do the main essay. Often they ask more specific questions relative to the college, such as "Why Boston University?" You must be prepared to discuss what makes this particular college or university a good match for you.
Tip: The location of the school is overused - don't just say because the college is located in Boston, and you love Boston.
Applying to Non Common Application Colleges - If They Don't Take Common Application
If you are applying to any colleges that do not take the Common Application, you are responsible for letting your college counselor know of these schools and providing any forms that need to be filled out well in advance of the deadlines. The College Counseling Office can not send transcripts or counselor report forms if we do not have them or know that you are applying to these colleges.
You are responsible for letting us know of your final list of colleges you are applying to - both Common Application colleges and those that do not take the Common Application - All your colleges. Even if you add a college later, keep us posted. We're not mind readers.
Applying as an Athlete
- Meet with your college counselor and coach to express your desire to play college sports;
- Develop a list of prospective schools with consideration given to academic achievement and athletic ability;
- Compare the eligibility requirements at http://www.ncaa.org (in the navigation bar at the very top, click on Academics, scroll down and click on Student-Athlete Academic Eligibility link; click on Becoming Eligible link, click "To view the Full Qualifier and Academic Redshirt sliding scales");
- Send a letter and athletic profile to coaches at colleges in which you may be interested;
- Ask the head coach of your sport to write a letter of recommendation or make contact with coaches at the colleges that interest you;
- Register for and take the SAT; select the NCAA Clearinghouse (code 9999) as a score recipient if you anticipate playing at the Division I or II level;
- Plan to visit as many schools as possible during the spring and summer. All of these visits are unofficial, but you should contact the head coach at the colleges you will visit to see if you might meet to discuss your interest in playing there;
- Take May SAT (5th Form Only).
During the summer after 5th Form:
- Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse if you anticipate playing college sports at the Division I or II level; forms are available online at http://www.eligibilitycenter.org;
- After registering with NCAA Clearinghouse, provide your ID# to the South Kent Clearinghouse Coordinator - Mr. Dave Peters - so he can send in your transcript;
- Contact college coaches by phone or e-mail at any time, but know that they cannot call you prior to July 1 after your junior year;
- Consider attending camps at colleges you may be interested in attending and let the coaches know that you will be participating;
- Consider attending camps where college coaches will be present and inform college coaches what camps you will be attending; you could also ask college coaches what camps they plan to attend;
- If you play on a team in the summer, send college coaches a copy of your schedule.
During 6th Form:
- Begin to narrow your list of schools and stay in touch with coaches at colleges in which you are interested by sending your sports schedule for the upcoming season and meet with your college counselor;
- Many Division I colleges will make scholarship offers in the summer and will certainly begin to schedule official visits at the beginning of your senior year. Many Division III coaches like prospective student-athletes to apply Early Decision to solidify their recruiting class.
- Take any additional SAT/ACT/TOEFL tests according to the posted schedule.
Even if you commit to a college, you must go through the college admissions process.
Applying to College as an International Student
Considering and applying to college as an International Student to a U.S. college or university may seem complicated and confusing. You need to pay close attention to all requirements and directions as outlined by the colleges. Here are some general guidelines:
- Carefully Read the specific directions regarding applying as an International Student on the college's website in the Admissions section.
- Following the determined schedule for TOEFL testing, take at least 2 TOEFL tests, 1 in the spring of 5th Form and 1 or 2 in the fall of 6th Form.
- TOEFL testing should be completed by December of 6th Form. You may take the TOEFL at other times not posted, but you are responsible for registering and transportation to and from the test site.
- You are responsible for submitting TOEFL scores directly to the colleges, but you should provide a copy of your results to the college counseling office each time you take the test.
- Register and take any additional admissions tests - SAT, ACT, or SAT II Subject Tests, following the schedule of available tests. All admissions testing should be completed by December of 6th Form.
- You are responsible for submitting your SAT, ACT, and SAT II scores to the colleges by either listing four colleges during your last test registration OR going to the College Board or ACT websites afterward to request that your scores be sent. You will be charged a fee for each college that you send scores to, so consider listing four for free during your last registration to save some $$$.
- Check to see if financial statements or passports are required when making application. You may have to provide these forms to verify that you can pay for college, so make sure that any financial forms are filled out prior to applying. Make sure you have a copy of your passport, if needed.
- If you are working with an independent consultant or agent, please let the college counseling office know.
- Limit your college list to 7-8 colleges or universities. Applying to an inordinate number (15, 20, 25 colleges) suggests that you have not worked toward an appropriate list of schools that are a match for you and based upon strategic planning. You should apply to 1-2 reach colleges, 3-4 realistic colleges, and 1-2 likely colleges. More is not better and applying to over 10 schools is discouraged.
Why to Visit the College Campus
You should make every effort to visit your colleges. Even if the school is not in session, you can form impressions and make judgments that will be helpful to you as you narrow your original list. Try not to go with preconceptions based on word-of-mouth or local reputation; many people base their superficial statements upon isolated cases or outdated information. In the same way, magazine and newspaper articles often distort. Be wary of the off-the-cuff evaluations you hear about colleges. Remember that you are the one who will be living on the campus. Have faith in your power of decision.
Visit the college again before making your final decision to attend. Go to classes, spend a night in the residence hall, eat the food, and talk to the faculty. Most colleges are happy to make arrangements for you to do so, and our graduates frequently write to offer hospitality to South Kent students.
How to Arrange Your Visit
Choose several dates on which you (and your parents if they are providing transportation) can get away to visit the college. Most colleges prefer that visits by juniors take place in the spring and summer months.
Call the office of admissions well in advance of the time to request an appointment for an interview and tour of the campus. Many colleges have their visitors' information online, as well as registration for tours, etc.
The admissions personnel are well aware that you will be visiting several colleges in the same vicinity. However, try not to visit more than two colleges in a day.
We consider the interview a very helpful aspect of the application process and urge all students to seek interviews whether or not the college requires them. There are a number of colleges that do not offer interviews. Do not be concerned if this is the case for one or more of your colleges.
How important is the interview? This varies from college to college. A college that requires or strongly urges an interview feels it is significant for both applicant and admissions officer; one that merely recommends or provides only group sessions presumably considers the visit necessary for the student but of less importance in their decision.
Why is it important? The interview allows you to present yourself, your interests and your talents, rather than mere statistical evidence on a piece of paper. You have the chance to talk about your desire to attend, to carry on a dialogue, to exercise some control in the process.
How should you prepare? Think carefully about what you wish to communicate: What do you want the college to know, what are your particular strengths, what are your aims, your goals, your reasons for having chosen that college to visit? Be sure to be honest and forthright; an experienced interviewer will easily discount the insincere question or comment.
What about appearance, dress, behavior? The standard of appearance and dress expected of you at SKS is entirely appropriate. Make an effort to learn the interviewer's name at the very beginning. An open, courteous and friendly manner without any straining for effect is all that is required. Be yourself and all will be well.
Suppose the interviewer asks something you can't answer, or have trouble remembering, such as the books read in a recent course or the record of an athletic team. Don't worry or panic. Just be honest. No one will blame you if you lack total recall; what will hurt is obvious bluffing.
What happens if the interviewer is inept or uninterested, or does all the talking? It is an unfortunate fact that students can be disappointed or discouraged because of the person who interviews them. This is a great mistake. The interview alone will never be the one factor that determines acceptance to a college. Do not judge the institution by one representative, be that the interviewer, the tour guide or a friend from high school.
What should you ask the interviewer? Don't ask about information that is covered in the catalog or other material, but by all means have some questions that will lead him or her to expand upon or explain statements made in official publications. Always feel free to ask about social life as well as academics, and whenever possible, read the bulletin boards and campus newspaper to discover any "hot topics" at the college, and then ask about them.
Should my parents or a classmate accompany me? There is no hard-and-fast rule, and circumstances often dictate the procedure. The best plan is to go with one or two friends and one or more parents, for company and moral support. Most admissions officers are adept at detaching you for a private session, and another person's opinion of a college is invariably helpful. In addition, parents should see where their money will be going!
Above all, present your strengths in a confident, matter-of-fact manner, and show genuine enthusiasm for the things you really care about. Be sure that when the visit ends, the college is aware of more that they could learn from written credentials. Thoughtfully prepare and proceed in a natural and straightforward manner. The College Counseling Office will furnish you with a Transcript that you may present to the interviewer if specifically requested. More important, though, keep the focus on you, the person, not statistics.
IMPORTANT: Remember to write a thank you note or email to the interviewer!
Sample Interview Questions
(Trinity College, CT)
The following questions may not all be included in an interview, but be prepared.
- How was the trip to the interview?
- Is this your first visit to Trinity?
- Tell me about your college search so far.
- Tell me how you became interested in Trinity.
- Have you taken a tour or attended a group information session? If so, was it informative?
- What are your general impressions of Trinity?
- How have they changed since your info session or tour?
- What are your criteria in selecting a college?
- What other colleges are you considering?
- How will your engagement in this setting make your education more meaningful?
The High School Experience:
- Describe your high school
- If independent, how did you select your high school?
- Has the school met your expectations?
- What do you like about your school?
- What would you change about your school?
- How would you describe a typical student?
- How would you describe yourself as a student?
- What does diversity mean to you?
- Is your school diverse?
- Is this diversity important in your college search?
- How do you think you would get along with a roommate who was totally different from you - perhaps in ethnic background, religious beliefs, and geographic part of the country?
- Do you feel that you have been challenged academically?
- Do you feel your high school has prepared you well for college level work?
- Discuss the quality of the faculty at your school and their relationships with you.
- Do you have a favorite teacher?
- How do you think your teachers would describe you in and out of the classroom?
- What areas would your teachers say are your strengths?
- What areas would your teachers say that you needed to improve upon?
- What classes are you currently taking?
- Do you have a favorite class/discipline?
- What do you like most about that discipline?
- If I had your transcript in front of me, what would I see? (trends, strengths, overall grades)
- Are you satisfied with your effort, your grades?
- Are there things you would do differently if you had the chance?
- Have you considered a college major/career?
- How would you describe your writing skills?
- Are there particular projects or papers you've worked on that you are most proud of?
- How did you choose that topic?
- Why did that topic appeal to you?
- How did you do on the paper?
- Were you satisfied with your performance on it?
- What kind of feedback did your teacher offer about that paper or project?
- Do you have a favorite book/author?
- What is it about a certain author's style of writing that appeals to you?
- Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
- What did you like about that book?
- Discuss how you spend your time outside of the classroom.
- What extracurricular activities are you involved with?
- Which are most significant to you?
- Which do you plan to continue in college?
- Do you hold any leadership positions or roles? If so, why do you think you were selected for that position?
- What would you like to accomplish as a leader in this organization?
- How do you think your peers perceive you as a leader?
- Are there activities that you would like to try in college?
- How do you see yourself making an impact at Trinity?
College and Beyond:
- What are you most looking forward to about college?
- How do you think you will respond to the freedom associated with college?
- What would you like to improve upon during your college years?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years - professionally and personally?
- Is there anything that you would like to talk about that we have not yet discussed?
- How would you like me to describe you to the admissions committee?
- Do you have any questions for me?
Questions to Ask during a Tour or Interview">
- Are all courses taught by professors?
- How easy is it to make an appointment to meet with a professor?
- How many students are in the largest lecture class?
- What percent of students are in the largest lecture class?
- What is the typical freshman course schedule?
- How late is the library open? The computer center?
- What is the basis for the academic calendar year? Semester, trimester, other?
- How would you improve the college/university?
- Which courses are required?
- Are there other schools nearby?
- How many students go away on weekends?
- What percent of freshmen are unable to enroll in classes of their choice due to registration close-outs?
- Are there fraternities and sororities on campus? What percent of students are members?
- What sports and teams are available?
- How are the art facilities? Theater facilities? Sports facilities?
- How are roommates selected? Can they be changed?
- What goes on during the weekends?
- How is the food? What meal plans are available?
- What is the farthest distance between classes?
- Are counseling services available? Tutors? Health services? Campus security?
- Are students allowed to have cars? Does everyone have a car?
- What activities and sports occur on or near campus?
- Is an interview required for admission?
- When is a good time to revisit your campus, and can an overnight visit be arranged?
- Are SAT Subject Tests required? If so, how are they used?
- What is your application deadline?
College Representatives Visiting South Kent School
Between September and December we have approximately 100 visits from college representatives. While a conversation on our campus is not a substitute for an on-campus visit, it may be a practical solution when a college is too far away for you to see before the application deadline. Make a practice of coming to talk with these representatives; you can learn a great deal about colleges and expand your lists. Do not wait for your college counselor to suggest that you see these people - take the initiative.
A list of all of the scheduled visits is available on the Naviance website http://www.connection.naviance.com/southkent. Students are responsible for signing up on the website for appointments with colleges. You should plan to register well in advance and to ask permission of your teacher to miss class, should there be a conflict. In the event you are unable to make the appointment due to a class conflict, sign up for the meeting and let your college counselor know you are unable to attend. This indicates to the representative your interest and gives us the opportunity to provide information about you. Be sure if you have signed up for a meeting that you appear for it. Forgetting an appointment does not make a very good impression. College appointments are regular school commitments.
Failure to sign up may be construed as lack of interest in the college at the time for admissions decisions.
IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that unless a college holds only alumni interviews, those alumni interviews are in no way substitutes for those given by professional admissions staff. However, if you are unable to visit the campus and interview with the professional staff, an alumni interview is better than showing no interest at all.
Families who contemplate the need for financial aid should secure whatever forms the college may require. The Profile form and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) are available online. The Profile is submitted directly to the College Scholarship Service in Princeton, N.J. and its evaluation made available to colleges you designate. The FAFSA is submitted directly to the Federal Student Aid Program. Please note that you must take the initiative, with help from information in this office and from colleges. The financial aid officer at the colleges where you apply will be happy to respond to your questions; do not hesitate to ask. To ensure confidentiality, applications for aid are sent by parents directly to the appropriate agency. These forms are used by most colleges to determine the candidate's financial need.
Do not overlook ROTC scholarships, the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, no-need scholarships and other sources. There are many locally sponsored scholarships as well. Other helpful websites are listed in the back of this handbook.
Grants, scholarships and stipends are outright gifts to the student. They do not have to be repaid.
Educational loans are subsidized while the recipient is a student and are repayable after the recipient ceases to be a student.
Parent loans are made available to parents. Repayment of these loans begins while the student is in college.
Work-study and assistantships are part-time employment programs under which a recipient receives remuneration for work performed.
International Scholarships may be quite limited, but if you are an International Student who needs financial assistance, you may qualify for some aid based upon your academic standing.
Early Decision I & II
A few students are so sure of their college choice early in the senior year that they apply for what is known as Early Decision. If you elect this plan, you agree to withdraw any other application that you may have submitted if the first-choice college informs you that you have been accepted for Early Decision. This may occur as early as November of the senior year. This plan requires that you attend that college if accepted in Early Decision. Some colleges may have both an ED I and ED II option. ED II deadline comes a bit later but is still binding.
Early Action or Early Notification
Some colleges have instituted a plan known as Early Action. It differs from Early Decision in that there is no binding commitment to enroll; candidates have until the usual May 1 Candidate's Reply Date to indicate intention to enroll. (There are a few colleges offering Early Action/Single Choice that precludes other applications. Be sure to read all information regarding these plans.)
Restrictive Early Action
Students apply to an institution of preference and receive a decision early. They may be restricted from applying Early Decision, Early Action or Restrictive Early Action to other institutions. If offered enrollment, students have until May 1 to confirm.
This is the general group of students applying and your decision to attend if accepted is non-binding. Applications are due generally in January, February, or March and you are notified by a certain date so you have time to make your decision by May 1.
Some colleges will indicate their decisions whenever they believe credentials are complete. These decisions are made at any time during the year but in most cases do not require a response until May 1, and no commitment to attend is expected until that date.
A student who applies Early Decision or Early Action may be deferred or moved to the Regular Decision group and will be notified after the regular decision deadline is reached. It is not a denial but the college has determined that it cannot accept you early.
Wait List (also called Alternate List)
A student who is obviously well-qualified for admission but whose credentials are less strong than others in the applicant pool may be placed on the Waiting List. This means that you might be offered a place after the May 1 Candidate's Reply Date, when the college knows how many students will enroll. In some years colleges do not go to their Waiting List, in other years they do so to a considerable extent. See your college counselor if you have questions concerning your status as a Wait-List candidate.
A Few Reminders
Check with us frequently. Colleges do not inform the College Counseling Office of the final decisions. Please keep us informed.
Do not ask your classmates or the college counselors or staff about your classmates' applications or their test scores. These are private matters.
Please be sure when you make a decision about which college you will attend that you inform the College Counseling Office and write a note to the other colleges that have accepted you telling them that you are not coming. This need not be a lengthy letter or email, just a short note of a few sentences saying that you are happy to be accepted but are planning to enroll elsewhere. Keep in mind that there are other applicants who are anxiously awaiting news from the college. Letting the college know allows them to accept someone else. Be considerate.
Should you have Wait List status, be sure to let your college counselor know directly, as it is essential for good communication with colleges, that we know your status and whether or not you wish to remain on the Wait List.
A Final Note to 6th Form
The period from the time you are accepted to the time you graduate is the most difficult time of all. Keep in mind that all your grades are significant, that colleges ask for supplementary reports of your progress and that all college acceptances are contingent upon the successful completion of the senior year. You cannot afford to slacken or to diminish your academic effort. Colleges pay close attention to the final months before graduation, and a downward turn in your academic work could lead to a reversal of decision.
On the other hand, you will discover that being accepted to college will enhance your learning experience and provide you a greater measure of enjoyment in what you are studying. The pressure of paperwork and college decisions will have subsided. Even for those yet to hear from one or more colleges, the knowledge that they have completed the application process, exercising their powers of selection and choice, will be quite rewarding. The time between the submitting of applications and choosing which college to attend can be one of the most exciting times in your secondary school career.
- College Board
- Fair Test
- Common Application
- College Net
- Peterson's Guides
- Virtual Campus Tours
- Colleges Unranked
- ACT Financial Aid Estimator
- Sallie Mae Financial Aid Info
- Fast Web - private scholarships
- Free Scholarship Search
- Scholarship Search
- Financial Aid Information
Beware of companies that charge fees or guarantee scholarships. Offers that guarantee scholarships or ask for money to "hold" the scholarship may be a scam. Check out the Federal Trade Commission's website at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.