- STEM Academy at Showalter
- College Resources for Students
College Resources for Students
One of the major functions of our work as counselors is to help prepare our students for the transition from High School into their post-secondary choice. For the majority of STEM at Showalter High School students, that transition is to a 2 or 4 year College or University, but for many students, the next step takes them to a Trade or Technical School, the Military, or into the workforce. We work with students to help create an individualized plan that makes sense for each student based on their long-term goals.
All of the work we do with students, including selecting appropriate courses, preparing for standardized tests, and meeting individually with students and parents, is part of the process of working toward that goal. In this section, we do our best to provide detailed information on the things that students need to do to prepare for the transition out of High School, the resources that are available to them as they walk down that path, and the ways in which we support them through that process.
Working with students to set personal College and Career goals is one of the most rewarding things we get to do as counselors. We look forward to supporting our students through this exciting process and are always available to answer specific questions from students and parents as they progress through High School.
What Students Need to Know
Options After High School
High school can sometimes feel like it will go on forever, but it won’t. After school, you will have to make a choice about what you want to do with your life. There are a number of factors involved with this decision. You may have financial constraints; you may not be sure what you want to do; you may want a break from academics and the chance to explore something new. Let’s take a closer look at some of your options following high school. Remember there is no right choice; the key is determining what is right for you.
Four-year colleges or universities
At four year schools you can earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. You can attend a public or private institution. The cost of attending private colleges and universities is usually much higher than public colleges and universities. Although tuition may cost more, do not count private schools out as they tend to offer more financial aid and scholarship than public institutions. Both public and private schools offer a variety of majors and fields of studies. Depending on the college, you can study almost anything ranging from psychology to business to health or technical sciences. The admissions criteria varies for each school, and some are extremely competitive. College is a rewarding experience, but it is important to remember that being a college student requires a lot of self-discipline and personal responsibility.
At two year schools you can earn an associate’s degrees, either an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Science (AS). There are public and private options and the admissions process is generally simpler than that of a four-year school. An Associate’s degree is a minimum requirement for some jobs and can prepare you for a career in two years. After two years, many students decide to continue with their studies and transfer to a four year college to earn a bachelor’s degree. Public community colleges usually do not provide housing in dormitories, but they are widely accessible and often the cheapest option. Private two-year colleges are similar to four-year colleges, but only award Associate’s degrees.
Trade or vocational programs offer a direct path toward specific jobs. Students who do not enjoy traditional school may prefer the type of hands-on learning offered at trade schools. There are programs in a wide range of areas such as construction, electronics, web design, medical assistance, culinary and much more. In addition to providing practical experience, trade school can help students obtain licenses and certifications they will need to be successful in their chosen field. Many trade schools offer apprenticeships or internships that help students move into the workforce.
The military is a good option for students seeking training, discipline and physical activity. The military offers excellent education and employment opportunities. Enlisting in the armed forces after high school makes you eligible for tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits, so you can get a degree for free. You get paid a salary while you serve, and you can pursue specialized training in a number of fields. The military can become a life-long career or a stepping stone to other civilian jobs. Military service looks great on a resume!
The minimal age for enlisting in the military is 17. However, there are also other requirements including a diploma or GED, physical requirements and placement tests. The United States Military’s branches include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and the National Guard. To learn more about military options, contact your local recruiting office.
Job Corp is a no-cost career technical training and education program for low income young people ages 16 through 24. Job Corps staff works with each student to create individualized personal and career development plans that put and keep students on the track to success. The most successful students stay in the program between 1 and 2 years. Job Corps offers hands-on training in more than 100 career technical training areas, including Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, Carpentry, Office Administration, and Welding.
All career technical training areas are aligned with industry credentials and are designed to meet the requirements of today’s careers. Job Corps also offers Advanced Training for students who want to take their education to the next level. Most students live on campus in dormitories. While enrolled in the program, students receive meals, basic medical care, and a living allowance. Job Corp has over 100 locations throughout the U.S. For more information, visit the Job Corps website or call (800) 733-JOBS.
If more schooling is not right for you, some teens go straight to work. Finding a job that pays well with a high school diploma can be tough. Consider volunteering or finding an internship while still in high school in order to build skills and gain experiences that will look good on your resume and make you a stronger job applicant.
What do I need to do to be ready to apply to college?
Sophomores will take the PSAT in October. STEM at Showalter offers the PSAT at no charge to all 10th and 11th graders on the Wednesday test date. The PSAT is very similar to the SAT and provides students with an opportunity to get practice and exposure to taking timed, standardized tests.
- Sophomores attend the Career Fair.
- Sophomores attend the Career and Technical Education (CTE) presentations to learn about programming options at STEM related to technical fields.
Begin talking with your parents about post-high school plans. Review your high school coursework and make sure you are on track to graduate. Develop a plan for standardized testing (PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, AP). Register for the October PSAT. Take the PSAT. Check the front lobby marquis for college visits. Create a list of questions and attend college visits taking place at STEM throughout the year. If interested in the military, attend a military information session. Attend the NACAC College Fair.
- Visit college campuses. Take a tour, go to an informational meeting, sit in on a class, and try to get a feel for what it would be like to go to that school. If you visit a school you are very interested in, consider making an appointment for an on-campus interview, if available.
- Keep a journal of questions and impressions from your visits.
- Attend the STEM Career Fair.
- Sign up for the April in-school SAT exam.
- If interested, register to take the ACT and/or SAT subject tests. If unsure whether you should sit for these tests, see your counselor.
- If applicable, register for AP exams.
- Attend the Main Line College Fair at Villanova University.
- Ask teachers to write your letters of recommendation, allowing ample time for them to write before your deadline.
- If you plan to participate in Division 1 or 2 sports in college, file initial NCAA paperwork online at the NCAA Eligibility Center.
- Log in to FAFSA and request a parent pin and student pin for FAFSA.
- Visit college campuses. Take a tour, go to an informational meeting, sit in on a class, and try to get a feel for what it would be like to go to that school. If you visit a school you are very interested in, consider making an appointment for an on-campus interview, if available.
- Keep a journal of questions and impressions from your visit.
- Compile your resume, audition portfolio, or other evidence of your talents for college admissions or scholarship applications.
- Continue to visit college campuses. Take a tour, go to an informational meeting and try to get a feel for what it would be like to go to that school. If you visit a school you are very interested in, consider making an appointment for an on-campus interview, if available.
- Narrow your list of potential college choices.
- Research scholarship opportunities.
- Determine if you will take the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, or ACT and register online.
- Starting August 1st, visit the Common App website to create a username and password. Begin completing your applications.
- Use a planner to keep track of college-related dates (see Tracking Worksheet located under the Applying to College Tab on the STEM career and college website).
- Meet with your guidance counselor to finalize your list of colleges.
- Go back to the teachers you asked to write your letters of recommendation for you. Give them any materials they need and let them know of any early application due dates. If you have not asked teachers to write your recommendation letters, do so now.
- Check the front lobby marquis for college visits. Plan to attend any sessions with colleges that you are likely applying to. Create a list of questions to ask.
- Visit college campuses, if you have not already had the chance to do so.
- Register for the fall or winter SAT or ACT if you would like to improve your scores.
- Fill out admissions applications.
- Continue to work on your application essays.
- Take the SAT or ACT, if applicable.
- Continue to visit your potential colleges, if possible.
- Continue to meet with college reps at STEM. Also, consider attending a college fair.
- Register for the winter SAT or ACT if you would like to improve your scores.
- Prepare final drafts of your application essay.
- Check all application deadlines and submit your materials on time. Use the College Application Tracking Worksheet to stay organized.
- Request transcripts to be sent to your colleges from your counselor by e-mail. Remember counselors require 48 hours' notice to send out transcripts.
- Follow up with colleges by checking your application portal to make sure all early action or early decision application materials have been received.
- Remind teachers of early deadlines for applications, if applicable.
- See your counselor to get application fee waivers for your college applications.
- Make copies of all documents you send through the mail or submit online. Keep organized files.
- Take the SAT or ACT, if applicable.
- Remind teachers of deadlines for submitting your college recommendations for regular admission.
- Request transcripts for any regular decision applications. Remember, counselors require 48 hours' notice to send out transcripts.
- Continue to meet application deadlines.
- Confirm that all of your application materials have been received by each school to which you applied by checking your application portals.
- Write thank-you notes to the teachers who wrote recommendations on your behalf.
- Maintain organized files of all admissions correspondence that you receive.
- Provide a copy of each letter of admission to your school counselors.
- Make sure that you accept an offer of admission before May 1st, and send in any required deposits and paperwork.
- Take AP exams, if applicable, and request that your scores be sent to the college that you will be attending.
- Make sure your counselor sends your final transcript to your selected college.
What do colleges look for in applicants?
Colleges look at a variety of factors when making their admissions decisions. Most schools take a holistic approach to admissions and are interested in everything a student does. That said, students’ courses, grades and test scores are the most important criteria to admissions officers. Great extracurricular activities or an excellent essay will not make up for week school performance. Outlined below is the different criteria admissions offices review when deciding to admit students.
A Rigorous High School Curriculum
A transcript that reflects the student takes on challenges can put him or her a step ahead. Being able to show prospective colleges that you challenged yourself academically is important. Admissions officers look at the AP, honors, dual enrollment and other college prep classes you take in high school to see how well you handled the course load.
While it is important to challenge yourself, be careful not to overextend yourself. Colleges want to see you take rigorous classes, but they also want to see you succeed. Cs and Ds in AP classes are not beneficial. You should take the most challenging classes that you are able to manage.
Strong Grades and an Upward Trend
Admissions officers value grades that represent strong effort. Grades should show an upward trend over the years. However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are preferred to all A's in less challenging coursework. Strong grades in challenging classes is the best indicator of how you will do in college.
Solid Scores on Standardized Tests
Scores on the SATs and ACTs carry considerable weight in the college admissions process. Scores should ideally be consistent with high school performance.
Quality Involvement in Activities
Colleges want to see students who stretch themselves beyond the limits of the classroom. The kinds of activities you choose say a lot about your personality and your values. Passionate involvement in a few activities — and a demonstration of leadership and initiative in those activities — can only help a student. Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important.
There is no one activity you should join. Participate in those things that interest you the most. Colleges value a wide array of different activities including athletics, art, drama and music, student government, community service and volunteer work, employment, summer enrichment programs, church groups… The list goes on and on. If you babysit your siblings after school every day while your parents work, that counts! Colleges are simply interested in seeing that you spend your time outside of the classroom making a meaningful commitment to something.
A Well-Written Essay
A strong college essay provides insight into the student's unique personality, values, and goals. The application essay should be thoughtful and highly personal. It should demonstrate careful and well-constructed writing.
Positive Recommendations from School Personnel
Hopefully the student's letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors give evidence of integrity, special skills, and positive character traits. Students should request recommendations from teachers who know them well and respect their work in an academic discipline. Select junior year teachers in core subject areas (math, English, social studies, science).
Demonstrated interest has been a factor that has gained prominence in admissions over the last few years. With students applying to more colleges, it can sometimes be hard for colleges to predict how many admitted students will enroll. While some colleges track students’ contact with the admissions office, through visits, interviews, and more, what colleges really look for is informed interest, or, more specifically, how much the applicants know about the school. Have they done enough research? Do they know why this school is good fit? Can they articulate that in their essays? This helps colleges weed out the applicants who might not be as serious about attending the institution, and reward those who have put together a thorough, thoughtful, and informed application.
Do your research! Learn everything you can about the colleges you’re interested in to really determine why these colleges are a good fit for your needs and goals. Research programs, professors, courses, and activities that you might want to explore if admitted.
How do I apply to college?
APPLICATION OPTIONS AND DEADLINES
Read and think carefully about Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision, Rolling Admission and Priority Deadlines. Make sure you understand the distinction between these different type of application plans.
- This is the type of deadline that you’re likely most familiar with; most schools you apply to will have Regular Decision as an option. Students applying RD will generally turn in their applications between mid-December and mid-January, and hear back regarding their admissions status by March or April.
- The most confusing part about Regular Decision is that the “Regular” deadline isn’t standard across all colleges. Although the majority of schools set January 1st as their RD deadline, many schools will have you turn in your application on January 15th, February 1st, or even at an earlier or later date. As with all deadlines, it’s very important to keep track of each school’s RD policy and deadlines.
- Possible Outcomes: Accepted, Denied, Waitlisted*
- *Universities create waitlists in case the number of students who confirm their spots in the incoming class is smaller than expected. Waitlisted candidates may have to confirm their place on the waitlist. You may not find out whether or not you’ve gotten off of a school’s waitlist until as late as August.
- Schools with rolling application deadlines offer a much wider window for students to apply; this window can be as large as July-April, though individual application periods at different schools vary (do your research on the schools on your list!).
- Like the name implies, they accept applications on a rolling basis, usually extending over several months until a final deadline, typically in the spring.
- Rolling admissions have the advantage of a quick turnaround; you’ll typically hear back from rolling schools regarding your application in 4-8 weeks.
- These admissions are not binding; you won’t have to decide whether you want to attend the school until the final deadline.
- Applying early during the Rolling Admissions window may also give you a competitive edge, as the admissions office will have fewer applicants to compare you to and more spaces available. Apply to your rolling admissions schools as early as possible!
- Possible Outcomes: Accepted, Denied, Waitlisted
- According to schools (mostly public universities) offering priority deadlines applying by a Priority Deadline will increase your chances of being accepted, receiving financial aid, and/or winning scholarship money. Some schools reserve certain scholarships for students who apply by the Priority Deadline.
- Universities may also require students applying to special programs—e.g., an honors college—to apply by the priority deadline.
- Possible Outcomes: Accepted, Denied, Deferral
- If you have your heart set on a specific school which you know you’ll attend if accepted and you can afford it, applying Early Decision might be the path for you. ED programs generally require you to submit your application by a deadline in October or November and typically provide you an admission decision in December or January, much earlier than Regular Decision.
- One of the major benefits of applying ED is having a higher chance of acceptance. Many schools, but not all, take a higher percentage of students through Early Decision than through Regular Decision. Showing your commitment for one special school is a strong consideration for admissions offices.
- Though ED programs are great for students who are extremely confident about attending their top choice school, there are certain caveats to applying ED that can’t be overemphasized.
- You can only apply ED to one school. Submitting an ED application to more than one school will get you in deep trouble, typically leading to your automatic withdrawal from both schools; don’t play that game.
- Early Decision is binding. If accepted, you must attend. It is a serious commitment. In submitting an ED application, you enter into a binding contract with the school pledging that you will attend. Acceptance means that you have to withdraw applications to all other schools.
- If you’re accepted ED, you won’t be able to compare your financial aid packages from multiple schools to decide what works best within your budget.
- We discourage you from applying Early Decision to a college unless the school is one you know well; it is your strong favorite and has been for some time; you are willing to forego having a choice of college options next April; and you know that you can afford to attend.
- Possible Outcomes: Accepted, Denied, Deferred to Regular Decision*
- *Note that, if your application is Deferred, this means that the Admissions Committee will reconsider your application alongside Regular Decision applicants, and you’ll hear back regarding your final admissions decision in March-April. Being deferred also means that you’re released from the binding contract ED demands. If accepted, you are no longer bound to attend the school, nor are you prohibited from applying to other schools.
- Like Early Decision, Early Action programs generally require you to submit your application by a deadline in October or November and typically provide you an admission decision in December or January. The major benefit of applying EA is that you get to hear back regarding your application much earlier than Regular Decision applicants.
- Unlike Early Decision, acceptance as an Early Action applicant is not binding. That means that you can prepare and submit applications to other schools before hearing back from your EA school.
- You should take note that some EA programs restrict you to only applying EA to one school; these programs are known as Restrictive Early Action. Some EA programs also prohibit applying ED to other schools. Schools with restrictions on where else you can apply are known as Single Choice Early Action, or Restrictive Early Action, programs. Read your school’s application instructions carefully to find out what is and isn’t permitted.
- Possible Outcomes: Accepted, Denied, Deferred to Regular Decision
How to Submit College Applications
Please read carefully through this sheet. For each application you plan to submit, you should also pay close attention to the specific instructions provided by the college.
Register for the Common Application.
Think of the Common App website as the way to access the application forms for the various colleges on your list. You will want to complete the Common App for any colleges that accept it, but be aware that some schools do not accept Common App.
- Set up a user name and password.
- Set up an application for each of the schools on your list in the My Colleges tab. To add schools to the My Colleges tab search for and add schools using the College Search tab.
- Verify each college’s early and regular application deadlines. Note that some institutions have a deadline for supplemental materials (such as an arts or athletic supplement) that is earlier than the deadline for the full application.
- Read through other Common App instructions carefully to get an idea of how the online process works. There are helpful sections about each element of the application.
- If relevant: Research application procedures for colleges not accepting the Common App. Many colleges accept and use the Common App, but many others do not. If you’re applying to a school that does not accept the Common App, spend some time on the college’s website to be sure you understand the process. Talk with your counselor if you’re not sure what to do.
Complete the Common Application or other online or paper applications
This is the heart of the process and will take some time.
- Complete the general information.
- Write the required essays. Plan out the topic and content for each, write rough drafts, and leave yourself plenty of time to edit and proofread them. You will want to write several drafts of each essay, and should consider showing them to two adults to get some feedback. Be careful, however, that your voice comes through. This essay should be written from your teenage perspective, and too much editing by adults can take away the authenticity of your writing. Good grammar and careful proofreading are important, but make sure your thoughts and viewpoint still come through. Use the essays to write honestly about yourself: your personality traits, people or things that are important to you, the experiences that have shaped who you are.
- Attach a resume if you feel it provides additional information that is relevant to your application.
- Be sure to attach or send separately any art, music or other supplements as specified by the college.
- Carefully proof-read your full application.
- Make sure to submit your applications prior to all deadlines. Do not wait until the last minute to hit “send.” Don’t let your application miss the deadline because of a power outage, a computer freeze, or some other catastrophe. These deadlines are important, and there’s no reason to cut it close.
- Once you submit applications, colleges will e-mail you to confirm receipt of your application. They will include directions on how to log in to a student portal where you can check your application status. Save your username and passwords for each college portal. You will want to check your portal to make sure all of your application materials (application, recommendation letters, transcripts…) have been received. It is students’ responsibility to make sure all of their materials are received.
Submit your transcript
- Review your transcript to make sure it is accurate. If there are any errors, notify your counselor.
- E-mail your counselor with the list of schools where you want your transcript sent. Counselors require 48-hours notice to submit transcripts. As you add new schools to your list, make sure you notify your counselors so they know to send your transcript.
Submit your test scores
Submit SAT, ACT, SAT Subject test scores, and/or AP Exam scores to each college on your list. It is the student’s responsibility to send their test scores to college. Counselors do not send test scores.
To send SAT scores:
- Visit the CollegeBoard website and login to your account using your username and password. Click on the “SAT” link and then on the “Send Score Reports to Colleges” link. If you used a fee waiver to pay for the SAT exam, there is no fee to send your scores. You may send them to an unlimited number of colleges.
- Subject Test scores and AP Exam scores are also sent through CollegeBoard. Only a small number of schools require Subject Test scores. No schools require AP Exam scores. Unless required, only submit strong scores that will enhance your application. If unsure whether to send or not, see your counselor.
To send ACT scores:
Visit the ACT website. Click on “Sign In,” and then click on “US ACT Testing and Scores.” Enter your User Id and Password to sign in. Then click on “Send Your Scores” and follow the links provided. If you used a fee waiver to sit for the ACT exam, you may send scores to up to 20 colleges for free.
You may need to follow special instructions if applying for programs in art, music, or theater, which might require an audition or a portfolio. If you plan to play sports in college, you may need to visit the NCAA Eligibility Center website. Talk to your counselor if you have questions.
Letters of recommendation
Many colleges require two letters of recommendation from academic teachers, but will accept an extra, third letter from a non-academic source (a coach, employer, or other adult who knows you well). We recommend you ask junior year teachers who taught you in core subject areas (Math, Science, English and Social Studies).
- Meet with two teachers and ask them if they will write a letter for you. Discuss how they plan to submit your letters, either electronically or by hard copy through the mail.
- Make sure teachers are aware of the deadline for each school on your list.
- If teachers wish to submit electronically, students will need to provide their teachers’ names and e-mail addresess when they complete their applications. Teachers will then receive an electronic link to upload their letters.
- If teachers are sending letters by mail, students must provide them with the address for the admissions office of every school they are applying to and want letters sent.
Be aware that many colleges charge application fees, usually ranging from $35 to $100. See your counselor for a fee waiver.
Like test score submissions, financial aid is an element of the college application that is handled separately. The best place to start when applying for financial aid is the Financial Aid website for each college you’re interested in. Together with your parent/guardian, you will fill out a form called the “FAFSA” and other forms such as “PROFILE” and/or specific college and state aid forms. Talk to your counselor if you need assistance, review the STEM website for Financial Aid information, and watch for the school district’s evening presentation on financial aid.
A Final Comment
Each year, there are some glitches in this process – students, counselors and admissions officers are all human, and mistakes will happen. But counselors and admissions officers are used to sorting through problems. Your obligation as the student is to submit your materials, complete and on time, and then verify that your entire application (including test scores, recommendation letters and transcripts) has been received. If you have any questions, stop in to see your counselor. We’re here to help!
College Application Tracking Worksheet
Writing the College Essay
GPA and SAT Scores are only a piece of your puzzle. Most colleges require one “Personal statement” or college essay of about 650 words. Some schools ask for one or two additional shorter answer essays. The essay is a way that you can help to stand out from the pack of other college applicants.
It is an opportunity to present your most important strengths, particularly those not listed on your transcript. And the bonus of doing a good job is an increased chance of admission, especially if you are on the academic borderline! The essay is your single greatest opportunity to distinguish yourself as an individual by sharing who you are, what you have learned, and what motivates you.
ESSAY WRITING TIPS
Choose a Topic That Will Highlight You
- Don’t focus on the great aspects of a particular college. Schools already know their strengths. Don’t focus on your GPA, SAT scores or the number of extracurricular activities you took part in during high school. Schools can see this information on your transcript and resume.
- Do share your personal story and thoughts. Take a creative approach and highlight areas that aren’t covered in other parts of the application.
- Don’t try to cover too many topics. This will make the essay sound like a résumé that doesn’t provide any details about you.
- Do focus on one aspect of yourself so the readers can learn more about who you are. Remember that the readers must be able to find your main idea and follow it from beginning to end.
- Do make sure you answer the question that is asked.
Show, Don’t Tell
- Don’t simply state a fact to get an idea across, such as “I like to surround myself with people with a variety of backgrounds and interests.”
- Do include specific details, examples, reasons and so on to develop your ideas. For the example above, describe a situation when you were surrounded by various types of people. What were you doing? Whom did you talk with? What did you take away from the experience?
Allow Plenty of Time to Edit
- Don’t write one draft of your college admissions essay and think it will be ready to send.
- Do start by writing a rough draft. Don't worry about quality at this stage. After you've completed your rough draft, take some time away from it and start again with fresh eyes. When you are editing your admissions essay, don't look at particulars like spelling and grammar; rather, look at the college admissions essay as a whole. Find your essay's weaknesses and work on those.
- Do ask a teacher or trusted adult to read your work and provide feedback on your ideas and writing. Professional writers have many people read their work before they get published. You should too.
Proofread Your Work
- Don’t turn your essay in without proofreading it, and don’t rely only on your computer’s spell check to catch mistakes. A spell-check program will miss typos like these:
- "After I graduate form high school, I plan to get a summer job."
- "From that day on, Daniel was my best fried."
- Do proofread. Ask a teacher, parent or other adult to proofread your essay to help you catch mistakes.
SAT and ACT
View information about the SAT and ACT.
View information about Subject Tests.
View information about AP Exams.
View information about TOEFL.
Before you visit
- Visit the admissions website of each school you plan to see to identify what opportunities are available for prospective students.
- Schedule your visit on-line. Do not show up unannounced.
While you visit
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking.
- Attend an information session.
- Take a campus tour.
- Have an interview. If you are visiting a school that offers interviews and you are very interested in the school, make an appointment before you get to campus for an interview.
- Observe a class. This needs to be pre-arranged. Contact the admissions office or check the website for specific information.
- Meet with a professor. If you have specific questions about the opportunities in a specific major, use this occasion to try to meet with someone in the department. Be sure to arrange this in advance.
- Meet with a Financial Aid Counselor. If you will be applying for financial aid, this is your opportunity to ask about grants, scholarships and student loans. Pick up any forms or applications you may need to apply for aid.
- If you are planning to play a sport in college, arrange to meet the coach. Schedule this in advance.
- Talk to current students.
- Have a meal in one of the dining halls. Test out the food.
- Visit the surrounding area and check out the local community.
- Pick up a copy of the course catalog.
- Grab a current issue of the school newspaper.
After you visit
- Take notes so that you can recall your thoughts and feelings about each campus after some time has passed. Use the Campus Visit Summary Sheet to capture your thoughts.
- Send thank-you notes to adults you meet with (coaches, professors, admissions officers…).
- Beware of The SUNSHINE FACTOR. Do not let weather, good or bad, influence your judgment about a school.
- No single person represents the whole school. Do not judge a school solely by one student tour guide or one admissions officer. Talk to other staff and students to get a fuller picture.
Before Your Interview
- Know the basics. Learn as much about the school as possible beforehand. Review the school’s brochures and Web site.
- Review your application materials (if you have already applied). The interviewers may use your application materials to start a conversation with you. Review your application essay so it’s fresh in your mind when you interview.
- Practice some generic questions. There are a few basic questions you can probably count on hearing: Why do you want to go to this college? What do you expect to gain from the college experience? What do you plan to major in and why? You don’t need to memorize your answers, but think through the issues ahead of time so you’ll have some ideas to discuss.
- Practice some specific questions. You’ll also want to prepare for questions that ask you to identify key topics or experiences that are important to you. Think in advance about some of your favorite experiences, activities or plans.
- Prepare some questions to ask. Show your interest in the school by asking specific questions, such as, How would you describe the student body? What are the most popular majors? What are the school’s strengths? What are students’ favorite traditions?
- Make sure you know exactly where your interview is being held. Call in advance and ask for directions if you’re unsure, and schedule enough time get there. Make sure know if and where parking is available. Allow plenty of time to park and get to campus. Don’t be late!
During Your Interview
Dress appropriately. Choose a more conservative outfit; modest and non-distracting with a minimum of accessories, make-up, jewelry and perfume. Do not smoke or chew gum.
Plan to arrive several minutes early. The extra time may come in handy if you encounter delays, and arriving early will let you take a few moments to relax and prepare yourself mentally.
Introduce yourself. Greet the interviewers with a handshake, smile and positive attitude.
Remember that the interview is a conversation. Your interviewer wants to know about you. Be yourself and be honest in your answers.
Provide more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Keep your answers as conversational as possible. Try to find specifics that naturally back up your answers.
Be spontaneous. Though you should practice answering some basic questions, answer honestly, naturally and spontaneously in the interview.
Be positive. Highlight the good things from your academic past and put a positive “spin” on your background.
After Your Interview
Send a thank-you note or thank-you email shortly after the interview. Showing interest and appreciation goes a long way.
Sample Interview Questions
A good interview is not a series of questions that you answer, but rather a conversation that allows your interviewer to get to know you personally. Often interviewers start with a few prepared questions to get the conversation rolling. Below are common topics and specific questions that schools might use to kick off a discussion. The list is by no means exhaustive; it is simply a guide to give you a sense for the types of questions that might come up in an interview.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are you most interested in?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What will you miss most/least about high school?
- What are your strengths?
- What’s an area you would like to improve on?
- Have you ever had a difficult decision to make? How did you handle it?
- What books have you read for pleasure recently? Do you have a favorite book?
- Are there things, not in your application, that you would like the admissions committee to know about you?
- What is your favorite subject/class? Why?
- What subjects don’t you like? Why?
- What courses have been most challenging for you? How did you manage them?
- Do you know what you want to study in college? Why?
- What courses did you take in your junior year? What are you taking senior year?
- Do you feel your transcript is an accurate gauge of your abilities and potential?
- Are there any outside circumstances that have interfered with your academic performance?
- What are your favorite activities/sports? Why?
- What do you enjoy doing outside of the classroom?
- What do you think you will get involved in at college? Are there activities you want to continue or new things you want to try?
- What do you do in the summer?
- What is the most significant contribution you have made to your school/community?
- How do you balance your academic life and extra-curricular life? Is this hard to do?
College/College Search Process
- What are you looking for in a college?
- Why do you want to come to this college?
- How is your college search going?
- What do you hope to accomplish in the next four years?
- What are you most looking forward to in college?
I'm an Athlete, what do I need to do?
Any student who is considering playing Division 1 or 2 sports in college must meet certain NCAA requirements in order to be eligible to compete. Students must pass a minimum number of core courses during their high school career, and must meet minimum GPA and SAT eligibility requirements. Detailed information on these requirements is available on the NCAA Eligibility website, but you can view the NCAA Quick Reference Sheet as a helpful starting point.
IF you plan to play a Division 1 or 2 sport in college the first step for students is to create an account on the NCAA Eligibility Center website. This should be completed by the end of a student’s junior year if possible. When you create your account, make sure to indicate that you need a fee waiver. Once you have dome so, e-mail your counselor. She will then verify that you are fee waiver eligible and send your transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center. If you have any questions about registering, schedule an appointment with your counselor, and you can complete the registration process with her.
The NCAA also requires SAT or ACT scores as part of the Eligibility process. Students can request those scores from the College Board or ACT website, with the NCAA Eligibility Center as the recipient. Use the NCAA Eligibility Center Code 9999 to send your scores.
Once students graduate, the School Counseling Office will automatically submit a final transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center for any student who has registered with the NCAA. No official request is required for final transcripts, as the school counselors are able to run a report identifying all graduating seniors who have registered with the NCAA.