Class of 2013
A Guide to College Admissions: The College Selection Process Assessing, Investigating, Applying and Deciding
Loyola Blakefield College Counseling Department Phone and Email List Mrs. Kathryn (Kathy) Mathias, Director 443-841-3246 firstname.lastname@example.org Mrs. Laurie Thompson, Assistant Director 443-841-3292 lthompson@ loyolablakefield.org Mr. Stephan Breit, College Counselor 443-841-3462 sbreit@ loyolablakefield.org Ms. Michelle Schaekel, College Counselor 443-841-3414 mschaekel@ loyolablakefield.org Mr. Bob Wright, College Counselor, Teacher 443-841-3570 email@example.com Mrs. Yvette Jenkins, Assistant 443-841-3510 yjenkins@ loyolablakefield.org
COLLEGE COUNSELING CHECKLIST BY SPRING OF JUNIOR YEAR By March, take or register for SAT and ACT (if appropriate) at least once Register for SAT Subject Tests (if required by your prospective colleges) Schedule a meeting with your college counselor (and show up!) Attend the JESUIT College Fair (March 5th @ 6:30 PM in Fr. George Lounge) Attend the AIMS College Fair (April 26th @ Crowne Plaza Hotel, Timonium) Compile a list of schools (set parameters: size, location, major, sports, etc.) Visit colleges (use winter and spring breaks) Register for a challenging senior schedule (talk to your counselor) Register on the NCAA website if appropriate (Division I and II athletics) Plan a productive summer (internships, Christian service, summer seminars, employment and courses) Have two teachers sign your Teacher Recommendation Request Form
DURING THE SUMMER BETWEEN JUNIOR AND SENIOR YEARS Continue to visit colleges Complete Christian Service hours if possible Adjust your college list and its parameters Prepare for SAT if needed Register with the Common Application and begin working on general information and the essay (www.commonapp.org)
IN SENIOR YEAR
Return to school with final college list (6-8 schools) KNOW YOUR COLLEGE DEADLINES! (Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), Priority, Regular Decision) Submit transcript requests through Naviance four weeks prior to the college application deadline Register for October or November SAT or ACT. Register for the SAT Subject Tests if required by any of your prospective colleges Schedule meeting with your college counselor Have your score reports sent directly from the College Board or ACT to the colleges to which you are applying (the colleges will not accept the scores from Loyola Blakefield) Complete a CSS/ Financial Aid Profile if the private college you are applying to requires it (www.collegeboard.com) Submit the FAFSA form as soon after January 1 as possible (www.fafsa.ed.gov) Notify College Counselor’s office of each college’s decision Submit copies of any scholarship offers to the College Counseling office to be included in the Graduation supplement - we do not publish the monetary amount Make your final decision. You may deposit at only one college Write to all other schools into which you were accepted, thanking them and letting them know of your plans Notify the College Counseling office as to where to send your final transcript Send thank you notes to teachers who have written recommendations. Let these teachers know of your final decision
A Guide to College Admissions: The College Selection Process Assessing, Investigating, Applying and Deciding
Table of Contents ASSESSING: “WHO AM I?” The High School Transcript…………………………………………….1 National Standardized Test Scores…………………………………......2 Achievements, Activities, Work Experience…………………………...5 The Counselor’s Recommendation... …………………………………..5 Know Yourself………………………………........................................5 Other Things to Consider………………………………………………6
INVESTIGATING THE COLLEGES Information Resources about Colleges ………..……………………...7 Your College List…………………………...…………………………9 Visiting Colleges………………………………………………………9 College Representative Visits…………………………………………10
APPLYING The Final List……………………………………………………….....11 Cost Considerations……….…………………………………………..12 Deadlines……………………………………………………………....12 Types of Applications..………………………………….…………......13 Application Procedures………………………………………………..14 Criteria for College Decisions………………………………………….15
DECIDING Some Questions…………………………………………………………….17
RESOURCES Financial Aid - Financing a College Education……..…………….....18 Special Considerations: The Student Athlete………………………...21 Special Considerations: Candidates for the Service Academies……..26 SAT/ACT Program Dates……………………………………………28 Writing an Effective College Application Essay…………………….29 The College Interview……………………………………………….30
ASSESSING CREDENTIALS AND PERSONAL QUALITIES: “WHO AM I?” (Starts in the spring of your junior year or earlier - continues through the summer) The application process begins when you assess the credentials that you will present to prospective colleges. These credentials include: • • • •
The transcript (the single most important credential) National standardized test scores (SAT and ACT) Achievements, activities and work experience Recommendations from teachers and counselors
In order to choose a school that is a match for you, you must also take a look at your: • • •
Personality Prospective college major and career Personal interests
The High School Transcript The most important factor in college admission is your academic record, called a transcript. Loyola’s transcript covers from freshman year onward and includes only semester and final grades, and a grade point average. Interim, quarter and exam grades are calculated but not reported on your transcript. Each college requires that a prospective candidate complete a set of minimum high school credits, and these are spelled out in detail on college websites as well as in catalogues and guidebooks.
In reviewing a transcript, colleges evaluate two things: your Grade Point Average (GPA) and the rigor of your program of study. Advanced Placement and honors courses, pursuit of a foreign language beyond the required three years, and challenging electives are used to determine how you are likely to perform in an academic environment. Colleges regarded as the most highly selective have rigorous academic requirements. If you intend to apply to one of those schools, you should review carefully whether your program of study satisfies those requirements. A college admissions officer will have questions about a poor grade if it appears on the transcript. You should let your counselor know whether extenuating circumstances explain poor academic performance. It is also important to let your counselor know the reasons for shifting from honors to standard or the reverse.
National Standardized Test Scores The SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests are part of what colleges consider in making decisions. The PSAT provides an estimate of your expected SAT score range and the PLAN, taken in your sophomore year, is an estimate of your expected ACT score range. The PSAT is also a starting point for deciding whether practice of some sort might help to improve your test scores. In addition, if your scores as a junior were in the highest percentile, you may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Notification will come directly from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. All juniors and sophomores take the PSAT in October. Scores are reported usually before Christmas. â€˘
The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test): Loyola recommends that you take the SAT for the first time in the winter or early spring of your junior year. Your PSAT and first SAT scores can provide a basis for deciding whether test prep work in the spring and summer might help to improve your test performance. The SAT measures critical reading and mathematical reasoning, language usage and writing. Each of the three areas has a total possible point score of 800 and is reported as part of the top score of 2400. You have the opportunity on the day of the test to send the results to four colleges at no additional cost. Since colleges accept the best score regardless of the year in which the score was obtained, there is no disadvantage to sending a first set of scores. Your scores may improve on the second attempt at the SAT, and it is advisable to send the four college score reports for the second SAT. A college admissions officer compares your national test scores to your transcript to determine whether you are working to your potential. Many colleges consider a student with excellent test scores and poor grades a 2
greater risk than the student whose grades are significantly beyond what his scores would predict. A low-achieving student should assess what he can do to compensate for poor academic performance. Most of the time this involves the hard work necessary to improve grades. •
The ACT (American College Test): The ACT can be taken as well in the spring of junior year and fall of your senior year. Some students score better on the ACT test, so you should discuss the best option for you with your counselor. The ACT consists of four 35-60 minute tests in academic areas of English, mathematics, social studies, reading, and science reasoning. Students receive four separate scores plus a composite score. Each score represents the accurate portion of the section out of 36. There is an optional writing assessment which may be required by certain colleges.
SAT Subject Tests: These one hour tests measure the knowledge and ability to apply knowledge in specific subject areas. Not all students will be required to take the SAT Subject Tests. Some highly selective four year colleges require three SAT subject tests. If the colleges to which you are applying require SAT Subject Tests, the best time to take them is upon completion of a particular course (spring of your junior year or fall of your senior year). The SAT subject tests are usually offered on the same days as the SAT, however, there are exceptions. Students may register for up to three tests on one date. Subject tests offered include American History, European History, Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Math, Physics, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.
AP (Advanced Placement) Tests: Advanced Placement tests are high school examinations based on college level courses taken in high school. AP exams are administered by the College Board once a year in May. The scores are primarily used for college placement, college credit or advanced standing. The most highly selective colleges may also consider AP scores as part of the admission process.
Preparation Courses: Should I enroll in a special prep course for the SAT or ACT? In order to make an informed decision here is some information for you: 1. Research indicates that long term preparation may help some students (long term in this statement means several months). Most prep courses begin six weeks before the test. 2. For the prep course to be helpful, you must be willing to do several hours of work outside the classroom. Effective preparation will be time consuming. 3. Most prep courses are rather expensive. 4. If the work required in the prep course takes time away from your regular classroom work, then the good results on the standardized tests may be offset by lower grades in the classroom. Before making the decision to take a special course, it is advisable to use all of the assistance provided by the testing service. Carefully review the results of the PSAT test taken in October of your junior year. When you 3
take the SAT for the first time, consider taking advantage of the Question and Answer Service. This service will allow you to compare results of your PSAT and SAT. If you experience errors in the same parts of each test, you will know that this is an area where you need to do some extra work. There are a number of self-help publications in the library and the local bookstores. There are also resources available on the internet and on CD. Finally, talk with your counselor and seek his/her advice. •
Reporting Your Scores – Students must send scores directly to colleges through the testing company. Loyola Blakefield does not send test scores and most colleges would not accept them from us. Four score report requests are included with your registration. Additional score requests will incur a cost. All scores are reported to the colleges and the colleges have the option of taking your best scores from all the tests.
Helpful Codes: The CEEB SAT/ACT high school code for Loyola Blakefield is 211-030. SAT and ACT college codes are included in the registration packets, online and in Family Connection.
SAT/ACT Score Comparisons SAT (CR + Math) 1600 1560-1590 1510-1550 1460-1500 1410-1450 1360-1400 1320-1350 1280-1310 1240-1270 1210-1230 1170-1200 1130-1160 1090-1120
ACT 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24
SAT (CR + Math) 1060-1080 1020-1050 980-1010 940-970 900-930 860-890 810-850 760-800 710-750 660-700 590-650 520-580 500-510
ACT 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11
Achievements, Activities and Work Experience Colleges work to enroll a freshman class of interesting people. Recently, colleges have been telling high school counselors that they are looking for students with “commitment” and “passion,” not those who list a string of activities. You should let colleges know who you are, what you have achieved, and what you have learned outside of the classroom. There are several ways to do this. Sometimes, activities and significant work experience are communicated through an essay, which the college may require. In other cases, the recommendations of your counselor, teacher or coach will communicate your strengths. Some applications provide a space for listing activities. You should take inventory and communicate to your counselor what your significant activities are. Leadership roles, special achievements and awards, work experience, and notable performances are items in this inventory. Summer experiences, which demonstrate your commitment and passion, can be helpful.
The Counselor and Teacher Recommendation Your college counselor will write your official school recommendation. In addition, you will have to decide which of your teachers you will ask to write additional recommendations, if they are required. More information about teacher recommendations is available in the “APPLYING” section.
Know Yourself The goal of the college search is to find a good fit, one that is a challenging environment for the next four years. “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” These are difficult questions, and the answers will change over time. However, the answers are part of what it takes to move on to the next step, “Where will I apply?”
Other Things to Consider •
Will I do better at home or away? If away, how far and in what direction?
Do I want a city, suburban or rural campus?
Do I want a large school, or will a small one suit me better?
Do I want a school with a strong religious affiliation?
Am I a self-starter, or do I need a prod to get me started - to study or to socialize?
What kind of people do I need and want around me?
How much challenge do I need and want?
What are two or three potential career paths?
What majors, programs, sports, and activities most interest me?
How much help do I need academically?
Do I have special academic needs and/or special limitations of any sort?
INVESTIGATING THE COLLEGES (You will begin your college search in the spring of your junior year or earlier and continue through the summer and fall) The goal of your college search is to produce a reasonable list of colleges. You will decide which schools you will apply to from this list. Your college counselor makes suggestions and provides information about types of colleges, but does not provide you with lists of colleges to investigate. It is important that you research schools and visit them in order to see whether they offer the programs, the environment and the opportunities that you desire. Your counselors will assist you throughout the year with every step of the process, but putting together a final college list with an appropriate number and variety of schools is your responsibility.
Information Resources about Colleges People, books, college fairs, and the Internet are the places to begin. •
People as a Resource: Parents, friends and acquaintances may be able to make suggestions about a potential college, based on their own experience and the colleges with which they are familiar.
Some Useful Books: Loyola’s counselors have several different types of college guidebooks that are helpful: The College Handbook (CEEB) The College Finder Barron’s Profile of American Colleges Peterson’s Four Year Colleges Rugg’s Recommendation on the Colleges Index to Majors and Graduate Degrees (CEEB) Colleges That Change Lives
All of these books are available in the Loyola library and in public libraries and can be purchased at most bookstores. In addition, the Loyola counseling office keeps and updates a collection of specific college catalogues which are available for your use. The College Handbook contains a wealth of information, including the type and size of the school, admission parameters, percentage of students admitted, the type of financial aid offered, and the percentage of students who receive it. •
College Fairs: A college fair is an opportunity to meet college representatives and obtain information about a range of schools. In March, Loyola will host a fair of Jesuit colleges and universities from across the country. The Association of Independent Maryland Schools holds another college fair for over 100 participating colleges and universities. Consult the College Counseling office for dates, times and locations.
The Website: On the Loyola website (www.loyolablakefield.org), the College Counseling page contains links to sites with assorted general information about colleges, search sites and financial aid information. This is a good place to start the college investigation. If you do not have access to the Internet at home, Loyola has computers available for student use during free periods.
Naviance Succeed: (http://succeed.naviance.com/lbhs) Family Connection enables our counseling office to offer a website that you can use to help in making decisions about colleges and to facilitate the college application process. We use Naviance in our office to track and analyze data about college plans, so it provides up-to-date information that’s specific to our school. Naviance Family Connection will help you to: Keep track of the process – Manage timelines and deadlines for making decisions about college and careers Research colleges – Compare your GPA and SAT scores to those of Loyola students who have applied to the colleges on your list in the past Sign up for college visits – Find out which colleges are visiting our school and sign up to attend those sessions Find contact information and links to the college websites Request transcripts and supporting materials to be sent to the colleges to which you are applying You were provided with a personal access code and instructions for accessing Naviance’s Family Connection in your sophomore year. See your counselor if you no longer have the information or need to have it reset.
Your College List As you begin to make a general list of schools that interest you, try to keep three categories in mind. Your final list should have schools that fall within these three categories: • • •
“Likely”- Likely schools are those schools you are interested in and for which you meet and/or surpass most of their entrance criteria. “Middle Ground” – Schools where you should have a fairly good chance of being admitted and are places where you would be happy. “Reach” – Schools at which the competition is very high but where you would love to attend. As long as you have applied to some other less competitive schools, you can safely take a chance on a very competitive one.
All of the schools on your list should be places where you would be comfortable and where you could study subjects that appeal to your interests. It is a good idea to start with a large, general list of schools and begin to narrow your choices as you find out more information. You are free to apply to as many schools as you wish. However, application fees add up. They generally run between $40 and $70. Also, too many choices can create confusion. We suggest that six schools is a reasonable number to shoot for, allowing for two likely schools, two middle ground schools and two reach schools.
Visiting Colleges Visiting a college when school is in session is one of the best ways to determine if the school is a good match. Visiting can also help you figure out whether certain types of schools are a good match. For instance, do you feel more comfortable at a small school or a large one? Seeing the classrooms, library, laboratories, and athletic facilities, talking to students, sitting in on classes, seeing the dormitories, and getting a general feeling for the school is invaluable. Most students and their families visit colleges during the summer before senior year. While most schools are not in session then, admissions offices usually have information sessions and student-led tours. Many colleges take into consideration the level of interest that an applicant has demonstrated, and making a visit or meeting with the college representative who visits Loyola demonstrates student interest. If a school is within driving distance, and if it is one in which you are very interested, it is to your advantage to visit the school. (See College Application Resources section for Interview Guidelines) 9
Unofficial Transcript: Though not usually required, Loyola will provide, upon request, an unofficial transcript to you when you visit a college, so that you can provide the college with an idea of your credentials.
Excused Absences: Seniors and second-semester juniors are excused from school to visit colleges. For an excused absence, you must complete the yellow Permission for College Visitation form (available in Family Connection/Naviance, on the website, and in the College Counseling office) and hand it in to your counselor at least one day in advance of the visit. The Easter vacation is a good time to visit, as many schools are in session.
Some seniors find it necessary to visit colleges in the fall and even the spring of their senior year. Keep in mind that grades in the first semester of your senior year are extremely important, and so it is advisable to limit visits to only those which are essential.
College Representative Visits Every fall, college representatives visit Loyola Blakefield to meet with interested students. Seniors may be excused from class to attend these meetings if they sign up in advance on Family Connection and get permission from their teachers. Seniors are encouraged to check the college visitor schedule posted weekly on the college counseling bulletin board, Loyolaâ€™s website and on Naviance. Juniors may attend these sessions if they do not have a scheduled class at the time.
APPLYING (Begins in September of your senior year and continues through Christmas or later)
The Final List In recent years, Loyola Blakefield has sent out the great majority of its transcripts to colleges before the end of the first semester. By September of your senior year, you should be finalizing the list of schools to which you intend to apply. The final list should include about six schools, with a good balance of likely, middle ground and reach schools. For the colleges to which you intend to apply, create a checklist which answers the following questions: • • • • • • • • • • • •
Where do I get the application (online, paper application, Common Application)? Do I intend to apply under an Early Decision or Early Action program? What is the college’s application deadline? Know Loyola Blakefield’s transcript request deadline is four weeks prior to the college application deadline. Does the college require SAT or ACT, or is the college “test optional”? Does the college require SAT Subject Tests for admission? In which subjects? Does the college require SAT Subject Tests for placement if accepted? For which subjects? Is an essay required? Recommended? What is the topic? Is an interview required? Recommended? Are teacher recommendations required? From which teachers? What are the notification date and the reply date? Is the school a reach, middle ground, or likely?
Cost Considerations For your parents, cost is an important consideration. If it is an issue, your final list might include schools which offer possible financial aid and scholarship opportunities, as well as schools with affordable tuition, expenses, fees, and room and board. However, during the initial stage of your college search, you should not rule out any college solely based on cost.
Deadlines Once you are confident that you want to apply to a school, the next step is to visit the college website for information and application guidelines. Make a checklist as suggested above, check the deadline, and apply. College application deadlines are as varied as the schools themselves. Many schools have special programs including Early Decision (E.D.), Early Action (E.A.), Early Action Single Choice, priority deadlines and rolling admission. â€˘
Early Decision (E.D.): A binding agreement in which you pledge that if accepted, you will withdraw all applications to other schools and will attend. You should apply E.D. only after you have done a thorough job of investigating a school and are certain that the particular school is your first choice. Early Decision commitments require the signatures of student, parent and often the counselor. The E.D. applicant pool is often more competitive than in regular decision. Certain schools do reject candidates as well as defer them to the regular process. It may be an advantage to apply under this program, provided you are an appropriate candidate, certain of your desire to attend, and either have the ability to pay the tuition or are willing to accept the financial aid package offered. Students who are considering this option should meet with their counselor as soon as school begins. Generally, E.D. deadlines fall in November with a December notification date.
Early Action (E.A.): Early Action allows a student to apply and be notified early without having to commit to the school until the regular deadline, usually May 1. There is no real risk to participating in Early Action provided the student is an appropriate candidate.
Early Action Single Choice: In this system, the student is not bound to attend if accepted, however he may only apply to one school early.
Priority Deadlines: If a student’s application meets the priority deadline, he will be given priority in admission. If a college offers a priority deadline, you are advised to take advantage of that opportunity.
Rolling Admissions: This usually means that the college will make its decision once all materials have been received and in the order in which those applications are received, until the class has been filled. It would be in your best interest to apply as soon as possible. Colleges that have specific deadline dates, but who provide “continuous notification,” should be treated the same as “rolling admission.”
Types of Applications There are several ways of submitting the actual application: the Common Application, online, or through a paper application. •
The Common Application: Some schools require their own individual application, and others use what is called the Common Application. The Common Application allows students to fill out one application for all participating schools. It may be completed either in hard copy form (with copies accepted) or online (www.commonapp.org). Many colleges that accept the Common Application also require supplemental forms, which can be obtained and completed on the Common Application website. This is a very convenient way to apply if many of your colleges are members of the Common Application. It is also the preferred method of the College Counseling office as it is integrated into the Naviance system. As a result, it is very important to notify the college counseling office if you apply to a Common Application college and do NOT use the Common Application.
Online Application: Most schools are accepting applications online and many prefer it. This is an efficient way to apply. Be careful, though, that you have proofread everything before hitting the send button.
Paper Applications: Students can request individual applications from the colleges in writing, by phone, or by e-mail.
Application Procedures It is your responsibility to do the following: 1. Ask teachers if they would be willing to write letters of recommendation 2. Request your transcripts to be sent to your colleges through Naviance - All transcript requests are to be made by the student in Naviance Family Connection. ** Be aware that Loyola Blakefield’s deadlines for this request are significantly earlier than the college application deadlines. You must submit these requests four weeks before the college deadline dates in order to give your counselor and teachers adequate time to write your recommendation** In early September, the college counseling staff will meet with the seniors in groups and will instruct them on how to complete this process. Also during this session, the students will complete a FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) agreement authorizing Loyola Blakefield to release all requested records. Upon receipt of the transcript request, the College Counseling office will begin processing and sending the following materials: Individual high school transcript A profile of Loyola Blakefield, which provides information about Loyola’s grading system, the school’s overall performance on Advanced Placement exams, its SAT score range, and statistics on Loyola’s grade point averages, among other items Counselor letter of recommendation Teacher letters of recommendations Loyola’s Secondary School Report *Notification of Missing Items: Colleges make decisions only after they have received all the information they have requested from the student, his high school, his teachers and the SAT or ACT. Loyola processes transcript requests in the order in which they are received within each deadline group. If there are questions concerning whether material has been sent to a college, check in Naviance Family Connection to find out when Loyola sent its materials. If a college has not received test scores, call the test center. Remember, it is your responsibility to have your test scores sent to the college directly from the testing center (College Board or ACT). 3. Write and polish the essay, if one is required and submit it with the application 4. Fill out the student portion of the application, pay the application fee and send it directly to the college 5. Request SAT / ACT to send scores to the college (Loyola does not send these) 14
6. Schedule and attend an interview, if required or recommended
Criteria for College Decisions Colleges make decisions based on some or all of the following factors: •
High School Transcript: This document contains the academic record of the student. Included are the courses taken, final grades, cumulative GPA and work in progress (senior classes).
College Admissions Tests (The SAT and the ACT): You can register for the tests either online (www.collegeboard.com) (www.actstudent.org) or by submitting a hard copy application. Each time you take the SAT you may list the colleges to which you want your scores sent. You may request the College Board or ACT to send your scores to a college at any time for an additional fee. Whenever you request scores to be sent, all previous scores will be included unless you choose the “Score Choice” option. This option allows students to select scores by test dates and choose subject test scores by individual test. Most colleges accept the ACT, and some students take it in addition to or in place of the SAT. Best Scores: You may take the SAT as many times as you wish, and nearly all colleges accept the best critical reading, the best math and best writing score, regardless of when the score was obtained. Often, your scores will not change significantly after a third attempt.
Essays: Just as the format, requirements, and deadlines differ in each application, so will the college essay. Some colleges don’t require an essay. Carefully read the essay instructions for the length and topic for each college. Don’t feel you have to write a sophisticated essay on some topic of national interest. Chances are if you pick a topic which gives the reader some insights into you as a person, you will have impressed the reader far more effectively. You are encouraged to discuss the essay with your college counselor. (See the College Application Resources section for Essay Guidelines)
Interviews: Not all colleges require interviews. If an interview is optional, talk to your counselor to see if it would be to your advantage. (See the College Application Resources section for Interview Guidelines)
Activities: As you list your activities, keep in mind that the quality rather than quantity is most important to an admission staff. A genuine interest or 15
hobby that has been pursued over a few years is much more impressive than a long list of activities of questionable content. •
Teacher Recommendations: In addition to the official school recommendation, which the college counselor writes, many colleges require teacher recommendations. You must decide which of your teachers you will ask to write these recommendations. Teachers who have taught you the longest and know you well are the best ones to consider asking. A teacher in whose class you have struggled might be able to address your determination and desire to overcome obstacles. This could be a strong recommendation. If you are uncertain about whom to ask, talk to your counselor. After the teacher has agreed to write your letter, you should have them sign the Teacher Recommendation Request Form and provide him or her with a summary of your credentials and activities, and any other information that will refresh the teacher’s mind about you. This process will be completed in the spring of your junior year. Teachers send their recommendations to Loyola Blakefield’s College Counseling office where they will be stored in Naviance and sent on to the colleges to which you apply. Don’t forget to thank your teachers
DECIDING (Starts in the winter of your senior year - ends in May) The decision about which college to attend is first and foremost a decision about education and future. The two most important questions to answer are: • •
Of my college possibilities, which will provide the best preparation for life? Where will I be happy?
Here are some additional questions which may help you with your decision: • • • • • •
Does the school have all of the potential majors I have been thinking about? Which school will provide solid preparation for graduate school if I choose to attend? Are the academic opportunities ones suited to me and ones I will enjoy? At which college will the level of competition push me to stretch, but not strain? At which college did I find the atmosphere most conducive to study? Is the school affordable?
In terms of environment, consider these: • • • •
Which college provides both the structure and the freedom I need? Which school has the extracurricular activities to supplement my academic program? Am I comfortable with the kind of people I find at the college? Which school will be more likely to push me to broaden my interests?
Once the decision is made, a second process starts. For you, it is the start of a transformation – from Don to alumnus and on to a new alma mater. For your parents, it is the beginning of the process of letting go, of saying goodbye to one relationship, and saying hello to a new one.
GOOD LUCK! 17
Financial Aid Each College sets specific guidelines for the type of aid it offers, the basis for awarding financial aid, the application procedures, and deadlines. This information is available from their Admissions Office, Financial Aid Office, the school’s website or their catalogue. The following are general guidelines only. Merit-Based Aid is awarded for academic, artistic and athletic excellence. Merit-based aid has been granted for service and leadership as well. Need-Based Aid is based solely on the financial circumstances of the family. Most colleges that have need-based aid provide an online Net Price Calculator. This calculator will give the family an estimate of their financial contribution.
Forms of Aid Available • • •
Scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit Grants may be merit-based or based on need Work-study aid and loans (either private, educational or government loans) are generally need-based
Financial Aid Application Procedures – Forms, Dates and Deadlines •
The FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid is required by every college in the country. The application form is available online (www.fafsa.ed.gov) and in hard copy form. It should be completed as soon as possible after January 1st of a student’s senior year based on the previous year’s tax information. Most colleges have deadlines between February 1st and March 1st for filing this form, however, the sooner the better since related aid and scholarships will have earlier deadlines. The CSS Profile – Many private colleges require the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA for awarding non-federal student aid funds. The Profile form is available in the fall from the College Counseling office or online at www.collegeboard.com and should be filed as soon as it is received. The Profile asks for personal financial information about earnings and assets, and is used to award aid. Specific College Financial Aid Applications – Each college may require its own individual financial aid form. 18
Other Programs for Financing a College Education: Appointment to a military academy, ROTC programs, National Guard funds, AmeriCorps, and private scholarships are available to qualified candidates. The College Counseling office posts information regarding financial aid on Naviance Family Connection.
Additional Sources of Financial Aid Information (Need and Merit based) • • • • • • • •
Religious Organizations Club Memberships Civic Organizations College-Sponsored Aid Programs National Merit Scholarship Program Parent/Student Employers Veteran Organizations Insurance Companies
Helpful References www.collegesavings.org www.fastweb.com www.wiredscholar.com www.fafsa.ed.gov Federal Student Aid Information Center – 1-800-4-FED-AID
Financial Aid Checklist Use this checklist to plan what you need to do to apply for and receive financial aid. Many of the items listed have a deadline date. October – December ♦
Request financial aid information and the school’s financial aid application from each school you are planning to apply. Include in your request, information regarding any institutional grants and scholarships that are not needbased.
Obtain from your high school guidance office or your state scholarship organization information regarding all state financial aid programs for postsecondary education and any required applications.
Investigate private sources of financial aid for college. Check the high school guidance office, local libraries, local business and civic organizations, and parents’ employers. Check useful free resources over the Internet, such as: o College Board’s Scholarship Search at: www.collegeboard.com/paying o FastWeb Scholarship Search at: www.fastweb.com o Scholarship Resource Network Express at: www.srnexpress.com
If you are interested in filing your financial aid application electronically, you and a parent should obtain Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) from the U.S. Department of Education at www.pin.ed.gov. Your parents should have their own, separate from yours.
January – April ♦
File your FAFSA on or as soon as possible after January 1st. If you are filing a paper FAFSA, obtain the form from your high school counselor, public library, or from the school you plan to attend. If you are filing electronically through the Internet, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Complete and submit before the deadline all institutional financial aid applications (which may include the CSS PROFILE) for any schools to which you plan to apply.
Apply for state financial aid before the application deadline.
Promptly respond to any school requests for additional information or documents, such as copies of tax forms.
Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) for accuracy. If you submitted an on-line FAFSA or included your email address with your paper FAFSA, this will come to you electronically. Make any necessary corrections and resubmit the application.
Review your financial aid award letter, making sure you understand what each component is and what you must do to maintain it. Promptly return your signed award letter if your school requires your signed acceptance of the aid awarded to you. Contact the financial aid office if you have any questions about the award.
May – July ♦
Notify the financial aid office of any outside scholarship, grant, or other types of student aid you have received or plan to receive.
Complete the promissory note for any loan you have been offered and wish to accept. Before you sign the promissory note, make sure you read and understand all of your rights and responsibilities. Return the completed note to the financial aid office.
If you have been awarded Work-Study assistance, find out how students are placed in positions and what positions are available, including a description of job responsibilities and wages.
ATHLETICS AND THE COLLEGE SEARCH For some students, athletics may play a role in the college decision-making process. However, the notion that inexhaustible funds are available to recruited athletes for a “free ride” is a myth. All colleges are limited to the number of scholarships they can offer. While scholarship money is available to students with exceptional athletic ability, it is important to consider the educational opportunities of a college along with its athletic programs. It is also important to be aware of the wide range of collegiate athletic opportunities and the scope of involvement expected.
Collegiate Associations – NCAA and NAIA
What are they? • The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the major governing body of collegiate athletics. The NCAA is broken down into three distinct groups – Division One (I), Division Two (II), and Division Three (III). •
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is another governing body of collegiate athletics, independent of the NCAA. This is a smaller body that has two distinct divisions: Division One and Division Two.
Scholarships • For NCAA institutions, Division I and II schools can offer athletic scholarships. Division III and certain athletic conferences (such as the Patriot League and Ivy League) may not offer scholarships. The number of scholarships is limited by the NCAA and the finances of the school. Revenue producing sports, such as football and basketball, are considered headcount sports, meaning a full scholarship may be offered to each individual on that team (typically a maximum of 85 for football and 13 for basketball). Additionally, Division I football is broken down into two separate groups: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) – formerly known as Division I-A and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) - formerly known as Division I-AA. FBS schools have minimum attendance requirements and minimum permanent seat requirements in their stadium. 21
FCS schools have no minimum attendance requirements. They are also limited in the number of scholarships they can offer. For all other sports, scholarships are generally split many ways over the entire team (please see Typical Scholarship Numbers per Sport). •
Eligibility • In order to compete at an NCAA Division I or Division II school, a student must meet the Academic Eligibility Requirements set forth by the NCAA and its governing body, the NCAA Eligibility Center. To be academically eligible, a student-athlete must meet the standards of required core courses (our students always do based on Loyola’s graduation requirements) and sliding scale of GPA and SAT/ACT scores established by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Academic eligibility rules apply to D-I and D-II only. If a student is planning to compete at the DIII level, the NCAA Eligibility Center and Initial-Eligibility requirements do not apply. Recruited Athletes: Athletes wishing to make an official visit to a college need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center online (see web address below) and provide the college with a copy of the high school transcript (D-I only) and SAT or ACT score. The NCAA Eligibility Center only determines if the student-athlete is academically eligible to compete at an NCAA school. IT DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION TO ANY COLLEGE •
In the case of NAIA, scholarships, if offered, are at the discretion of each member institution.
The NAIA also has its own academic eligibility requirements: An entering freshman student must be a graduate of an accredited high school or be accepted as a regular student in good standing as defined by the enrolling institution. In addition, an entering freshman student must meet two of the three entry level requirements: 1) A minimum score of 18 on the Enhanced ACT or a combined Critical Reading and Math score of 860 on the SAT 2) An overall high school grade point average of 2.000 or higher on a 4.000 scale 3) Graduate in the upper half of the student's high school graduating class
Registration • If a student is planning to compete at the NCAA D-I or D-II level, he can begin the NCAA Eligibility process by registering online at www.eligibilitycenter.org under the Student-Athletes link in his junior year. If a student is planning to compete for a NAIA institution, he can begin the NAIA Eligibility process by registering online at www.playnaia.org under the Register to Play link in his junior year. •
Upon registration, the NCAA or NAIA will expect to receive a transcript from the student athlete. The request for a transcript can be made on Naviance Family Connection. In keeping with NCAA policies, Loyola will mail official transcripts only to the NCAA Eligibility Center and the college admissions office. Official transcripts can be mailed to coaches or recruiters upon request of the student athlete. Loyola is 22
willing to mail unofficial transcripts to coaches or recruiters with the permission of the student athlete. •
Have your official SAT/ACT scores sent to the NCAA. They must be sent directly from the College Board or the ACT organization. The NCAA will not accept test scores from the high school.
You can learn more about the NCAA at www.ncaa.org and the NCAA Eligibility Center at www.eligibilitycenter.org. You can learn more about the NAIA at www.naia.org or www.naia.cstv.com
Choosing the Right College and Athletic Program It is important to understand certain aspects of college athletics.
Recruiting on behalf of colleges differs between Division I, Division II, and Division III and NAIA schools and between each school’s respective sports.
The NCAA has specific rules pertaining to each sport regarding contact with a prospective student-athlete. Examples are: the number of phone calls and text messages allowed, official visits, blackout dates – or what is commonly known as dead periods, and signing periods – with regards to National Letters of Intent.
Details are available at the NCAA and NAIA websites.
NOTE: It is important to understand that official notification of acceptance comes from the admissions office. While a college coach may be able to give a very good estimation of the probability of admission, the official acceptance comes from the admissions office.
Participation The expectation of commitment and time a student-athlete is willing to give to a sport is an important factor when determining the right college and athletic program. •
For the most part, how much time a student-athlete is expected to put in will depend upon the school’s philosophy and the coach’s mind-set. It is important to understand these expectations both during the season, as well as out of season.
A student-athlete must take into account how the rigor of schedule and travel will affect his overall college experience.
Generally, NCAA Division I athletics take up the most time and are the most labor intensive. 23
Discernment With all of this information in hand, how does a student-athlete (and his parents) find that “right fit?” There are several questions to consider: 1. Do I like the school? A student-athlete should choose a school, not just the team or the coach. For example, if an athlete is injured on the first day of practice, will he like the school enough to stay? Do not be dazzled by an exciting program or dynamic coach. Do be dazzled by the school’s exciting academic programs and dynamic majors. Most likely, that is the direction you will be headed after graduation. 2. Can I afford the school without an athletic scholarship? 3. Can I afford the school with an athletic scholarship? While a scholarship may cover tuition, room, and board, there are other expenses to take into account – books (if not covered), spending money, transportation, etc. 4. Can I play at this level? Will I make the team? Again, remember, an average of about 6.25 percent of all high school athletes go on to compete in all NCAA sports at all levels. 5. Do I want to play at this level? Consider the time and commitment a studentathlete is expected to put forth. 6. What is the coach like? Will he be there all four years? 7. What are the facilities like? 8. How many upperclassmen are still on the team? 9. How many returning members on the team currently play my projected position? 10. What is the team graduation rate over how many years (4 or 5)? 11. What is the academic support given to athletes? a. What academic assistance is available (i.e. tutors, writing labs, study hall) if I am struggling? b. What concessions or accommodations are made for missed class time due to travel? 12. Does the athletic mission reflect the academic mission of the school? 13. Can I take the semester off to study abroad, if desired?
Typical D-I Athletic Scholarship Numbers per Sport SPORT
MAXIMUM # of SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE
Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A)
Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA)
* = headcount sport • Title IX causes gender balance within each institution and their respective sports. • EXCEPT FOR HEADCOUNT SPORTS, scholarships are generally split many ways over the ENTIRE TEAM. o Example: 12 Full Scholarships can Equal 24 Half Scholarships OR 36 One Third Scholarships OR 48 Quarter Scholarships
Candidates for the Service Academies The United States maintains five service academies. The mission of these academies is to provide education and experience necessary to produce graduates with knowledge, character, and leadership abilities to become career military officers. Military Academy at West Point (ARMY) - West Point, New York United States Air Force Academy - Colorado Springs, Colorado United States Coast Guard Academy - New London, Connecticut United States Naval Academy (Navy and Marines) – Annapolis, Maryland United States Merchant Marine Academy – Kings Point, New York Admission to the United States Service Academies is highly competitive, and the application process is long and involved, with multiple steps. The decision to apply to an Academy should not be made lightly. Generally, because many sought-after attributes and accomplishments are developed over time (time management skills, physical fitness, leadership, academic achievement, motivation and desire to serve) students who developed a desire to attend an Academy before spring of their junior year have the best chance of receiving an appointment. To ensure that all the requirements are completed before the established deadlines, the application process should begin during the spring of the junior year. The student should: • • • • • •
Read about the academies Visit the Academy websites and request information and an application Consider applying to attend Boys State, one of the academy summer programs, and/or other significant summer experiences Begin the application and nomination processes by May of your junior year Show initiative, organization, and motivation by making all contacts yourself. Do not rely on your parents to do so Complete all requirements to meet the stated deadlines
Service Academy Admissions Process All academies require a multi-part application, teacher and counselor recommendations, a medical examination, and a physical fitness test. Nomination by an elected official (U.S. Representative, Senator, or Vice President) is required by all but the Coast Guard Academy. The nomination process requires separate applications to each official and interviews with qualified applicants. 26
1. Determine if you meet the requirements and qualifications. Each candidate must: • Be 17 but not yet 22 • Be a U.S. citizen • Be unmarried with no dependents • Have an above average high school transcript • Have strong scores on the SAT or ACT • Be in good physical health • Have above average strength, endurance and agility 2. Apply for nomination. At a minimum, you should apply to your two U.S. senators, your congressional representative and the Vice President. 3. Start a file at the academy. Send a letter to the admissions office requesting a precandidate questionnaire. The academy will open a file for you upon receipt of the completed questionnaire. 4. Fill out the academy forms. These forms will be sent to you after an evaluation of your pre-candidate questionnaire. 5. Take the SAT or ACT and send your scores to the academies to which you are applying. 6. Pass the medical exam from the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DOD MERB) and the Physical Aptitude Exam (PAE). 7. Receive notification of the evaluation and status of your application. This may arrive as early as November for outstanding candidates. Final decisions are made in April.
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) The ROTC program provides the opportunity to attend a civilian college while studying military leadership as part of the total undergraduate program. ROTC is a college elective which requires about four hours a week. The program is divided into two parts: the basic course and the advanced course. The basic course is normally attended during the first two years of college with no military commitment. Upon completing the basic course, students may enroll in the advanced course, where they will incur a military obligation. Applications are available upon request from college ROTC units or on the following websites: www.armyrotc.com – Army ROTC www.afrotc.com – Air Force ROTC www.nrotc.navy.mil – Navy ROTC
SAT and ACT Program Tests 2011-2012 SAT Test Dates
October 1, 2011 November 5, 2011 December 3, 2011 January 28, 2012 March 10, 2012* May 5, 2012 June 2, 2012
September 9, 2011 October 7, 2011 November 8, 2011 December 30, 2011 February 10, 2012 April 6, 2012 May 8, 2012
September 21, 2011 October 21, 2011 November 20, 2011 January 13, 2012 February 24, 2012 April 20, 2012 May 22, 2012
Given at Loyola Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
*SAT Only(no subject tests) Students can register for SAT Tests online at http://www.collegeboard.org/
ACT Program Tests The ACT Assessment is a testing program designed to assess high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. Some students do better on the SAT or the ACT, and may benefit by taking both types of tests. Most colleges will accept the highest scores from either test. The tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning.
ACT Test Dates
Test Dates September 10, 2011 October 22, 2011 December 10, 2011 February 11, 2012 April 14, 2012 June 9, 2012
Registration Regular August 12, 2011 September 16, 2011 November 4, 2011 January 13, 2012 March 9, 2012 May 4, 2012
Registration Late August 13-26, 2011 Sept. 17 – 30, 2011 November 5-18, 2011 January 14 – 20, 2012 March 10 – 23, 2012 May 5 – 8, 2012
Students may register online at http://www.actstudent.org/ Loyola Blakefield’s High School Code - 211030
WRITING AN EFFECTIVE COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY WHAT TO DO • Be sure you understand the purpose of the essay; consider your audience. • Answer the question and follow the directions regarding the length and format. • Tell a concrete story that reveals something important about you. • Tell it in your own voice. • Write about the specific rather than the general, the concrete rather than the abstract. • Be honest.
WHAT TO AVOID • Don’t try anything silly, cute, or outrageous. • Don’t try to be philosophical or profound. • Don’t try to show off your erudition. • Don’t use your essay to describe all your wonderful accomplishments or to apologize for some shortcoming. •
Don’t exceed the suggested length; for most essays, about five paragraphs should do it. 29
The College Interview College interviews vary in their importance when it comes to gaining admission to a school. Few schools require an interview and some do not even offer the opportunity to applicants. It is important to research each school to learn whether an interview is advised. If you do end up in an interview, here are some things to keep in mind. •
Establish what kind of interview you will be having in advance. When you call the school to arrange the interview, find out the purpose of the interview. Are you being evaluated or is the interview for informational purposes only?
Plan your interviews in advance Contact each school you are interested in and see if they offer interviews before you visit.
Dress Appropriately Neat casual clothing should be acceptable at most schools. Do not wear athletic shorts, flip-flops, gym clothes, t-shirts or ball caps. Take pride in your appearance.
Be aware of your body language Eye contact is important as is a firm handshake. Listen attentively.
DO NOT CHEW GUM, YAWN, SLOUCH, ANSWER YOUR PHONE OR TEXT DURING THE INTERVIEW.
Turn your cell phone off. OFF not vibrate!
Be prepared Research the school before the interview. Using the school’s website or a college guide, familiarize yourself with the following items: testing requirements, general curriculum, grading system, majors, minors and concentrations, current admissions statistics, and financial aid availability and procedures. In addition, practice answering (and asking) sample interview questions (See College Practice Interview) with a friend or family member.
Know yourself The more you know about yourself and what you want out of college, the easier it will be to answer questions. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and explain who you are and why you would be a candidate worthy of admission.
Be yourself Do not try to be someone you are not. Be honest. The person who will show up on campus next fall, if admitted, is the person they want to get to know.
Avoid “yes” or “no” answers These do not provide the interviewer with much insight. Take the time to explain your answers, but be careful not to talk too much either. It is best to stay on topic and make sure you answer the question being asked.
Do not bluff your way through an answer
What if you have a question you cannot answer? Your best way to answer is to be honest. A good response could be, “I do not feel I have enough knowledge to take a position on this issue.”
Relax Do not be afraid to ask questions. Rarely will a poor interview ruin the chances of an otherwise qualified candidate.
How to end the interview Thank your interviewer, shake his or her hand and request contact information.
SEND A THANK YOU NOTE Within 48 hours, send a short message or an email thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. If something impressed you during the interview, you may want to mention this for a personal touch.
College Practice Interview 1. Tell me about yourself. (Focus on three things) 2. Why do you want to attend ___________________? (Background, interests, goals, and how the college/university fits you) 3. Have you had a chance to visit _______________? 4. What have you done to prepare for college? 5. What has been your greatest experience in high school? 6. Tell me about your interests/involvement in extracurricular activities 7. What are your strongest and weakest points? 8. Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of? 9. What do you see yourself doing in the future? What are your career goals? 10. What do you think of __________________________________? (Current events question. If do not have answer, how well handled?) 11. Who has had the greatest influence on your life? 12. What has been the greatest obstacle in your life? 13. What fault would you hope to overcome? (Make it positive. Example: “Working too hard”) 14. What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? 15. If you could be any animal, what would you be? Why? 16. If you could meet any important person in the past or present, who would it be and what would you talk about? 17. Do you have any questions you would like to ask? Thoughtful, Qualitative Questions to Ask During an Interview: • What do students consider to be the biggest pros and cons of your college? • What do students like most and least about the surrounding town? • What draws students to your college? • If you had to generalize, how would you describe your student body? • What do students do on weekends? • What is the housing situation? Do students live off campus? Are there a lot of commuter students? • Can you tell me about “X”, (a major or extracurricular) that I am interested in? 31