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Counselor's Office
The College Application Process

PROCESS:
  1. Obtain application from college and complete all necessary questions.
  2. Petition teacher(s) for recommendations (if necessary).
  3. Students should provide teachers with the college's recommendan form (if applicable).
  4. Allow at least two weeks before the applications deadline to request an Official Transcript packet from the Counseling Office. The Official Transcript packet will contain the following information:
    • Official Transcript with school seal
    • Courses, grades, credits
    • Grade Point Average (unweighted GPA)
    • All admissions testing results reported to Prep Charter (such as SAT, ACT, etc.)
    • Honors and Awards
    • Community Service
  5. The completed Application Packet MUST be seen by a school counselor before the student submits it to the college/university for consideration.

NOTE:
COMPLETING A COLLEGE APPLICATION

The Parts of an Admission Folder
When you apply to college, the college admission office collects a folder of information to consider as it makes a decision about you. There are six main areas of an applicant's folder:
  1. Application - The application includes simple biographical information such as your birthday, family members, and addresses. Frequently you will need to write essays, which are intended to acquaint the admission committee with your experiences, strengths and weaknesses, and writing ability. Check out the section "The Personal Factor" later in this chapter for advice about essays.
  2. Academic Record - Regardless of a college's admission policy, the most important factor in an applicant's folder is the academic record in secondary school. The curriculum, difficulty of specific courses, and the grades received are aspects of the record admission officers consider in appraising a transcript (another term for the academic record). Your record is compared with your classmates' as a means of showing the admission officer the level of competition you have encountered and how well you have achieved relative to the competition.
  3. Activities - Although your academic credentials are the primary factors in determining admission, your record of involvement in activities can be a significant supporting credential. Mere membership is not the important factor; it is rather, the level of involvement and accomplishment that is important. It is better to be involved in one activity and to be a significant contributor to that activity than to be involved superficially in several organizations.
  4. Test Scores - Standardized testing has come under a great deal of scrutiny and criticism in recent years. Many colleges have stated that they are not concerned with applicants' test results; a few have even made submission of test scores optional. However, any college that requires the tests will use the scores in its admission process. How much emphasis is placed on test results depends on the college's policy. As a general rule, the larger the college, the greater the emphasis on pure statistics (test scores and class rank) in determining admission. It is important to remember that test scores are a part of the total applicant profile, and, at most institutions, test scores alone do not exclude a student from admission, nor do scores alone guarantee admission.
  5. Recommendations - You must give your counselors/teachers a minimum of 2 weeks (10 school days) to write your recommendation letters.
    • Counselor Recommendation - The official recommendation or statement prepared by the school for you is also a very important part of the folder, but it is not as critical as your record itself.
    • Teacher Recommendations - These tell the readers of your application about your classroom performance in terms that are not represented by grades. Teachers may comment on the type of contributions you make in class, the written and oral work you have presented, and your potential for studying at a particular college.
  6. The Personal Factor - While it's true that the greatest emphasis is placed on your courses, grades, and, in some cases, your standardized test scores, colleges also want to know about you, the person. What are you like when you're not being a student? How do you spend your free time? Everything you do has some importance . . . sports, clubs, jobs, working on your computer, reading for your own enjoyment, writing prose or poetry, taking photographs, volunteer work, baby-sitting, or anything else that you choose to do. The application usually contains questions that allow you to list or explain your activities, honors, and use of "free time." The application essay, too, gives you a chance to share some valuable insights into who you are and what you consider important. Your uniqueness as an individual does have an impact on the admission decision. If you can offer the college something that sets you apart from the main applicant pool, your admission chances will be enhanced.
  7. The Decision-Making Process in College - When considering how decisions are made and what influences admission decisions, the level of selectivity at the college in question is important. The more applicants a college has for each place in its entering class, the more selective that college can be and is. At the highly selective colleges (more than three applicants for every place in the class), virtually all of the application folders contain outstanding credentials. Consequently, the applicant whose folder contains some weaknesses in relation to the general qualities of other applicants will stand out on the basis of weakness rather than on strength. At such colleges, the "personal factor" often plays a major role in the admission decision. When a college has many more academically qualified applicants than places in the class, the emphasis in admission decisions often shifts to more subjective, personal factors. Activities, leadership experience, special talents, family traditions, or outstanding academic skills (in particular good writing) may make an application stand out above others. Well-written essays, which complement carefully prepared applications, may help your chances for receiving a favorable decision. As the degree of selectivity decreases, the admission criteria generally are geared toward whether or not the student can be successful.
NOTES ON COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS

The essay is an opportunity for the student to "come alive" on the page. (Write from the heart.) Remember that the reader probably reads hundreds of essays a week so make yours stand out! The subject of an essay can be anything of real interest to the student. However, make sure your answer actually answers the question - many students want to write one essay to use for all of their applications and end-up submitting essays that do not answer the question asked of them. This is the quickest way to show the school of your choice that you did not put thought and effort into your essay.

Essay Styles:
  • Autobiographical - Write about yourself. Be reflective and write about an important personal experience such as a meaningful trip, significant personal struggle, or family experience
  • Social/Political - What is your view about what is going on in the world? This should be tied to your interests. An essay on devotion to environmentalism as an abstract idea carries little weight.
  • Intellectual interests - Write about the works of a particular author, research in certain areas, places where the student has outgrown and reached beyond his/her curriculum.
  • Point of View - What do you think about a certain topic? Do not be too controversial, and avoid using "I" over and over.

    Length:
  • More than two thirds of a page, and usually less than four pages to ensure being read carefully. (Stay within the word limits set by the college.)

    Format:
  • Unless the application requests it, do not submit handwritten essays. Presentation is important.
  • Triple check for spelling, grammar and usage. Proofread and have someone read your work.

    For weak writers/poor scorers:
  • Take real care; start in September-October; rewrite frequently.
  • Send one to three extra writing samples: in- and out-of-class work, with teachers' comments.

    Essay evaluation:
    Often as a confirmation of a decision if other credentials are clear. Essay can be a powerful "tipper" in close cases, especially with very strong or very poor essays. Warning: faculty admissions readers pay careful attention to essays. As eventual consumers, they are vociferous complainers about admitting students with dull or error-riddled essays.

    ***Do not send the same essay to every college. If you do duplicate submissions be sure you are not mentioning the name of another college!***


    COLLEGE ADMISSION "APPLICATION CHECKLIST"
    The following list of important steps is intended as a handy checklist for you as you complete college applications. If you file more than one application, you might copy this blank form for completion with each application. Not all items apply to all applicants and all application forms.

    Application checklist for (Institution)

    __________________________________________

    _____ Read the directions thoroughly before filling out any form. Follow the directions carefully.
    _____ Complete all factual information. Print or type neatly. Consult your school counselor with any questions.
    _____ Complete rough draft of essay(s). Refine and proofread.
    _____ Submit requests for recommendations to teachers (when required by colleges).
    Teacher's Name: _________________

    Date given to teacher: ________________

    Teacher's Name: _________________

    Date given to teacher: ________________
    _____ Send application, application fee, and essay (if applicable) to the college prior to the application deadline.
    _____ Submit the counselor recommendation form and transcript request form to your school counselor.
    _____ Submit Application Packet to the School Counseling Office for review and processing. Must be submitted at least two weeks prior to application deadline.

    Counselor _____________________ Date _______________
    _____ Request that standardized test scores be sent to the college. Date __________
    _____ Submit FAFSA Profile and/or other financial aid applications. Date __________
    _____ Visit campus on ___________ and have interview with __________________.


    A SIMPLIFIED TIMETABLE AND CHECKLIST FOR STUDENTS PLANNING ON COLLEGE

    Grade 11 - February to May
  • Meet with school counselor to begin college admission process

    Summer between grades 11 and 12
  • Visit college campuses

    Grade 12 - September to November
  • Send for college catalogs, applications, visit websites and research scholarships. Update activity information with school counselor. Request teacher recommendations and have them turned into your counselor.

    September
  • Check SAT and ACT test dates and registration deadlines.
  • September 10th deadline to register for the October SAT.
  • Look for college fair announcements.
  • Fill out college applications.

    October
  • Continue filling out applications
  • Submit college applications
  • SAT on the 6th
  • October 2nd deadline to register for the November SAT. October 30th deadline to register for the December SAT.

    November
  • National college fair at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Sunday, November 4th
  • Many early decision applications due
  • Submit as many applications as possible by Thanksgiving break.
  • Attend Financial Aid Night with Parents.

    December
  • Have all applications to counselors by December 10th for review.
  • Finish sending out college applications.
  • December 26th deadline to register for the January SAT.

    January
  • All college applications should be completed and submitted.
  • Fill out the FAFSA online.
  • Talk to parents about getting their taxes done early.
  • January 29th deadline to register for the March SAT.

    February
  • Send mid-year grades to colleges that require them.

    April
  • April 15th is the date by which most colleges notify candidates of admittance status. The more competitive colleges usually deliberate longer on candidates' admission, and many of the top schools wait until April 15 before notification letters are sent.

    May
  • Inform all colleges which offered admission as to whether or not you will attend.
  • Send in deposit to hold spot at chosen college.

    June
  • Send final transcript to the college where you are enrolled.



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