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Navigating the College Admissions Process

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1 Navigating the College Admissions Process
Elizabeth Carr (A-K) George Moustakas (L-Z)

2 CB East Guidance Website
Guidance Homepage We will post PowerPoint presentations, videos, updates and useful information to the Guidance Website. There are also links to Naviance, Portal, E-Prep, Resources and Counselor contact information.

3 Common Mistakes Relying on “rankings”
News magazine college rankings are based on data each college submits. The Wall Street Journal found that some colleges exaggerated the data they submit. Rankings are created without input from students. Would you trust a movie rating written by a reviewer who hadn't seen the movie?

4 Relying on “reputation”
Common Mistakes Relying on “reputation” A surprising number of students at prestigious colleges are unhappy because of: Pressure (competition, financial, expectations) big classes professors who care more about research than teaching But my diploma will get me a better job! The main reason that graduates from big name colleges do well is because they were superstars to begin with.

5 Relying on “reputation”
Common Mistakes Relying on “reputation” Students that attend prestigious colleges: Get more leadership opportunities Have professors who want to mentor them Find better internships, Often get much better scholarship offers

6 Common Mistakes Relying only on College Websites or Guidebooks
Colleges have sales and marketing departments. Would you buy a car based on a brochure that showed people like you driving in lovely settings and a smiling salesperson? You must visit and take it in for real

7 What matters? Distance Location (city, rural, small town, college town) Size Atmosphere Educational Expectations Politics Social Order Major Activities/Sports

8 Other Factors to consider…
Entrance Requirements Selectivity Public vs. Private Specialized programs Final Cost and Expenses

9 Resources for the College Search
Naviance (Counselor can re-set password) Internet; see Guidance Website Individual college websites Traditional guidebooks and college brochures Meet with college admissions representatives who visit East each fall (schedule/receive passes on Naviance or in the guidance office). College Fair- March 19, 2014, 6:30p.m. at CB South

10 Naviance Meets all your needs throughout the entire process:
Career Plan Surveys (Graduation Project) Career and College Search Tools Analyze Data- scattergram Visit Websites Application links Scholarship list

11 College Admission Factors
Grades/GPA and rigor of course selection. Standardized test scores (some schools are SAT/ACT Optional – see list at Class rank (CBSD does not provide rank for admissions purposes; only for scholarships that requested the information) Application essay Teacher and Counselor Recommendations Interview Extracurricular Activities Demonstrated Interest Online presence

12 How to Get In… Take the most challenging schedule that you can manage.
Write an essay that shows how you can contribute to the campus and why you are good fit. Get involved, stay involved. Participate in extracurricular activities that make you stand out. Ex. start an after-school business, try to invent something, create a new club.

13 The first thing we look at is academic achievement, how well students do in their high school curriculum. Were interested in students who have taken the most rigorous courses. Are they stretching their minds, looking for academic challenge? Admissions Officer, University of Rhode Island

14 I like to see students who have challenged themselves by taking the extra math or writing courses that are beyond what is required. Admissions Officer, Northwestern University


16 Campus Visits Walk through a busy classroom building or two and peek into classes-the doors are often open. Could you see yourself happy in such classes? Go to the student cafeteria or the main drag. Look at the students and listen in on their conversations. Can you picture yourself fitting in? Never leave a college campus without talking with at least five students that the college's admission office didn't put in front of you. Visit when college is in session. Visiting during other times is like test-driving a car with the engine off.

17 Questions to Ask Students
What do people like best and least about the college? How good are the professors? Is there anything I should know about the college that might not appear in the official brochure? Describe yourself-for example, "I'm kind of studious." Will I fit in at this college?" When students transfer out, what's the main reason? What's the weather like? What do most students do on weeknights? On weekends? Does the college do much to help ensure their graduates get good jobs? Do you think the college is worth the money?

18 Decisions, Decisions Early action is a program for an early application to one college. You are under no obligation to matriculate and may apply to other colleges. If the student is deferred, you may be reconsidered later for admissions. If accepted, the you will not have to reply until May 1st.   Early decision involves the same procedures as early action, but with "early decision" you are honor bound to attend the institution if accepted. Many colleges offer this option.   These applications and supporting documents often must be received early in the Fall, contingent on the college. Notification of acceptance, deferral, or denial will generally be received about December 15. 

19 How many colleges should I apply to?"
Work from a base of 6-8 schools. Be sure that as a family you have discussed financial considerations so that a student can attend a college regardless of financial aid award.

20 True or False? Using the Common Application will hurt my chances of admission. This is completely FALSE. Any school that accepts the common application, does so happily. There's a reason why almost all the highly selective schools accept the Common Application- because it makes no difference to them, and if it's easier for you, great. Also, all East students will need to register on for us to electronically send transcript to Commonapp participating colleges !

21 Don’t Stress Out… Selective schools are not necessarily better than others. Ivy-caliber students who attend other colleges, on average, do as well as those who spent much more money on brand-name colleges. Use the Common Application. You can apply to more than 200 prominent private (and a few public) colleges. Colleges have signed a statement promising that using it will not hurt a student's chances of admission. In fact, Harvard and Johns Hopkins only accept the Common Application. Don't do a new extracurricular activity because you think it will look good on your college application. Focus your spare time on the extracurriculars you really care about.

22 True or False? If my SAT scores are really strong, I'll be admitted to highly selective colleges. While you clearly need to prepare for your standardized exams, it's important to remember that they are NOT college entrance exams. They are simply one piece of the admissions puzzle. The most selective colleges will want to see strong scores, but more importantly, they will want to see that you've taken rigorous courses and done well in them.

23 The SAT The Critical Reading Section
Two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section 48 reading comprehension questions  19 sentence completion questions Scored on a 200 to 800 point scale

24 The SAT The Mathematics Section
Two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section 44 multiple-choice and 10 grid-ins Worth 200 to 800 points Algebra II ? There are only a handful of Algebra II questions on the SAT.  Even if you make a few mistakes, there are so few of them that your score will barely be affected. And by the way, there's no Algebra II on the PSAT.   Trig?  There are some triangle questions on the PSAT and SAT, but you will not have to know trig to solve them.   Calculators?  Calculator use is allowed, but not required.

25 The SAT The Writing Section 49 multiple-choice questions and 1 essay
60 minutes, 25 of which will be spent on the essay Worth 200 to 800 points The Essay  The essay will require students to read an 80-word subject prompt that makes a statement or claim. Students then need to develop a position and back it up with examples from schoolwork, literature, history or their own experience.   The essay doesn't test writing ability, as much as it does other skills, such as organization, idea development, or supporting an argument. In fact, the average essay will be graded in just under 2 minutes.   Identifying Sentence Errors  You'll be presented with a sentence that may or may not have a grammatical or syntactical error in it. You'll be asked to identify the error, or indicate if there is no error. There are 18 "Error ID" questions.   Improving Sentences  Students will be asked to look at a sentence and try to improve it, without changing its meaning. There are 25 Improving Sentence questions.   Improving Paragraphs  These are just like the Improving Sentence questions guessed'll be looking at and improving paragraphs. There are only 6 of these.

26 The SAT Scoring SAT I scores are reported either separately (a perfect score for any section is 800 ) or combined (perfect score = 2400).  It is your responsibility to have your scores forwarded to colleges -- you can do this at the time you take the test or after you receive the results.  Often, the cost of score reporting is included as an option when you register for the SAT.  Registering You may register online on the College Board Web site.  You many also register by mail or by telephone (in certain cases). 

27 Other Tests SAT II: Subject Tests
The SAT II: Subject tests are given to find out how much students know about a particular subject area, like literature, U.S. history, chemistry, or French.   Colleges use SAT II scores as part of an admission process and as a placement tool.  Many schools do not require students to take SAT II subject tests at all.  Check with the admissions office at the colleges you are considering to find out their requirements, or look in the admissions section of their Web sites.  The ACT (American College Test) Another entrance examination used by schools throughout the country in addition to, or instead of, the SAT tests. Although the SAT is more common, many schools use the ACT, so make sure to check with the admissions office before you apply to a college.  While the SAT tests mathematic and verbal skills, the ACT examines students' abilities in English, mathematics, natural sciences, and social studies.  Like the SAT, the ACT is offered several times throughout the year and is typically taken in the spring of the junior year. 

28 Standardized Testing Preparation
(SAT) (ACT) SAT question of the day Free practice tests Familiarize yourself with test content E-Prep- see counselor or librarian if you need password Private SAT/ACT prep through individual and group tutoring Online sites that provide free SAT/ACT practice PSAT- utilize the results to focus your preparation for SAT SAT/ACT prep books

29 Colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT, so which should you take?
SAT vs. ACT Colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT, so which should you take? ACT questions tend to be more straightforward. For example, here are sample questions from the SAT essay and the ACT writing test (their name for the essay): SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value? ACT: In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating? The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary. The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not. It is meant to test your reading and reasoning skills based upon a given set of facts. But if you're a true science-phobe, the SAT might be a better fit. The ACT tests more advanced math concepts. In addition to basic arithmetic, algebra I and II, and geometry, the ACT tests your knowledge of trigonometry, too. That said, the ACT Math section is not necessarily harder, since many students find the questions to be more straightforward than those on the SAT.

30 Advanced Placement (AP) Testing
Check individual college policies on credit awards: Can be used for college credit and course level placement. May help students “place out” of college courses. May allow students to achieve advanced standing. Expensive test, but far less expensive than a college course. Administered first 2 weeks of East during the school day.

31 Essays measure a student's ability to write a good composition
Essays measure a student's ability to write a good composition. Also a student can choose a topic to write about that reveals creativity, personality, and value systems that cant be revealed by grades alone. Admissions Officer, Case Western University

32 The Admissions Essay- The Key:
I don't know what to write about!" Don't waste your time writing about something the college already knows about from your application. How you would contribute to the college? For example, you might explain how you're the type who'd start a study group, are brave enough to ask questions of a professor, think getting drunk is a waste of time, etc. Only choose contributions that you can back up with proof: specific interesting things you've done to improve your high school. That will be the bulk of your essay-telling the examples and especially the stories that prove that you indeed have improved your high school. Conclude your essay with something like, "I hope to take a lot from my college experience, but in my small way, also to contribute to it."

33 Recommendations? Make sure that this is a person who knows you well and will only say positive things about you. Ask for the letter in person In a positive manner, ask a faculty member or other qualified adult if they are willing to write for you. Allow the person days. DO NOT assume the letter will be completed unless you make personal contact with the individual. Say “Thank You.” These letters are hard work!

34 We value leadership, but not everyone is a leader
We value leadership, but not everyone is a leader. We also value contributors, the followers. Contributors demonstrate that they have the ability to follow through, which is a very valuable quality. Also, time management is important. Being able to balance out a busy school schedule and extracurricular activities implies that a student is disciplined and can handle responsibility. Admissions Officer, Case Western University

35 Final thoughts on college admissions….

36 True or False? If I have a really high GPA, I'll be admitted to highly selective colleges. Acceptance rates at Ivy League schools are staggeringly low - ranging from Harvard's acceptance of 9.1% of applicants (1,650 students out of 22,996 applicants) to University of Pennsylvania acceptance of 20% of applicants (2,400 students out of 19,000 applicants).   Princeton rejected 82% of the valedictorians that applied; Brown denied 70%; the other Ivy League Colleges did not supply specific figures, but stated that recorded rank had little, if any, impact on the decision process, and that more than half of valedictorians are routinely denied. 

37 What REALLY Matters? Clarity of a match between student and school is listed as the most important factor now by college admissions officers. The ideal match between students and schools- examining strengths, aspirations, goals and areas for improvement are critical.   Colleges try to "craft the class" and create a group of students who will engage, support, and challenge each other, creating a well-rounded campus community.  Colleges examine every aspect of the student's environment - school, home, community, family, et cetera.  Students' total transcripts are important - how challenging a course load has the student undertaken and what was the level of achievement attained? How challenging is the high school environment in which the student is educated? And what are the student's passions and how do they match the college's needs? 

38 Admission standards aren't designed as barriers, but rather as guidelines to give you a sense of how you compare to others [in our institution] and how competitive you may be [here]. If you do not have the kind of record required, maybe you should look at other institutions that may be a better match for you. This puts you in a better situation to be competitive, to strengthen yourself, and to succeed in college. Admissions Officer, Western Michigan University

39 Insider's guide to admissions from Vanderbilt University

40 Program Planning for 12th Grade
Enter courses in portal January – February . Counselor classroom visits and 1-1 meetings. Make sure you and your student can access portal. Maintain rigor and/or add challenge. Early Release/Late Arrival privileges & provisions.

41 Honors or Academic ? The key here is what is reasonable for you! You want to take the most difficult course load that you can successfully handle. Avoiding the honors course to achieve a 4.0 is no wiser than taking on too many honors courses and then your academic or physical health suffers. You can combine honors and Academic courses in the same schedule. You should take the best and most courses available in your area of greatest interest. If you are interested in studying math, you should take math throughout your high school career and take the most challenging courses available to you.

42 What Courses? First, choose courses that will meet the graduation requirements at CB-East. Choose courses that coincide with your future plans, your interests, and your abilities, or ones that provide opportunities to develop new interests. Choose challenging classes that maximize learning, it is important to maintain a balance between rigor and realism when making decisions. Students who take on too much are competitive enough to “succeed,” but they do not enjoy learning and the stress level is often unhealthy

43 What Courses? What are my long term goals?
What are my strengths, interests, and abilities? How can my course selections support those strengths, interests, and abilities? What are the unique requirements that I must meet in order to be prepared for the type of work or post- secondary institution that I am considering? Are the courses I am choosing appropriate for my goals for the future?

44 Questions & Comments

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