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Making Sense of the College Application

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1 Making Sense of the College Application
Carol Niemann Grade Level Counselor 10th-12th Grades Westlake High School or visit Texas Lutheran University Seguin, TX

2 What Do Colleges Need for Admissions?
Completed application Official high school transcript SAT / ACT scores Application fee Essay(s) if needed Secondary School Report Mid-year Report Counselor Letter of Rec Teacher(s) Letter of Rec optional Resume Portfolio Trinity University San Antonio, TX

3 Where to Find the Applications
Apply Texas – Texas pubic colleges Common Application – over 400 national universities (mostly private) Individual college applications – many institutions have their own unique application available on their website Bucknell University Lewisburg, PA

4 Parent/Student Post-Secondary Education Application Release Form (Gold Form) No transcript can be legally sent without this release on file. The student is authorizing the high school (as a third party) to send confidential information to the university on his/her behalf. Students 18 years of age or older can sign the release. Students under 18 years of age must have a parent’s signature.

5 Look at the transcript CAREFULLY. Make sure there are no mistakes
Look at the transcript CAREFULLY! Make sure there are no mistakes. Taking the required courses to graduate? Graduation plan? Loss of credit corrected? GPA / rank? Ethnicity? credits?

6 What Does THE HIGH SCHOOL Send to Colleges?
Transcript Senior Schedule SSR (Secondary School Report) School Profile (OPTIONAL) Counselor Letter of Recommendation IF REQUESTED (At the end of the 1st semester) Mid-Year Report may be required to submit seventh semester grades/rank Rice University Houston, TX

7 Fill out a “Transcript Tracking Sheet” for EVERY college application, giving us the address and admission deadline on the form. Pay $1 for each transcript requested to cover costs. Allow at least 2 weeks before the application deadline. Some transcripts are sent by mail; some are sent by T-Rex, Texas’ electronic delivery system. We verify that the transcript was sent with a confirmation number. The “Transcript Tracking Sheet” is available online, in the counseling front office, and the college/career center. Transcript Texas A & M College Station, TX

8 The University of Texas at Austin
You will self-report your senior courses. We also send a copy of the ENTIRE SENIOR YEAR schedule (both semesters) with the transcript. Your college application and senior courses become a contract with the university. If you change your schedule after submitting your application, you must notify the college. If the college sees that you have “lightened” your senior load without notifying them, they have the right to rescind your acceptance. Admissions officers regularly see this type of “lying” and will assume the worst. Ask permission if you unsure whether or not the college will care if you drop a course. Senior Schedule The University of Texas at Austin

9 SSR – Secondary School Report
Instead of using each university’s variations of the SSR, some high schools choose to send their own. Just be sure that the information on the Common Application SSR is included. At the top of the SSR, applicants are given the choice to waive or not waive your right to access their college admission file. Due to FERPA, the student owns their confidential information and may request to see his/her application file UNLESS they waive their right. If the student waives his/her right to access, the student no longer has the right to see what is written by anyone in your admissions file. SMU Dallas, TX

10 The School Profile is a one-page, back-and-front document describing your school.
TCU Fort Worth, TX

11 Letters of Recommendation
Not all colleges require or will read recommendation letters. Generally, public universities do not require one; often private universities do. Read the application thoroughly. Follow the directions implicitly. If they ask for two letters, don’t send more. Counselor letters of recommendation describe the student holistically as a person. Teacher letters of recommendation describe the student as a learner in the classroom. Highly selective schools and some scholarships require two teacher recommendations. One should come from a junior or senior core academic teacher, a teacher with whom they have developed rapport. The second should come from someone who presents a different dimension (UIL sponsor, sports, band, church, employer, etc.).

12 Requesting a Teacher Letter of Recommendation
Download the “Teacher Recommendation Form” from / Counseling/ College & Career Center/ Download Forms. You must give the teacher at least 3 weeks notice! You are not the only student asking for a rec letter. Fill out the form, listing every school where you want your teacher to send the rec. Giving a resume is also helpful. Give the teacher a neatly addressed and stamped envelope for every college. The teacher will mail the rec letter to the college once it is written. Remember that teachers write these letters to help you. Be sure to tell them how grateful you are! Midwestern University Wichita Falls, TX

13 Requesting a Counselor Letter of Recommendation
Download the “Senior Student Information for Counselor Recommendation” and “Parent Information for Counselor Recommendation” from / Counseling/ College & Career Center/ Download Forms. You must give your counselor at least 3 weeks notice! Each counselor receives requests during the fall semester. You may ask your current counselor, your 9th grade counselor or Mr. Pilchiek. Complete the form as if you are writing directly to the college admission counselor. Give detailed, specific examples whenever possible. The better job you do, the more your rec letter reflects your uniqueness. A resume is also helpful. your forms to your chosen counselor. Check to make sure your counselor received the forms and make sure they don’t want additional information. On the transcript tracking sheet, be sure to indicate whether or not you want a letter of recommendation to be sent with your transcript.

14 What Else Does THE STUDENT Need to Send to Colleges?
Complete application (sent electronically) Essay(s) - if required Application fee – if required SAT and/or ACT scores (DIRECTLY from ACT and/or College Board) OPTIONAL – Resume OPTIONAL – Portfolio KEEP A COPY OF EVERYTHING YOU SEND! Harvard University Cambridge, MA

15 Deadlines are NON-NEGOTIABLE
Deadlines are NON-NEGOTIABLE for admissions, scholarships or financial aid. UT Austin – December 1 Texas A & M – January 15 (best chance if submitted before October 1) Is the deadline POST MARKED BY or RECEIVED BY? Princeton University Princeton, NJ

16 Every senior has 3 college visitation days to use by May 1st.
Pick up the “College Visitation Form” in the counseling office. Have all your teachers and your parents sign the form. Bring the completed “College Visitation Form” back to the counseling office. You will be given a white form to take with you On the visit. Have the admissions office sign the form to verify your attendance. Turn the white form into Westlake’s ATTENDANCE OFFICE. More days are only awarded on a limited case-by-case basis by your Senior Assistant Principal if necessary for scholarship/audition purposes. College visitation days do not count against exemptions for finals if you have followed these procedures.

17 Send ACT / SAT Scores If you do not already have a test score that gets you into the college of your choice, SIGN UP NOW for the SAT and ACT. Both tests are offered 3 times this fall. NOTE: For UT Austin, they will accept December ACT and SAT scores if the rest of the student’s file is complete by the Dec. 1 deadline! All testing must be submitted before the admission deadline. The student must send their test scores directly from the testing agency, either ACT or College Board. Your test scores are NOT reported by WHS. With the exception of the most selective colleges, if a student reaches the college’s expected SAT / ACT range, applicants are not penalized for lower scores on prior test dates. ACT and dCollege Board allow applicants to selectively send only their best scores. Colleges would still like applicants to send all scores, but this is your family’s decision. The counselors suggest YOU SEND ALL SCORES. Keep accurate records of when scores were sent to each institution and tracking numbers. You may need to provide this proof if the score gets lost in transit.

18 Which Colleges Fit You? Picking a college is like picking a second family. What’s right for one senior may not be right for another. It’s about “FIT”. Does the environment feel like a place you will be happy and grow? Prioritize what factors are most important to you: good dept. in your major big vs. little urban vs. rural religious location/ distance prestigious public vs. private Greek life athletics school spirit class size special programs cost in-state vs. out-of-state diversity male/female ratio liberal vs. conservative clubs & organizations

19 Which Colleges Are Right For You?
Ideally, apply to 3-8 colleges, a full range of schools; all must be acceptable to you as your future home. Include 1-2 “stretch”/”dream” schools, mostly “good matches” in terms of GPA/test scores, and at least 1 “safety”/ “sure shot” school where you absolutely know you will be accepted. Don’t waste your time and effort applying to schools you know you won’t attend. Purdue University West Lafayette, IN

20 Types of Admission Decisions
Regular Decision – apply by the regular deadline; non-binding; decide by May 1st Rolling Admission – applications reviewed and a decision is rendered as soon as possible after the application is submitted; non-binding; decide by May 1st Early Action – apply early and receive a decision early, usually in December; non-binding; decide by May 1st Early Decision – apply early to one first-choice college and receive a decision early, usually in December; if accepted, the CONTRACT IS BINDING and all other applications must be rescinded.

21 Essays are your chance to make a personal statement.
Be sure your voice comes through clearly. Tell a story that reveals something uniquely about you. Could your parent pick your essay out of a stack? Do you come across as an interesting person the admissions officer would like to know better?

22 SAT Subject Test Scores
Most colleges do not require SAT Subject Test scores. SAT Subject Tests are offered on the same dates as the regular SAT SAT Subject Tests are one-hour content specific tests. A student can take up to three tests on a single test date. Every school that requires the SAT Subject Tests wants the student to take a Math subject test. Math I B tests algebra 2; Math II C tests precalculus. SAT Subject Tests were designed as placement exams, although they may affect admissions, especially in highly selective institutions. Be sure you know the requirements of each specific college to which you are applying. If given a choice, test only in the subjects where you excel. Like AP exams and CLEP tests during college orientation, excellent SAT Subject Test scores can be used to place out of college coursework.

23 A resume is a 1-2 page advertisement for yourself.
It is often advantageous to send a resume in addition to the activities section of the application as it is one way to make your application file more polished. Highlight what you want the admissions reader to glean from a 2 minute scan of your resume. Your resume should be professional, concise, specific, and factual. Your counselor has resume examples if desired.

24 Ways to Influence Admissions
College visits College interview Weekend seminars/ workshops As a rule of thumb, the earlier you apply, the better Keep informed on Naviance Meet with college reps when they come to Westlake Hills of Austin College Fair on October 6th (seniors from 9-10 / juniors from 10-11); parents welcome Ask questions! If you need help, come see your counselor! We want to help!

25 College Visits Make an appointment online or call the admissions office for an appointment two weeks beforehand. Prepare for your visit. Plan and gather background information. Places to visit include: Admissions Office Financial Aid Office Media Center Housing Dining Hall Programs of Interest Students & Faculty Student Center Write a thank you note. It may be noted in the review process.

26 College Interviews Only highly selective or private colleges regularly conduct interviews. Public universities do not. If an interview is possible, it is beneficial. Call the university admissions office to schedule an interview at least two weeks ahead of the date you plan to visit. If an interview is part of their admission process, most out-of-state universities have alumni in Austin that interview. Your counselor can supply you with hints about interviews. Please ask!

27 Meet With College Reps When They Visit
Take advantage of this opportunity! Students should have prior permission from their teacher to come. If students have a test and can’t come to the meeting, have them stop by before or after class to shake hands and make eye contact. Remind seniors that these reps are often the first reader for their admission file.

28 The Cost of a College Education
The initial “sticker price” of an education may not be the actual cost of attendance. If you are over-qualified in some manner (examples: athletics, rank, National Merit, etc.) or have demonstrated financial need, the university often offers scholarship incentives to attend. Privates are more expensive than public colleges, but their scholarships are often generous. So often the final cost of attendance isn’t known until April of the senior year. Unless the student has made a binding Early Action contract with a college, the student has until May 1st to officially choose their college and pay the initial enrollment deposit.

29 Questions??? The Power Point we use with our seniors is available at: (counseling/ College & Career Center/ powerpoint presentations/ Applying to College 101)

30 All images were taken from Flickr
All images were taken from with acknowledgement and appreciation of these photographers: Slide 1-DAN_DAN2 Slide 2-pvsbond Slide 3-aurimasliutikas Slide 4-insanepredator 1AA Slide 5-pantherinia_hd Slide 6-J-a-x Slide 7-ndonwrdlaw Slide 8-Sensorius Slide 9 –stevesheriw Slide 10-Adam R. Stone Slide 11-F. J. Gaylor Photography Slide 12-Sultry Slide 13-F. J. Gaylor Photography Slide 14-CAT eyes Slide 15-allaboutuni2307 Slide 16-F. J. Gaylor Photography Slide 17-scui3asteveo Slide 18-seattleu Slide 19-Master_Schweinsberg Slide 20-Steve Le Slide 21-rindiphoto Slide 22-billaday Slide 23-just.k Slide 24-dgilder Slide 25-forever digital Slide 26-bunbunlife Slide 27-Nativestock Pictures Slide 28-Cymry Flood Slide 29-polyglut Slide 30-Nasseroirion

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