Selecting and applying to college may seem to be a daunting task. In addition to completing the appropriate coursework and college entrance exams, choosing your “home away from home” for the next several years is a big personal and financial decision. As your school counselors, we understand the anxiety these decisions may create. We’d like to share some information with you to ease your transition into college to help you enjoy this exciting time in your life.
What criteria do colleges use to accept applicants?
In general, colleges consider four parts of your application in determining acceptance:
- Transcript (Grades, Quality of Coursework) is most important!
- College Entrance Exam Scores
- Extracurricular Activities/Work Experience/Volunteer & Community Service
What college entrance exams are used for admissions?
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I) is composed of three sections: Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Each test section is cored on a scale of 200-800 points; with an SAT I total scaled score of 600-2400 points. There are also SAT II exams, designed to evaluate greater depth of knowledge in a particular subject area. SAT II tests are usually not required for most college majors. Sometimes the ACT will suffice.
American College Test (ACT) is composed of four tests: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36 points. The ACT composite score, also based on a 1-36 scaled score, is an average of the four test scores. There is also an optional ACT Writing Test, which is combined with the English Test to also yield a score based on a scale of 1-36 points.
Registration forms for both the SAT I, SAT II and ACT are available in the school counseling office.
How do I know which college entrance exam to take?
Most colleges accept either the SAT I or ACT scores as part of the admission process. Some students choose to take both exams to give themselves the best opportunity for their highest possible score. Find out which exams your colleges requests. Your school counselor may be able to make a recommendation, which may be best suited for you.
What are Associate, Bachelor and Master College Degrees?
Associate Degrees are usually awarded following the completion of a two-year program of study. Bachelor Degrees are usually awarded following the completion of a four-year program of study. Master Degrees customarily follow the completion of a program of study beyond Bachelor Degrees – program length may vary.
What are my options for completing a Bachelor Degree?
There are two common paths to achieving a Bachelor Degree:
- Direct entrance from high school into a four-year college
- Entrance from high school into a two-year college, then transferring to a four-year college to complete the remainder of the program requirements
How will I pay for college?
Students pay for college with a combination of savings and financial aid (loans, grants, scholarships). Financial aid forms are available in the school counseling office after January 1st of your senior year and should be completed as soon as possible. It is extremely important that you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)! All financial aid applicants must complete this form. Many colleges will not offer their private scholarships to you unless you’ve applied for whatever “free” money is available to you through New York State (if applicable) and the U.S. Government.
You are encouraged to apply for local scholarships your senior year through the school counseling office.
What helpful suggestions can you recommend for me?
- Read! Read! Read! Reading is highly correlated to good scores on the English portions of your college entrance exams. So, pick up a good book and prep for your college entrance exams while you’re at it!
- Save your math notes and review before taking college entrance exams to refresh your memory and minimize careless errors.
- SAT and ACT preparation materials may be purchased at local bookstores and can be a great help in preparing for the exams.
- Begin a list of your activities, honors and unique experiences both inside and outside of school. Include sports, clubs, work experience, church activities, summer camps, community service, etc. Add to this list annually.
- Begin a portfolio if you are pursuing a career in an art field.
- Seeking recruitment for a college sport? Begin saving newspaper clippings, and videotapes of your games. Share your interest with your coach and get suggestions and support.
- Begin exploring colleges by your junior year. Your counselor can give you a preliminary list of college recommendations to start you off. Use the Internet to explore, as well as requesting information directly from the colleges. Your school counseling office may have some college catalogs to share with you as well.
What deadlines are crucial for me to remember in the college application process?
*PLEASE NOTE: All college and local scholarship applications should be processed through the school counseling office.