Within the last twelve months the pandemic has brought on significant changes to the college standardized testing world. The shift away from the SAT and ACT requirements means more emphasis will be placed on other components of the college application. Students will have to use their high school academic performance as well as the rigor of their course work to demonstrate their preparedness for college level learning. Extracurricular and community involvement as well as volunteering and other activities will play a big role in how students set themselves apart of their peers.
The recent announcement by College Board to eliminate SAT Subject Tests means greater notice will be given to, not only grades, but also to AP test scores. This may be especially important for students with a focused academic interest. For example Admissions evaluating pre-med students may pay closer attention now to performance in science classes and corresponding AP scores.
Finally, the elimination of the SAT writing section means admissions will rely more on grades in English classes and the application essays. This is a chance for students to take control and use the essay to convey their writing skill and voice.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, we can’t stress enough how important it is to be on top of filing your FAFSA accurately and on time. If you have not already done so, start working on your FAFSA now.
The US Department of Education’s blog, HOMEROOM, has an excellent list of the most common FAFSA mistakes to avoid. Read through this guide to make sure you maximize your chance of receiving financial aid. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to receive financial aid, as you don’t know what you’re eligible for unless you apply.
Many students use scholarships to help them afford college. Scholarships and grants are the most desirable form of financial aid because they do not need to be repaid. (Note, the terms “grants” and “scholarships” are often used interchangeably.) Apply as soon as possible to maximize your chance of qualifying for help funding your college education. Here are some tips that may help you find the funds you need:
The majority of scholarship money is awarded by colleges and universities.
Deadlines vary from school to school so its important to be aware of application due dates to so you don’t miss any opportunities.
Many private colleges and some state schools require you to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE in order to be considered for these scholarship programs as well as for non-federal financial aid.
Some schools also require their own supplemental application forms.
Scholarships and grants may be contingent on meeting certain requirements such as maintaining a minimum GPA.
Need and/or merit may be the criteria used to award scholarships.
Any number of criteria including academic, athletic or artistic accomplishments can be used to award merit scholarships.
Scholarships are awarded either as a lump sum up front or may require you to reapply annually.
Private and public sources also award a great number of scholarships, although they account for a much smaller percentage of the total pool available.
You may be eligible for scholarships offered by a variety of organizations depending on your personal profile and/or special interests, including employment, cultural or religious affiliation.
Some scholarships may be career specific – available to students studying to become teachers, while others may be student specific – available to students from a military family or specific ethnic group, and even to students with a unique hobby.
There are a many resources worth exploring, including fastweb.com a helpful resource to match you with scholarships
Talk to your guidance counselor for additional information. Also, visit your guidance office to pick up scholarship applications and look through the lists of special scholarships available to students in your school district and town.
This is the time to search for scholarships. Make a list of scholarships you plan to apply for with their respective due dates and check them off as you complete your applications.
Networking is an often used term that may not have had much significance for you up until now. But networking can be a very helpful took for your college search. Networking can help you meet new people, build new relationships and make connections. By talking to like-minded people, exchange ideas, gather information, and basically, learn more about the world around you.
Here’s how you can network:
Seek out people who have similar interests and career goals.
Talk to those who have jobs you may be interested in, including both yours and your friends’ parents, and ask them what types of jobs are available in their fields, what experiences are required for those jobs, and what they studied in college.
Find out more about people you look up to such coaches, teachers, family friends by asking them to share how they choose their career and how they got to where they are today.
Talk to experts such as guidance counselors, college counselors and admissions officers about career options and schools for you to research.
Using the internet, you can network with an entire population of people you don’t even know (and you may not even have to talk to them in person). LinkedIn has built a range of new tools to help students in their search for college and career. These new tools allow you to explore universities based on what you would like to study and where you may want to work.
Networking will allow you to gather more information and learn more about what other people are doing in the world around you. Have some interesting conversations. Take every opportunity to network to help you make better informed decisions and figure out where you see yourself.
As you all know, regular decision applications are due soon. Application due dates vary from school to school, so make sure you know when each of your applications need to be submitted. In such an unprecedented time, when so many schools are operating virtually, completing applications may be more challenging. If you’re looking for support with your applications and also with financial aid forms, please reach out to your school guidance or college counselor as soon as possible.
Your follow-up is an important part of the process. Don’t forget to confirm that all the required components for your applications have been received, as many schools will not review your application until your file is complete. Get organized by creating a list of your schools and the requirements for each one. Then, using the online service your high school subscribes to, consulting the online tracking system you may have been assigned by each individual college, or checking by phone, verify that each school has received the following components:
The Common Application
Individual school application and/or supplement, if applicable.
Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, SAT II, AP, TOEFL)
Official high school transcript
Guidance counselor letter of recommendation
Letters of recommendation (from teachers, coaches, employers)
Application fee or waiver
Elective supplementary material
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
Individual school and state required financial aid forms
If anything is missing, follow-up immediately. For example, if you’ve been advised that a test score is missing, contact the appropriate testing administrator and request that your score be sent. The same could be true, for example, for your transcript and recommendation letters. Standardized test score may also take some time to be posted to your file. With all the application materials being submitted, it’s easy to understand how admission offices can get backlogged.
A few thoughts if you’re scheduled to take the ACT tomorrow.
To minimize your stress in the morning, it’s a great idea to get organized ahead of time. The last thing you need on test day is a desperate scramble. These are some of the things you can do the night before to get your big day off to a great start:
First, check with your parents to make sure they know when and where you’re scheduled to take the test, and arrange how you’ll get to the test center. Next, gather and pack all the things you’ll need to take with you. Some of the things on this check list are “must-have” items, while others are optional.
REQUIRED: Don’t forget any of the following items or it will be a long ride home!
An approved calculator
Sharpened #2 pencils
An acceptable form of photo ID
Your admission or standby ticket
Extra batteries for your calculator
Watch (to keep track of time)
Finally, given how COVID-19 has disrupted the testing process, we suggest that you confirm the status of your test registration and stay current on any changes by visiting ACT Testing Amid COVID-19.
Set your alarm, get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy, satisfying breakfast.
Class of 2025, if you applied early decision or early action, you’ll be hearing back from your schools very soon! And, students who applied rolling, you may have already received news. There are a few steps for you to take once you have a decision:
ACCEPTED: Congratulations, you’ve been accepted!
Early decision is binding.
Send in your non-refundable deposit by the school’s required due date to confirm your intention to enroll in the Class of 2025.
Remember to withdraw all your other applications so you’re not holding a spot that can be offered to another student.
Check your email daily because you’ll be receiving notifications relating to housing, medical and health forms, registration for special programs for admitted students as well as invitations to special events that may require your response.
Early action is not binding.
Send your deposit and secure your spot in the class of 2025 if you’re certain this is the school for you. Although not required, it’s considerate to other applicants to withdraw your applications to other schools.
If you’re not sure this is the school for you or need to evaluate your financial aid offers, leave your options open. Wait until you’ve received your other admissions decisions before committing to a school.
Rolling admission is not binding.
You are not required to respond until the school’s due date, so confirm the deadline for sending in your deposit.
Unless you’re sure this is the school for you, complete your other applications and send them in on time.
DEFERRED: You’re still in the game.
If your early decision school is truly your first choice, communicate that thought to your admission rep by letter, sending it both by snail mail and email. Tell them why this is your top school and offer to provide any additional information they may want to further support your application.
Share your news with your guidance counselor and ask him/her to reach out to your admissions rep to speak on your behalf if, in fact, this is your top priority school.
Finish your other applications.
Each school only has a limited number of spots for each incoming class. So, receiving a deferral or rejection does nor necessarily mean you’re not qualified.
For those of you who have committed to a school, remember to reach out and thank your teachers and counselors, and anyone else who has supported you in your college bound process. A note is a nice way to convey your appreciation. Also, keep in mind acceptances are conditional on maintaining your grades throughout senior year, so remain focused.
We all know applying for financial aid is more challenging this year, especially if your school is not meeting in person. However, help is still available. Start by asking your counselor for a phone call or Skype/Zoom meeting. They can answer many of your questions and may also know of virtual application completion events to help you with your financial aid forms. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be on top of filing your FAFSA accurately and on time, if you haven’t already done so.
The college process can be filled with chaos, but it becomes simpler when you are Bound to Organize. Keep on track with tips and hints from two women who have learned the ropes and lived to tell about it. Read more.