Discover Your Options

JUNIORS, beginning your college search process may seem like an overwhelming task. There are many free resources to help you get started and allow you to explore the many options available. By using these tools you will be be able to narrow down your search and focus in on the type of school that interests you.

COLLEGE FAIRS: College fairs are a great way to start your search.  You’ll have the chance to get exposed to a large number of colleges and universities all in one place and meet admissions reps from a long list of schools.

COLLEGE GUIDES: College guides offer an easy way to review and compare basic facts such as GPA, SAT and ACT ranges, course requirements, tuition, study body demographics and feedback from students.

COLLEGE WEBSITES: College websites provide detailed info about a school’s student body, required curriculum, courses of study, tuition and financial aid, housing and extracurriculars. You’ll also find online photo galleries and virtual tours.

ONLINE PLATFORMS: Online search platforms such as NAVIANCE, SCOIR and MaiaLearning are accessible to students in subscribing high schools. These tools present admissions outcomes for graduates from the same high school, allowing current students the opportunity to compare their credentials (GPA and test scores) with those of previous applicants.

Although each of these resources are helpful, don’t rely exclusively on only one. Take your time and be thorough so you can learn about all the options available and what will work best for you in a college or university.

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Get Ready For Tomorrow’s SAT

A few thoughts if you’re scheduled to take tomorrow’s SAT.

To minimize your stress tomorrow morning, it’s a great idea to get organized ahead of time. The last thing you need on test morning is a desperate scramble. These are some of the things you can do tonight 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

SUGGESTED:

  • Water
  • Snack
  • Sweater
  • Back-up calculator
  • 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 Coronavirus Updates for Students Taking the SAT.

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Registration Reminder

Remember, today is the registration deadline for the June 4th SAT.

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You Can Still Apply

Seniors, if you have not yet completed your applications or are not happy with your choices, the NACAC’s (National Association of College Admission Counseling) College Openings Update provides a list of hundreds of US colleges and universities with openings, financial aid and housing available to qualified freshman and/or transfer students for the Fall 2022 semester.

Use the Update to search for schools through the use of various filters including state and country.  Both public and private colleges and universities are included on the list. This is an excellent resource and will be updated as colleges and universities finalize their admissions numbers for 2022/23, so continue to check back. It’s never too late to apply!

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It’s Time To Decide

National College Decision Day is quickly approaching. Seniors, you have a big decision to make by May 1! Check your email and your mailbox frequently, as the schools you’ve been admitted to have been and will continue to send you many important announcements.


There will be opportunities for you to meet your prospective classmates before your first day on campus. Alumni often host local get-togethers for admitted students from the same area to meet one another. Parents are sometimes invited to these local events as well. This is an opportunity for them to meet alumni and staff. Often, guest speakers share helpful advice on how to help you and your parents with your transition to college.

Many schools invite admitted students to special on-campus events. If you haven’t already attended one, these “admitted student” days offer a chance to take a good look at the campus, ask questions and meet your prospective classmates.   Take advantage of these opportunities, if you can, to get to know more about what the school has to offer and how you feel about attending.

Financial aid packages have already arrived. Make sure to check your mailbox for any follow up requests for information and forms the school requires you to complete.  If financial aid is an important piece of your decision, take the time to read through all mailings and understand the details. Be clear on how much is gift aid such as scholarships, grants and tuition waivers and how much requires repayment, and on what schedule.

Make your decision and be sure to send in your deposit by the May 1st deadline. Re-read your acceptance letter and any correspondence you received from the school to confirm that you’ve submitted all the required documents. Also, as a courtesy, don’t forget to notify other colleges that you won’t be attending.

Once you’re a member of the class of 2026, you’ll begin receiving lots of important and time sensitive mail requiring your attention. Be on the lookout for information and required forms regarding housing, roommate selection, course registration, orientation and summer events. Also, expect to hear from the health office, registrar and bursar. Check your mail regularly to be sure that you don’t miss any deadlines and opportunities.

Your mailbox is going to be full, so check for new daily!

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Connect With Your New Community

Social media is a great way to connect with your future classmates, friends and potential roommates. Learn about the work professors are engaged in and the exciting paths alumni have taken. You can also stay up to date on what’s happening on your college campus so don’t wait to get started.

Facebook groups for your school will keep you up to date about group meet ups with future classmates in your area. You may find potential roommates and friends with common interests. You can also talk about the best classes to sign up for and post questions you may have about the college. Check the school’s Facebook page to stay current about deadlines for required forms, deposits and special programs.

LinkedIn University Pages offer the latest news from your school. These LinkedIn pages are also where you can read what alumni are doing, where they’re living, what fields they’ve gone into and the jobs they’ve had since their graduation. This is your future network.

Twitter accounts belonging to professors may be of interest. You can follow what they’re writing about, researching and learn about the latest news in their field. Campus organizations, including fraternities, sororities and clubs use Twitter to stay connected with the school community.

Look on Instagram for your college’s page and see what students are doing on campus now.

These are exciting times! You’ll be joining a new college community and it’s never too early to become an active member.

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How to Ask for More Aid

Seniors, by now you have your acceptance letters and financial aid offers. As financial aid packages are not presented uniformly, it is essential to break down your offers and understand how much of your aid doesn’t have to be repaid, like grants and scholarships, and how much of your package is made up of loans which must be repaid. You should accept only the components that your family is comfortable with as your financial aid package is not an all or nothing offer.  For example, you can accept grants and scholarships and decline the loans that don’t make sense for you. In order to compare aid offers from one school to another, try using the worksheet provided in The College Bound Organizer to help you decide which package is the best for you and your family. 

If your decision depends on the aid package you were offered, the time to appeal is before the May 1st deposit deadline If your family’s financial situation has changed since you completed your FAFSA, share any new information in support of your appeal with your financial aid officer. Changes such as recent unemployment, medical expenses and a decrease in income may qualify you for more aid. In addition, if your package has too many loans and not enough gift aid, ask your rep to review your file again. Many colleges are open to increasing the amount of aid they offer.

Keep in mind the following when making your appeal:

  • If your family’s financial circumstances have changed since you filled out your FAFSA that can help to make a credible appeal.
  • If you have multiple admission offers, you can use that as a bargaining tool in your favor.
  • If you received a more generous offer from another school, share that with the school you prefer.
  • If you have a unique talent or skill or belong to a specific demographic group bring this to the attention of your financial aid officer when making your appeal.
  • If you have very strong grades and test scores that may be a bargaining chip in your favor.
  • Wait as close as possible to the May 1st response date to submit your decision to ensure you have received all of your final financial aid offers.

Your appeal letter needs to clearly convey why you are requesting an appeal. Ask you guidance counselor for help. Additionally, a great resource is SwiftStudent, a free online tool to help students file their financial aid appeals. This tool explains the appeal process and provides templates for you to use when writing your financial aid appeals letters to your colleges.

 

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Registration Reminder

Remember, today is the registration deadline for the May 7th SAT.

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Where Will You Go?

As you receive your admissions decisions and you begin to evaluate your choices, keep an open mind and review each of your options carefully. Make it your goal to find a school that’s truly the best fit for you, where you can thrive academically and socially. Get input from you parents and your guidance counselor to help you with your decision. Here are suggestions on next steps to take:

Admitted

Congratulations! An offer of admission requires your response and deposit by a specific deadline, usually May 1st. Review your acceptance package carefully. If you’ve received an offer for financial aid, make sure you understand the details. If you have any questions, reach out to the financial aid office for answers. Finally, submit all the required documents and information by the due date.

If you’ve received more than one acceptance, you have an important decision to make. Look back on any notes you may have taken during your college search and reach out to any current students you know. If you visited a school, try to remember how you felt while you were on campus. You may want to visit or even revisit any schools you’re considering.

Attend “Admitted Students” days. Meet prospective classmates, have lunch at the cafeteria, visit the student center, look at bulletin boards around campus and read the school newspaper. Notice what students are doing— are they studying while eating or chatting and laughing? Talk to them— what’s their favorite and their least favorite thing about the school? Do you feel like you belong?

Think about what’s important to you, including price, financial aid, distance, programs, size and spirit, and compare one school to another. Make a pro/con list to help organize your thoughts and ask your parents for their feedback. Consult your guidance counselor as well.

Waitlisted

If you’ve been waitlisted, there’s still a chance you may be admitted. Neither acceptance or rejection, being waitlisted means there’s still a chance you may be admitted. This outcome requires your immediate attention. Take care of the following now:

  1. Send in the response card required to put yourself on the waitlist by the deadline, but preferably as soon as possible. You will not be placed on the list automatically.
  2. If you require financial aid, contact the school to ask whether aid will be available if you’re admitted from the waitlist.
  3. Contact your admission rep, by phone, email or handwritten note to express your continued interest to be admitted and to offer to provide any additional information in support of your candidacy. Update them about any new achievements not included in your file. If this is truly your top choice, let your admission rep know that if you’re admitted you’ll definitely attend.
  4. Talk to your guidance counselor and ask him or her to reach out to the school rep on your behalf if they feel it’s appropriate.
  5. Evaluate any other choices you may have and send in your deposit by May 1st. Waitlist decisions may arrive after deposits are due at any other school(s) to which you have been admitted. . Take note that deposits are non-refundable, so if you’re admitted from a waitlist and choose to attend that school, you’ll forfeit the deposit you sent to the other school.

While the Admission Office may provide you with information about prior years’ waitlists, the number of students admitted varies from year to year

Delayed Admission

Delayed admission is an offer some schools make when your start date is pushed off until the second semester or even the following fall.  There are several things to think about if you are considering this option:

  •  What will you do in the gap period?  Options vary from school to school and may include participating in a special program, spending a semester abroad, attending another college or university, volunteering or traveling.
  • If the school you’re considering will not accept transfer credits from another college or university, you will need to talk to a counselor about whether it would be possible to catch up so that you may graduate with your class.  If not, make sure you’re comfortable delaying your graduation.

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Top Tips To Help You Evaluate Your Aid Offers

Your financial aid packages will shortly arrive, if you have not already received them. These offers may show up separately from your admissions letters. Each school presents their offer in a different format making it difficult to easily compare from one school to another. It’s important for you to understand the specifics of each package, including merit aid vs loans, the terms of each loan as well as the requirements for you to continue to qualify for your aid and any changes in the aid from year to year.

Make sure to be aware of these important specifics of your financial aid offers:

  • Schools require that you reapply annually to qualify for aid, so your package may not be the same each year.
  • Deadlines are absolute; you can lose your aid if you fail to file the necessary paperwork on time.
  • Some scholarships have strict academic requirements and can be rescinded if you do not maintain a specific grade point average.
  • Merit aid may not be offered for all four years. Funds may be offered to entice you to join as a freshman, but that same aid may not be available in each of the following years. Make sure to confirm.
  • Aid may not be available to transfer students, or less money may be offered to transfers, so if you are a transfer student, do not assume you’ll have access to the same aid package at the new school. Be sure to check with the financial aid office.
  • If wait listed, confirm whether aid will be available if you are admitted off of the list.
  • Aid packages may be appealed, particularly if your family’s financial circumstances have changed. Make sure to provide updated information to your financial aid rep.
  • If you have any concerns or questions about your financial aid package(s), call the school’s financial aid office and ask a financial aid officer to help you.
  • If you are considering accepting any loans, make sure you and your family fully understand the repayment terms and are comfortable taking them on. 

Deciding where to attend college is a big decision. There are a lot of factors to consider. If financial aid is important to you and your family, make sure you understand the terms of your package so that you may effectively evaluate your options before you select the school you will attend next fall.

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