Helpful Tips On How To Choose A College Now

Although college campuses are currently closed due to the coronavirus crisis, you have many resources available to help you make your decision. Take virtual campus tours that are available on college websites. Schedule calls with your guidance counselor and admissions reps to answer your questions. Also, reach out to current students to hear what they have to say. The New York Times recently published an article worth reading on this subject.

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News Is On The Way

The moment you’ve been waiting for is almost here. Over the next few weeks, college acceptance letters will be released and you’ll be bringing to a close your many months of hard work. If you put together a balanced list of safety, target and reach schools, it’s likely that you’ll receive an acceptance.

As you evaluate your choices, select a school where you feel you comfortable and belong. You want to choose a school where you’ll be challenged academically. Evaluate the academic programs offered and review prerequisites and specific course offerings. Also think about you’d feel as a member of the school community— you want to excited to be an active, engaged member.

Keep in mind, it’s what you do once you’re at college, not where you attend college that will make the difference post-graduation. Stay focused on the positive news and the college life you have to look forward to.

 

 

 

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Get Ready for Tomorrow’s SAT

 

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

Confirm that your test center will be open, as some test centers may be closed and the March 14th SAT cancelled due to the coronavirus.

If you’re still scheduled to take the test, minimize your stress tomorrow morning by getting 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: These are things you may want to bring along.

  • Water
  • Snack
  • Sweater
  • Back-up calculator
  • Extra batteries for your calculator
  • Watch (to keep track of time)

alarm clockSet your alarm, get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy, satisfying breakfast.

Good luck!

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SAT Center Closings

Due to the coronavirus, test centers may be closed and the March 14th SAT cancelled at those sites. Students affected by test center closings will be notified by email and can also check online for closings.

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Jump Right Into College Fairs

Juniors, jump start your college search by attending a college fair.

Admission representatives from many schools gather at fairs and look forward to meeting prospective students and sharing what their schools have to offer. You’ll have the chance to get exposed to a large number of colleges and universities all in one place.

Start by researching fairs in your area. Check with your guidance office for a schedule of local fairs. Look online at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) spring schedule. There are state and regional college fairs such as The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation . Look online to see if there is a state or regional college fair near you. Your school district or high school may also have their own fairs planned. Online college fairs are another way to meet admission reps by chatting online. Sites like CollegeFairsOnline.com and CollegeWeekLive.com offer these types of fairs. Check their websites for specific college fair dates.

Sign up for NACAC fairs online.  You’ll receive your own barcode. You will be asked to enter your contact info, academic interests, high school and graduation year. By scanning your code, college reps will be able to read your information and eliminate the need for you to fill out individual information cards at each booth. They’ll also have your information if they want to reach out to you. Find out whether other fairs offer you the chance to also register in advance to avoid lines when you arrive.

Look into which schools will be participating at the fair you’re attending. Go through the list  of participants and decide which reps you’d like to visit with and which events you would like to attend. Plan your day – pick up a map and note the start times of special events, then begin with the schools at the top of your list. While you’re at the fair keep an open mind as you walk through the aisles. Visit booths from a variety of schools and chat with their reps. Take brochures and course catalogs to review when you have more time.

Think about what type of school you’d like to attend. Two or four year, size, distance from home, environment, special programs and areas of study. Prepare for your meetings by having a few questions ready. Ask questions that are school specific and can’t easily be answered by looking at the website. Don’t forget to ask for business cards after your conversations.

If you have any additional questions, follow up with an email. If you felt you had a meaningful conversation with any particular rep, you may want to send a thank you note.

Organize all the brochures and business cards you collected and save the ones you’re interested in. Go online and look further into the schools you liked.

 

 

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The Home Stretch

It’s hard to believe that it’s already March. College admissions decisions will soon be released anytime between now and April 1st. So, while are you are waiting for responses, here are a few more tasks to complete:

  1. Confirm that all your financial aid documents are in order. You should have received your Student Aid Report (SAR) after you completed and submitted your FAFSA. Review your SAR and respond to any requests for additional information immediately. If you finished the CSS/Profile and any state applications for aid, be on the lookout for any requests for further information. Often, aid is distributed on a first come first serve basis, so make sure to submit any financial aid forms you have not already sent in.
  2. Identify scholarship opportunities. There are so many resources available that you can make use of to search for scholarships. Scholarship deadlines vary— so continue your search throughout the school year.
  3. Avoid senioritis. Your admission and financial aid offers are contingent on maintaining your academic standing, so stay on track.
  4. Read your emails daily. Look for any new correspondence from the schools to which you’ve already been admitted. They may be reaching out with information about special programs and events, as well as scholarship opportunities.
  5. Reach out to your admissions reps with good news. Share only meaningful and significant accomplishments that enhance your application. For example, if you’ve won an award or a contest or have had any of your work published, let them know.
  6. Now is the time to apply to any additional schools. There’s still time to apply to schools with both rolling and late admissions deadlines as well as schools that have chosen to extend their deadlines. Ask your guidance counselor for a list of schools still accepting applications.
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Registration Reminder

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Registration Reminder

Remember, today is the registration deadline for the April 4th ACT.

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Kick Off Your Testing Plan

The best way to take control of standardized testing hanging over the months ahead is to create a testing plan for yourself. By having a schedule to use for prep and tests, you’ll be better prepared and with less stress.

STEP 1: Schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor.  He or she can help you get a better understanding of the which tests are offered when, how they differ and which ones are appropriate for you.

STEP 2: Take a practice SAT and ACT. You will be able to compare and then determine which test you’re more comfortable with and will be able to get the best score. Kaplan Test Prep offers free SAT  and ACT online events and tests to help you compare. The Princeton Review also offers free SAT and ACT online tests.

STEP 3: Set up a schedule.  If you can take either the ACT or SAT and SAT Subject Tests (SAT IIs) in junior year, you’ll have more time to focus on applications and financial aid when you’re a senior. Of course, you will have the option to take additional tests during senior year should you want to improve your scores. If you’re planning to take SAT IIs, take into consideration any AP or IB exams as well as your course finals when planning your schedule. This way, you can study for those exams and corresponding SATIIs at the same time.  Also keep in mind that while you can take up to three SATIIs on any given test date, you can not register for the SAT and a SATII on the same date. The upcoming SAT test dates are March 14th, May 2nd and June 6th.  SATIIS are given on the May and June dates. So, if you’re planning to take SATIIs, choose the test date that best lines up with your AP, IB and/or final test schedule in order to free up the other test date for the SAT.

STEP 4: Ask your parents and guidance counselor for input. Choose test dates that don’t conflict with any of your own personal obligations and talk to your parents to clear the test dates you are considering with the family calendar as well.

STEP 5: Register for tests as soon as possible to ensure your spot at the location of your choice. Keep a master calendar of the tests, test dates and locations that you register for and store your registration ticket in a place you’ll remember on test morning.

STEP 6: Find test prep resources. Search for ones that will work best with your learning style and also your budget. There are many free resources around. Test prep books are available on public library shelves and you can also purchases them online and in your local bookstore. Use these resources to take practice exams. Take as many timed practice tests as possible to get comfortable with the test and develop a good sense of how to pace yourself. In addition, there are many online prep programs as well as classes in your local area. Ask your guidance counselor, and also friends and relatives who have done this before, for recommendations.

STEP 7: Keep track of your scores. Once you have your results, record all your test scores on a master calendar like the one included in The College Bound Organizer. From this list you’ll choose your top scores, even if those scores are from different test dates, to submit with your applications.

STEP 8: Learn about test-optional schools. You many decide in advance to opt out of standardized test taking or if you’re not happy with your scores, test optional schools may be a good choice for you. There are more than 1000 colleges and universities that don’t use the ACT or SAT in their admissions process.

Remember, that while there is so much talk about testing, your test scores are only one piece of your application. Admissions officers are also interested in your grades, your curriculum, your participation in extracurriculars, and what you express about yourself in your essay.

 

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Consumer Beware!

If you’ve applied for financial aid, expect to receive an aid package along with your acceptance letter(s). Be aware that colleges and universities use different language when presenting their offers.  In order to accurately evaluate your offers make sure to understand each line item.

Ann Carrns in Your Money Adviser column in the New York Times has written an excellent article offering advice on how to understand the nuances of financial aid packages.

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