Dear Junior: Hopewell Valley Central High School s CEEB code: GOOD LUCK! Dr. Christine Abrahams, Supervisor of Counseling Services

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1 Hopewell Valley Regional School District Hopewell Valley Central High School Counseling Services Department 259 Pennington-Titusville Road Pennington, NJ Phone: Ext Fax: Dr. Christine Abrahams, Supervisor of Counseling Services Dear Junior: This 11 th Grade College Planning Handbook has been prepared to help you become organized enough to compete in the business of successfully negotiating the college admissions process. Applying to college is a process of decision-making. It is one of the most important decisions you as a young adult will make. Take a deep breath, relax and focus. You ll be able to get through the process with the help of your parents and the Counseling Services department. The 11 th Grade College Planning Handbook provides guidance to assist you through the college application process. Following the advice and strategies in this handbook will help to ensure that you have the information you need to support you in your desire to go to college. Your school counselor is a valuable resource and will be your advisor through this process. Please be sure to make an appointment to see him or her for a discussion about your college choices. Our school address: Hopewell Valley Central High School 259 Pennington-Titusville Road Pennington, NJ Telephone: Fax: Hopewell Valley Central High School s CEEB code: GOOD LUCK! Dr. Christine Abrahams Supervisor of Counseling Services , ext Ms. Buono Ext Ms. Curran Ext Mr. Feola Ext Ms. Getman Ext Ms. Hong Ext. 3518

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Overview of the College Search Process..1 Junior College Planning Calendar...2 Senior College Planning Calendar 4 Testing...7 How Do the ACT and SAT Compare...9 Testing Dates for SAT/SAT Subject Tests/ACT 11 Research for the College Search..13 Formulating Your College Search...14 What Colleges Look For...15 Avoiding Senioritis 17 University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Letter...18 Types of Admissions..19 Characteristics of Excellence 21 The Part of an Admission Folder.22 The Decision-Making Process..24 College Selection Factors..25 Final College Selections 27 College Visits and Interviews...28 Requesting Teacher Recommendations for College..30 The Admissions Process at HVCHS.31 College Athletics and You.32 NAIA Eligibility Regulations 34 Internet Resources.35

3 Appendix A College Comparison Chart...38 Appendix B Campus Profile Page.39 Appendix C Letters from Rutgers, Middlebury and Lehigh..40

4 OVERVIEW OF THE COLLEGE SEARCH PROCESS Continue to or become very familiar with Family Connection by logging on to: Family Connection will be your source for college information and keeping track of the colleges you ve applied to. Register to take the SAT and SAT SUBJECT TESTS (if applying for early decision) in May or June. Check for registration deadlines. Register on-line at or obtain a registration packet from the Counseling Services office. Research your colleges/universities through Family Connection, other internet sources (see Internet Resources pages 35-37), fellow students now enrolled, or family members who have been or are currently attending a college/university. Plan to make college visits in the spring, summer and fall. Use the College Comparison Worksheet (Appendix A) and Campus Profile Page (Appendix B). Focus your search on the areas of the country you would travel to and include the majors you are interested in. Attend some of the many college meetings held in the Counseling Services office in the fall of your senior year. This is your chance to meet Admissions Representatives. You can sign up for these meetings through Family Connection. Attend the Mercer County College Fair on Tuesday, April 5, Meet with your counselor to refine and focus your college search. Choose your colleges based on Match, Reach and Probable (used to be called Safety Schools ). 1

5 JUNIOR COLLEGE PLANNING CALENDAR January 1. Finish semester courses and mid-year exams with high grades 2. Take an interest inventory and use results to consider careers (Family Connection has an interest inventory). 3. Pick up the SAT and/or ACT program bulletin in the Counseling Office, and choose your spring SAT/SAT SUBJECT TESTS or ACT test dates. 4. Start preparing to take the spring SAT or ACT. 5. Think about summer plans, possibly for enrichment. February 1. Meet with your counselor to carefully review your records; plan an appropriate program of studies for senior year (make sure your course of study is rigorous) and research your post high school plans. 2. Register to take the SAT and SAT SUBJECT TESTS on-line at or see your counselor for a registration booklet. Or register to take the ACT at or see your counselor for a registration booklet. Begin preparing for the test. 3. Complete the student brag sheet on Family Connection for your English class. 4. Attend Junior College Planning Night on February 7, 2013 and College Admissions Directors Panel Discussion night on February 21, 2013 March 1. Make sure your parents have completed their brag sheets and have submitted them to your counselor. 2. Begin thinking about the teachers you want to approach for recommendations. 3. Take the March/April SAT exam 4. Register for May AP exams if you are in AP courses 5. Visit college websites, request applications, view books, videos and catalogs. 6. Attend Writing the College Essay on March 7, April 1. Attend the Mercer County College Fair on April 3, 2013 from 6-8:30 pm. 2. Become familiar with the college resources available in the Counseling Office. 3. Register for May or June SATs. 4. Register for May or June SAT SUBJECT TESTS. 5. Use spring break to visit colleges. 6. Begin your preliminary college list. 2

6 1. Take AP exams in related course areas. 2. Continue to refine your college list. 3. Keep your grades up. May June 1. Take the ACT, SAT or SAT SUBJECT TESTS. 2. Make sure that you have any information that you may need for visiting colleges in the summer. July/August 1. Visit colleges, take tours and have interviews when possible. 2. Early decision candidates: finalize plans and prepare application materials for an October submission. 3. Complete one good draft of your Personal Statement. Also do two or three of the standard college application essays (you will appreciate this in November!) 4. If appropriate, register for one or more SAT and/or ACT test dates in the fall. 5. It is important to remember that your transcript request must be submitted to your counselor 15 business days before the application deadline. 6. Begin to narrow down your colleges into Reach, Match and Probable. 3

7 SENIOR COLLEGE PLANNING CALENDAR September 1. Look hard at your present schedule. Is there maximum challenge? 2. Reduce your preliminary list of colleges to a manageable number and meet with your counselor to review. Be sure to include at least 3 probable schools. 3. Secure remaining college applications. Most are available on-line. 4. Set up your files at home so that your instruction materials, testing program materials, testing materials and individual college application materials are organized and separated. 5. Either begin to write or revise important writing projects, such as the application essay and the activity sheet. 6. Attend visiting college representative meetings by signing up on Family Connection. 7. If appropriate, register for the October or November SAT. 8. Ask two teachers to write a letter of recommendation for you. 9. Call colleges to set up visits and interviews. 10. If you are planning on playing college athletics at a NCAA Div. I or II college, you must apply to the NCAA Eligibility Center October 1. Get materials, questions, and selections ready for your counselor conference. 2. Talk with college representatives who visit Hopewell Valley Central High School. 3. Meet the late application deadline for November SATs if you forgot. 4. Choose your essay topic(s), and begin outlining. 5. Complete applications and essays for no-need financial awards. 6. Review your list and be sure that your colleges fall into three categories: Reach, Match, Probable. 7. Decide about early admissions, rolling admissions, and timelines. 8. Complete your applications and request your transcripts for any early decision choices. 9. Keep those grades up. 10. Register for the SAT SUBJECT TESTS in December (if college requirements prefer that date). 11. Schedule interviews with local college alumni. 4

8 November 1. Take the November SATs. 2. Be aware of Early Decision/Early Action deadlines. Test scores and applications are due November 1 or 15 at most colleges that use Early Decision/Early Action. 3. Provide teachers writing your recommendations with forms and envelopes. 4. Make final college visits. 5. Be sure to have official SAT score reports sent to colleges by ETS. 6. Talk to grads who are now home from college for Thanksgiving. December 1. Allow a minimum of 15 school days for Counseling Services to process your applications. 2. Take December SAT SUBJECT TESTS. 3. Send parents to a financial aid workshop. 4. Sign up for the January SAT SUBJECT TESTS if you missed December. 5. Register for SATs in January, if November scores could be improved upon. 6. Be aware of application deadlines. 7. Complete all applications for admissions to selective colleges. 8. Thank teachers who wrote recommendations (send a thank you note). 9. Make holiday contacts with grads now attending your choice of colleges. January 1. Complete all applications with February deadlines. 2. File for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 3. Rolling admissions decisions begin coming in. Notify your counselor when you receive a letter. 4. Read all scholarship information. February 1. If they have not already done so, parents should complete the FAFSA. 2. Register to take the AP exams in May. 3. Be sure that you have met all February deadlines. 5

9 March 1. Make sure all financial aid forms have been completed and submitted. 2. Continue monitoring your college applications. 3. Attend college campus Open Houses. 4. Respond to college contacts promptly. April 1. Review your acceptances and financial aid offers with your parents and counselor. 2. Choose among college acceptances and inform your counselor. 3. If disappointed with college responses, discuss options with your counselor. May 1. Notify the college/university of your decision. 2. Send in the required tuition deposit by May Write a note to all the other colleges to which you applied thank them withdraw applications. 4. Take AP exams. 5. Follow waitlist instructions, if needed. June 1. Request that a final transcript be sent to your chosen college. 6

10 TESTING The easiest way to register for the SAT tests is by going to and the easiest way to register for the ACT test is by going to There also are a limited number of forms for both tests in the Counseling Services Office. Hopewell Valley Central High School is an SAT test center for November, March, and June test dates. If you are not sure which test to take, go to each website and take a sample test of each to get a feel for what the tests are like. Official Score Reports: The colleges that you will apply to usually will ask that you have official SAT and ACT score reports sent directly to them. Official score reports mean that the scores are sent directly from College Board or ACT to the colleges and not from HVCHS. Arrange for four colleges to receive your scores at no cost to you by simply entering the college code numbers at the time of registration. You can also have score reports sent after you have taken the SAT and ACT for a fee. Planning for College Admissions Tests Planning the timing of your college admissions testing is your responsibility. Take the SAT at least once before the end of your junior year. Some 11 th graders may want to complete their SAT SUBJECT TESTS as well (if they are applying early to any college that requires these tests). Estimate that it will generally take about a month from the time you take an SAT/SAT SUBJECT TESTS or ACT tests for the scores to be officially reported to your colleges to meet college application deadlines (early deadlines are often in November!) SAT: Scholastic Assessment Test presently requires you to respond in three general areas: Critical Reading covers reading, comprehension, and understanding of the English language. Math covers basic computation, understanding and application of mathematical concepts. The majority of the math portion covers concepts you should have mastered by the time you have finished Algebra I and Geometry, although harder concepts and problems are also included. Each section has a total of 800 points. Writing covers how students use standard written English. In this section you will also be asked to write an essay. The three scores added together form a composite score. Some schools will mix and match the best verbal score with the best math score to give you the best composite. Beginning with the March 2009 test administration, students will have the option of sending scores by test date that they feel best represents them to the colleges and universities. 7

11 SAT Subject Tests: Scholastic Assessment Tests are one-hour tests. Measure knowledge in particular subjects (i.e. Writing, Math, French, Biology, etc.) and are required by only some colleges. You must be careful to determine which of the schools you apply to require or recommend Subject Tests. A good idea is to take the Subject Tests at the end of the school year in which you have just completed the highest level of the subject that you will be tested on. SAT Subject Tests cannot be taken on the same day as the SAT. ACT: Measures English math, reading, and science. There is an optional writing component which many colleges require you to take. Please take this writing component. It is accepted in place of the SAT by many schools and sometimes can be submitted instead of Subject Tests scores. Students may want to take the ACT to see if they score better on this test. For a list of colleges that do not require standardized tests (ACT, SAT), go to 8

12 HOW DO THE ACT AND SAT COMPARE? Type of Test Sections ACT An achievement test based largely on what students learn in their classes. Four sections: One English One math One reading One science reasoning One optional writing section One experimental section Length Two hours and 55 minutes, plus an additional 30 minutes for the writing test. Penalty for Wrong Answers Scoring Method Cost No for each subject, which is averaged for the highest possible score of 36. The basic cost is $35, which includes sending scores to four colleges. The basic registration fee for the ACT with the writing section is $ SAT A reasoning test assessing general ability. 10 sections: Three critical reading Three math Three writing One experimental section Three hours and 45 minutes. Yes per section with 2400 the highest possible score. The SAT Reasoning test costs $50, which includes sending scores to four colleges.

13 Test Dates Five national test dates and one additional test date in selected states. Seven test dates between October and June. Required to Submit Scores to Colleges? No. Students can choose which schools will receive their scores and which scores the schools will see. Yes. If a student requests a score report to be sent to the colleges of their choice, the report will automatically be sent and will include scores for every SAT the student has taken. Beginning with the March 2009 test administration, students can select to send scores by test date. Web Site From: Fastweb Resources: 10

14 TESTING DATES FOR SAT/SAT SUBJECT TESTS/ACT SAT Program Test Schedule You cannot take the SAT and Subject Tests on the same day. You must also register separately for each date that you plan to take the tests. TEST DATE January 26, 2013 March 9, 2011 (at HVCHS) May 5, 2013 June 1, 2013 (at HVCHS) TEST(S) SAT/Subject Tests SAT SAT/Subject Tests SAT/Subject Tests Check for test dates HOPEWELL VALLEY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL CEEB CODE Register online at or pick up a registration booklet in the high school guidance office. Check the booklet for information on SAT /Subject Tests registration deadlines. When you register, have your test scores sent directly to the colleges to which you are applying. 11

15 ACT Program Test Schedule You must register separately for each date that you plan to take the tests. TEST DATES February 9, 2013 April 13, 2013 June 8, 2013 (at HVCHS) September 21,2013 October 26,2013 (at HVCHS) December 14,2013 February 8, 2014 April 14, 2014 June 14, 2014(at HVCHS) HOPEWELL VALLEY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL CEEB CODE Register online at or pick up a registration booklet in the high school guidance office. Check the booklet for information on ACT registration deadlines. When you register, have your test scores sent directly to the colleges you are making application to. 12

16 RESOURCES FOR THE COLLEGE SEARCH The best resource available is our Counseling Services website at You should also explore Family Connection which can be accessed through the Counseling Services website or by going to: This site is a HVCHS preferred college planning and application management tool. See your counselor for your access code. Other resources available in Counseling Services: College applications Some are on file for use in the Counseling Services Office. We also have paper copies of the Common Application or it is available online at Also, virtually all colleges have web sites on the internet where you can either complete an application online, download the application to your PC, or at least request to have one sent to you. Explore various college sites! Family Connection online Students and their families are able to access information specific to HVCHS counseling and college admissions through the high school website by clicking on Family Connection under the Counseling Services Department. Charts and graphs showing actual college admissions data on HVCHS graduates, starting with the Class of 2004, can be viewed. Other features: an excellent college search engine, links to college websites, profiles on colleges, and more. The counselors will also be using Family Connection to submit much of your college material such as transcripts and recommendations. Your School Counselor Here s how you can contact your counselor: Fill out a yellow conference request form or your counselor. Books The College Handbook, Peterson s Guide to Four Year or Two Year Colleges, Peterson s Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities, Fiske s Guide to Colleges, The College Admissions Data Handbook, Rugg s, individual college catalogs and many other sources. Internet In addition to all the sites listed in the College Planning section of the Counseling Services website, you may want to explore the following sites: o a directory of colleges o -- a directory of colleges o college student reviews of the schools they are attending o list of colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT exams. o D=ba_189785&AffiliateID=1 This site gives you access to every college s AP credit policy. Be sure to review the additional internet sites on pages

17 FORMULATING YOUR COLLEGE SEARCH As a junior you should now be actively seeking to identify colleges you might wish to attend. There are a number of basic factors you should consider. Identify colleges that will seriously consider you based on your grades, courses taken, and your test scores. Colleges are generally broken down into the following groups: Most selective colleges seek students who earn mostly A s, take many AP and Honors courses, and who score at least 1400 on the SAT critical reading and math portions. Very selective colleges seek students with solid A-/B+ averages who score approximately 1200 to 1400 on the SAT critical reading and math portions and are in solid programs that usually include some AP and Honors courses. Selective colleges admit students whose grades are mostly in the B/C+ range in a standard college prep program and who score at least between 1000 and 1200 on the SAT critical reading and math portions. Use relevant factors when starting your search. You should consider the following: Entrance Difficulty Size of the school Campus Setting Location Major Cost $$$ Extra-curricular activities Choose schools where you can expect to be comfortable. Do not focus solely on name recognition. Do not reject a college just because your friends have not heard of it or because one person said something negative about it. Make your own decisions based on your own research. Select a balanced range of colleges. Reach schools: Your dream schools regardless of requirements. Match schools: Schools for which you have the credentials but there are no guarantees. Probable schools: Schools that should accept you based on your credentials. However, in this very competitive period of college admissions, one hesitates to name any selective college as a likely school. Finally, you should identify between 6-9 POTENTIAL colleges by the summer and begin getting information about them. Be sure you have 2-3 schools in each category: Reach, Match and Probable. Plan visits: Should you visit a college during the school year, be sure to bring back documentation of the visit to excuse your absence. Forms are available from the attendance secretary. Know your deadlines and develop a plan to meet them. Meet with your counselor when you have questions. Happy Searching! 14

18 WHAT COLLEGES LOOK FOR In order of importance as reported to National Association of College Admissions Counselors (2010) 1. Grades in College Prep Courses The quality of work a student has done in high school is the single most important record for the college since the colleges have found that the past predicts the future. It is important to remember that ninth grade marks are part of the college admission record as are poor grades and failures, even though they may have been made up later. Colleges are primarily interested in the marks received in academic subjects and in the caliber of courses taken. HVCHS provides a weighted GPA as an indicator of academic achievement in honors courses. Students who select easy courses or nonacademic courses in an attempt to get more A s are defeating their purpose. A minimum of 16 academic units is usually necessary. Colleges have found that high school grades in college-preparatory classes indicate an ability to succeed in college work. The underachiever and the one who has failures and poor grades would do well to consider taking their first two years of work in a junior or community college. 2. Strength of Curriculum The strength of a student s schedule is looked at by colleges. Which includes senior year, so when planning your schedule for senior year, be sure to take challenging courses in the academic disciplines such as English, math, social studies, science and world languages. 3. Admission Test Scores College Board Examinations (SAT and Subject Tests), and ACT Testing Program should all indicate potential for college work. 4. Grades in all Subjects and Mid-Year Grades Senior Year 5. Essays/Writing Sample 6. Demonstrated Interest Colleges want to see that you are interested in their school, so remember to order any informational materials that they offer, sign the guestbook when you visit and correspond with the admissions department by Class Rank The academic environment at HVCHS is very challenging. The majority of our students meet that challenge by earning exemplary grades. The comparisons among students inherent in rank-in-class calculations unnecessarily increase competition within the school; further, we believe that our students levels of achievement are not equitable or fully communicated by this single figure statistic. Therefore, we do not report class rank. Not reporting rank has helped with HVCHS admission rates, particularly those of our second decile students. 8. Counselor Recommendation 9. Teacher Recommendation 10. Subject test scores (AP, IB) 15

19 The following are also areas that colleges look to when evaluating an application: Special Talents, Interests, Skills Colleges are interested in knowing about the meaningful extracurricular school, community, travel, and work experiences of the student. At times specific talents are taken into consideration. Community Service/Work/Extracurricular Activities Personality Evaluation Colleges are looking for students who are mature learners; those who show intellectual curiosity and are willing to work hard. Colleges often ask secondary school personnel to evaluate the student on the basis of these qualities. Personal Recognition Programs NACAC Admission Trends Survey (2010): Percentage of Colleges Attributing Different Levels of Importance to Factors in the Admission Decision Factor Grades in College Prep. Courses Considerable Importance Moderate Importance Limited Importance No Importance 83.4% 12.3% 2.7% 1.6% Strength of Curriculum Admission Test Scores (SAT, ACT) 65.7% 29.4% 7.0% 3.9% 59.3% 29.4% 7% 4.3% Grades in all courses 46.2% 42.1% 10.2% 1.6% Essay or writing 26.6% 33% 22.9% 17.6% sample Student s 23% 30% 26.6% 19.5% demonstrated interest Class Rank 21.8% 37.2% 25.9% 15. % Counselor Recommendation Teacher recommendation 19.4% 45% 23.1% 12.4% 19% 44.2% 24.5% 12.3% Subject test scores 9.6% 32.4% 32.6% 25.3% (AP, IB) Interview 9.2% 22.7% 33% 36.2% Extracurricular activities 7.4% 42.3% 35.1% 15.2% Portfolio 5.9% 12.9% 32.9% 48.2% SAT II scores 5.3% 11.8% 24.9% 58% State graduation 4.2% 14 % 28.5% 53.4% exams Work 1.9% 20.3% 47.2% 30.6% 16

20 AVOIDING SENIORITIS Drop in Grades Universities are systematically revoking the admission of high-school students who slack off during their senior year. For example, last year after reviewing final high-school transcripts, the University of Washington rescinded 23 offers of admission to students who had been accepted and an additional 180 freshmen received stern letters rebuking them for significant downturn in their academic performance (see letters from Middlebury, Rutgers and Lehigh in Appendix B). Other Reasons That Colleges Revoke Admissions According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) Admission Trends Survey (2007), the biggest reason for revoking an admission offer was final grades. The others were falsification of application information, disciplinary issues and multiple deposits. See the chart below. Shedule Changes and Impact on Admissions Schedule changes, particularly dropping Academic Units, could have an adverse affect on admissions. We strongly recommend that students refrain from making schedule changes until they receive permission in writing from the college. Counselors will also be asking for written permission from parents. A schedule change may result in reconsideration of an offer of admission. Following is a letter received by the Hopewell Valley Central High School Counseling Services Department from UNC-Chapel Hill: 17

21 Dear Colleague: Greetings from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We hope that your spring semester is off to a strong start. We write with an important reminder regarding schedule changes. All admitted students, as well as those students who are still waiting to hear a definitive decision regarding their admission application, must notify us in writing or through (please advise them to send their to if they are considering a schedule change. The correspondence should include the current schedule, proposed new schedule, and reason for requesting the change. Requests will be reviewed by the admissions committee, and the student will receive a response in a timely manner. We strongly recommend that admitted and deferred students refrain from making any schedule changes until we grant permission in writing. Admitted students should be informed that a schedule change may result in reconsideration of an offer of admission. We thank you for helping us share this important message with your students. If you or your students have any questions about this issue, we are happy to talk to you. Sincerely, Office of Undergraduate Admissions UNC- Chapel Hill 18

22 TYPES OF ADMISSIONS Most schools offer one or two of the procedures discussed below. The descriptions below are general in nature. Policies and procedures vary among colleges. It is essential to understand the specific procedures and sated followed y the schools in which you are interested. Rolling Admission Used by many state and some private colleges Decisions are often received within a few weeks (approximately six) after the college receives all of the student s application materials Decisions are either accept or deny The decision is not binding Regular Admission Deadlines are typically January or later Decisions are often received beginning to mid-april Decisions are accept, deny, or wait list Financial aid information often accompanies acceptance letters. Decision is not binding Schools that use the Regular Admission Process may also use one of the Early Processes described below: Early Decision Students apply to a college by a fixed date in the fall, often November 1 or 15 Decisions are often received mid- to late December Decisions are accept, deny, or defer to the regular decision process If accepted in the Early Decision Round, the decision is binding and the student must attend. It is expected that the student will notify colleges and withdraw all other active applications. Deferred students will be re-evaluated with the regular admissions cycle, and the NOTE: If the school is your top choice, and you are willing to assume the financial responsibilities of attending, early decision may be a good option. Students are encouraged to check the statistics for the college to determine what percentage of students are accepted during early versus regular decision to help decide whether to apply early decision. Some colleges seem to offer preferential status to students of legacies (family members who attended that college) when they apply early decision. 9

23 Early Action Students apply to a college by a fixed date in the fall, often November 1 or 15 Decisions are often received mid- to late December Decisions are accept, deny, or defer to the regular decision process Decision is not binding and students are not required to withdraw other applications if accepted The student may apply early action to the other colleges Single Choice Early Action or Restrictive Early Action (REA) A new category, offered by a few colleges Students can apply to only one school early, but can apply to other schools through the regular or rolling decisions processes Decisions are often received mid- to late December Decision is accept, deny, or defer to regular decision process Decision is not binding NOTE: There are many advantages to early decision, early action and rolling admissions, including fewer applications to complete and earlier notification of decision. In some cases with early action and early decision, the acceptance percentages of students who commit to a single school can be higher. However, binding early decision may not provide the opportunity to review and select financial aid offers from various colleges. Open Admission Offered by some smaller state colleges and most community colleges No cutoff dates for applying Acceptance is base on meeting minimum requirements (such as high school diploma or GED) 20

24 CHARACTERISTICS OF EXCELLENCE The faculty Undergraduate Admissions Study Group identified the following characteristics of excellence that Princeton should seek in the students it admits. 1. Qualities of mind High intelligence Demonstrated capacity to excel academically Originality; creativity Joyful engagement in learning; passion for intellectual inquiry, whatever the field Mental discipline; perseverance; willingness and ability to take on difficult challenges Self-motivation; eagerness to venture beyond the boundaries of assignments and stated expectations Ability to challenge and contribute to the learning of others by offering differing perspectives Disposition to make the best use of the educational resources that Princeton has to offer 2. Qualities of character Integrity; responsibility; sense of values Demonstrated ability to look beyond oneself; concern for the well-being of others; concern for and contributions to the quality of life of the community 3. Capacity to enrich and contribute to the University community Effective commitment to an activity or activities outside the classroom, whether intellectual, artistic, athletic or service-oriented in nature Energy Capacity for leadership 4. Potential for life-long leadership and service in one s community and profession The Study Group agreed, further, that diversity is an essential component of long-term excellence. By diversity it means that the men and women who study at Princeton should be drawn from the widest possible variety of backgrounds socioeconomic, racial, religious and other and should bring to the University a wide range of values, beliefs, experiences and interests. In the view of the Study Group, diversity and the experience of dealing with diversity are integral elements in the preparation of effective citizens and leaders. 21

25 THE PARTS OF AN ADMISSION FOLDER When you apply to college, the college admission office collects a folder of information to consider as it make a decision about you. There are six main areas of an applicant s folder. 1. Application The application includes simple biographical information such as your birthday, family members, and addresses. Frequently you will need to write essays, which are intended to acquaint the admission committee with your experiences, strengths and weaknesses, and writing ability. 2. Academic Record The most important factor in an applicant s folder is the academic record in secondary school. The curriculum, difficulty of specific courses, and the grades received are aspects of the record admission officers consider in appraising transcript (another term for academic record). Avoid Senioritis. 3. Providing the Secondary School Report Otherwise called high school records or transcripts, the academic reports from the school to the college are the heart of an applicant s folder. Most colleges require that the high school counselor submit the secondary school report and official transcript. The Counseling Services Department uses a Hopewell Valley Central High School Secondary School Report template for all students. You must have a completed transcript release form in order for Counseling Services to process your transcript application requests. 4. High School Profile The profile provides information to help college admission offers interpret our transcripts. It also enables admissions staff to compare HVCHS graduates with other high school graduates. Our profile puts HVCHS graduates in a very positive light. 5. Activities/Leadership Although your academic credentials are the primary factors in determining admission, your record of involvement in activities can be a significant supporting credential. Mere membership is not the important factor; it is, rather, the level of involvement and accomplishment that is important. It is better to be involved in one activity and to be a significant contributor to the activity than to be involved superficially in several organizations. As far as leadership goes... admissions officers don t care that a student can get elected (in HS they are usually popularity contests)... they want to know what you did in the leadership position. 6. Test Scores Any college that requires submission of SAT I, SAT SUBJECT TESTS and/or ACT tests will use the scores in its admission process. How much emphasis is placed on test results depends on the college s policy; as a general rule, the larger the college, the greater the emphasis on pure statistics (test scores and rank if available) in determining admission. The colleges that do not require SATs will put more weight on other factors. It is important to remember that test scores are a part of the total applicant profile, and, at most institutions, test scores alone do not exclude a student from admission, nor do scores alone guarantee admission. 22

26 It is the students responsibility to have results of standardized tests (SAT I, SAT SUBJECT TESTS, ACT) sent to the colleges to which they are applying. These scores will not be sent as a part of the transcript sent by the high school to the colleges. Official scores are sent directly to the colleges by the College Board. For more information about sending your scores, visit 7. Counselor Recommendation The official recommendation or statement prepared by the school for you is also a very important part of the folder, but it is not as critical as your record itself. 8. Teacher Recommendations These tell the readers of your application about your classroom performance in terms that are not represented by grades. Teachers may comment on the type of contributions you make in class, the written and oral work you have presented, and your potential for studying as a particular college. Read the instructions that come with the application to find out if you need to obtain teacher recommendations. Don t confuse teacher recommendations with counselor recommendations. 9. The Application Essays Many colleges require essays as part of the application. Think of the essay as a vehicle for conveying the applicant s personal factor and uniqueness to the college. The essay is a chance for applicants to talk with anyone who reads the application. If the essay is to be about you, write about yourself as clearly and succinctly as possible. Avoid flowery words that may seem pretentious. Avoid using superlatives, which can seem pompous or insincere. Try to find something to write about that distinguishes you from the other students. When writing, look for ways to explain your passion or to explain any holes in the application. Just fill in the gaps. Don t regurgitate what an admissions officer can already find in the other application materials. However... you can repeat previously known information if it reinforces a common theme and shows a thread or a passion that is really important. If the college gives you an option to write more than one essay --- take it! 10. The Personal Factor While it s true that the greatest emphasis is placed on your courses, grades, and, in some cases, your standardized test scores, colleges also want to know about you, the person. What are you like when you re not being a student? How do you spend your free time? Everything you do has some importance... sports, clubs, jobs, working on your computer, reading for your own enjoyment, writing prose or poetry, taking photographs, volunteer work, baby-sitting, or anything else that you choose to do. The application usually contains questions which allow you to list or explain your activities, honors, and use of free time. Your uniqueness as an individual does have an impact on the admission decision. If you can offer the college something which sets you apart from the main applicant pool, your admission chances will be enhanced. Students need to follow their passion. Sincere commitment will be recognized. 11. Music, Art, Design If you re applying for a program such as music, art, or design, you may have to document prior work by auditioning on campus or submitting an audiotape, slides, or some other sample of your work to demonstrate your ability. 23

27 THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS When considering how decisions are made and what influences admission, the level of selectivity at the college in question is important. The more applicants a college has for each place in its entering class, the more selective that college can be and is. At the highly selective colleges (more than three applicants for every place in the class), virtually all of the application folders contain outstanding credentials. Consequently, the applicant whose folder contains some weaknesses in relation to the general qualities of other applicants will stand out on the basis of weakness rather than on strength. At such colleges, the personal factor often plays a major role in the admission decision. When a college has many more academically qualified applicants than places in the class, the emphasis in admission decisions often shifts to more subjective, personal factors. Activities, leadership experience, special talents, family traditions, or outstanding academic skills (in particular, good writing) may make an application stand out above others. Well-written essays which complement carefully prepared applications may help your chances for receiving a favorable decision. As the degree of selectivity decreases, the admission criteria generally are geared toward whether or not the student can be successful. Large public institutions and community colleges are likely to have different admissions policies. Some large schools determine admission by entering applicant data (i.e. GPA, rank-in-class, test scores) into a computer formula. The computer recommends what students to admit and deny; the admission committee then studies the applications and the computer recommendations before making decisions. On the other hand, some large institutions read applications and determine admission in the same way that smaller schools do. There may be different admission standards for individual colleges within one university, in which case your application will be considered with others for the same college (i.e. liberal arts, engineering, business, or nursing schools). Keep in mind that some state schools give preference to state residents and in some cases must admit state residents if they apply by a certain date. Most community colleges have open admission; that is, any resident of the community college district and some out-of-district residents are able to attend. In these instances, the application process is relatively simple, usually including only biographical data. Some of these schools have specific programs that practice selective admission and require test scores and essays. All programs will require proof of high school graduation or its equivalent. Regardless of the type of college, the admission offices have one thing in common: each is charged with the responsibility of assessing the qualifications of applicants to meet the admission criteria which its institution has established. No one likes to think that someone doesn t want them, but a college s admission decision is based on comparisons of applicants with other applicants and of applicants qualifications with the college s need. If your credentials satisfy a college s need, you are usually admitted. In some cases, you may be disappointed, but don t let a college s admission decision have a negative impact on your life. There are lots of colleges and many paths leading to the same goal. The important thing is to set goals and to work toward them. If you are denied admission to a college, don t take it personally and feel that you ve failed. Take a deep breath, turn your attention to the other options available, and get on with your education and on your path to a rewarding life. 24

28 COLLEGE SELECTION FACTORS Making a college choice can be like making other important decisions that challenge you. Until you find a place to begin, a method to organize the task into smaller pieces and a way to put a great deal of information into a meaningful package, it may seem almost impossible to make a good decision. Begin by identifying what your reasons are for going to college. What do you hope to gain? What learning opportunities do you need? What are your goals? What are your career ambitions? How will college help you achieve these goals and ambitions? The next step is to relate these goals to factors you can use as you search for colleges that meet your needs. Factors to consider: Type of college: Two or four year college? Residential or commuter? Large or small? College or university? College location: What area(s) of the country can you realistically consider? What about the relation between location and costs? Are specific interests and goals tied to a specific location? Campus facilities: Does the college provide housing all four years? What kinds of dining facilities and meal plans are there? What kinds of activities/clubs does the student center have? What other hangouts are there? What access do first year students have to computer and other special equipment? Is there a doctor/nurse/personal counseling services on campus? What is the waiting period for appointments? What is the policy for cars on campus? Admissions selectivity: What are the application procedures? What tests are required? What are the deadlines? What high school course preparation is needed? Are you eligible for admissions? What academic demands can you expect to find? Costs: How much will it cost and is it within your family budget? What kind of financial aid is available? How do you apply for financial aid? 25

29 Majors, academics and faculty: Does the school offer the majors you want? If you are undecided, does the school offer you the chance to explore areas of your interest? Does the school have any kind of internship program? What is distinctive about the educational program? What departments are most outstanding? Who teaches first year students (professors vs. graduate assistants)? What was the faculty turnover in the past three years and why? How does student registration work? How easy will it be to get the classes I want? Students and social life: What geographic regions do the majority of students come from? What is the religious makeup of the student body? What minorities are represented on campus? What is the percentage of foreign/international students? What percentage of students stay on campus on the weekends? What percentage of students participate in the Greek system and how active are fraternities and sororities? What role do sports teams play in the social life of the college? Are there any drinking parties on campus? What are the rules and regulations governing drinking and parties? What about alternate activities to parties sponsored by the college? What extracurricular activities are available? 26

30 FINAL COLLEGE SELECTIONS One of the questions asked most frequently is, What should my final list of colleges include? Inherent in this question are two considerations: first, to how many schools should I apply and second, what range of schools should be included with regard to level of admissions competition? Never use the shotgun approach of applying to a multitude of schools. Also, regardless of your academic ability, do not put all of your eggs in one basket by applying to only one institution or one level of college. As a general rule, students should apply to between 9-12 schools which vary in terms of selectivity, but where each have the most important features desired by the student. As long as you do not overly limit yourself geographically, finding such a group of schools is not that difficult a task considering the large number of colleges and universities found in the United States. While there is no hard and fast rule, students should include two or three schools from the categories below: Category I Category II Category III Your top choice schools. It is fine to include a couple of long shots in this group. (reach) Schools that possess the features you desire and at which the probability of admission is even slightly better than even. These are categorized as realistic schools. (match) Schools that have most of the features you desire and at which the probability of admission is highly likely to certain. Schools in this category are referred to as your likely schools. (probable) Schools that qualify as long shots, realistic, or likely, vary tremendously from student to student. Each student has an individual academic profile and should select schools accordingly, making sure that there are choices in all three categories. Always apply to more than one realistic and/or likely school. This will insure two or more acceptances and provide you with several likely choices. 27

31 Interview/Appointment Tips COLLEGE VISITS AND INTERVIEWS 1. Ask intelligent questions, but do not ask questions which you should have answered yourself by reading the college catalog. Such questions as cost, size of student body, and freshmen requirements suggest that you have not prepared. 2. Take with you for your meeting with the admissions officer a copy of your academic record and a list of your activities both in and out of school. 3. Be prepared for the interview with the admissions officer. During the interview, the college will be learning about you just as you are learning about it. The following suggestions may help you to put your best foot forward during the interview: Neat clothes in good taste and no gum will help you make a good impression. Remain standing until you are asked to be seated. Be relaxed and as poised as possible, be yourself, don t boast, but don t appear self-effacing either and answer all questions fully and frankly. Leave your parents outside unless the interviewer asks to have them present with you. Be prepared to discuss your vocational interests and plans, tell why you have chosen this particular college, describe your leisure time activities and talk about books you have read recently. You may also be asked about your high school in regard to size of classes, number who attend college, and curricular and cultural opportunities. Questions Interviewers May Ask: About your high school experience: What courses have you enjoyed the most/least? What kind of a student have you been? Would this change if you had the chance to do it over again? Have you worked up to your potential? What extracurricular activity has been the most satisfying to you? How would others describe your role in the school community? How do you spend a typical day after school? 28

32 About college: Why do you want to go to college? What do you hope to accomplish in the next four years? What are some of your criteria in choosing college? What other colleges are you considering? About you and the world around you: What are you reading now? What TV shows do you watch? Do you have any contemporary or historical heroes/heroines? What president would you most like to meet? Why? Who has influenced you the most? Why? What is the most difficult situation you ve had to face? What are some good decisions you ve made for yourself recently? What historical event has had the most impact on the twentieth/twenty-first century? Visiting a College for the Second Time: You should consider including the following on your second visit: Visit one or more classes to help decide whether the college s academic program suits you. Visit one class in an area that is of interest to you and another that is in a totally different area. Arrange to meet a faculty member. Meet with a coach or faculty member in an extracurricular area of interest. Eat a meal in the dining hall. Spend time wandering around campus on your own. Visit Career Services. Try to stay overnight if possible. Contact students from your high school who are on campus. The admissions office can identify students from your high school and help make the connection. 29

33 REQUESTING TEACHER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COLLEGE What makes a student tick academically is of great interest to admissions officers. Students should therefore select individuals with whom they have had an ongoing relationship and who will be able to offer positive comments that will distinguish them from other applicants. Below are some additional guidelines: Select teachers from your junior and/or senior year of high school. Colleges like a recent impression of the student. Ask teachers whose subject may relate to a future area of study. For example, if you plan on studying engineering, ask a math or physical science teacher for a recommendation. Choose teachers who can comment upon growth and willingness to work to improve. Colleges are more interested in learning how a student strives to improve than about how easy it is for him to earn As. Approach teachers early, at least two months in advance of the college deadline. If you procrastinate, you might find your recommenders of choice are already overcommitted. Don t catch a teacher on the run, in between classes. Schedule an appointment with the teacher to discuss your college choices. 30

34 THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS AT HVCHS Before we can release any transcripts to the schools you are applying to, you must submit a Senior Transcript Release Authorization form to Mrs. Burkhalter in the Counseling Services Office. These forms are located in the Counseling Services office. Additionally, you will need to give your counselor the pink, Senior Transcript Request form also available in the Counseling Services office. Hopewell Valley Central High School Guidance Office 259 Pennington-Titusville Road Tel: (609) Pennington, New Jersey Fax: (609) Transcript Release Authorization Year of Student Name (please print): Date: / / Graduation: I would like a copy of my unofficial transcript. I authorize the release of an official transcript to the colleges, agencies, and/or organizations as requested below. The official transcript includes all information, such as record of academic achievement, attendance record, standardized test results, health records (where appropriate), and any other mandated information. Send my transcript to: Name of Institution/Organization Address of Institution/Organization Include: Check Applications/forms Counselor recommendation Parent/Guardian Name: Parent Signature: (Required for students under 18 years of age) Student Signature: SS# 31



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