WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT APPLYING TO COLLEGE

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1 WESTLAKE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT APPLYING TO COLLEGE Westlake High School Counseling Office

2 SENIOR YEAR CALENDAR September-October-November December Register for the SAT/ACT if not taken or need to retake. Meet with your counselor to discuss college/career plans. Update Naviance with your list of colleges. Complete college applications. Check deadlines on college and scholarship applications remember the Guidance Office requires 10 working days to process a transcript request. November 1 application deadline (Early Decision) guidance office processing deadline is October 18. Attend the LCCC, SWC or Lakewood College Fairs. Attend high school information sessions with college representatives. Athletes planning to play Division 1 or 2 sports must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at www. eligibilitycenter.org. Schedule an appointment to meet with the College Now representative. Research scholarships and continue college visits. In order for applications to be processed by the Guidance Department before Winter Break, they must be submitted by December 7. Attend the Financial Aid evening presentation at the high school on December 6 at 7PM. January-February Parents should complete the FAFSA and the Profile (if required). Check deadlines on college and scholarship applications remember the Guidance Office requires 10 working days to process a transcript request. Inform the Guidance Office if your college requires a mid-year report. Check date for local scholarship applications. March-April-May Final college notifications are sent by April 1. May 1 is the candidates reply date. The decision about where you will attend must be made and the college notified. Students must also notify colleges that offered admission if they do not plan to attend. June High school graduation. Final transcripts are sent to the college you plan to attend. 2

3 NAVIANCE FAMILY CONNECTIONS My Colleges Colleges I m thinking about Add colleges you are thinking about to this list Colleges I m applying to Only add colleges to this list when you complete and send an application to the college. Update this list with your admission status. College Visits: Information on dates and times of college representative visits to WHS is posted on Naviance. College Research College Match provides a list of colleges that have accepted students from WHS who have similar GPA s and test scores as yours. College Compare select several colleges and let Naviance run a comparison. College Look-up Look up colleges by name or state and view information College Resources Includes Naviance resources as well as other web based college planning resources. College Maps Locate colleges on a map. Scattergrams View scattergrams of college acceptance history for past and present WHS students. Acceptance History View the number of accepted and enrolled WHS students from previous years. FERPA Waiver: Students applying to colleges that use the Common Application must complete the FERPA Waiver on Naviance. This enables the guidance office to send records electronically through Naviance. You find the FERPA Waiver in the section of Naviance called Colleges I Am Applying To. Make sure you use your common application username and password when completing the FERPA Waiver in Naviance. Scholarships: A listing of local and national scholarships is available on Naviance. About Me: Please complete the Resume Builder in the About Me section. This will help your counselor write a letter of recommendation if one is needed as part of your college application. 3

4 COLLEGE APPLICATION PROCESS 1. The Application: Students should complete application online through the Common Application or directly through the college website. 2. Naviance: Naviance is a computer program the WHS guidance department has subscribed to for college research and college application. In addition, students will be able to keep tract of deadlines, manage their applications, do test preparation, resume writing and a career search by using their Naviance account. 3. Counselor Recommendation (if required by the college): Students should complete My Resume in Naviance, as well as the Autobiographical Sketch and provide this to their counselor when requesting a counselor recommendation or when requesting a transcript for Common Application schools. No envelope or postage required. 4. Counselor Forms: For Common Application schools the counselor will complete the Secondary School Report and write a letter of recommendation on Naviance, students do not need to download any forms. It is the students responsibility to download any non Common Application forms, such as the Ohio College Prep Form, and give it to their counselor at the time they are requesting a transcript. No envelope or postage required. 5. Teacher Recommendations (if required by the college): Students should request recommendations from teachers at least two weeks in advance of any deadline using the Teacher Recommendation Form. Students should also provide the teacher with a copy of their resume. Teachers completing recommendations for Common Application schools will complete the Teacher Evaluation Form, including a letter of recommendation, on Naviance. For non Common Application schools, students must provide a stamp addressed envelope to the college for mailing of the recommendation. 6. The College Essay (if required by the college): The essay should be carefully prepared and checked for spelling and grammatical errors. It is recommended that an English teacher review the essay. It should be mailed or submitted online along with the application. 7. The Transcript: All colleges require an official high school transcript. Students and/or parents need to complete the Records Release Form (obtained in the guidance office or the district web page) and bring it to the students counselor along with $3.00 cash only. The Guidance office submits transcripts for all Common Application schools and as well as for many other universities electronically. 8. Test Scores: Many colleges require official test scores that are sent directly from the testing agency. The Guidance office can submit unofficial test scores and this request can be made by indicating yes on the transcript release form. Requests for transcripts must be turned into Counselors in the Guidance Office 10 working days prior to a college or scholarship application deadline. 4

5 THE COMMON APPLICATION The Common App. Is a standardized first year application used by member colleges. The Common App consists of several parts. They are: The Student Application. The ED Agreement completed by students applying early decision to a member college. The Arts Supplement for students applying to study art, music, dance or theater. The Athletic Supplement for students planning to participate in athletics The Secondary School Report completed by the counselor. This includes a written evaluation or letter of recommendation. Teacher Evaluations includes a written evaluation or letter of recommendation. Mid-Year Report required at some, but not all member colleges. Completed by the counselor. College Specific Supplements some colleges have a supplemental form that must be completed as part of the application packet. We require that students applying to a college or university that is a member of the Common Application file their application using Common Application online and not a university application. Your WHS counselor will send records and reports electronically to the Common Application. Teachers can submit their evaluations electronically as well, but they must have an account in Naviance to do this. Ohio Colleges or Universities that are a member of the Common Application. Baldwin-Wallace College Case Western Reserve University College of Wooster Denison University Hiram College John Carroll University Kenyon College Marietta College Oberlin College Ohio Northern University Ohio State University Ohio Wesleyan University University of Dayton Wittenberg University Xavier University 5

6 RECOMMENDATIONS Not every college will require letters of recommendation. This will be indicated in the school s application. For those schools requiring recommendations, you will usually need letters from two different teachers and also a recommendation from your school counselor. In addition, you may want to include extra-strong recommendations from other teachers, coaches, employers, or community-service officials whom you know. Are these recommendations important? Not as important as your grades, ACT s, SAT s, special talents, minority status, or several other factors. But still, a good recommendation can confirm a positive view the admissions committee has developed of you. But, a bad recommendation can really hurt and may tip the scales against you. Also, there is a saying among college admissions officers, thick folders, thick students, so beware of overkill! Teacher Recommendations: You may choose junior or senior year teachers to write you recommendations; so you should start thinking early about who they should be. Remember, your teachers will be doing you a favor, so avoid last minute requests. One of your main teacher recommendations should come from an English or history teacher. Another recommendation should come from a math or science teacher. Use the same two teachers for all recommendation requests. Give the teacher at least two weeks to work on their recommendation. Complete the WHS Teacher Recommendation Form and give it to the teacher for all recommendation requests along with a copy of your resume. Common Application Teacher Recommendation. If you applied using the Common Application, give the teacher the WHS Teacher Recommendation Form. The teacher will complete the Teacher Evaluation, write their letter of recommendation and submit those documents electronically through Naviance. It is not necessary to download any forms. Non-Common Application Recommendations. Give the teacher the WHS Teacher Recommendation Form along with any forms the college needs the recommender to complete. Check in Naviance to see if the teacher can submit their recommendation electronically through Naviance or if the recommendation must be mailed. If mailing is required, you must provide a stamped envelope, addressed to each of the colleges. Do not put a return address on the envelope, let the teacher provide that. Be sure to write a note to the teacher thanking them for writing a letter for you. Counselor Recommendation: Many colleges, including all Common Application colleges, will require your counselor to complete a School Report Form and write a letter of recommendation. Give the following to your counselor. Resume and Autobiographical Sketch Common Application: All Common Application colleges will require the counselor to complete the School Report Form and write a letter of recommendation. You will request this at the time you request a transcript. You do not need to download any forms. No envelopes or postage are required. You must provide forms for any other colleges requiring a counselor evaluation. You will do this when you request a transcript. Remember the counseling office requires 10 school days to process a transcript request. 6

7 THE COLLEGE ESSAY What Admissions Officers Want To Find: The essay is a window into your mind and personality; it reveals your uniqueness what you think about, what drives you, and to what you aspire. An effective essay can compensate for a weakness in almost any other part of the application. The best essays begin with a hook to catch the reader s interest. Write honestly about yourself-genuineness is important. Write a unique essay. Focus on a single area. Be proud of your achievements, but don t brag. Don t repeat in your essay what you ve written elsewhere in your application. Have an English teacher read and make suggestions revise it. Focus on educational or personal reasons for going to college, not on social, economic or family reasons. Clarity and originality of thought. Maturity. Demonstration of writing skills. Ability to organize thoughts. Brevity (no longer than one page in length). Thoughtfulness. Use precise and economical language. Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation Here s What Irks Admissions Officers A lot of big words that are meant to impress. Sloppiness, mechanical errors (spelling, punctuation), obvious professional input, reference to an incorrect institution. Poor writing and flimsy content. Clichés. Merely putting your activity lists into prose form. Bland, impersonal writing. Excessive length. Doom and gloom essays. Essays that don t answer the questions 7

8 ADMISSION DECISIONS OPTIONS Rolling Admission Many colleges make admission decisions on a rolling basis. This means that approximately four weeks after an application is received in the admission office, a decision is made. Possible decisions are admit, not admit, or defer. If deferred for the seventh semester grades you will need to inform the Guidance Office to have a transcript sent after the end of the first semester. Regular Admission Many colleges, notify students of admission decisions on set dates. Admission plans for set deadline schools are regular decision, early decision, and early action. Depending on the admission plan you choose, the college reads all of the applications for that particular group and then mails the admission decisions on one particular date. Regular decision involves applying by a set date and receiving an admission decision by another set date. Possible decisions for this plan are admit, not admit, or wait list. Early Decision Early decision requires a binding commitment from a student if admitted. Possible decisions for this plan are admit, not admit, or defer. Deferred students are placed in the regular admission pool. If admitted, they are no longer committed to attend the university. Early Action Early Action allows a student to apply early and be notified early. Possible decisions for this plan are admit or defer. If admitted, a student is not committed to attend. If deferred, the student is placed in the regular admission pool. Deadlines The student is responsible for being aware of all admission and scholarship deadlines. The Guidance Office requires 10 working (school) days to process a college or scholarship application. 8

9 GLOSSARY OF TERMS ACT: A group of four tests in English, Reading, Math and Science with an Optional Writing section required by most colleges as part of the admissions. Colleges accept either the ACT or SAT. Candidate Reply Date: A policy among subscribing institutions that permits students to wait until May 1 to choose, without penalty, among offers of admission. CEEB Code: The high school code required to register for ACT?SAT tests. The WHS Code is Deferred Admission: The practice of some colleges of allowing accepted students to postpone enrollment for one year. Early Action: The application process in which students make application to an institution of preference and receive a decision well in advance of the institution s regular response date. Students who are admitted under Early Action are not obligated to accept the institution s offer of admission or to submit a deposit until the regular reply date. Early Admission: Admitting students of superior ability into college courses and programs before they have completed the standard high school program. Early Decision: The application process in which students make a commitment to a firstchoice institution where, if admitted, they will definitely enroll. Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA): The application required for students to be considered for federal student financial aid. Grants: Awards based on financial need that do not require repayment. Grants are available through the federal government, state agencies, and educational institutions. Open Admissions: The policy of some colleges of admitting virtually all high school graduates, regardless of academic qualifications such as high school grades and admission test scores. PSAT/NSMQT: Practice SAT given to juniors in October. It is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Regular Decision: The application process in which a student submits an application to an institution by a specified date and receives a decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time, but not later than April 15. Rolling Admission: The application process in which an institution reviews applications as they are completed and renders admissions decisions to students throughout the admission cycle. SAT: A test of Critical Reading, Math and Writing given by the College Board and required by most colleges as part of the admissions process. Colleges accept either the SAT or ACT. SAT II Subject Tests: One hour multiple choice exams in a specific subject. Not all colleges require these. Student Aid Report (SAR): The information you will receive approximately 2-4 weeks after your FAFSA has been processed. It will report the information from your FAFSA application and, if there are no questions or problems, your SAR will report your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 9

10 Transcript: The official record of high school or college courses and grades, generally required as part of the college application. Wait List: An admission decision option utilized by institutions to protect against shortfalls in enrollment. Wait lists are sometimes made necessary because of the uncertainty of the admission process. By placing students on the wait list, an institution does not initially offer or deny admission, but extends to the candidate the possibility of admission in the future, before the institution s admission cycle is concluded. 10

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