COLLEGE PLANNING GUIDE FOR PARENT AND STUDENT

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1 COLLEGE PLANNING GUIDE FOR PARENT AND STUDENT Williamstown High School - Guidance Department 700 North Tuckahoe Road Williamstown, New Jersey

2 INTRODUCTION Many parents and students find the college acceptance process difficult and confusing. This guide, along with the assistance of your Guidance Counselor, will help to make preparing for college and the college search and acceptance process much easier. Knowing ahead of time what is expected of a student will help in setting goals. The Guidance Department of Williamstown High School hopes you will find this to be a useful aid. We encourage you to start early and use all of the resources that are available through our office. Please keep this booklet in a safe place, as it will be your source of information for the high school years. The Guidance Department Williamstown High School

3 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page I. YOUR ACADEMIC RECORD. 1 GRADE POINT AVERAGE (GPA).. 1 CLASS RANK.. 1 STUDENT TRANSCRIPT 1 SCHOOL PROFILE 2 COLLEGE RECOMMENDED COURSES COLLEGE TESTING. 2 NCAA REQUIREMENTS. 3 TWO-YEAR COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS.. 3 II. HIGH SCHOOL YEARS..3 In this part, you will find the information you need to make wise decisions. If you have questions at any time, call your counselor. Your counselor can Be an invaluable resource, but you assume the responsibility for meeting all college requirements 8 TH GRADE, GETTING READY FOR HIGH SCHOOL TH GRADE 4 10 TH GRADE TH GRADE. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING A COLLEGE.. 6 SELF-ASSESSMENT TH GRADE 11 III. MONEY FOR COLLEGE 13 INFORMATION ON FINANCIAL AID. 13 FEDERAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID PROGRAMS. 13 PUBLIC TUITION BENEFITS PROGRAM. 15 IV. RESOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.. 16 RESOURCES AVAILABLE AT WILLIAMSTOWN HIGH SCHOOL RESOURCES TO AID IN CHOOSING A MAJOR 16 FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION.. 16 INFORMATION WEB SITES 16 RESOURCES AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET.. 17 WRITE YOUR NOTES HERE.. 18 Revised 7/14

4 I. YOUR ACADEMIC RECORD In order to make informed decisions you must understand certain terms. You will find brief explanations of these terms in Part I. GRADE POINT AVERAGE (GPA) Although individual colleges weigh criteria differently when evaluating prospective students, GPA is usually the first thing a college will consider. GPA is simply the average of a student's grades, starting with the freshman year. Our school has "weighted grades" for honors and/or AP (advanced placement) courses. If a school has weighted grades, then a grade in an honors and/or AP course is worth more than it is in a non-honors course. The higher the grades the higher the GPA. The higher the GPA, the better your chances for being accepted into the college of your choice. This also increases opportunities for scholarships. CLASS RANK Class rank is usually the next criteria a college uses to evaluate incoming students. Class rank tells where a student stands academically in his/her graduating class, based on his/her GPA. The student who has the highest GPA is number one in the class, the student with the second highest GPA is number two, etc. You must have a high GPA in order to have a high-class rank. It is usually written with the student's place in the class followed by the total number in the class. Rank can be important when applying for scholarships because many scholarships require that a student be in the top 10% of his/her class. STUDENT TRANSCRIPT A transcript is a photocopy of a portion of the student's cumulative academic record. Transcripts contain the following information: 1. Courses, grades and credits for each grade level completed, beginning with grade Current weighted and non-weighted cumulative GPA and class rank. All college and most scholarship applications will request an official transcript accompany the application. An official transcript includes a signature and seal verifying its authenticity. An unofficial transcript does not have an official signature or seal. A student's transcript provides the college admissions and scholarship committees with important academic data.

5 SCHOOL PROFILE Our high school has a school profile that we send with each transcript. Our school profile is a one-page document that includes pertinent information on our community and our school. It includes the size of the school, the percentage of students who go on to college, information on how GPA is calculated, the grading system, graduation requirements, and a list of weighted courses. While the transcript provides colleges and/or scholarship committees with information about the student, the school profile provides information about our high school. COLLEGE RECOMMENDED COURSES Four-year colleges recommend students complete 16 academic units or college preparatory classes while in high school. These generally include: 4 years of English 3-4 years of Mathematics, including Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II 3 years of Science Including Lab Science 2 years of the same World Language 3 years of Social Studies Many colleges consider the above courses as "minimum requirements." High school students who plan to attend a four-year college should select the most rigorous schedule they can handle. COLLEGE TESTING PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) - a practice test for the SAT which is also used to determine National Merit semi-finalists. It is given each October, primarily to sophomores and juniors. SAT I (Scholastic Assessment Test) - a college entrance examination, generally taken during the junior year. Students receive a Verbal, Math and a Writing score. ACT (American College Test) - a college entrance examination, generally taken during the junior and/or senior year. Students receive scores in English, Reading, Math, and Science Reasoning, as well as a Composite score. SAT II: Subject Tests - one-hour tests which measure a student's knowledge of specific subject areas, and his/her ability to apply that knowledge. Only some colleges require these tests.

6 NCAA REQUIREMENTS The NCAA sets specific academic criteria before an athlete can play a sport at a Division I or Division II school. Students must meet minimum GPA requirements in 14 core courses and achieve certain minimum scores on college entrance exams. Specific criteria can be found on the NCAA website Students may register for the NCAA clearinghouse at the end of their junior year. TWO-YEAR COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS By the year 2018, 63% of careers will require a two or four-year college degree or higher. A four year college education is not for everyone. In fact, students can often best prepare for many of today's high growth career fields by attending a community college or a technical school. All students planning to attend a county college or technical school will not be required to have completed all of the recommended college preparatory courses in high school, nor in most cases will they be required to take the ACT or SAT. Students who prefer to study courses that relate directly to their career goals and/or students who enjoy a more hands-on approach to education should consider a community college or technical school as a post-secondary option. Some students may begin their education at a two-year college and later transfer to a four-year college to finish their degree, provided the courses are transferable to the college of their choice. II. HIGH SCHOOL YEARS In this part, you will find the information you need to make wise decisions. If you have questions at any time, contact or put in an appointment request to meet with your counselor. Your counselor can be an invaluable resource, but you must assume the responsibility for meeting all college requirements. 8TH GRADE GETTING READY FOR HIGH SCHOOL As a general rule, the grades that a student earns in eighth grade are not used in computing a student's GPA, and they do not appear on a student's high school transcript. The eighth grade is however, an important year as preparation for high school. 1.) Although eighth grade grades and test scores do not officially "count," they are often used to determine placement in ninth grade courses. 2.) Development of good study skills are important in preparing for the work required in high school.

7 3.) Eighth grade students need to think about their future goals so they can develop an educational plan for high school. 9 TH GRADE Freshman year grades and credits all become part of the academic transcript. Any honors, awards and activities can be listed on college and scholarship applications. 1. Monitor your academic progress. Parents may obtain their username and password for PowerSchool through the Guidance Department. This will enable you to view your child s current grades and attendance. You should not assume that someone will contact you if there is a problem. Make sure your child realizes freshman grades are important in the cumulative transcript. 2. Become involved in a variety of activities. Colleges will ask students to list high school activities, community service and evidence of leadership. Keep a list of all you do in a special file and be sure to update it regularly. This will make things easier when it comes time to complete college and scholarship applications. Participate in activities outside school. Community service is particularly impressive on an application. 3. In the spring, you will meet with your counselor to prepare your schedule for the following year. Make certain that you share your plans with your counselor so they can recommend the most appropriate courses for your sophomore year. 4. Choose worthwhile summer activities. Take on a summer job, do volunteer work in the community, or if affordable attend one of the many excellent summer programs available on college campuses. 10 TH GRADE The sophomore year should be a time to work with your counselor on career exploration. Your counselor will help you to determine career interests, talents and skills. Continue being involved in activities and working hard academically. 1. Continue to monitor your academic progress.

8 2. Continue to be involved in a wide variety of activities, community service and develop leadership skills. 3. Be sure you visit the career center for career planning. The Career Counselor will schedule appointments with you. She will be using some tools to help you select careers. Take it seriously and spend some of your free time in the Career Center. 4. Consider taking the PSAT/NMSQT. The PSAT/NMSQT is given in October. Sophomores take this test for practice, while juniors take it to qualify for National Merit Scholarship Awards. 5. Consider taking the SAT at the end of this year if you are taking honors and advanced placement courses. This will help you know where you stand and what you must do to improve your score if necessary. 6. Start to explore college options. This is a good time to visit college fairs, collect information on colleges and examine interests and abilities. 7. In the spring, you will again meet with your counselor to schedule classes for next year. Take your counselor's advice on choosing the most appropriate courses for the junior year. 8. Choose worthwhile summer activities. 9. Update your file of all activities. 11 TH GRADE The junior year is a time for students to take college tests, make college visits, and to START searching for colleges and scholarships. 1. Continue to monitor your academic progress.

9 2. Continue to be involved in a wide variety of activities, community service and develop leadership skills. 3. Register in September for the PSAT/NMSQT. At Williamstown High School we offer the Wednesday administration of this National Test in October to all sophomores and juniors. The test is divided into reading, math and writing sections. It gives students an idea of how they will do on the SAT. The test booklet will be returned to the student along with the score results. Used properly, it is an excellent way to prepare for the SAT. It also lets the student compare themselves to other students across the United States. As a junior, extremely high scores are recognized by the National Merit Scholar Foundation for scholarship opportunities. 4. Students must register for the SAT s at: SAT Prep books and other study aides are available to you in the Career Center. The SAT I is given on Saturday mornings and takes approximately five hours. The results of the test will be available to you on-line in approximately 4 weeks. You will receive a verbal, math and written score. Most colleges expect at least 1500 combined score on the SAT. You can take the test more than once and most colleges will accept your highest scores. 5. Examine college options with your counselor. This is the year to gather college information. Your counselor is a valuable source of information. There are also videos and college catalogues available in the Guidance Office. Be sure to use the computer program available in the Career Center to help select a college. This program will ask for input such as location, size, activities, majors, cost, etc. By determining what is important to you, you will be able to obtain a list of colleges that meet your needs (username-williamstown, password-tuckahoe) and through Naviance at the following address: QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING A COLLEGE What is your tentative choice of a major? Do you want to attend a small college or large university? Are you interested in a two-year or a four-year program? Do you want to be in the Midwest, North, South, East, West?

10 Does an urban, suburban, or rural location make a difference to you? What is the size of the city or town in which college is located? What extra curricular activities are most important to you? How far is too far away? What is your major program of study? Which tests are required for admissions: SAT I, ACT, SAT II, TOEFL? What is the college's admissions policy on academic units, teacher recommendations, etc.? When is the application deadline for early decisions, regular admissions or rolling admissions? What are the comprehensive costs and is financial aid available? Example: Tuition fees, room and board, books and other supplies =total costs. What is the student/teacher ratio? How many students commute? Is it a "suitcase" school? Are the residence facilities and policies suitable to you? What sports are available? NCAA - Div. I or Div II eligibility required? What special programs/services does the college provide: ROTC, honors, remedial, etc.? What types of scholarships are available? Does the school have a religious affiliation? To help you consider a variety of college options, the Counseling Department at Williamstown High School provides these services throughout the school year: 1. Individual consultations 2. Career Counseling 3. Visits with college representatives 4. Financial Aid Night 5. Video tapes and catalogs of numerous colleges available for checkout 6. Williamstown High School Guidance Department Website 7. Junior Planning Night

11 Additionally, our students are encouraged to attend the Annual College Fair, which is usually held in the fall at Gloucester County College. It is important for you to know your counselor and make use of all the resources the Counseling Department has to offer. SELF-ASSESSMENT You should think about yourself prior to choosing a school that will be right for you. What are you looking for in a college? What are your goals, your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses? This list along with your Personality Tool Kit Survey and other self-inventories will get you started. It's also important to extend your search in the Career Center. High School Grade Point Average Class Rank Test Scores: PSAT SAT I Date taken V M W Date taken V M W Date taken V M W SAT II Date taken TEST SCORE Date taken TEST SCORE ACT Date taken E M R SC COMP Classes I have enjoyed: Jobs I have had: Jobs I have enjoyed: Jobs I would like to have: School, community and church activities: Offices held and specific activities: Sports:

12 New things I would like to try: Strengths: Weaknesses: 6. Visit "College Fairs". Gloucester County College hosts a college fair each fall. Representatives from numerous colleges and universities will be attending this function to provide you with answers to any questions you may have about the college. Representatives from different colleges also visit the Guidance Office. Check on the board in the office to keep abreast of scheduled visits. Use Naviance to view college information, schedule college visits, and print your receipt as your pass to the college visit. 7. Make college visits. The junior year is an excellent time to make college visits. If you make your college visits during the summer, visit those colleges while they are having summer sessions. It is important to get a feel for what the college is like when classes are going on. Call the Admissions Office several weeks in advance to schedule a college visit. College visits can consist of open house days, group tours, individual appointments and interviews. Scheduling should be done through the Admissions Office. How to make the most of your college visit A. Learn as much as you can about the college before you visit. B. Take a tour. C. Talk to someone in the department you are considering as a major. Check out all facilities. Ask about tutoring and writing centers if college level work worries you. D. Visit a dorm and try the food. This will be your home for four years.

13 E. Ask about any special program, activity, or sport in which you are of interest. F. Visit the student union and talk to students. Find out what the students do on weekends and get a "feel" for the students. Try to determine if it is a place where you can "fit in". G. Make an appointment with the Financial Aid Office if you are interested in financial assistance. Here is a list of questions you may want to ask the college admissions counselor. 1. Is the major you want available? 2. What are the specific requirements for admission: high school subjects, admission tests, portfolio, audition, and interview? 3. When is the admission application deadline? 4. What are the expenses for tuition, room, board, books, supplies, travel, any other costs? 5. What subjects are you required to take during the first year? 6. Is the institution accredited? By which agency? 7. Are up-to-date equipment and facilities available? 8. How large will your classes be? Are instructors available to provide extra help? 9. What services are offered: career planning, counseling, study skills, tutoring, or other specialized services you may need? 10. What type of residence hall and dining facilities are available? 11. Is transportation available? 12. Does the institution accommodate nonsmoking students or those with special dietary needs? 13. Are health services available?

14 14. Are the student activities you want available? 15. Is financial assistance available? 16. When is the financial aid application deadline? 17. When will you be notified of acceptance? 18. Are you required to submit an acceptance deposit? Is it refundable? 19. Does the institution assist students in finding career oriented summer employment and internships? 20. What type of employment do graduates obtain? Remember that it is good manners to write a thank you note if you had a personal interview. 8. Select courses carefully for the senior year. Colleges want to see that you are continuing to follow a strong college preparatory curriculum in your senior year. Be sure to meet all graduation requirements. 9. Start checking into scholarships. Look through the scholarship newsletter that is published each month by the counseling office. Check the books in the Career Center pertaining to scholarships. There is also information in the back of this booklet on scholarships. 10. Update your activities for this year and choose worthwhile summer activities. It is important to do volunteer work or community service. If affordable, you may want to enroll in one of many summer programs that colleges offer to outstanding juniors. 12th GRADE 1. Continue to monitor your academic progress. Senior grades are important. Many colleges request a mid-year transcript. At the end of the year, we will send the final transcript to the college you plan to attend. 2. If necessary sign up for the first SAT I and/or SAT II.

15 If you have not scored at least 1000 on the combined verbal and math portion, you should take the test again. 3. Obtain and complete college applications in the fall. The easiest way to apply to colleges is online. If you need a paper application you can download it from the college s website. All applications will require a high school transcript and most will have one or more sections for the high school counselor to complete. A. Complete the student portion of the application neatly, thoroughly, and accurately, before you give it to your counselor. B. After you complete your part of the application, bring the entire application, the application fee and any attachments requested to your guidance counselor. See that the application is given to the counselor at least three weeks before the deadline. Counselors have many responsibilities, and will have numerous applications to complete between October and February. Understand that it takes time and thought to complete an application correctly and/or write a letter of recommendation. If you apply online, fill out the correct form and give it to your counselor. C. Complete the Naviance Brag Sheet online. You may need recommendations from a counselor and or teacher. Talk with a teacher you feel will give you a good letter of recommendation and make your request after speaking to the teacher personally. Be sure to include a deadline and give him/her enough time to respond. Remember that you are not the only person requesting these letters. D. The Guidance Office will mail the completed application to the college(s) Admissions Office with an Official High School Transcript and letters of recommendation. You will complete a Release of Transcript Form at the beginning of your senior year, allowing us to send the transcript to requesting schools. College essays are an important part of the application process for many colleges. The purpose of the essay is to develop more fully an understanding of the applicant as an individual. An outstanding essay can have a positive influence on the decision. Likewise, a poorly written or hastily done essay can have a negative influence on the admissions decision. It is worth your time to produce your best work. 4. Apply for financial aid and scholarships.

16 There are thousands of scholarships. However, most of these scholarships have very specific eligibility criteria (e.g., a student must go to a particular college, be in the top 5% of his/her class and have a specific SAT score, or a student must belong to a particular ethnic group, race, religion, have overcome a great obstacle, have great leadership skills, a specific major, etc.). When it comes to academic scholarships, students generally must have an outstanding GPA (90 or better), high test scores, excellent recommendations, and be involved in extracurricular and/or community activities. To receive an athletic or talent scholarship, a student must be truly outstanding. If you are willing to invest the time and energy you may find that your efforts pay off. Be aware of all deadlines. 5. Make the decision. In April of your senior year, you will receive financial aid packages from all the colleges to which you have applied. You will have until May 1 st to make your decision. Let your counselor know of your choice, so your final transcript can be sent to the correct college. III. MONEY FOR COLLEGE INFORMATION ON FINANCIAL AID Students and parents should not assume that they cannot afford a particular college or university. Financial aid often makes it possible for students to attend colleges they would have thought too expensive. There are basically four categories of financial aid: 1. Grants - money awarded to a student that does not have to be paid back. 2. Loans - money that must be paid back with interest. 3. College Work Study - money that the student earns through a campus job. 4. Scholarships - money that is awarded because a student is outstanding in some area and does not have to be paid back.

17 Financial aid generally comes in the form of a "package." A package is a combination of grants, scholarships, loans, and work- study. Packages are awarded through the financial aid office, and will vary from college to college. FEDERAL PELL GRANTS FEDERAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID PROGRAMS This is a federal grant based on financial need and college costs. FEDERAL SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY GRANTS This grant is based on financial need and preference is given to applicants who are not eligible for the Pell Grant. FEDERAL SUBSIDIZED STAFFORD LOANS The government pays the interest on this loan. Repayment begins six months after you leave school. FEDERAL UNSUBSIDIZED STAFFORD LOANS The borrower pays the interest on this loan. More information can be found at: FEDERAL PERKINS LOAN Low-interest loan amounts that depend on when the student applies, level of need, and the funding level of the applicant's school/institution. FEDERAL PLUS LOAN PROGRAM A loan for parents that when added to financial aid may not exceed the total cost for that academic year. FEDERAL WORK-STUDY (FWS) This program provides jobs, usually on-campus, for undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need. The jobs are usually 10 to 12 hours per week at the federal minimum wage. CAMPUS-BASED FEDERAL PROGRAMS Check with the Financial Aid Office at the school of your choice to see what is available.

18 TUITION AID GRANTS (TAG) These are awards for students who have been legal residents of New Jersey for 12 months and demonstrate financial need. You must attend an approved New Jersey institution. EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FUND GRANT (EOF) The Educational Opportunity Fund is a state sponsored program that provides academic and financial support to students who demonstrate need in these areas. You must be a legal resident of New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months prior to receiving the grant. EOF Programs include summer sessions, mandatory tutoring, counseling and developmental courses. NJCLASS LOAN PROGRAM Undergraduate and graduate students or parent(s), legal guardian, spouse or relative may borrow for each student per academic year. New Jersey students must be enrolled at least half time, at an approved school in New Jersey or outside of New Jersey. Out-of-state students must be enrolled at an approved New Jersey school. Students also must be making satisfactory academic progress towards a degree. The NJCLASS Loan may not exceed the student's estimated cost of attendance minus other financial assistance. Borrowers must be credit worthy or provide an acceptable co-signer. A need analysis is required. There is no interest subsidy. Repayment is 15 years from the date of the first disbursement, including periods of deferment. The interest rate may be fixed or variable. A range of repayment options are available: Active Payment Loan Principal and Interest; Deferred Principal Loan; and Deferred Principal and Interest Loan. Borrowers must begin repaying interest within 60 days of the first loan disbursement. Borrowers pay a 5% application/administrative fee from the loan proceeds. Loan applications are available at New Jersey colleges, which serve primarily as certifying agents. Applications also may be obtained by calling the Higher Education Assistance Authority's (NJHEAA) Toll-Free Hotline at Eligible students: PUBLIC TUITION BENEFITS PROGRAM Spouses and dependents of Emergency Service Personnel and Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty. Residents of New Jersey.

19 Undergraduates attending an approved New Jersey college, university, or degree-granting post-secondary institution on at least a half-time basis. Annual Award: Grants pay the actual cost of tuition up to the highest tuition charged at a New Jersey public institution of higher education. Application deadline is usually in early fall of a student's senior year. Please see your guidance counselor for more details. To Obtain Financial Aid: 1. Go on-line to to complete the free application for federal student aid. Complete the form as soon as possible after January 1 st. 2. Attend any financial aid nights and/or meetings that may be offered in your area. (The Guidance Department holds one every January. It is a good idea to attend this before your senior year). 3. Complete the FAFSA as soon after January 1 st, if possible. Even if you know that you will not qualify for any need-based aid because of your income, you should still complete the FAFSA. Colleges and organizations often want it verified that students are not eligible for need based aid before they award non-need based aid. Applications will not be accepted after June 30 th, of the year you intend to begin college as an incoming freshman. IV. RESOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION POST-SECONDARY INFORMATION RESOURCES AVAILABLE AT WILLIAMSTOWN HIGH SCHOOL The College Handbook/College Board Peterson's Guide to Four-Year Colleges/Petersons Guide to Two-Year Colleges/Petersons Vocational and Technical Schools/Petersons Peterson's Competitive Colleges/Petersons 150 Popular College Majors/College Board Colleges for Careers/Petersons Selecting the Right College/Smith

20 RESOURCES TO AID IN CHOOSING A MAJOR Colleges for Careers/Petersons Book of Majors/College Board FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION: College Money Handbook/Petersons Getting Financial Aid/College Board Scholarship Handbook/College Board INFORMATION WEB SITES (Our own Guidance Department Website has many helpful links.) RESOURCES AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET COLLEGE/CAREER INFORMATION FILES Career Cruising username - williamstown password Tuckahoe Careers - Resources to help you locate career opportunities, resume writing, self assessment, interviewing skills, best paying and fastest growing fields and careers.

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