PLANNING FOR COLLEGE TAPPAN ZEE HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE DEPARTMENT

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1 PLANNING FOR COLLEGE TAPPAN ZEE HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE DEPARTMENT 15 Dutch Hill Road Orangeburg, New York Telephone: Fax: School Code: Jennifer L. Amos, Principal Juliet Gevargis, Assistant Principal Richard Neidhart, Assistant Principal GUIDANCE STAFF Counselors: Celia Walker-Team Leader Randy Altman Laura Ferrante Betsy Sherwood Richard Weissberg Secretaries: Pat Kelly Lisa Reynolds 0

2 Dear Student: Success in high school is something that can be predicted. You can be successful at Tappan Zee High School if you know what is expected of you, work hard and have high aspirations for yourself. The following pages provide answers to questions about the rules and regulations of your academic life. We explain our procedures carefully, and tell you how to get things done efficiently and effectively. Most important, we want you to know that as counselors we spend four years learning about you, advising you, advocating for you, and helping you to make important life decisions. Get to know us and understand that we can play a very special part in your high school life. We hope the following information is helpful and that you will become a familiar face in the Guidance office. Understanding the college process will help you to make good decisions and eventually choose the college that is right for you. Sincerely, Celia Walker Guidance Team Leader Randy Altman Guidance Counselor Laura Ferrante Guidance Counselor Betsy Sherwood Guidance Counselor Richard Weissberg Guidance Counselor 1

3 TABLE OF CONTENTS GUIDANCE STAFF DIRECTORY 4 COLLEGE PLANNER 5 COLLEGE SELECTION Statement of Students Rights and Responsibilities 6 Junior Year Calendar 7 Senior Year Calendar 8-9 How to Begin Your Own College Process 10 Naviance 11 A Focus on the Colleges What Really Matters to You 14 Sizing Up Your College 15 COLLEGE SEARCH RESOURCES College Guidebook Bibliography 16 College Information Directory 17 Internet Resources 18 The Campus Visit 19 Questions to Ask of College Representatives 20 College Entrance Testing 21 Concordance Between the ACT and SAT 22 Preparing for the SAT/ACT SUMMER BEFORE SENIOR YEAR Summer to do List for Rising Seniors Types of Post Secondary Choices Preparing a Student Resume 29 Sample Resume #1 30 Sample Resume # Processing Your Application 34 A Focus on the Process 35 Academic Factors in the Decision 36 Non Academic Factors in the Decision 37 Dos and Don ts of Writing your College Essay 38 Dos and Don ts of an Interview 39 A Word About the SUNY Application 40 Terms you Need to Know in the College Application Process 41 SENIOR YEAR NOTES The Importance of Senior Year Senioritis 45 2

4 FINANCIAL AID Financial Aid Financial Aid Terms Financial Aid Internet Resources 50 3

5 GUIDANCE STAFF DIRECTORY Counselors: Celia Walker Randy Altman Laura Ferrante Betsy Sherwood Richard Weissberg Secretaries: Pat Kelly Lisa Reynolds 4

6 COLLEGE PLANNER This guide will provide you with step-by-step suggestions on the college application process. Applying to college can be filled with anxiety and doubt, or it can be an adventure that is exciting and interesting. You must remember that you are not alone in this process. Your parents/guardians must be a part of this journey from the beginning and your counselor will help everyone by providing information, comfort and suggestions. We have been through this process many times and have helped many students make excellent college choices. Please start early, ask many questions and do what s best for you. By becoming an educated consumer, you will be able to make appropriate and positive decisions for yourself. 5

7 STATEMENT OF STUDENTS RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE COLLEGE ADMISSION PROCESS An outgrowth of the Statement of Principles of Good Practice, the Students Rights Statement, makes clear to entering college students those rights which are only alluded to be the Principles of Good Practice. It also spells out the responsibilities students have in the admissions process. WHEN YOU APPLY TO COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITIES YOU HAVE RIGHTS Before You Apply You have the right to receive factual and comprehensive information from colleges and universities about their admission, financial costs, aid opportunities, practices and packaging policies, and housing polices. If you consider applying under an early admission, early action or early decision plan, you have a right to complete information from the college about its processes and policies. When You Are Offered Admission You have the right to wait to respond to an offer of admission and/or financial aid until May 1. Colleges that request commitments to offers of admissions and/or financial assistance prior to May 1, must clearly offer the opportunity to request (in writing) an extension until May 1. They must grant you this extension and your request may not jeopardize you status for admission and or financial aid (This right does not apply to candidates admitted under an early decision program). If You Are Placed on a Wait List or Alternative List The letter that notifies you of that placement should provide a history that describes that number of students on the wait list, the number offered admission, and the availability of financial aid and housing. Colleges may require neither a deposit nor a written commitment as a condition of remaining on a wait list. Colleges are expected to notify you of the resolution of your wait list status by August 1 at the latest. 6

8 JUNIOR YEAR CALENDAR SEPTEMBER Check your schedule. Make sure you have all your academic classes scheduled, including electives and P.E. If you have a problem with your schedule, make an appointment with your guidance counselor Start an online search for colleges using Naviance OCTOBER Take PSAT Attend college fairs at Rockland Community College and Westchester County Center NOVEMBER Students should conduct college and scholarship searches in the library All students must have an I.D. to access the Internet searches in the library DECEMBER-JANUARY Students should continue their college scholarship search on their own. College and scholarship search with your guidance counselor Start planning SAT/ACT Prep FEBRUARY/MARCH/APRIL Meet with counselor for ongoing post-high school planning Visit colleges during spring break Take SAT and/or ACT MAY Review directories of colleges (purchase or borrow from school or public library) Check college website for admissions, financial aid materials and applications from colleges Call college admissions offices to make appointments for interviews, tours and information sessions Begin certification process with NCAA clearinghouse if intending to participate in college athletics. Review college catalogs received Prepare tentative list of schools to visit in summer and fall and share with counselor Continue to make appointments for interviews, tours and information sessions Take SAT JUNE Prepare for final/regents exams. Take SAT and/or ACT Take SAT Subject Tests, if appropriate JULY/AUGUST Continue to review college catalogs Continue to make appointments for interviews and tours Start working on resume 7

9 SENIOR YEAR CALENDAR SEPTEMBER Continue research on colleges using information from school and other resources Continue to make college visits, if possible, when classes are in session Check testing dates and register for SAT, SAT Subject Test, and ACT. Register for SAT/ACT review course or work independently with a review book or computer program Submit resume to your counselor Review list of colleges visiting the Guidance Office. Meet with these representatives Ask teachers to write letters of recommendation Make appointments with your counselor: check credits, permanent record, and senior year program to determine if credits and diploma requirements are being met satisfactorily OCTOBER Attend Fall College Conference Submit Early Decision applications (October 15). Continue to collect application and financial aid information. Register for CSS Profile if your college requires it for financial aid NOVEMBER Finalize selection of colleges, or trade, vocational, business schools Take SAT or SAT Subject Tests. College applications due in the Guidance Office Attend Financial Aid Program Check to see if your colleges require your first quarter gradesmany colleges will need to see these before making a final decision about admissions and financial aid DECEMBER Obtain Financial Aid Forms online at or The forms cannot be mailed until January. Complete all applications with January deadlines for colleges and have them turned in to counselor in early December JANUARY Any remaining college applications due in the Guidance Office Keep working in the classroom. Second semester grades must be reported to colleges and admission is generally contingent upon satisfactory completion of all courses Visit colleges. Write or call ahead for an appointment Complete Financial Aid Forms and make sure you have sent SAT &/or ACT score reports to each college you are applying to Continue checking on and listening to announcements concerning financial aid, scholarships, loans etc. READ GUIDELINES FEBRUARY Notify your guidance counselor of any acceptances and/or denials Keep your guidance counselor informed of any correspondence you may receive from colleges regarding the status of your application for admission. 8

10 MARCH and APRIL Keep a record of all correspondence from colleges. Notify by all colleges to which you have applied either stating your intention of acceptance or informing colleges that you will not attend- this will give students on the waiting list a chance Be aware that many colleges make their financial aid offers as late as May or June. Complete all materials that were mailed to you, i.e. health forms, room and board, etc. AP Exams JUNE Prepare for final exams. Have final transcript sent to college you will attend Transcripts are not printed until mid-july therefore cannot be sent until then Fill out Final Senior Questionnaire MAY Notify your guidance counselor of any scholarships, acceptances or grants that you have obtained CONGRATULATIONS, GRADUATES! 9

11 HOW TO BEGIN YOUR OWN COLLEGE PROCESS The computer is the best way to begin your college search. You can start by doing any one of these things or all of them: Naviance (Family Connection): 1. Go to and go to Tappan Zee High School under schools. Click on Family Connection icon. Username is student s address and password chosen by student. See your counselor if you have trouble gaining access to this site. 2. Go to and type in the name of a college. 3. Go to Type in a college name or go to any one of their sites for names of colleges. 4. Make sure to attend a local college fair. Representatives from over 250 colleges are available to answer questions and distribute information at the School Counselor of Rockland College event, held every October at Rockland Community College. More details of this event will be available at the Guidance Office in September. 10

12 NAVIANCE Naviance is a web-based program which helps all of us in the college process. For you, it is a way to generate a college list, organize your personal data, and acquire a wealth of information about the colleges. We recommend you utilize this system and understand all that it can bring you. Hopefully this will save you time and help the college process go more smoothly. Please contact your Guidance Counselor if you have any questions. LOGIN: Go to https://tcci.naviance.com/tzhs. You will get a screen like this: Nice to see you again! Please log in. Welcome to Family Connection username password remember me Log In forgot your password? need additional help? are you new here? I'm a guest I need to register Your Username is your address you used when you set up your account. If you have never set up an account, please see your Guidance Counselor for your registration code. PERSONAL INFORMATION: My Profile - Complete parent contact information and college attended My Resume - Enter extracurricular activities information. My Game Plan - Enter goals after high school, career and college interests. COLLEGE SEARCH: Check boxes for search preferences: school type, location, student body, extracurriculars, majors, costs, special programs. You will receive a list of schools that match the preferences you selected. When you select a college from the list given, you will be given a College Profile (size, location, college contact information, college website). Under graphs you can visually see how your SAT scores and GPA compare to TZ students who have applied to that school. You can also see the number of TZ students who were accepted or denied and admissions deadlines. 11

13 A FOCUS ON THE COLLEGES You are now ready to begin your research for choosing colleges that meet your needs and goals. To proceed, you need to obtain information from a variety of sources, and compare colleges on the basis of criteria that are most significant to you. CRITERIA IN COLLEGE SELECTION The factors listed are important as you begin to examine schools and your choices. Check the criteria that are important to you. GEOGRAPHIC AREA Commuting area Schools in New York State Schools in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic area Other (specify) CAMPUS SETTING Urban Suburban Rural ENROLLMENT SIZE Very Small (under 1000 students) Small ( students) Medium ( students) Large (10,000-20,000 students) Very Large (over 20,000 students) HOUSING Single Sex Dormitories Co-Ed Dormitories Living off Campus Permitted Commuter STUDENT BODY Co-Ed Student Body (check ratio of men to women) Single Sex Student Body Ethnic/Diverse Mix 12

14 TYPE OF SCHOOL Vocational Armed Services Two-Year Four-Year Public: Such as State University of N.Y. (SUNY or CUNY) Private Religious Affiliated Public school (out of state, state college i.e. Penn State) ENTRANCE DIFFICULTY Most Difficult Very Difficult Moderately Difficult Minimally Difficult Non-competitive/Open Admission CAMPUS LIFE Sports Which Newspaper Drama Radio Station Fraternities/Sororities Other MAJORS MINORS 13

15 WHAT REALLY MATTERS TO YOU? What really matters to you influences your choice of a school. Identifying and clarifying some of these factors will help you understand the important characteristics in your choice of a school. Directions: Read each statement below and circle the appropriate number: 1 = very important; 2 = somewhat important; 3 = not important. How Much Does It Matter That the School: Is strictly a four year college? Is located in or near a small town? Is located near scenic beauty? Is located close to family? Is located in the Northeast? Is located in or near a large city? Is well known? Is highly selective? Is coed? Is one where friends are going? Is very competitive? Has small classes? Has an academic support system? Has an active campus social life? Offers intramural athletics Has numerous clubs/groups? Has sororities and fraternities Is academically rigorous? Offers internships? Offers study abroad? Note the number of 1 s you circled. These characteristics seem to be most important to you. It is possible to find everything you want on one campus. 14

16 SIZING UP YOUR COLLEGE I prefer: 1. Small classes Yes No 2. A great variety of courses Yes No 3. A diverse student body Yes No 4. A close knit community Yes No 5. Contact with well known professors Yes No 6. Privacy Yes No 7. Personal attention from professors Yes No 8. Anonymity Yes No 9. Extensive extracurricular activities Yes No 10. Division I athletics Yes No 11. School spirit Yes No 12. Sports teams Yes No 13. Research opportunities Yes No 14. Variety of school opportunities Yes No 15. Availability of graduate courses Yes No 16. Greater opportunity for class discussion Yes No 17. Accessibility to fellow students Yes No 18. Close relationship with professors Yes No 19. Close relationship with students Yes No 20. The excitement of change Yes No 21. Extensive library and laboratory resources Yes No 22. Lively weekends on campus Yes No Questions to consider: 1. Which attributes are more often associated with smaller schools? Which with larger schools? 2. As you review your answers, do you see a pattern emerging? Does this surprise you? 3. Can you combine the best of both? 4. What other differences can you think of when comparing smaller and larger schools? 5. If you like some aspects of both smaller and larger schools have you considered a medium sized college/university? 15

17 COLLEGE GUIDEBOOK BIBLIOGRAPHY General Information Barron s Profile of American Colleges Barron s Publishing July 2012 The College Board College Handbook 2014, The College Board, June 2013 The Big Book of Colleges College Prowler, July 2011 Subjective Guidebooks The Fiske Guide to Colleges, 2015 by Edward B. Fiske, Crown Publishing, July 2013 The Insiders Guide to the Colleges, 2015 Yale Daily News, St. Martin s Press, Inc. July 2013 Rugg s Recommendations on the Colleges 32 nd Edition by Frederick E. Rugg, 16

18 COLLEGE INFORMATION DIRECTORY Big Future by the College Board (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search?navid=gh-cs) is organized into several categories of college information: Test Scores & Selectivity, Types of Schools, Location, Campus & Housing, Majors & Learning Environment, Sports & Activities, Academic Credit, Paying, and Support Services. Fifty States Directory (www.50states.com) categorizes colleges by state. The Office of Postsecondary Education (www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/index.html) of the US Department of Education includes comprehensive information about federal sources of financial aid and links to other college sources. Special Interest State University of New York (www.suny.edu/student) provides links to an online version of the SUNY application, a curriculum finder, and individual SUNY campus Web pages. New York Private Colleges and Universities (www.college-guide-nys.org) offers campus profiles, locations, open house dates, academic programs, and financial aid for the over 100 private colleges in New York State. Minority Online Information Services (http://www.molis.org/selectinst.asp) provides services that promote education, research, and diversity for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Predominantly Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities industry and other sectors. MOLIS provides a college research service of ethnic serving institutions for American Indians, African Americans, and/or Hispanic students and a search of scholarships offered by MOLIS institutions. Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (www.hacu.net) has as its missions the improved access to post-secondary education opportunities for Hispanic students. HACU student services include a scholarship database and information about its National Internship Program. Guide to Career Education (www.guidetocareereducation.com) provides a directory of postsecondary vocational schools by specialty and state. 17

19 Internet Resources The Princeton Review Website (www.review.com) Online college and financial aid information is also available through this free service. College Board (www.collegeboard.org) is quite a valuable Internet resource and should be automatically included in your bookmark directory. The College Board publishes the SAT and there is online registration and customer services provided. Additionally, the College Board provides a college and scholarship search program, an online version of the CSS Profile, a financial aid calculator, and test preparation information for the SAT s and Advanced Placement Exams. Simply go to the College Board Home Page and click on the Students and Parents icon. Student Financial Assistance (www.fafsa.ed.gov) is the Federal Financial Aid Homepage of the US Department of Education. This source provides an overview and specific information about the process of applying for student aid funded by the federal government. College Exploration Campus Tours (www.campustours.com) offers an online multimedia college tour. These presentations include interactive maps, college Webcams, QuickTime virtual reality tours, campus movies and pictures. Careers and Colleges (www.careersandcolleges.com/ ) provides students with the opportunity to search for colleges, loans and scholarships all on one site. There is also a spot where students can get test prep. Go College: the College Websource (www.gocollege.com/ ) allows students to search for colleges and scholarships as well as giving tips on how to apply to college. This site also has helpful monthly features for students going through the college process. College Search CollegeNet (www.collegenet.com) contributes college and scholarship search services, a college bookstore, and a search engine devoted exclusively to educationally related Web sites. Peterson s (www.petersons.com) is a comprehensive information resource for all levels of education. Peterson s College Quest is a college search and electronic application service requiring prior user registration. 18

20 THE CAMPUS VISIT A visit to campus is the best way to see for yourself what a college is like. Visiting provides the opportunities for direct observation and experience. You will get a sense of the personality of each college, and the composition of the student body. Most colleges encourage campus visits and many publish special brochures to help you plan your visit. LOOK AT THE STUDENTS Where are they from: Local communities? Other states and countries? Public schools? Private schools? What are they like: Studious? Social? Athletic? Intellectual? Diverse? Do they seem: Comfortable? Overworked? Bored? What do they do on and off campus: Sports? Student government? Greek life? Concerts/lectures/plays/clubs? Community service? 19

21 QUESTIONS TO ASK OF COLLEGE REPRESENTATIVES Below is a list of questions that you might ask visiting college representatives. College representatives can tell you a lot, so use the time available to see as many as you can and ask as many questions as you can. Don t be shy. Don t assume you can t get into a school. Don t assume anything. Go ahead and ask! Make good use of this time, and you will be glad you did. 1. I am interested in (major). Do you have any programs in that area? 2. What kind of academic average and SAT scores do you look for? 3. What criteria other than grades are important in the admissions process? 4. What are the most popular extra-curricular activities on your campus? 5. Do most students stay on campus on weekends? What do those who stay do? 6. What are the most popular academic programs on your campus? 7. Are there some characteristics common to most students at your school? 8. What percentage of your students receive financial aid? 9. I am uncertain regarding a possible major. How much opportunity would I have to explore different majors during my first year or two at your school? 10. Tell me about some of your school s strengths and weaknesses. 11. What type of housing is on your campus? 12. What percentage of your incoming freshman class actually graduates? 20

22 COLLEGE ENTRANCE TESTING PSAT/NMSQT-Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, taken in October of the junior year, provides a practice test in preparation for the SAT. It is the same format as the SAT and is useful as an indicator of SAT scores. PSAT scores are not usually used by colleges as admissions criteria, but one s score on the test does determine qualification for participation in the National Merit Scholarship Program. All Tappan Zee High School eleventh graders take this test during the school day. SAT Reasoning Tests and SAT Subject Tests- Students often take the SAT two times and a variety of SAT Subject tests. Juniors will take the SAT sometime during the spring semester, usually March, May or June. In addition, juniors as well as sophomores should consider taking one or more SAT Subject tests in June. You should speak with your counselor regarding your specific situation. AP-ADVANCED PLACEMENT TESTS- AP Tests are designed for students who have completed college level courses in high school. They are used in determining whether or not a student may gain advanced standing in college. ACT-AMERICAN COLLEGE TESTING PROGRAM- The ACT Assessment includes four curriculum based tests that measure a student s educational development in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning. The ACT is a requested or allowed alternative to the SAT at most colleges. 21

23 CONCORDANCE BETWEEN ACT COMPOSITE SCORE AND SAT REASONING TOTAL SCORE ACT Composite Score Concordant SAT REASONING V + M Score

24 PUT TO THE TEST: PREPARING FOR THE SAT/ACT It's Not as Bad as You Think Standardized tests can be scary and all the hype about test scores doesn't help. SAT and ACT test scores are important. But they're not nearly as important as many students think. Colleges use test scores differently, but no college makes admission decisions based solely on them. In fact, your academic record (the courses you've taken and the grades you've received) is looked at much more closely than your test scores. A Proven Way to Boost Your Score There's no way to get around it the best ways to prepare for the SAT or ACT are to study hard and read as much as you can. A great way to improve your score is by reading. But, the only way you re going to get anything out of reading is to choose books, magazines, and newspapers that you enjoy everything from Harry Potter to the New York Times can strengthen your reading comprehension and vocabulary. Practicing writing is also important in your preparation. Whether you're writing a research paper for history or working on your own short stories, it's a great way to get ready for these tests. Test-Taking Strategies Test-taking skills can be learned through practice. Try a few of these strategies to improve your performance on standardized tests. Take the practice test in the materials you receive from the SAT or ACT. Find practice tests online or in books (check your Guidance office or library). After taking a practice test, look carefully at the questions you get wrong. Read the explanations of the right answers. If you find that certain types of questions or certain topics stump you, get some help from a teacher in those areas. For example, a math teacher can recommend a good book to review the basics of geometry or algebra. Learn from every test you take. Take the opportunity to see the answers for the questions you got wrong, if the testing service offers this. Don't just study the answers themselves look at the reasoning behind each answer. Then, if you decide to take the test again, you'll be better prepared. 23

25 The Big Day The night before: Do set out everything you'll need (including your no. 2 pencils!). By doing this, you won't have to run around early the next morning. Don't schedule a huge social event. Do plan to do something that relaxes you reading a favorite book, watching TV, talking on the phone (but not about the test!), taking a walk. Don't stay up late to catch Letterman. Do go to bed early you'll think better if you're well-rested. The morning of: Do plan to arrive at the testing center early. Don't skip breakfast. When you're hungry, it's harder to concentrate and you'll feel more sleepy. Do bring a snack. If a full breakfast is too much for you first thing in the morning, eat an apple on the way to the test center. And bring a snack to munch on during the break. 24

26 SUMMER TO DO LIST FOR RISING SENIORS We all know summer vacation is a time when students want to relax and hang out with friends, but if used wisely, it can be used as unstructured college planning. Once senior year begins, extra time will be limited, so it may be to your best advantage to eliminate some work related to the college process. The summer can also be a time for students to get involved in various activities, which can be appealing to college admissions committees. Consider the following list for college-bound rising seniors. Take time out Summer can be a time to continue thinking and planning for the school year ahead. Think about who you are and what your hopes and dreams are for the future. What activities or academic subjects are you excited about? What talents do you want to make the most of in the coming months? What careers or majors interest you? Get a job Working full or part-time during the summer is advantageous for several reasons. In addition to increasing your savings account, you will be adding to your experiences outside the classroom. Most college admissions committees are interested in all dimensions of the student, not just what you can do in the classroom. Through a summer job experience, you may end up working for someone who could write you a letter of recommendation or you may discover a career field you would like to pursue. So, if you are interested in becoming a lawyer, try to find a job in a law office. Thinking about a career in education? Try to get involved with children through day camps or summer school. This can allow students to see if their interests match with the actual career. In addition, a summer job will give you responsibility. This experience will prepare you for the increased responsibility and independence of being a college student. Travel Whether you are vacationing with your family or decide to go abroad with other high school students, traveling is a fun and educational way to spend a few days or months. To make the most of your trip, take a camera and/or a journal. This will help you document your trip as well as make it memorable. Who knows, your car ride to Florida with your family might end up being the subject of your college essay. Volunteer Finding ways to make your community better not only helps you find things you are passionate about, but also allows you to give back to your community. Ask your family, guidance counselor, or other resources for recommendations of local community service organizations. 25

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