COLLEGE PLANNING HANDBOOK

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1 COLLEGE PLANNING HANDBOOK FOR STUDENTS AND PARENTS [Mount de Sales High School CEEB Code: ]

2 The College Planning Handbook Table of Contents TOPIC PAGE General Information 3 Philosophy of College Counseling 3 College Counseling at mountdesales.net 4 Family Connection at Naviance 4 Four Year College Planning 5 College Planning Timeline 6 Graduation Requirements 8 Quick-List for College Planning 9 Standardized Testing for College 10 College-Bound Glossary 13 The College Search 16 Questions and Criteria 16 The Service Academies/ROTC 19 Career-Specific Majors 21 Book and Website Resources 23 College Campus Visits 27 College Representative Visits at MDS 28 The College Application Process 29 Quick-List: Information Locator 29 Deciding on your College List 30 How Colleges Select a Freshman Class 32 Criteria used to Review Applications 33 The Freshman Index 34 Application Process: an Overview 34 Application Package 35 Supporting Documents for Application 36 Secondary School Reports/Teacher Recommendations 37 Steps to File a College Application 38 Processing the Application Package 40 College Athlete Information 42 The Common Application 43 Sample Resume 44 The College Essay and Interview 45 How to Write a College Essay 45 Essay Advice from a College Admission Office 49 Quick-Tips for Writing an Essay 51 Tips for the College Interview 52 College Financial Aid and Scholarships 54 College Scholarships 55 The Georgia HOPE Scholarship 55 Financial Aid Questions for Colleges 56 How the FAFSA Works 57 2

3 The Philosophy of the Mount de Sales Academy Office of College Counseling The Mount de Sales Office of College Counseling provides advisement to all four grade levels in our upper school program. The freshmen and sophomores begin the counseling cycle with several introspective lessons that help them understand how their academic courses of study, their extracurricular activities and their community service commitments all build strong resumes that will be used later during the college search. Juniors begin the strategic part of the cycle with meetings and individual conferences that encourage formal research and college visits. Seniors initiate the active application process after individual assessment meetings in the fall. The goal of our college advisement program is to help students find a college that will be a good match for the years beyond high school; one that will offer an environment for continued academic challenge and personal growth. Achieving this goal requires cooperation and open communication between the student, the college counselor, and the parents. Each person must assume certain responsibilities to meet the demands of numerous timetables and deadlines. Each student must take charge of the process of discovering themselves and using that knowledge while researching information about colleges. He or she must also take responsibility for following instructions in regard to the entire college application process. This includes: Completing applications Registering for standardized tests Sending test scores to Mount de Sales and to selected colleges Making appointments for college visits Writing essays Requesting letters of recommendation Meeting all deadlines. The college counseling team assumes the responsibility of supporting, encouraging, and offering guidance to the student and parents through the entire process. These duties include: Steady communication with students and parents about college preparation and trends in admissions Establishing a comprehensive college counseling program for grades 9-12 Presenting informational sessions for students and parents Coordinating appointments for on-campus visits by college representatives Providing access to informational resources Delivering information about college fairs, open houses, visitation days, etc. Overseeing and advising seniors with college applications Coordinating the school support materials, including the MDS college profile, teachers letters of recommendation, the secondary school reports, the counselor s letter of recommendation, etc. Guiding underclassmen in building the student resume and making appropriate curricular choices Visiting college campuses and establishing relationships with admissions counselors Participating in college counselor workshops and other professional development events. Parents provide a critical support system for the student who is searching for the right college fit. Parents can be a wonderful source of encouragement and advice, but must also be willing to allow their children to make the transition from high school student to college student independently. Finding the right balance between loving assistance and hovering interference is the key to making the college application process a positive and productive family milestone. 3

4 Mount de Sales Academy link to College Counseling The college counseling link on the school website provides a valuable source of information year-round. To access it, go to then open Academics, Upper School, then..college Counseling. There you will find a calendar of events, reminders of student and parent meetings, college representative schedules for campus visits, information on college fairs, testing dates and deadlines, scholarship materials, and numerous other resources. Family Connection at Naviance Naviance is a web based system that allows students to collect, organize, and analyze information about post-secondary plans. It allows you to compare a student s academic grade point average and standardized test scores to those of students who are likely to be admitted to specific colleges based on data from past students at Mount de Sales Academy. Unlike other resources, Naviance uses real historical data from Mount de Sales to provide a more specific overview of the quantitative factors influencing college admissions. Seniors can use Naviance to access a schedule of visits to Mount de Sales by college representatives, informational workshops, application deadlines, etc. Parents are also given an access code so that they can use Naviance to keep informed during the entire college search and application process. Each student and parent will receive a unique access code to utilize this powerful system. The website to for Naviance Family Connection is found at: https://connection.naviance.com/mdsaga 4

5 Four-Year College Planning Ninth Grade The activities for students in ninth grade are low-key and focused on self-understanding and how the self-knowledge relates to their future plans. Students should begin to ask themselves what they are good at and in what general areas they are interested. During the freshman year, emphasis should be placed on earning the highest grades possible in all courses taken; these are the first records that will be included on the high school transcript that will be reviewed by colleges later. Students should become involved in extracurricular activities and community service projects. The college planning activity for ninth grade students is facilitated by the personal counselor and includes an exploration of the unique learning style each student possesses and how it relates to classroom success. Tenth Grade Students in tenth grade should find a balance between taking the most rigorous courses available and earning high grades. The self-awareness activities begun in the ninth grade are continued. The PSAT is taken by all sophomores in October. This test is the preliminary SAT and is done in preparation for the test that will be taken during the junior year as part of the National Merit and Achievement Scholarship Programs. The upper school principal and college counselor work with students prior to the PSAT to help them develop test taking strategies. Faculty members are encouraged to implement test sample questions regularly in their lesson planning. Sophomores should continue to pursue extracurricular activities and commit to community service projects. Students are introduced to the My Road and My College Quick Start tools that analyze their PSAT results and give instruction for improvement on the SAT. Students will select courses for the next year with input from the college counselor and advisement from the upper school principal. The college planning activity for tenth grade students is an introduction to the Career Explorer in Family Connection (Naviance). Eleventh Grade A more formal phase of college planning begins during the junior year. Students should begin meeting with the college representatives who visit the Mount de Sales campus and attend college fairs whenever possible. Students will take the PSAT again in October. This test determines participation in the National Merit and Achievement Scholarship programs. Juniors should utilize the My Road and My College Quick Start programs to get customized instruction on how to improve SAT scores. Juniors will begin doing serious college research and enter their student profile in Family Connection (Naviance). It is important that students earn the highest possible grades in the most challenging curriculum possible this year. A junior parent meeting is held in January; then, the college counselor holds sessions for students. Juniors must complete tasks assigned by the college counselor and are encouraged to go on college campus visits if possible. Juniors are encouraged to take at least one sitting of the SAT and the ACT before the end of the school year. Senior courses will be selected in the spring with advisement from the upper school principal and the college counselor. The summer between junior and senior years is used to continue college research. Twelfth Grade Students should arrive at school in August prepared with a preliminary college list. The college counselor will meet individually with each student early in the fall to determine each student s plan of action and readiness for the application process. Students who desire another set of test scores should plan to take the SAT and/or the ACT again before mid-december. All Early-Action or Early-Decision applications must be prepared before the end of September. Seniors should continue to earn the highest possible grades in the most challenging curriculum possible so the midterm grades sent to colleges will be acceptable. Students are encouraged to meet with the college counselor regularly throughout the application process, the scholarship search, and the decisionmaking period in the spring. 5

6 College Planning Timeline Second Semester of Junior Year January February February March March March/April April May May May June June June- August Junior Launch Parent Meeting Survey/Resume Assignments given to juniors Workshop meetings held with junior students SAT (MDS is a test center): Register at collegeboard.com College Bus Tour (dates determined annually) Spring Break-great time to go on college visits! ACT test date-: Register at actstudent.org Register for the June SAT II if you need the Subject Tests Surveys and Resumes due SAT test date: Register at collegeboard.com Register for the June SAT II if you need the Subject Tests AP exams taken (if applicable) SAT test date- register at collegeboard.com Take the SAT II Subject Tests if your college choice requires them ACT test date- register at actstudent.org Go on college visits! First Semester of Senior Year August September October November Update resumes, if necessary Continue college visits Register for the fall SAT and/or ACT if you want another set of scores Register for the SAT II if you need the Subject Tests Senior College Countdown Parent/Student meeting ACT test date-register at actstudent.org Begin finalizing college lists Ask teachers for letters of recommendation Complete any Early Action or Early Decision applications Attend the UGA/GA Tech workshop if interested (date to be announced) Complete early scholarship applications Continue college visits/attend college rep meetings on campus Many application deadlines are this month SAT test date (MDS is a test center)-register at collegeboard.com Senior College Day-go on more college visits! Attend meetings with college reps on campus ACT test date- register at actstudent.org Many application deadlines are this month SAT test date- register at collegeboard.com 6

7 December College applications with an early January deadline are due SAT test date- register at collegeboard.com ACT (MDS is a test center)- register at actstudent.org During the Christmas break, finalize all applications with a mid-january or early February deadline. Second Semester of Senior Year January February March February-April May Complete applications with spring deadlines Submit the FAFSA paperwork on-line Complete the CSS Profile on-line, if applicable Give mid-year report forms to MDS college counseling office (if any) SAT test date- register at collegeboard.com ACT test date- register at actstudent.org SAT (MDS is a test center)- register at collegeboard.com Deadline for financial aid applications Attend Open Houses on college campuses Interview at colleges Attend Scholarship/scholar days on college campuses File deposits Students sit for AP exams Let colleges know your matriculation decision Inform MDS college office where to send final transcript SAT and ACT test schedules and registration deadlines can be found in the Mount de Sales college counseling office, on the MDS website, and on the test agency websites (collegeboard.com and actstudent.org). Please note: the registration deadline for these tests is 4-6 weeks in advance of the test date. 7

8 Graduation Requirements for Mount de Sales Academy Class of 2015 Class of 2013 and 2014 Class of 2012 Curricular Area Units Required for Graduation Curricular Area Units Required for Graduation Curricular Area English 4 English 4 English 4 Mathematics 4 Mathematics 4 Mathematics 4 Units Required for Graduation Science 4 Science 4 Science 4 Social Studies World History, American History, and Government/Economics required) Theology (Theology I, II, and Social Justice required) World Languages (Two units must be earned in the same World Language) Physical Education ( ½ unit earned in Personal Fitness; ½ unit earned in Health) 3 Social Studies 3 Social Studies 3 4 Theology (Theology I, II, and Social Justice required) 2 World Languages (Two units must be earned in the same World Language) 1 Physical Education ( ½ unit earned in Personal Fitness; ½ unit earned in Health) 3 Theology (Theology I, II, and Social Justice required) 2 World Languages (Two units must be earned in the same World Language) 1 Physical Education ( ½ unit earned in Personal Fitness; ½ unit earned in Health) Computer Technology.5 Computer Technology.5 Computer Technology / Fine Arts (at least.5 must be earned in Computer Technology) Fine Arts 1 Fine Arts Electives 1.5 Electives 1.5 Electives 2 Total Units Required for Graduation 25 Total Units Required for Graduation 24 Total Units Required for Graduation 24 8

9 Quick-List for College Planning Basic Advice Take the initiative to meet with your counselor. Use Naviance Family Connection to: Enter colleges of interest. Check application status. See schedule for college representative visits to Mount de Sales. Send to colleges. Find college application deadlines. Turn in your questionnaires on time. Be patient - give colleges time to process your application materials. Visit campuses! Start in your junior year! Applications Complete the blue application cover sheet (found in college counseling office). Copy applications for your file and your counselor. Print the college s secondary school/ counselor form and turn it in to your counselor after completing your portion. Deadlines for Applications Request Application Support Materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, secondary school report) from the College Counseling Office by the posted deadlines. UGA (Early Action Only): October 15 All Other Early Decision, Early Action, Rolling Admission: October 1 Teacher Recommendations Use the green teacher recommendation request form (found in college counseling office). Complete the form and take directly to teacher/s. Provide envelopes and necessary forms. Ask early, before end of junior year. Send only if schools require them. Admission Testing Mount de Sales School Code for SAT and ACT: Send scores directly to colleges from testing agency. Mount de Sales does not send scores. Take SAT and/or ACT at least twice, and at least once during the junior year. Determine if the colleges on your list require the SAT Subject Tests. If taking Subject Tests, take them soon after completing the highest level of course material. Check testing schedule not all tests are offered on each testing date. 9

10 Standardized Testing for College Entrance Important Data for Completing the Test Registration Forms: Your name should be exactly the same on all registration forms You should use your Social Security number if you have one; it is used for identification purposes. Always enter the Mount de Sales High School (CEEB) code: PSAT/NMSQT Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test The PSAT/NMSQT is administered each year in October to sophomores and juniors and is considered to be a predictor of future SAT scores. It measures critical reading, verbal reasoning, math problem solving, and writing skills. The PSAT scores are the basis of many academic opportunities at colleges. The test taken during the junior year also serves as the qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship Program and is a source of college mailings. 2. SAT I: Reasoning Test The SAT I is an objective, standardized test that measures verbal, writing, and mathematical reasoning abilities that students develop over time, both in and out of school. It is administered on Saturday mornings and lasts approximately four and a half hours. It is offered seven times a year, in October, November, December, January, March, May, and June. Most colleges and universities require the Sat I for admission. We serve as a test site for the October and March administrations of this test. Remember that SAT I scores constitute just one of many predictors of your success in college. Your grades are a more realistic predictor. While the SAT I provides a reasonable indication of your verbal, writing, and mathematical aptitude, it does not measure important qualities needed for success: motivation, perseverance, curiosity, and a sincere desire to learn. Some students with high scores do not do well in college because they lack these qualities; others with lower scores may do very well as undergraduates. The three sections of the test are worth 800 points each. The essay portion is scored separately. Many schools use all three sections of the test for admissions, and many use only the critical reading and math portions of the test. Students should be cognizant of what criteria each university uses as an admission guide. Many people debate the question of whether it is possible to study for the SAT I. Some argue that the test measures mathematical, writing, and verbal reasoning ability and it should not, in theory, be possible to increase scores substantially through studying. However, familiarity with the test and with testing strategies is very helpful. One way to accomplish this is by taking the SAT preparatory course offered at Mount de Sales every June. Reviewing the Score Report from your PSAT can also help you identify areas of potential weakness. A third option is to buy a test-taking guide (available at bookstores) and work through the practice questions before taking the SAT I. 10

11 If you are trying to evaluate the benefits of special coaching for the SAT I, the following six points, written by the College Board, are worth considering: a. The SAT I measures developed verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities as well as writing skills that are involved in successful academic work in college; it is not a test of some inborn and unchanging capacity. b. Scores on the SAT I can change as you develop your verbal, writing, and mathematical abilities both in and out of school. c. Your abilities are related to the time and effort spent; short-term drill and cramming are likely to have little effect; longer-term preparation that develops skills and abilities can have greater effect. One kind of long-term preparation is the study of challenging academic courses. d. While drill and practice on sample test questions generally result in little effect on test scores, preparation of this kind can help you become familiar with different question types and may help you to be less anxious about what to expect. e. Generally, the soundest preparation for the SAT I is to study widely, with emphasis on academic courses and extensive outside reading. Since SAT I score increases of points result from about three additional questions answered correctly, your own independent study in addition to academic course work could result in increases in your scores. Finally, if you decide to take an SAT I prep course or to enlist a private tutor, consider doing so over the summer vacation. Students are far too busy during the school year with classes, sports, and club involvement to take on the additional burden of a prep course. This is why Mount de Sales offers its course during June. Regardless of what you select for test preparation, summer offers a more leisurely time to take a course; the student can then attend a review session shortly before the test date. 3. SAT II: Subject Tests SAT II Subject Tests are one-hour tests designed to measure students knowledge and skills in particular subject areas, as well as their ability to apply that knowledge. The tests are independent of any particular textbook or method of instruction. Students may take up to three tests on one test day, and test are offered six times a year, in October, November, December, January, May, and June. Many of the highly selective four-year colleges require three subject tests, usually including the math test and two tests in other areas. Tests are given in the following areas: Literature, United States History, World History, Math Level 1C, Math Level IIC, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, and Spanish. 4. ACT-American College Testing Program The ACT Assessment is curriculum based; it includes tests directly related to high school content areas. The test includes four minute tests in the academic areas of English usage, mathematics usage, social science reasoning, and natural science reasoning, as well as an optional 30-minute writing test. It is offered six times a year, usually in September, October, December, February, April, and June. Either the ACT or the SAT is required for 11

12 admission to most colleges. We serve as a test center for the September and December administration of this test. 5. AP-Advanced Placement Examinations Advanced Placement Exams are three-hour tests based on college-level courses given in high school. These tests are given once a year, in May in numerous subject areas. Mount de Sales Academy requires each student who enrolls in an AP course to sit for the exam in May. Scores earned on these exams can be sent to college admissions offices where they can be used for college credit and placement. Reminders About Test-Taking Check each college for their requirements about the SAT I, the ACT, and the SAT IIs. Some require subject tests for admission, while others recommend them. It is a good idea to take at least one SAT and one ACT by the end of the junior year. If you want another set of scores prior to filing your college applications, you can repeat the tests during the first semester of your senior year. When you register for any of the standardized tests, be sure to include the Mount de Sales high school code (CEEB) # so a copy of your score report will be sent directly to the school to be included in your records. Colleges require official test scores sent directly from the testing agencies. Students must request that the College Board or ACT send their scores to the colleges to which they are applying. The Mount de Sales Academy transcript will show the scores, provided that you have them sent here, but it will be considered unofficial unless received directly for the test organization. You cannot take the SAT I and the SAT II Subject Tests on the same date. The Mount de Sales High School Code (CEEB) is: You will need to enter this number each time you register for the SAT and ACT and when you take Advanced Placement (AP) exams. 12

13 College-Bound Glossary General Admissions ACT/SATI/SATII tests: ACT (American College Test) and SAT I (Scholastic Aptitude Test) are the examinations most frequently required for college admission. SAT II tests are subject area tests and are not required by most colleges. Advanced Placement (AP) Exam: Exam taken at the conclusion of an AP course whereby high school students can earn college credit by achieving a certain score on a specially designed College Board exam. Arts and Sciences: sometimes referred to as Liberal Arts; a program of courses that does not have primarily a vocational focus. Bachelor s Degree: a degree given by a college or university to a student who has completed a four-year course of study or its equivalent. College: a school of higher learning that grants a bachelor s degree; may be a division or school of a university. College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB): company that provides college entrance testing, such as SAT, TOEFL, PSAT. The ETS (Educational Testing Service) is the testing division. Common Application: a generic application that many colleges have agreed to use. A student is allowed to complete one application, make copies of that application, and send a copy to each college (that agrees to use the common application) to which he/she is applying. This may also be completed online. Early Action: a plan used primarily in highly selective colleges, although used more and more by many competitive colleges. Early Action follows the same application/notification timetable as Early Decision but allows the accepted candidate until May 1st to accept or decline the offer of admission. Early Decision: a plan whereby students may receive action on their admission applications early (usually by December 15th). The student may be required to delay applying to any other institution until after he/she hears from his/her early decision college, or he/she may be required to name the early decision college as his/her first choice and to agree to withdraw all other applications and enroll at that college if accepted. Fee Waiver: Students of families with a low annual income may be eligible for this service. The fee waiver form is submitted instead of money when applying for college testing or admission. The college counseling office has these forms. Honors Program: a plan designed to encourage superior students to engage in a more challenging program in their area of concentration than is required. This may include special honors sections of available courses. Ivy League: an association of colleges in the Northeastern United States including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. 13

14 Rolling Admissions: a practice whereby a college gives an admission decision as soon as possible after an application is completed. With rolling admissions, the college does not specify a deadline. Students are accepted until the class is filled. ROTC: many colleges have units of the Reserve Officers Training Corps that offer two- and fouryear programs of military training culminating in an officer s commission. In most colleges, credits for the courses can be applied toward a degree. ROTC scholarships are available that pay full educational costs in both public and private colleges. A military obligation is required of ROTC scholarship recipients. Technical/Vocational Schools: public or private institutions that charge fees for education in specific skills and trades (secretarial, welding, auto mechanics, etc.). Upon completion of the course of study, the student usually receives a certificate of completion and is certified in a specific skill or trade. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): an English exam for foreign students. Register by mail. The test is held at various testing sites. University: an institution for higher education that includes one or more schools or colleges for graduate study and grants master s and doctor s degrees. Financial Aid Award letter: letter sent to the student that indicates the type(s) of financial aid being offered by the school, including state and federal sources. Award year: the school year during which financial aid is given (July 1 through June 30.) Base year: calendar year preceding the award year. Cost of Attendance (sometimes referred to as Cost of Education): includes tuition, fees, and living expenses. Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount the student s family is expected to pay toward the cost of attendance. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): form that student s family is required by most institutions to complete before student is awarded scholarships, grants, loans, etc. This form MUST be completed for a student to receive the HOPE Grant. This application will be available in late December. Financial Aid Package : a combination of grant, scholarship, loan, and campus job to cover a student s financial need to pay for his/her college expenses. The financial aid package is offered by the college. Financial Need: The difference between the Cost of Attendance and the Expected Family Contribution. Grant: gift aid which does NOT have to be repaid; sometimes referred to as grant-in-aid; usually given to student with outstanding ability in general scholarship, athletics, or the arts--music, drama, art, etc. 14

15 HOPE Scholarship: Scholarship program for Georgia students; it covers a portion of tuition at public colleges and universities in the state of Georgia. Fees are not covered. Room, board, and other living expenses are NOT covered by HOPE. HOPE provides a specific amount of money to be applied toward tuition to Georgia students who enroll in private colleges or universities within the state of Georgia. Loan: money borrowed from states, college sources, or commercial banks; usually interest-free while student is in school. Repayment normally begins nine months after leaving school. Need-Analysis Service: the means by which colleges and others who award financial aid obtain a standard and consistent evaluation of a family s ability to contribute to college costs. Forms commonly used include: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Financial Aid Form (FAF) Family Financial State (FFS) Student s Financial Statement (SFS) Profile A college s independent/own application Scholarship: gift aid which does not have to be repaid and may be based upon merit and/or financial need. These include financial awards given to students with outstanding ability in general scholarship, athletics, or the arts--music, drama, art, etc. Student Aid Report (SAR): The output document sent to the student by the application processor. The SAR contains the financial and other information reported by the student on the FAFSA. Work-study Program: a federal program which provides part-time employment on campus and in community agencies. Students typically work ten to fifteen hours per week, according to their class schedules. 15

16 The College Search Questions and Criteria for the College Search Beginning in January of the junior year, we work with students to build a list of colleges that can serve as the basis for further research. This list is intended to serve as a realistic set of possibilities for each student based on individual discussions about the student s interests and needs, the family s wishes, financial considerations, and a realistic appraisal by the counselor of the student s potential for admission. Your needs and interests are critical in developing a list of schools to explore. What have you enjoyed about your education so far? Which kinds of experiences would you like to repeat? Which would you like to avoid? To help you calculate your chances of success, we will analyze your academic record and share statistics on recent Mount de Sales college admissions to help you determine whether your application to a particular school is realistic. One of the best ways to start a college list is through a process of self-examination. Before choosing colleges to research, you need to take an inventory of your personal attributes and aspirations. Until you have taken the time to understand yourself your strengths, weaknesses, goals, likes, and dislikes any search for college is bound to be impeded. Start with yourself; perform an honest and thoughtful self-evaluation; think long and hard about the kind of college where you are most likely to find both happiness and success. Then, once you ve identified your ideal institutional match, start looking for the schools that most closely fit the description. Things to Consider Geographic Location and Demographics 1. How important do you consider proximity to home to be? How important is it to your parents? 2. Does a rural or urban setting appeal to you more? 3. Do you have strong feelings about the climate? 4. Do you want to be in a particular area of the country and/or a particular state? Size and Type of Institution 1. Do you want a co-ed or single sex school? 2. Do you want a large university or a small college: Small under 3,000 Medium 3,000-9,000 Large 9,000-50,000 Major Areas of Interest 1. Does the college satisfy your academic interests? 2. Does the college provide for your personal interests? 3. What is the college s reputation: academic, social, or good balance? 16

17 Instruction and Instructional Equipment 1. What courses are required of all students majoring in the subject(s) that interest me? 2. Is emphasis placed on undergraduate teaching and learning? Do freshman have an opportunity to take at least some of their courses with the major professors of the college? Will teaching assistants (graduate students) teach my classes? 3. How accessible are faculty members for conferences and assistance? 4. In introductory classes, is there opportunity for discussion and exchange of ideas? 5. Can first and second year students count on getting into courses of their choice? 6. Is it possible for a student to design his/her own major? Are interdisciplinary majors possible? Are there any restrictions about students taking courses in their major at other institutions? 7. Are there internships or cooperative programs? 8. Is a junior or senior thesis required? Is it related to one s major or is it a project independent of other course work? 9. What is the average size of introductory classes? Of laboratory sections? 10. Are underclassmen allowed to use all instructional equipment and facilities, or are they reserved for upperclassmen and graduate students? 11. Do the reading and reference rooms in the library provide good study conditions? What are the library hours? Intellectual Vitality 1. What are the students attitudes toward learning? What classes, organizations, or committees promote exchange of ideas? 2. Is there an interest on campus in political, social, cultural or world issues? Who or what fosters these interests? 3. What majors are the most popular? The most rigorous? Have the most requirements (few or no electives)? 4. What kinds of academic pressures exist for underclassmen? For upperclassmen? Is this competition cut-throat or healthy? 5. What percentage of the students graduate in four or five years? Students and College Community 1. To what extent is there diversity among the student body? 2. What percentage of the student body is non-resident or commuter? What is the relationship between the residents and the commuters? 3. How would you describe the typical student? 4. Is there school spirit? Is the college community cohesive or fragmented? 5. Are the regulations governing the students liberal or restrictive? What role do the students play in the governance of the college? 6. What distinguishes this college from others of comparable size and programs? Housing and Food 1. What types of housing options are commonly available to first-year students? Are students required to live on campus? 2. Do different dormitories have different life styles and opportunities for social life? What regulations govern visitation? 3. How are roommates selected? To whom does a student go with housing problems? 4. Are the study facilities in the dorms satisfactory? What does the college do to enforce good study conditions? 5. Does the college have good dining facilities for students? Are the locations convenient? Are various meal plans available? Is the food good? Is it nutritious? 17

18 Support Services and Financial Aid 1. Are members of the college staff available to counsel students about choice of courses, career plans, or personal problems? 2. How does the advisor/counseling system operate? Will an advisor do more than approve courses for the following term? What kind of support do pre-med or pre-law students receive when applying to professional school? 3. What provisions does the college make for acquainting the students with the college before and after arrival? 4. Are scholarships (need-based and merit) available to entering students? What is the application process? Is financial aid guaranteed to all qualifying students? 5. Does the college offer a job placement service for students who need part time work while attending college? What career counseling and placement services are offered to enrolled students and alumni? Special and Recreational Facilities 1. What is the focus of social life on campus? 2. Does the college have a commons or union that serve as the major center of student activities? What does the college do to help students get acquainted or involved in social activities? 3. What leisure-time activities and facilities are available to students? 4. What fraternities, sororities does the college have? Is there Greek housing? What is the approximate cost to be a member? Do the majority of students join a fraternity or sorority? 5. What clubs are available to students? 6. Does the college have adequate indoor and outdoor facilities for intramural and intercollegiate sports? For personal recreation? 7. Is there a chapel on campus? Does it hold non-denominational services? Are there faith-specific organizations on campus? 18

19 The Service Academies Attending college through one of the United States Service Academies is another option for certain students. Admission to a service academy brings with it a free education and many benefits (such as medical care), but it also carries certain obligations. First, the application process to service academies is different from that of traditional colleges and universities. In addition to strong academic credentials, admission to a service academy depends on passing physical examinations and, in most cases, receiving a nomination from your senator or congressman. Second, the lifestyle of a cadet is quite different from that of an undergraduate at traditional college and universities. In place of open schedules and an active social life, a cadet follows a rigorous routine of physical and academic discipline. Finally, the post-graduation obligations are significant. In return for a free education, you are committed to up to six years of service. You are training for a military career, and you could find yourself in a combat situation during your time of service. Be sure you understand the commitment involved. If you are interested in attending a service academy, you should start the application process by the spring of your junior year. Looking Forward to Your Future, published by The College Board, describes the application procedure fully and succinctly as follows: The first step in securing an appointment to one of the academies is to request and submit a Pre- Candidate Questionnaire by mail or on-line. Addresses follow: Admissions Office Admissions Office U.S. Military Academy U.S. Air Force Academy West Point, NY HQ USAFA/RRS or USAF Academy, CO or Candidate Guidance Office U.S. Naval Academy 117 Decatur Road Annapolis, MD or The second step is to write to each of your senators and your congressman and ask that they consider you as one of their nominees. In your letter include your name, address, telephone number, date of birth, social security number, the name of your high school and year of graduation, and parents names. List the academies that interest you and indicate your first, second, and third choices. The Coast Guard Academy has an admissions procedure similar to other highly competitive colleges. There is no nomination process involved. Write directly for an application: Admission Office U.S. Coast Guard Academy 15 Monhegan Avenue New London, CT

20 Reserve Officer s Training Corps Scholarship Program R.O.T.C. scholarship programs involve a competitive application process as well. In addition to the written application, candidates must undergo a physical examination, formal interview, and a physical abilities test. The first step in the process is to request an application by mail or on-line: Air Force ROTC Army ROTC Recruiting Division Gold Quest Center Maxwell Air Force Base P.O. Box 3279 Alabama Warminster, PA Navy-Marine Corps ROTC College Scholarship Program Navy Recruiting Command Code North Randolph Street Arlington, VA ROTC Scholarships are available at a number of colleges and universities in the U.S. In return for generous scholarships, graduates are committed to service for a specific period of time following graduation. 20

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