Applying to college? Below are some useful steps to the college search process.
1) Do your research. Your list should have about 4-8 schools on it. This list should be broken into 3 groups. “Reach” schools are your top choice schools, but schools that you would have the hardest chance of getting into because your qualifications fall just short of their average. “Good Match” or “Realistic” schools are colleges that you would feel happy going to, even if they’re not your first choice. Your transcript should match or be slightly above the average qualifications for these schools. “Safety” schools are your back-ups. These schools have more flexible admission standards and you can be fairly confident in getting admitted. Safety schools can be both academic and financial (you know this school will be affordable).
Also consider factors that are important to you when choosing a college, and make comparisons. Is safety a concern?
Check out this link: College Admissions Requirements and your GPA
and this https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges
3) Check with Guidance or on Naviance for names and dates of visiting college reps.
4) Talk to your school counselor. Make sure that your final list has a good mix of schools in it. Also make sure that you are on track for graduation!!
5) Visit campus. Nothing will be able to tell you whether or not a college is a good fit for you like visiting campus. Stay overnight if you can. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. See the guidance office for a checklist you can bring with you on your visit or click here. For a list of upcoming Open Houses for NJ colleges, click here.
Ready to apply? Keep in mind that every college is different and may have its own nuances that you must follow, so pay careful attention when you are on each individual school’s website and be sure to follow instructions.
1) Have your parent/guardian sign the Parent/Guardian’s Release of Pupil Records. These can be found in the guidance office or by clicking here.
2) Make sure you have your Naviance log-in information. You must submit all transcript requests and teacher recommendation letter requests through Naviance. If you are using CommonApp, make sure you have linked it to your Naviance account.
3) Work on your personal essay. This is a crucial part of your application, as it is a chance for you to show your personality and who you are “beyond the numbers”.
Other useful sites:
4) Make sure you have 2 Teacher Recommendations on file. Give your teachers at least 2-3 weeks notice!! This is respectful of your recommender’s time and gives them ample opportunity to write you a quality letter. Make sure to also request these through Naviance.
5) Have your personal essay reviewed by at least 1 other person. This can help catch mistakes you missed and give you a fresh perspective.
6) Fill out each schools application. Again, make sure that you are following each school’s instructions, as they may differ slightly. Pay attention to deadlines. Be aware of the differences between Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision, and Rolling Admissions.
7) Many colleges require a counselor recommendation called the “School Report”. If you are submitting an application online, make sure you send the invitation for your counselor to complete this form (which usually includes a recommendation letter) at least two weeks in advance. If you are submitting a paper copy, give this to your counselor with the same time frame in mind. WE ARE NOW COMPLETELY ELECTRONIC FOR THE COMMON APP! Under “School Forms”, there should be a button to “Invite School Official”. Send an invite to your counselor and teachers so that they can upload their recommendations directly onto the CommonApp website.
8) Know how each college wants SAT/ACT scores reported. If you did not send them directly on the day of your test, will they accept scores sent from BHS or will you need to order more score reports? You can do this at collegeboard.org or act.org .
If SAT/ACTs are not for you, you may want to consider these TEST OPTIONAL SCHOOLS.
9) If needed, create a Resume or Activities list.
10) Send a transcript request through Naviance to have your records sent to individual colleges.
11) Apply for scholarships. Keep checking in with guidance to see what new scholarships have been posted and do research of your own.
After you’ve applied:
-Keep your grades up– colleges will see them and CAN retract an offer of admission. If you are wait listed, your second semester grades will show the college what you’ve accomplished since they made their initial decision.
-You should receive acceptance letters and financial aid offers by mid-April. If you haven’t done so already, make final campus visits before accepting.
-Colleges cannot require your deposit or commitment before May 1. By that postmarked date, you must inform every college of your acceptance or rejection of their offer.
-Send your deposit to one school only.
-Ask to have your final transcript sent to the college you will be attending.
If you are considering attending a community college for two years and then transferring to a four year school, check out this website:
Other links you may find helpful:
Interested in an online degree?
NACAC’s Guide to the College Admissions Process: http://www.nacacnet.org/research/PublicationsResources/Marketplace/Documents/GCAP2011_Web.pdf