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In this section we will discuss the selection process from the perspective of the college admissions office. When you make your first contact with a college, they begin a file of your communications and include your academic and extracurricular credentials as they receive them. They make the decision to accept, deny or waitlist based on these documents. At large universities there are often set criteria that must be met for admission; however, most other colleges make the final selection by committee. Folders are reviewed by admissions officers, and the officer in charge of St. Edward students presents applications to the committee and advocates for them. Some documents in the student's file are more important than others. The rank order of importance may vary from college to college and from year to year, but in general, in descending order of importance are the following components:

Academic Record The transcript showing the quality of the work you have done in high school is the single most important record. Colleges have found that there is a strong correlation between the type of work a student does in secondary school and the work that will be done in college. They look for a student who has taken a challenging but appropriate program and has done well. Strong junior and senior years are very important because colleges realize that it takes some students longer than others to adjust to a rigorous secondary school program. On the other hand, declining grade trends are particularly troubling to colleges because these trends may continue into freshman year.

Personal Application The application completed by the student supplies the basic information about the student. Thus, it is important that it be completed accurately and completely. A well-prepared application reads easily among the thousands of folders that admissions' officers must read. A poorly prepared application also stands out and indicates an inefficient person or lack of interest in the institution.

In their applications many colleges ask students and counselors if the students have been involved in any disciplinary situations that have led to probation, suspension or expulsion from school. If you are asked such a question, we encourage you to answer honestly, and if the answer is yes, give a brief explanation of the episode. You should stress what you learned from the experience. College admissions officers realize that students often make mistakes as they are growing up, and they hope that students will learn from their errors. If a student can demonstrate maturity derived from a mistake, a college might be reassured the same behavior will not be repeated in college. An honest answer to a probing question should not affect a student's chances of admission if the college is an appropriate match. On the other hand, the discovery of a dishonest answer will most likely have an adverse impact. If you have any questions regarding this matter, discuss it with your college adviser. You should also be aware that serious disciplinary offenses resulting in suspension or expulsion during the senior year may be reported to colleges. Senior year is a time to be on your best behavior.

Extracurricular Activities Colleges are concerned about the quality of a your non-academic contributions and experiences. They want students who will keep a college campus active and interesting. The quality of commitment is more important than the number of activities. Colleges also want students who look beyond their school life and contribute to the community. They want to know your level of competence and interest in an activity whether it is athletics, the arts, community service, or an after school job. Such commitment also reveals a great deal about your personal qualities, values and strengths.

Recommendations Many colleges ask for a counselor recommendation and at least one teacher recommendation. The college counselor writes a summary of your experience at St. Edward High School. This summary explains your academic work across all disciplines and discusses your extracurricular involvement as well as your overall history and contributions to the St. Edward community. The teacher recommendations discuss your ability in specific areas and overall qualities as a student. You do not have to get an "A" in a course for the teacher to write a good recommendation. Colleges want to know about your willingness to persevere and to get help when work becomes difficult. Colleges are particularly interested in your ability to write, your intellectual curiosity, and your engagement in classes. Academic honesty is also an important issue on college campuses.

The Essay Many colleges require a personal essay, which is a good opportunity for you to share a part of your personality or history that does not come across in the general information on the application. This is a type of essay you may have done before in English class. Colleges want you to write clearly and correctly. Be yourself and let the colleges know that you have an active mind and think about issues. Use a style with which you are comfortable. St. Edward students generally write well; however, very few seniors can write a literary masterpiece, and colleges question highly sophisticated essays that do not fit with the rest of the admissions information. You should always discuss your essays with your college adviser and with teachers, but be careful that you do not allow someone to become overly involved in the writing of the essay. It is your personal statement, not someone else's. Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!

Standardized Tests Some larger institutions use test scores as one of the main criteria for admissions, but most private colleges that receive test scores use them as less important criteria. Testing can make a difference at a highly selective institution (large or small) if your scores are below the middle range of the applicant pool or when the college is accepting the last members of the class. Otherwise, colleges rely more on the transcript and the other contributions you can make.

Supplementary Materials If you are applying to a music conservatory, art school or to a specific art or theater major within a university, you will probably be required to have an audition or submit a portfolio for evaluation by a faculty committee. Details for these submissions will be available in the applications, and students should work from the junior year onward with members of our Fine Arts Department to prepare this presentation. In other cases you may wish to send supplementary materials that demonstrate your extracurricular talents, but do this only if the work is very good and you have asked the admissions office if you can send it. Otherwise, it could be a nuisance to the admissions office and an embarrassment to you. It is always a good idea to get an expert's opinion on the material you might like to submit.

The Student-Athlete There are specific guidelines with regard to the academic and testing standards that student athletes must meet, and they differ for each division level. You should consult with your coaches on the athletic aspect of the admission process and with your college adviser on the academic aspect of the process so that everyone can coordinate efforts to help you attain your goals.

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