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ST. EDWARD COLLEGE HANDBOOK
College Entrance Examinations
Standardized testing for college is an issue that generates many questions and much anxiety. In the admissions process, colleges that require standardized tests use them as a means to see how students compare to other college-bound seniors in the country and around the world. Most colleges that do use test scores for admissions purposes realize that different students and groups of students have different testing profiles and will take those into account.
An increasing number of colleges make the reporting of test scores optional. To see a list of test optional colleges go to the Fair Test website at www.fairtest.org.
College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) & ACT Code
St. Edward High School’s CEEB code is 362875. This number will be needed for all test registration forms and for college applications. If you give this number when requested on forms, your scores will be sent to St. Edward High School.
It is important to know the testing requirements at the colleges to which you apply. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of registration deadlines and in the senior year to have test scores sent directly to colleges from the testing agencies. This can be done when registering and later by going to the SAT and ACT websites on the internet.
General Testing Sequence for St. Edward Students:
PSAT / NMSQT
The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is designed to provide SAT practice for students in both sophomore and junior years. The PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in junior year is also used to select National Merit semi-finalists and commended students. The National Merit Selection Index is determined annually for juniors, and the minimum score necessary to receive national recognition varies from year to year and from state to state. You will receive information about this test from counselors in the fall. After the test, you receive a score report that gives you a detailed picture of exactly how you did on the test, question by question. Counselors can help you interpret this data.
The SAT is taken either in December, January, March, May, or June of the junior year and potentially again in the fall of senior year. You receive scores that range from 200 to 800 on each of two areas: evidence based reading and writing and mathematics.
SAT Subject Tests
As a general rule, you should take subject tests by the end of junior year if the colleges you are considering require them or strongly recommend them so that you can consider an early application option in the senior year. Each test is one hour long; you may take up to three tests in one sitting. Consult with your college counselors if you have any questions.
The ACT is taken either in December, February, April or June of the junior year and potentially again in the fall of senior year. It consists of four sub-sections in English, Mathematics, Reading and Science, each section is scored out of 36 and averaged to create a composite score our of 36.
Optional Writing on SAT and ACT
When registering for the SAT or ACT you have the option of taking it with writing. We recommend that the test be taken with writing at least once in case you apply to a school that requires it.
Test prep works! The testing agencies have a variety of resources available for test preparation. Your score reports allow you access to individualized test prep options.
SAT has partnered with Khan Academy.
ACT has partnered with Kaplan.
Talk with your college counselor about test prep specialist if you are interested.
You can find additional test preparation resources listed below.
Testing Resource List
DOME SAT Review - Free SAT Prep program
I Need a Pencil - Free SAT preparation
Kaplan - Test preparation
Number2.com - Free SAT and ACT test preparation
Peterson's Test Prep - Free online test preparation courses
Princeton Review - College information and test preparation
SAT Subject Test - Listing of colleges requiring subject exams
Study Guide Zone Test Preparation - Free online preparation for the SAT and ACT
Varsity Tutors - Free practice tests, flashcards, and questions of the day
Seeley Test Pros - Test preparation, classes and tutors
*Remember that the SAT and ACT tests do not pretend to measure motivation, creativity, artistic skills, kindness, decency, sense of humor and other human qualities that many colleges take into account when admitting students. These qualities are much more important than another fifty points on the SAT.
There are many different admission options, so it is important for you to understand the various plans and deadlines and to discuss with your college counselor which one is appropriate for you. Some of the more common options are briefly reviewed below.
Early Action: This is a plan for students to apply early in order to receive an earlier decision. Students still have until May 1 to decide where they will matriculate. Students who are deferred in the early round will be considered later in the context of the entire regular admission pool.
Restrictive Early Action: This admission option may vary from school to school. If a school you are considering has REA, you must check the website for specifics.
Early Decision: This is a binding contract. Students apply early, signing a contract which states that should the college or university accept the student, the student will immediately withdrawal all other applications and deposit at that school. A parent/guardian and college counselor must also sign this contract.
Regular Decision: Students will apply to a college sometime before a deadline, which might range from January 1 to March 1. After the deadline the college reviews all the applications and notifies students of admission decisions around April 1, giving those students until May 1 to reply to the offer of admission.
Rolling Admission: This is the practice of processing an application as soon as the candidate’s files are complete and notifying the applicant as soon as the decision is made. It is to your advantage to submit applications early to colleges with rolling admission. Ordinarily it takes at least two weeks to process a completed file and notify the applicant.
SUBMITTING THE APPLICATION
There are many different types of college applications. Some schools have multiple ways to apply. Check with your college counselor to see which way of applying is the best for you. Some schools require a college essay, some schools require more than one and some do not require the essay at all.
Family Connection - Every student has a Family Connection account. Family Connections offers a variety of resources for students as they research colleges and universities. Students have the opportunity to work on a resume, take personal inventories such as the Myers Briggs and make informed estimations about their chances for admissions. Students will be able to make formal transcript and teacher recommendation letter requests for the schools to which they are applying.
* If a school requires test scores, it is the student's responsibility to have test scores sent directly to colleges from the testing agencies.
Paying for College
In general there are two categories of financial aid: merit based and need based. Colleges offer competitive, merit based awards for a variety of talents including athletic, artistic, and academic. Many colleges reward for community service.
The college counseling office receives announcements for many small, community-based scholarships, and we make these available to students.
Need based financial aid is a far more common, and you gain access to those funds by filing in January the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service "Profile" if needed. Colleges that admit you will then respond to your request for aid with a financial aid package that is typically composed of grants, loans and work-study, depending on your level of need. It is important that you discuss all this information with your parents.
Each year St. Edward has available the services of a financial aid advisor from the nonprofit organization College Now Greater Cleveland to work with seniors and their parents..The advisor is at St. Edward High School one day each week from January through May. The advisor's schedule is available at the St. Edward High School guidance web site.
A financial aid awareness program is held each May and a FAFSA workshop is conducted each January to assist parents with the financial aid process.
SELECTION - FROM THE COLLEGE'S PERSPECTIVE
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 wait list 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.
Beginning the Process - The formal college admissions process begins in January of junior year with group meetings that outline the entire process and make you aware of the following factors that you need to consider when exploring colleges and universities.
Size - Colleges range in size from 26 students at a most selective and specialized college, such as Deep Springs in California, to about 50,000 students at a comprehensive university, such as Ohio State. Many students value the interactions with faculty like the ones you have experienced at St. Edward High School; whereas other students prefer more anonymity. You should keep in mind that the term "small college" generally refers to colleges with about 1500 to 2000 students where you would certainly recognize faces but not know everyone on a personal level.
Location - It is always a learning experience to understand the cultural nuances of another part of the country, but you need to consider whether you want to be close to home, in an urban or rural environment, or want a climate that allows you to pursue throughout the year recreational and athletic activities that are important to you.
Type of Curriculum - Do you want a broad, general education that a liberal arts and science program provides or a more specialized program such as engineering, business, nursing or education, which can be found at a university? Does the college or university have flexibility in regard to courses or the option to change majors or divisions? Are there language requirements or distribution requirements? Are there opportunities for internships, undergraduate research, or cooperative education programs or international study programs?
Student Body & Student Life - What is the percentage of undergraduates compared to graduate students? What is the ethnic and geographic diversity? Are support services available? What voice does the student body have in school affairs? What are the opportunities for study abroad? What athletic and extracurricular activities are available? What is the focus of the social life? Do most students remain on campus on weekends or seek their social life elsewhere? What housing and dining options are available?
Calendar - Does the college or university operate on quarter, semester, or trimester program? Does it have a short winter or spring term? How do the various calendars meet your family and employment needs?
Admission Requirements - What tests are required? Is an interview required or expected? What are the application options? Are essays required? Are teacher recommendations required? What are the deadlines for applications and housing?
COLLEGE VISITS & MEETINGS
You are encouraged to visit colleges and to develop a good understanding of the opportunities available. However, you are required to communicate well in advance with the attendance office and your teachers to make arrangements for missed schoolwork. Policies regarding missing school for college visits can be found in the St. Edward High School Student / Parent Handbook. You must also let teachers know a day in advance if you wish to meet with a college representative visiting St. Edward High School.
College Visits - Colleges have a schedule of tours, overnight programs, open houses and regional programs. Call the college for information so that you can plan ahead. It is best to do the majority of such visits during the summer between junior and senior year so you will return to school with some definite college choices and cause less interruption of your senior year academic and athletic programs. Then you will perform your best in school and give full attention to your college applications. It is always possible to return for another visit during the school year, if necessary, or during winter or spring break.
Interviews - Many colleges are curtailing the number of campus interviews and not utilizing them as a part of the selection process, and they are offering instead more group sessions and alumni interviews. Some colleges, however, still see the interview as an important part of the process and an expression of the student's interest in the college. You need to learn the policy of the colleges that interest you most. We encourage you to have interviews when and if possible because in general St. Edward students are well informed and articulate. You should prepare for the interview by reading some basic information about the college. Call well in advance to make an appointment. Dress neatly and comfortably. Relax! St. Edward students are interesting. Review the college's website thoroughly enough to be familiar with the general aspects of the school so you can ask intelligent questions. Use a small card to make a list of questions you would like to ask and to take some notes. Get the interviewer's name and follow up with a thank you note.
Questions an interviewer might ask you - What academic area interests you most at this time? What extracurricular activity is most meaningful to you? How would you describe yourself as a student? What are you looking for in a college? Have any events affected your secondary school record? If you were the interviewer, what would you want to know? Name three famous people you would like to invite for dinner? Why?
Questions you could ask - What types of students are happy at the college? What sort of advising programs is there for freshmen? What about the quality of student and faculty interaction? What sets the college apart from other similar schools? Extracurricular information? Concerns about admissions and financial aid? Residential life?
Meetings with Admission Representatives at St. Edward High School - Every year a hundred or more admissions representatives visit St. Edward High School. A list of visiting colleges is available online in your Family Connection account. This is a valuable resource for you. It is a good opportunity to ask new questions about a college you have visited or to learn about a new college that has been suggested to you by your college counselor. It is also one more contact with the college and another expression of your interest in a college. The college representatives are often the people who advocate for our students on the admission committee, and it is helpful for them to be able to associate a person with the application. Get permission from your teacher at least a day in advance to attend a session.
MAKING THE FINAL CHOICE
Candidates Reply Date - Most colleges participate in an agreement to let all students know of their admissions status no later than mid-April for regular admissions options. Then you have until the common reply date of May 1 to let the college know if you will be attending. Typically, colleges require by May 1 a deposit of a few hundred dollars to hold a space for you. Check the instructions you receive from the college. At this time (by May 1) students should also notify colleges if they will not be attending to make room for students on wait lists. Above all, do not deposit at more than one college. "Double-depositing" is frowned on by all colleges and may result in both colleges withdrawing their acceptances. If you are unable to meet the May deadline for some reason (for example a missing financial aid offer), you should request an extension from the admissions office.
Wait lists - Inevitably, in addition to being admitted to some colleges, some students will end up on wait lists at some others. Wait lists are the colleges' insurance against being under enrolled in September. They do not know how many deposits they will receive on May 1, and if they appear to be running short, they will soon make offers to those students on the wait list. Usually this might happen in early May. If you are on a wait list, there is no guarantee of getting off it, so you must deposit at some college on May 1. If later you are admitted from a wait list, you of course can choose to go to that college, but let the first one know you changed your mind and expect to lose your original deposit.
Choosing Your College - In mid-April you need to decide which college to attend. If you are accepted at your first choice college, you need to be sure that the criteria you were considering in October are still important to you now. Do you have the highest chance for success and fulfillment at this college, or might you do better academically and feel better about yourself if you choose another college from among your acceptances? This choice will be particularly important if you will be pursuing a professional school after graduation. It is a good idea to make one more visit if you are undecided over a couple of colleges or if you have not seen one of your colleges, but you need not spend too much time doing this and interrupting your course work. Keep in mind that it is your decision, and you should pick a college that meets your needs. If you have been attending to each step of the process, the answer should be evident.
In the end, enjoy graduation and your status as a St. Edward High School graduate. You have made an important adult decision and you are well prepared for a successful future. Congratulations!
JUNIOR YEAR PLANNING
October: Take PSAT as practice for the SAT Reasoning Test and for National Merit competition.
February: Meetings for students and parents to meet with their counselor to discuss college plans begin. Register for March SAT Reasoning Test (optional)
March: Continue college research on the internet. Continue meetings for students and parents to meet with their counselor to discuss college plans. Take SAT Reasoning Test (optional) or register for May SAT Reasoning Test (recommended)
April: Continue college research on the internet. Continue meetings for students and parents to meet with their counselor to discuss college plans. Register for June SAT Reasoning Test or Subject Tests (if needed). Attend the Cleveland National College Fair.
May: Take or retake SAT.
June: By the end of junior year students should have taken the SAT Reasoning Test and/or ACT at least once.
Summer: Visit as many colleges as possible. Schedule interviews when available. Read college publications. Begin developing a final list of colleges. Think about college essays. Begin organizing applications in folders.
SENIOR YEAR PLANNING
September: Check applications deadlines. Decide on early decision. Register for October or November SAT / ACT. Determine final list with your counselor. Attend college representative visits at St. Edward.
October: Attend Lakewood College Night. Begin application process. Attend college representative visits at St. Edward. Register for tests as needed. Ask for teacher recommendations. Take SAT Reasoning Test or Subject Testa as needed and/or ACT.
November: Take tests as needed. Complete early decision/action applications.
December: Complete applications. Request that transcripts be sent to colleges. Ask teachers for recommendations.
January: Submit Financial Aid Forms. Submit remaining applications. Request remaining transcripts.
February & March: Wait patiently. Think about your potential choices.
April: Make final college choice.
May: Reply to all colleges.
End of May: Graduate! CONGRATULATIONS
STUDENT RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES
When you apply to colleges 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 policies. If you consider applying under an early admission, early action 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 admission and/or financial assistance prior to May 1, must clearly offer you the opportunity to request (in writing) an extension until May 1. They must grant you this extension and your request may not jeopardize your 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 Alternate List: The letter that notifies you of that placement should provide a history that describes the 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.
When you apply to colleges and universities, you have responsibilities!
Before You Apply: You have a responsibility to research and understand the policies and procedures of each college or university regarding application fees, financial aid, scholarships, and housing. You should also be sure that you understand the policies of each college or university regarding deposits that you may be required to make before you enroll.
As You Apply: You must complete all material that is required for application, and submit your application on or before the published deadlines. You should be the sole author of your applications. You should seek the assistance of your high school counselor early and throughout the application period. Follow the process recommended by your high school for filing college applications. It is your responsibility to arrange, if appropriate, for visits to and/or interviews at colleges of your choice.
After You Receive Your Admission Decisions: You must notify each college or university that accepts you whether you are accepting or rejecting its offer. You should make these notifications as soon as you have made a final decision as to the college that you wish to attend, but no later than May 1.
You may confirm your intention to enroll and, if required, submit a deposit to only one college or university. The exception to this arises if you are put on a wait list by a college or university and are later admitted to that institution. You may accept the offer and send a deposit. However, you must immediately notify a college or university at which you previously indicated your intention to enroll.
If you are accepted under an early decision plan, you must promptly withdraw the applications submitted to other colleges and universities and make no additional applications. If you are an early decision candidate and are seeking financial aid, you need not withdraw other applications until you have received notification about financial aid.
If you think that your rights have been denied, you should contact the college or university immediately to request additional information or the extension of a reply date. In addition, you should ask your counselor to notify the president of the state or regional affiliate of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. If you need further assistance, send a copy of any correspondence you have had with the college or university and a copy of your letter of admission to:
1631 Prince Street,
Alexandria, VA 22314-2818.
10 TIPS FOR PARENTS
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Seniors are more apprehensive than they look. Touchiness may mask anxiety about "getting in" or leaving friends and family.
2. It’s not where they go that matters: it’s what they do when they get there. What college students do with the opportunities at their college is generally more important than what particular school they attend.
3. Let your child get more in charge of the future. Over-leading the college search and college decision process robs your teenager of an opportunity to take a giant step toward adulthood. Be a gentle coach. Keep a calendar of due dates.
4. Adolescents are just like people. They benefit more from compliments than criticism, particularly during transitions. And like people, they resist being controlled or judged. Talk to your senior showing the same respect you give your best friend. Get help if arguments are frequent or fierce.
5. Letting go is over- and under-rated. The emotional recipe for launching teenagers is to gradually let go of your responsibility for your child’s decisions and behavior, while holding on to accountability and promoting warm, age-appropriate connections. Negotiate for a few firmly-held rules, and one family connection per week.
6. You still need to "be there." The way to "be there" for your child as college draws near is not to disappear, nor to engulf your son with last-minute lessons about life and hold on too tightly. Be watchful for signs of serious substance abuse, depression, or eating disorders.
7. Checkbooks and computers are important. Children launching to college need as much education about managing money and using computers as they do about managing alcohol and sex. Moreover, be frank about what you are willing to pay for college.
8. Parenting is not over. Your children are not really leaving home forever, and your job as an active parent is not over. Mothers and fathers are critical anchors to adolescents as they go off to college. Divorced parents need to work together to support new college students emotionally and financially.
9. E.T. was right: phone home, don’t come home. The best cure for students’ homesickness is not to come home, but to get involved in college life, and use the phone and e-mail to stay connected. The best cure for parents’ kid-sickness is not for you to call your child every day, but to get focused on new dreams.
10. What empty nest? The empty nest is a thing of the past for most mothers who have had multiple roles, but it may be a new reality for fathers who have been active co-parents. The first few weeks or months may feel sad, but focusing on new projects for mid-life helps a great deal. So does working on relationships, and building new connections to adult kids.
Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting Into College by Sally P. Springer and Marion R. FranckJossey-Bass. This is an excellent introduction for both college-minded teens and their parents. Comprehensive and written in straightforward, clear language, chapters explore the current competitive environment surrounding college applications, what admissions counselors look for, and how to prepare for the new tests and put together an application package.
Almost Grown: Launching Your Child from High School to College by Patricia Pasick W.W. Norton & Company. Offering intelligent counsel in this time of tumult, as a child makes the transition from high school to college, Almost Grown tackles the key questions parents have about this time, explores the impact on family stability, and examines the challenges and opportunities which nontraditional families face.
Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope. Penguin USA. Discusses 40 colleges, mostly in the Northeast, South, and Midwest. What makes this book different from other guides is that it highlights schools that select students who have a wide range of abilities, not necessarily the cream of the crop academically, but who exhibit a desire to learn. The atmosphere at these institutions is collaborative rather than competitive and they feature close interaction between students and faculty.
Don’t Miss Out: The Ambitious Student’s Guide to Financial Aid by Anna J. Leider, Robert Leider. Octameron Associates. Written from a consumer's point of view, this new edition presents everything students and their parents must know when seeking financial aid for college. Charts, tables & worksheets.
The Fiske Guide to Colleges by Edward B. Fiske. Three Rivers Press. Provides easy to use statistics about SAT and ACT scores, male-female ratios, the number of applicants and the number of students receiving financial aid. Revised and updated, based on new surveys of thousands of students and administrators. Softcover.
The Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College by Edward B. Fiske & Bruce G. Hammond. SourcebooksThe author of The Fiske Guide to Colleges presents a comprehensive guide to each step in the admissions process, from choosing the right school to writing a successful application essay to getting the most financial aid.
Letting Go A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
Quill An excellent book about what it feels like for parents when their kids go off to college.
Peterson's The Insider's Guide to College Admissions by Thomas C. Hayden. Peterson'sThis informative guide leads parents and high school students through every essential step of the college process.
Rugg’s Recommendations on the Colleges by Frederick E. Rugg. Rugg’s RecommendationsIdentifies recommended undergraduate programs in various majors.
Smart Parents Guide to College: The 10 Most Important Factors for Students and Parents When Choosing a College by Ernest L. Boyer, Paul Boyer (contributor). Peterson’s GuideA new guide for parents with children looking to attend college helps answer important questions about how to choose a school for its academic program, financial value, faculty standards, and many other issues facing prospective students and their families.
ACT - The ACT is a standardized college entrance test offered on a number of dates (see your guidance counselor for testing calendar) and consisting of four parts: English, math, reading, and science reasoning along with an optional writing test. Most colleges accept either the ACT or SAT (see below).
Academics - Basic, general areas of study such as English, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language, etc., as opposed to strictly technical or vocational courses. High school success in these core subjects is used as a predictor of success in college.
Advanced Placement (AP) - A series of exams offered in classroom subject areas in May each year. Many high schools offer AP courses in many subject areas. Students may earn from one to eight college credits depending on the score earned on the test. The colleges determine what credit will be given for specific scores.
Arts and Sciences - The liberal arts division of the college (usually the largest division). Liberal arts are not engineering, business, pharmacy, or nursing. They consist of the humanities; physical, life, and natural sciences; math; and social science disciplines. Many students apply to the arts and sciences division.
Candidate's Reply Date - May l has been designated as the date by which all students must make a commitment to the college he or she will attend in the fall. Many schools will notify a student of admission before April l5 (the last date the colleges must inform students about their applications), but no student seeking admission under Regular Decision need notify a college of attendance before May l.
CEEB - The College Entrance Examination Board is a nonprofit organization governed by college and secondary school members. CEEB is the overseeing agency for many tests and services connected with the college admission process. The six-digit high school code most colleges may ask for is called a CEEB code.
CLEP - The College Level Examination Program sponsored by the College Board through which students can receive credit for classwork experiences and on-the-job training. Not all colleges recognize CLEP credit.
College (as different from a university) - An educational institution that offers instruction beyond the high-school level in a two- or four-year program only, or an academic division of a university, such as the College of Arts and Sciences.
College Board - A nonprofit organization whose membership includes colleges and universities and a large number of secondary schools. It offers a wide variety of services to members, including standardized admission and financial aid procedures, guidelines for admission policy, and a forum to discuss topics of concern to the higher education community.
College Day or College Night Programs - A program sponsored by a high school or school district to provide information to students about the college selection process. Representative from colleges and universities are present to answer questions about their institutions.
College Representative or Admission Officer - Many colleges send admission officers to high schools to promote their schools and introduce their programs to prospective students.
College Scholarship Service (CSS) - The division of the College Board responsible for the PROFILE and the needs analysis that determines the family's contribution toward payment of a student's education.
Combined Studies Program or Dual Degree Program - These terms designate programs in which a student combines academic interests from more than one area; for example, a student who is pursuing two separate bachelor's degrees is in a combined (or dual) degree program. Students who pursue double majors and major/minor combinations are in combined studies programs.
Common Application - The Common Application is an online form that can be used to apply to over 400 colleges and universities; college applicants need to fill out only one form.
Co-op Program - In a cooperative education program between a college and a corporation, studio, or lab, the student attends classes and then works off-campus, for pay, at the business site in the student's career field to gain experience.
Credits - The unit used for measuring educational accomplishment based on a given number of classroom periods per class, per week, throughout a term. Most undergraduate programs require an accumulation of at least l20 credit hours to graduate.
Deferred Admission - A process by which seniors apply for and are accepted for admission to colleges during their senior year of high school, but choose to enter as freshmen after a one-year absence from school. A deferred admission is a commitment on the part of the college to take the student; a deferred acceptance is a commitment on the part of the student to attend after one year. Check with the college for specifics on deferring your enrollment.
Deposit - An amount of money that a student must send to the college, once he or she has been accepted. The deposit indicates that the student accepts the college's offer and will enroll. The enrollment deposit is nonrefundable. A housing deposit, also required, is often applied toward the first semester of housing.
Distribution Requirements - Most colleges won't let students take only history courses or only math courses; instead, they usually require that a student take some humanities courses, math courses, language courses, etc., in order to be liberally educated (i.e., not specialized). Some colleges have a core curriculum that is very specific about required courses. Almost all require freshman composition (i.e., English).
Diversity - This can mean anything from geographic distribution, to socioeconomic backgrounds, to political leanings, to religious affiliations of the student body. Often, diversity means the percentage of minority or international students.
Early Action - This is a decision plan allowing students to apply to college early in the fall. The college responds with an admission decision early in the cycle. It differs from Early Decision because Early Action is non-binding. Check with the schools to which you are applying to see which decision plans they offer.
Early Admission - Many colleges have a program under which a student may apply for admission during the junior year. Early
Admission at most colleges is reserved for truly exceptional individuals whose academic preparation, achievement level, and maturity level are sufficient for early entrance to college.
Early Decision (ED) - This is an early application process that involves a binding agreement on the part of the student. If a student is admitted under ED, he or she agrees to enroll at a particular college and to withdraw all other applications in process at other schools. This option is a good plan for students who have a clear first choice and are willing to stand on academic and extracurricular records through their junior year. ED deadlines vary from school to school. Students not admitted under Early Decision are usually, but not always, reconsidered with Regular Decision applicants.
Electives - Courses that are taken beyond those specifically required for a particular degree. Students often use electives to explore different areas of interest prior to selecting a major.
English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) - One of the SAT II subject tests, the ELPT is offered to students who are not native speakers of English but who have completed at least two years of English language instruction. Students whose best language is not English, or who usually speak a language other than English, also may take the test, which consists of two subtests measuring reading and listening skills
ETS - The Educational Testing Service is a nonprofit agency employed by the CEEB to produce the SAT and SAT II tests.
FAFSA - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form available from your high school counselor's office. This form must be submitted for a student to receive federal financial aid.
GPA - The Grade Point Average is an average of all or most high school grades. Some colleges consider only the GPA of core courses.
Grant - An amount of money given (rather than loaned or earned) to a student for a specified time of study or research. Certain grants are based on need, as are the federal Pell Grant and state grants.
Greek Life - Fraternities and sororities associated with a college or university, including their sponsored activities.
Group Meeting or Information Meeting - Informational meetings are often held in cities around the country to give prospective students and their parents information about a college. They are conducted by an admission counselor with assistance from college alumni.
High School Visit - Admission officers visit selected schools in cities throughout the U.S.A. and in some foreign countries to which they travel. These visits, similar to group and information meetings (above), are used to meet with students, teachers, and counselors, and tell them about the admission process at their colleges and the opportunities their colleges offer.
International Student - An international student is a student who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Any foreign student residing in or planning to study in the United States on any type of visa other than a resident alien card is considered an international student.
Liberal Arts - A broad undergraduate program of education stressing the core courses; pre-professional training is often also available. (also see Arts and Sciences.)
Loans - The most commonly used loans are: Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan has the interest paid by the federal government while the student attends college. Repayment begins six months after completing (or leaving) college. Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan does not have the interest paid by the federal government while the student attends college. Interest can be paid while in college or left to accrue until completing (or leaving) college. Federal Perkins Loan Carries the lowest interest rates and is offered through the college as part of a financial aid package.Parent Loan Program (PLUS) Parents borrow for college expenses; repayment begins 60 days after inception of the loan.
Major - A subject of academic study chosen as a field of specialization.
Merit Scholarships or No-need Scholarships - Money given to students to cover college expenses without regard for financial need; e.g., athletic scholarships, academic scholarships, music scholarships, etc.
Minor - A subject of academic study requiring less intense specialization than a major.
NACAC - The National Association for College Admission Counseling is a professional organization of college admission counselors and high school guidance counselors who set standards and goals by which admission professionals work.
National Merit Scholarship Program This program offers qualified students scholarships financed by more than 400 corporations, company foundations, professional associations, unions, company trusts and universities. Recipients are chosen on the basis of PSAT scores, course work, grades, leadership, interests, goals, and school recommendations.
NMSQT - The National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is the PSAT (Preliminary Student Aptitude Test). Scores on the PSAT are used by the National Merit Scholarship Program, in combination with other student attributes, to determine scholarship recipients.
Prerequisite - A course required before taking another course (i.e., French I would normally be required before taking French II).
PROFILE - The form used by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) to assess a family's ability to pay for a college education. After information is analyzed, a complete report is sent to institutions and agencies designated by the student. Need-based financial aid is awarded according to the results. You must register with CSS to receive the PROFILE Packet. See your guidance counselor for registration forms
PSAT - The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is offered to students in October of the junior year. Some students take it during the sophomore year.
Regular Decision - This is the most common admission program. Applications for admission are due sometime between January l and January l5 at most selective colleges; applicants are notified of their admission status between April l and April l5.
Residential Campus - A college that provides or requires on-campus housing for most or all students. Many colleges require all first-year students (freshmen) to live in college housing; this is usually referred to as guaranteed housing.
Rolling Admission - This means that as soon as applications arrive at a college, the admission office starts reading them and making decisions-often within three or four weeks. Usually, if you are accepted under this plan, you will not have to commit yourself until May l, but be sure to read the fine print. Most, but not all, state universities operate with Rolling Admission; the earlier you apply, the better the chance for acceptance at most colleges using this plan.
SAT - The abbreviation for the standardized college entrance test offered by the College Board. The SAT is offered on a number of dates. Three scores between 200 - 800 are reported for critical reading, mathematics, and writing.
SAT Subject Tests - A series of l6 subject-area exams sponsored by the College Board and administered by the Educational Testing Service. Students may take one, two, or three exams on any test date. The scores provide a national standard to measure a student's classroom achievement. Test subjects include areas such as, literature, American history, European history, math, Latin, Spanish, biology, chemistry, and physics. Tests are scored on a scale of 200-800. Information about these tests can be obtained from the College Board.
Scholarship - Money given to students demonstrating high academic achievement, outstanding leadership, or special interests or talents. This money may be used for payment of all or part of their college expenses and is not required to be paid back.
Selective Admission - The ability of a college to choose a freshman class from an applicant pool that has more qualified candidates than the college can accommodate. Only about l00 U.S. colleges are truly selective and only a few are highly selective, i.e., in the position to deny 50 percent of the students who apply.
Senioritis - A tendency in high school seniors to become so excited about the end of school and graduation that they spend too much time in social activities and fail to maintain their grades through the end of their senior year. Don't let this happen to you!
3-2 Programs - A dual degree program where students complete 3 years at one college and 2 years at another. The student graduates with two degrees.
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - A test offered to assess knowledge of written and spoken English for students whose native language is not English.
Transcript - The official record from a school showing the student's grade records, list of courses taken, cumulative Grade Point Average, and class rank (if the school ranks its students). An official transcript, sent directly from the high school to the college admission office, is always required for a student to be admitted.
University - Latin for the whole (uni) truth (veritas), this term refers to an academic organization that grants undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of fields and supports at least two degree-granting professional schools that are not exclusively technological (such as medicine, journalism, or agriculture) and is composed of a number of schools or colleges, each of which encompasses a general field of study.
Viewbook - A viewbook contains a broad range of information about a particular college or university, such as the size of the student body, the size and quality of the faculty, information about the faculty, information about life on campus, and certain specific information about the courses of study available at the school. Other information is sometimes needed to supplement viewbook information for a particular specialization.
Wait List or Alternate List - The number of qualified candidates at a selective college who initially receive neither a letter of acceptance nor a letter of denial, but who may be offered a place in the freshman class after the Candidates' Reply Date if the class is nor filled by those initially offered admission. Some colleges may go to the Wait List as late as July or even August. Students who receive a Wait List letter may be asked if they want to remain on it.
Work-Study - A special federally sponsored college program combining class hours and work hours on the campus. Pay is usually minimum wage or slightly above for approximately l0-l5 hours per week. The earnings from the job are used as part of a financial aid plan to help pay for tuition and other college expenses.
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Key words: Support, encouragement.
Key role: Be your student’s assistant.
1. Unless your child has special needs, resist the temptation to do all the typing on the application or have your assistant do it. The application is not just an object, but a process.
2. Help your child keep track of St. Edward and college due dates. Use gentle reminders to keep the process moving; avoid angry confrontations.
3. Don’t encourage your child to exaggerate accomplishments. This creates the impression that you are not satisfied with what your son has achieved.
4. Similarly, resist the temptation to critique his application essays for not being expansive or comprehensive enough. And don’t write the essay yourself. It’s okay to proof for spelling and grammar errors.
5. Be sensitive to your son’s self-esteem. This may be the first time your son has had to be this self-descriptive. Be generous with praise. Pat yourself on the back too, for parenting your child thus far.
6. If you do not intend to support your child’s attendance at a particular college, be clear about that.
By: Patricia Pasick, Ph.D. from Almost grown: Your Child From High School To College (W.W. Norton, 1998)