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Applying to College (Jrs. & Srs.)

Where will you fit in?

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Applying to colleges:   We encourage you to apply to several schools. The general rule of thumb is 1-2 “reach” schools, and 2-3 that you are “more than likely to get into” schools.  Apply to schools where you can see yourself living for four to five yearsDon’t limit yourself to in-state schools.  Many out-of-state private schools, and some out-of-state public schools, offer generous merit scholarship packages, making them relatively affordable.  Colleges review applications holistically, meaning that it is not just a certain GPA or test score that will get you in, it is the WHOLE application PACKAGE!  Watch the video below:

Ultimately, students who are happiest about the college process and its outcomes are those who understand their abilities and needs best and who are, therefore, able to find schools that are the best fit. They have researched their lists well, have asked tough questions, and, as a result, have found good matches, schools they can truly embrace. They listen to both their hearts and their heads; and let insight, not college rankings, guide them.

What are college admissions offices looking at?

  • Academic Rigor
  • Strength of Senior schedule
  • Courses taken vs. Courses available
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) – particularly in core subjects
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • School and Community Involvement/Leadership
  • Unique qualities or circumstances
  • How will this student fit in and add to our campus?

College application terms:

  • Early Decision – If you are admitted under an Early Decision program, you MUST withdraw all other college applications.  This is a binding decision.  You should only apply Early Decision, if that college is truly your first choice school.  Be sure to research the financial aid opportunities available to you BEFORE you apply!
  • Early Action – Early Action is NOT binding.  You will just be notified at an earlier date.  Admissions based merit scholarships are often given out to these applicants.  Note that there are two types of Early Action applications (restrictive and non-restrictive).  Early Action Restrictive (or Single Choice) allows you to apply to one school early action, but is not binding.  The one caveat is that you may apply to other PUBLIC universities, but not other private universities.  Early Action Non-restrictive means that you can apply to as many schools (public or private) as you would like.  Note that your transcript should be strong Freshman-Junior years, if you apply Early Action.  If you are waiting to bump up your GPA senior year, then you may want to apply regular decision.
  • Single-Choice Early Action – This is similar to Early Action, but you can only apply to one school (with a few exceptions).  However, if accepted, it is not binding.  Harvard and Yale both use SCEA.  If you feel that your junior year credentials are strong enough to be considered at these institutions, then SCEA may be for you.  If you need your senior year grades to improve your GPA, then wait to apply under the Regular Decision deadline.
  • Regular Decision – This is a regular application and you will be notified at the same time most other applicants are notified.
  • Rolling Admission – Applications are evaluated and acted upon as they are completed.  You can usually expect to find out 6-8 weeks after application.  However, once the college has filled its seats for that class, the admissions window is closed.
  • 2+2 Articulation Agreement – The state of Florida guarantees that students who complete an AA degree at a Florida community college have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree at a state university or Florida college offering four-year degrees.  However, students are not guaranteed transfer into the college or university of their choice.

Except for Early Decision, you generally have until May 1 to decide where you want to attend.  However, colleges may send you notices asking if you’d like to make a down payment for student housing.  Whether you decide to pay the non-refundable housing deposit or not, will NOT affect your admission status.  The date you make your down payment for student housing will reserve your spot in “line” to request housing, if accepted.

  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – If you plan to apply for need-based scholarships or work study, you will need to complete this online application.  Some scholarship applications also require it.
  • EFC (Expected Family Contribution) – The amount determined by the government, after completing your FAFSA, that your family can reasonably afford to pay for you to attend one year of college including all expenses.
  • Admissions-based Merit Scholarships – There is generally no additional application required.  These are only based on your grades, test scores, and admissions application.  The college does not look at your family’s financial situation.  The admissions department will determine what you qualify for and send you a letter with your admissions decision, or later in the Spring.  YOU must verify if you need additional paperwork to apply for admission-based merit scholarships.
  • Need-based aid and scholarships – Scholarships given to you to off set the difference between what a year of college will cost you and your EFC (Expected Family Contribution).
  • Grant – financial aid that does not need to be repaid, unless you withdraw from school and owe a refund. Many grants are based on financial need, however, some grants also take into consideration academic performance, academic degree program and/or residence status.
  • Loans – borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest.
  • Work-Study – a federal work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school that will not count against your next year’s Expected Family Contribution.

College Essay Tips:

  • Show, Don’t Tell who you are (Use detail, provide meaning)
  • Be Specific
  • Capture the Interest of the Reader
  • Make It Personal
  • Be Yourself!
  • Ask your parent and English teacher to review and proofread your essay
  • 2017-28 Common App essay prompts

The following links may be useful in your college application process:
  This is a great site for tips on writing college essays, scholarship searches, recalculating GPAs, etc.

Florida Pathways to Success 2+2 Articulation Agreements

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How to link your Common App to your Naviance Account:   Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 9.25.46 PM

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Information on getting testing accommodations for students with disabilities:
College Board                                           ACT                      

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