College Counseling FAQ
- Learning About Colleges & Myself
- Building My College List
- Taking the Right Standardized Tests for Me
- Applying to My Colleges
- Affording College
- Talking with Colleges About My Interests
- Responding to News & Taking Next Steps
- How do I strike a balance between academics and extracurricular activities?
- How can I help my college counselor learn about me?
- When is my first individual meeting with my college counselor?
- What happens after my first meeting with my college counselor?
- When do college admission representatives visit St. Andrew's?
- I'm really interested in a college, but I have an important obligation that conflicts with its representative's visit to SAS. What should I do?
- What goes on at all-V Form college group meetings?
- Can you recommend some books on the college process?
- Can you recommend some standardized test prep books?
- Is it okay for my educational consultant/independent college counselor/test prep teacher/life coach to speak with my St. Andrew's college counselor?
- What goes on during the V Form parents college meeting?
There are so many exciting opportunities at St. Andrew's, from classes to sports to art to clubs to community service. As you already know, it can be challenging to make choices about which activities to participate in, and when. Your college counselors, your advisor, and your teachers can all help you make decisions, and plan. The best thing you can do is seek true, enduring understanding in each of your classes every day. Then turn with energy to a few (two to four, rather than six to eight) activities that you truly enjoy, and to which you can make a real contribution. If you happen to be unusually strong in a particular field or activity, ask the relevant teacher or faculty advisor for recommendations on related activities, competitions, or workshops in that field that take place outside of St. Andrew's.
In December of your V Form year, we will email you a link to a fun questionnaire, which you'll fill out over the course of winter break. Your answers will help us get to know you better, and also will help you think about yourself and your interests. Please read the questions, allow them to percolate in your mind, and set aside a good chunk of time over winter break to draft your answers.
Your completed autobiographical questionnaire is your ticket to your first individual meeting with your college counselor; which, if you complete the questionnaire on time, will occur in January of your V Form year, upon your return from winter break. We will not even mention the word "college" in this meeting; we will simply use your questionnaire answers as a springboard for getting to know you, and your ideas and hopes for your future. You need not prepare for this meeting at all. Please make your appointment directly with your counselor.
After our first meeting, we will ask you for some of your initial thoughts about colleges through a second questionnaire. If the answers to most of these questions are "I do not know," that is perfectly fine! This just helps us frame our next discussion. Parents likewise are sent a similar form asking them for their preliminary thoughts on the college process, to give the college counselor a rough idea of their goals, ideas, and hopes for you.
From September through November, college admissions representatives visit St. Andrew's. During the fall semester, you can find a calendar of scheduled college visits and other college events on the College Counseling Calendar. Admissions representatives come to meet informally with V and VI Formers, and to talk with our college counselors. These visits are an excellent opportunity for V Formers to learn about a wide variety of colleges and their programs, and to make personal contact with a member of a college's admissions staff. In most cases the representative who visits will be the person responsible for your application as the admission process unfolds.
During a typical weeknight visit, an admission representative will have dinner with a student ambassador and then meet with students around 6:00 p.m. We post the time and date of each week's visits on the calendar, and make lunchtime and e-mail announcements as well. It is a good idea to think of one or two intelligent questions to ask the representative. (For example: What is currently happening on campus? Is the representative an alum of the college? What did she enjoy about her college experience?) Dress should be Haycock. Students from every Form are welcome!
Good news: this is a win-win scenario. You should write the representative a note. We suggest beginning with "Dear Mr. or Ms. [last name] (which can be found on the visit calendar). Then, note that you are sorry that you could not make the information session, and that you had your particular obligation. If you have visited that college, mention that in your letter, and give a reason or two why the college appeals to you. Thank them for their time in coming, and sign your full name. Easy! Either give them the note at the beginning of their meeting (if you can), or leave it with a college counselor. Then head off to your obligation, happy in the knowledge that the college representative will have noted how wonderfully involved you are in School life.
Periodically, the college counselors will meet with the entire V Form. In these meetings, we cover many important college process topics, including how to:
- Sign up for for the SATs and ACTs;
- Effectively utilize online organizational tools;
- Plan and visit colleges;
- Present yourself to colleges;
- Use the web to research colleges; and
- Prepare to write your essays.
- College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy, Lloyd Thacker, ed. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA 2005. Essays of advice and insight from college presidents, deans of admissions, and college counselors.
- Ready or Not, Here Life Comes, Mel Levine, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 2006. How to help your child develop the skills of self-awareness, interpretation of new information, acquisition of new mental tools, and inter-personal relations.
- The College Admissions Mystique, Bill Mayher, Noonday Press, New York, NY 1998. Great advice and agenda-setter from respected retired college counselor.
- Colleges that Change Lives, Loren Pope, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2000.Portraits of colleges that this long-time college counselor sees as truly making a difference in their students' lives.
- Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That's Right For You, Loren Pope, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1995. Wise words from the same long-time college consultant.
- Cool Colleges: For the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming, and Just Plain Different, Donald Asher, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 2000. Fun to read and takes multiple approaches; most students will find at least a few of the portraits very helpful.
- Winning the Heart of the College Admissions Dean, Joyce Slayton Mitchell, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 2005. Great insights into the complexities of the college admissions process from a veteran college counselor.
- The Gatekeepers, Jacques Steinberg, Viking, New York, NY, 2002. A New York Times journalist takes an inside look at how a prestigious university select a class over one entire admissions cycle.
- The Fiske Guide to Colleges, Edward Fiske, Sourcebooks, Naperville, IL, 2002. Most widely respected and accepted comprehensive resource book in the field.
- The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, Yale Daily News staff, St. Martin's Griffin, New York, NY, 2007. Written by students with breezy, upbeat tone. Good complement to the Fiske Guide.
- Rugg's Recommendations on the Colleges, Frederick E. Rugg, Rugg's Recommendations, Fallbrook, CA, 2002. Great brainstormer, grouped alphabetically by major by a former college counselor.
- Visiting College Campuses, Janet Spencer and Sandra Maleson, Princeton Review, Random House, New York, NY, 2004. Good planner with detailed maps, mileage, directions and B&B ideas for 250 schools.
- The Launching Years: ;Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life, Laura S. Kastner Ph.D., and Jennifer Wyatt, Ph.D., Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, 2002. With common sense and uncommon sensitivity, the authors address the double bind of parenting late adolescents – letting go and holding on, all at the same time.
- Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years, Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger, Harper Perennial, New York, NY, 2003. A sensitive, informative, and well-written guide to help parents know what their children are getting into when they leave for college.
- Making the Most of College, Richard J. Light, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004. This is a valuable book filled with superb insights and guidelines on how collaborative work among students can enhance learning – a practical guide that will enrich the college experience.
- The Official SAT Study Guide: For the new SAT, The College Board, Henry Holt and Company, 2015. Used by test prep tutors as the definitive workbook for preparing for the SAT Reasoning test.
- The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests, The College Board, Henry Holt and Company, 2011. It offers real tests in each of the 20 subject areas and is considered by test prep tutors as the most comprehensive introduction and guide on the subject tests.
In November of your V Form year, we will invite you and your parents to a morning of in-depth discussions about how to best go about finding a great college match for you. At this event, we will have a panel of college admissions officers run mock application committee meetings, and then take your questions.
- How do I choose the best college for me?
- What should I do if I'm considering applying to a service academy?
- How should I develop my working college list?
- What can I do to clarify my "likely" schools?
- What is the best way to prepare for a college visit?
- When should I first visit colleges?
- How do I identify what schools to visit over the summer?
- Should I visit colleges during my senior fall?
- By when should I make my final list of colleges?
- How many reach, possible, and likely schools should I have on my final list?
- Can a leap in my test scores alter my college list?
Read and kick around ideas with your parents, your college counselor, St. Andrew's alumni at a given college, your Aunt Mabel who will die if you don't go to her alma mater (well, OK, maybe not Aunt Mabel)… Generally, research and conversations are what many alums tell us they found the most useful. In your research and conversations, consider:
1. Size of school: small college or large university?
2. Location and surroundings: rural, urban, suburban? Where in the country, or world, do I hope to study?
3. The culture of the school:
-fraternities/sororities, social atmosphere
-extracurricular activities, both formal and informal
-dormitory life/residential life: who gets to live where? with whom? and when?
-depth of political, artistic, athletic life of a campus, given your enthusiasms
-required courses (distribution requirements, core curriculum, number of courses each semester required to graduate)
-size of classes
-availability and interest of the faculty in teaching undergraduates; availability of courses to undergraduates or non-majors
-pre-professional or interdisciplinary programs
-intensity, degree of independence expected
-Is there a strong department in my area of greatest academic interest? Is a thesis required in my major?
-What are the other students like? Do they enjoy studying? Do they take their work seriously?
4. Extracurricular opportunities for study beyond a traditional curriculum:
-Study abroad, or specialized study within the United States
-"January terms” and “May terms”
-Review the academic calendar to see what opportunities are presented. How active is the college in supporting your interests?
5. Check out the career counseling information. Some career counseling offices are very proactive on behalf of their students and provide great advice, resources, and networking opportunities..
6. Consider single sex colleges. There are fewer such opportunities for men, and many more for women.
7. Remember to think about what you are imagining a college will look like. Whether you intend to or not, you often judge the colleges you visit against some abstract notion about what a college “should be.”
8. Be patient with yourself. You may not be at all certain about your answers to any of the questions listed above. That's okay! You may think one way now, and after visiting several colleges, completely change your mind. You have plenty of time to develop your understanding of the colleges you're considering.
When applying to service academies, it helps to take some early steps. Here, we describe the application process for the United States Naval Academy (USNA. If you are interested in applying to other U.S. service academies, the processes will be similar, but not identical; talk through the steps with your college counselor as soon as possible!
The USNA offers 21 majors broken out into three primary groups: 40% engineering, 20% math and science and 20% humanities. First, therefore, it might help to ask yourself where your strengths and interests lie. All Academy students must take math and chemistry, physics, engineering and English classes, as well as 4 semesters of language.
1. We highly recommend attending the USNA junior year Summer Seminar if possible. The applications go online on February 1.
2. If you feel confident you will be able to prepare a strong application, you can apply as early as April of your junior year. You could then update your application with leadership positions and any other achievements that you obtain later in the spring or in the early fall.
3. Complete the required physical and medical assessments.
4. In the summer before your V Form year, contact your state representatives regarding the nomination process. You should contact your congressperson, both senators, and the Vice President. Congressional interview schedules differ by state; ask about yours. Contact your Blue and Gold Coordinator for advice and information. The Delaware contact is Mr. Brady Boyd; availble via email to USNABlue_and_Gold@yahoo.com.
5.If you are likely to compete in athletics at USNA, register with the NCAA during the summer prior to your senior year (at ncaa.org) and makes sure your SATs are officially sent to the NCAA by listing this code on your SAT registration: 9999.
6. Simultaneously, apply for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship. In NROTC you train to become an officer while attending a civilian college. The electronic app opens in March of your junior year and runs through until January or your senior year.
7. If you initially do not meet the academic requirements for the Naval Academy and do not receive an Offer of Appointment, but you do receive a political nomination, you may be considered for the Naval Prep program. The prep program guarantees you admission after one successful year at the Naval Prep School in Rhode Island, or at a member school. St. Andreans who are currently serving as officers have taken that exact path; ask our Blue and Gold officer for more information.
In February of your V Form year, you and your college counselor will talk about some of the characteristics you would like in a college. You may have very specific criteria, or you may be more open. You may know a lot about colleges, or know nothing at all. We will start with you wherever you are and come up with a very loose list of colleges for you to research and to visit over that spring break.
- When visiting schools for the first time, try visiting schools other than those that are among the most competitive for admission.
- Research what each college is like today, and learn a lot of specifics. If you get excited about a college's physics program, soccer team and study abroad system, you will have solid reasons for liking it.
- Ask your college counselor about likely schools, and get your parents in on the conversation as well. We are excited to help you reach for the stars, and at the same time, to help you find gems that are already within your grasp!
- Map the distance between various campuses. Two visits a day works well and gives you some travel and breathing time between visits! Don't forget to make hotel reservations, if you will need them.
- Use the college's website, or call ahead, to discover the length of a typical information session and tour. Conducting fairly extensive research will make your entire visit more rewarding; and you'll have a chance during your visit to ask any questions that may arise during your research.
- Schedule a personal interview (after the info session and tour, if possible), if interviews are offered on the campus. A lot of schools don't offer on-campus interviews anymore; but many colleges offer interviews with their alumni, who will come to St. Andrew's to interview you after you have applied to that college.
- Contact coaches, professors, or other faculty or staff with whom you may wish to speak; establish a time to meet with them, if possible. This can really help you learn about a college, and help the college learn about you. Some professors might take the time to let the admissions office know about the conversation!
- Pick up a copy of the student newspaper and read the letters to the editor. Discover the “real issues” on campus. Study the bulletin boards and kiosk to get a sense of the social life. Graffiti can provide insight into the campus. Have a cup of coffee in the student center and watch the students interact and socialize.
Students begin to visit colleges in the summer before the V Form year, or in the fall of the V Form year, during the fall Long Weekend, Thanksgiving break, or the December holidays. Spring break of your V Form year is a great time for many students to see a group of colleges. Some of the colleges will be in session, since their spring break will not necessarily overlap with ours. Visits—particularly during the junior year spring break—will help you and your counselor can come up with a more targeted list of schools to consider over the summer.
Always remember to “sign in” at the admissions office when you visit. Many colleges give you credit for visiting!
In the spring of your V Form year, we can help you narrow down your research and to come up with colleges you want to visit during the summer. Most folks end up visiting two colleges for every one to which they apply. Since you want reaches, possibles and likelies on your final list, you probably want all these types of schools on your summer visit list as well. During spring meetings we can also help you choose courses for your VI Form year, decide on teachers to ask for recommendations, and think about what SAT Reasoning and Subject tests you want to take next October and November.
Sure! If, come your senior fall, you feel like visiting more schools would help you build your college list, start by planning a trip over Long Weekend, and one at the beginning of Thanksgiving break. Since you want to do really well academically in your senior fall, you should work hard to avoid missing classes. If this seems logistically impossible (for example, if you have been invited to a specific weekend by a college) just let your college counselor know. We can help you plan so you can visit the college, miss the minimum of classes, and continue excelling!
Colleges place more weight on a student’s grades and cumulative GPA than on test scores. For example, high test scores in math coupled with only a moderate math classroom grade may suggest that the student is not working up to his or her potential, and thus is a concern to college admissions. While conversely, a high classroom grade in math and lower standardized math test scores may simply mean the student is not a good standardized test taker. In the ideal world, the goal is to have both one’s grades and testing fall in the college’s accepted range whenever possible.
Typically, a strong improvement in test scores does not significantly alter which colleges are on a student’s college list, but it may alter how your college counselor estimates your chance of admission. However, if your scores are high yet your grades still fall below the mean for that college, the improvement will not alter the estimated outcome.
- Why do I take the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and what will it tell me?
- What is the SAT Reasoning test?
- When should I take the SAT Reasoning test?
- How do I register for the SAT Reasoning test?
- What are SAT Subject Tests?
- When should I take the SAT Subject Tests?
- What SAT Subject Tests should I take?
- What is the ACT test?
- What are current SAT and ACT testing dates?
- What is the TOEFL?
- What is non-standard testing?
- Should I think about SAT-optional colleges and universities? Which colleges are score-optional?
- How do SAT scores correspond to ACT scores?
- How should I prepare for a testing day? What should I bring?
- Does the College Counseling office register me for tests, or fix any problems I may encounter with the College Board?
- How do I decide if I need test prep, and if so, what kind of test prep should I do?
In October of your V Form year, you will take the Practice SAT (PSAT) and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Students in the IV Form may also take this test. You can use the PSAT to get a sense of what sections of the SAT Reasoning test need your closer attention within any test prep you plan to do. If you do unusually well on this test in comparison with other testers from your home state, you may become a candidate for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. You do not need to sign up for this test; we take care of all the paperwork.
The SAT Reasoning test is a general standardized test with two parts: critical reading and mathematics. You get a score out of 800 on each section. Typically, a student will take the SAT three times throughout your junior and senior years. Colleges will use your best critical reading score and math score, even if you earned them on different test days.
The best schedule is the one that works best for you! Many students, however, choose the following arrangement, taking tests in:
- December of your V Form year (to give yourself an initial sense of what the test is like);
- Either January or March of your V Form year; and
- October of your VI Form year.
This plan allows the student time to use May and June of the V Form year and November of the VI Form year to take SAT Subject Tests. To make a plan for tackling the SATs, consult with your parents and you college counselor. We can help you come up with the best testing schedule for you.
What you will need to register online:
- Credit card
- Social Security number (if you have one)
- SSD Eligibility Code (if you are eligible for extended time)
- School Code #: 080095
- First choice Test Center code: 08-122 (St. Andrew's School) (Note that St. Andrew's is not a test center for every date.)
- Second choice Test Center code: 08-120 (Middletown High School)
- Third choice Test Center code: 08-135 (Newark High School)
- Your mailing address, which should be your permanent home address
- Set aside about half an hour to complete registration for the first time. Be sure to have the above necessary items handy.
- Visit www.collegeboard.com. Click on the test you'd like to register for, and create an account with the College Board website using your permanent home zipcode. There is no need to enter anything under step two of this section. On the next page, please use your permanent home address and your St. Andrew's email.
- On Part 1 of the Profile section, fill out those fields that say "required." We would recommend saying "no" to student search service, unless you want junk mail; choosing "I do not wish to respond" to the GPA qiuestion, and leaving class rank blank. The rest you may fill out as you wish.
- Steps two through five of Part 1, you can leave completely blank; just drag down to the bottom and press save and continue each time.
- In Part 2, select "Reasoning Test," "U.S.," and your grade. When asked for your high school, unless you are from Middletown, you will need to search for St. Andrew's to answer this question. Just search for city and state; the formatting for the name "St. Andrew's" means the search feature often won't find it if you search for it specifically. Unless you have one, answer no to "testing accommodations" and "fee waiver" (if you don't have one or the other, but think you should, talk with you college counselor).
- In Part 4, sign up for your preferred test centers. See above for codes for local test centers.
- In Part 5, don't send your scores anywhere—just save and continue.
- In Step 6, don't purchase anything, just save and continue.
When you have registered, check your email for confirmation from College Board. Please forward your confirmation email to Mrs. Poarch, the School Registrar, at email@example.com. It really helps us to know that you have registered!
SAT Subject Tests (called Achievement Tests in your parents' day) are one-hour standardized tests administered in 22 subject areas. Most colleges require applicants to have taken two SAT Subject Tests (a handful ask for three) in addition to the SAT Reasoning test. Some colleges require applicants to take specific SAT Subject Tests (often Math 2).
If you are able to take an SAT Subject Test in your III or IV Form year, and you think you will do well, go for it – this can give you some flexibility in your testing schedule as a V or VI Form student. Many students take two or three SAT Subject Tests in May and June of their V Form year, and then retake one to three tests in November of their VI Form year. If you are not sure about what to take, check out our recommendations, and discuss with your college counselor.
Here is an area where our personalized advice can really help, so come down to the College Counseling office and chat with us! We will generally utilize use the following guidelines in making our recommendations (“performed strongly” usually means high 80s). To learn more about the SAT Subject Tests, visit the College Board Web site, which provides explanations each subject test and mini-practice tests.
- Performed strongly in a one-year course in biology with laboratory experience (e.g. Introduction to Biology.)
- Performed strongly in a course in algebra and gained familiarity with simple algebraic concepts, such as ratios and direct and inverse proportions, at least through Algebra II.
- Strongly recommend the Biology M test for any students who have successfully completed Advanced Study in Biology.
- Performed strongly in a one-year introductory physics course on the college preparatory level with laboratory experience (e.g. Honors Physics).
- Performed strongly in a course in simple algebraic, trigonometric, and graphical relationships, and the concepts of ratio and proportion (e.g. Precalculus).
- Strongly recommend the Physics tests for any students who have successfully completed Advanced Study in Physics.
- Performed strongly in a one-year introductory chemistry course at the college preparatory level with laboratory experience (e.g. Chemistry).
- Sucessfully completed a course in algebraic relationships, ratio and direct and inverse proportions, and exponents (e.g. Algebra II).
- Strongly recommend the Chemistry tests for any students who have successfully completed Honors Chemistry or Advanced Study in Chemistry.
- Performed strongly in more than three years of college-preparatory mathematics, including two years of algebra, one year of geometry, and trigonometry and elementary functions (e.g. Precalculus).
- If a student has excelled in Precalculus (grade of a 90 or higher) or performed strongly in Honors Precalculus, Math Level 2 is recommended. Otherwise, take Math Level 1.
- Strongly recommend Math Level 2 for any students who have completed Advanced Study in Calculus AB or higher.
The ACT might be described as being a mix of the SAT Reasoning and Subject tests. Some students find that the ACT feels more 'real' than the SAT. The biggest differences between the SAT and the ACT are: the ACT has a science section, and youu cannot always “mix and match” your highest score on various portions of the ACT, the way you can with the SAT; typically, you send all the scores from your best single sitting. However, some colleges now combine ACT sub-scores from multiple administrations to create a highest possible composite or super-score for the ACT. Talk to your college counselor if you are interested in taking the ACT.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language is, well, just that. If English is your second language, you should take the TOEFL in preparation for your college appplications—even if you already took the TOEFL when you applied to St. Andrew's. Your college counselor can help you make a plan for taking the TOEFL.
Non-standard testing allows students additional time to take the SAT or ACT. If you or your folks think you might need non-standard testing because of a learning difference, please talk with speak with the Director of College Counseling as soon as possible. Requesting non-standard testing from the College Board can take the better part of a year. Read more about testing accommodations on the College Board website.
Sure! You might want to think about focusing on score-optional colleges, even if you have strong scores. Most score optional colleges are small, and have chosen to emphasize getting to know students personally during the admissions process. If this college size and admission philosophy appeal to you, such schools might as well.
Here is a short list of completely score optional colleges and universities in which St. Andrew's students are usually interested. (There are some other colleges, such as Middlebury, Hamilton, and Connecticut College, that ask for some test scores, but allow flexibility in the tests you can ask them to consider.) To find a list of the more than 400 colleges that have flexible testing requirements, check out FairTest, an organization that works to reduce the role of standardized testing in college admissions.
|Albright College||Dickinson University||Lawrence University||St. John's College|
|Agnes Scott College||Fairfield University||Lewis and Clark College||Texas A&M (some campuses)|
|American University||Franklin and Marshall||Loyola University (MD)||U of Texas (some campuses)|
|Bard College||Furman University||Marist College||Union College|
|Bates College||George Mason University||McDaniel College||Ursinus College|
|Berklee College of Music||Gettysburg College||Mt. Holyoke College||Wake Forest University|
|Bowdoin College||Goucher College||Muhlenberg College||Washington College|
|Bryn Mawr College||Guilford College||New York University||Washington and Jefferson College|
|Colby College||Hamilton College||Pitzer College||Wheaton College|
|College of the Atlantic||Hampshire College||Providence College||Wittenberg University|
|College of the Holy Cross||Hartwick College||Rollins College||Worcester Polytechnic Institute|
|Colorado College||Hobart William Smith||Sarah Lawrence College|
|DePaul University||Juniata College||Sewanee (University of the South|
|Drew University||Knox College||Smith College|
|Denison University||Lake Forest College||St. Lawrence University|
The College Board and the ACT provide the following concordance tables.
|V & M|
|V & M|
Data source: the College Board, 1999.
First, you should go to sleep early the Thursday night before the test. You should put together an "test bag" of #2 pencils, a copy of your ticket, a watch, your calculator, water, fruit and Power Bars or other sustaining snacks. Be careful of overly sugary snacks—if you eat them early, you might crash before the end of the test. Watch for e-mails from your testing agency telling you exactly where you need to be on test day, and when.
We are here to help! The College Board is a large organization and is capable of error like any other large organization. If it appears that the College Board has made an error in any part of your testing process or scores, call them right away, and let us know as well. The College Board will usually only deal directly with you, but we can help you ask the right questions and guide you through the conversation. Questions about testing at St. Andrew's or about test day? Contact Mrs. Poarch via email to firstname.lastname@example.org; she is our Director of Testing and is a great resource.
Here is another area where our personalized advice can help. We offer an online test preparation course free to St. Andrew's students, accessible from Naviance. This hassle-free and effective method of preparation may be your route to great success! But you may also find that one-on-one tutoring, a traditional summertime test prep class, or working on your own with a book could be a better fit for you. Some pointers:
- Be wary of test prep guarantees.
- Practice makes perfect or if not perfect, then better! If your program gives you homework... (you can figure out the rest of this sentence).
- Full practice tests, even though they are inconvenient, are often the most effective form of practice.
- If you can find a way to approach standardized tests as interesting, valuable challenges in and of themselves, this mental state can help!
- When should I consider my college list “set”?
- What are Early Action and Early Decision?
- How do I get started writing my essays?
- How do I move from brainstorming topics to written drafts?
- Do you have any tips from admissions officers on writing college essays ?
- What are some typical application essay questions?
- How should I approach the short answer activity essay on the Common Application?
- What ideas do you have for the "why do you wish to attend..." question?
- Does the essay have to be exactly the length the application states?
- Will you be able to give me feedback on my college essays?
- What information will simplify filling out the Common Application?
- How do I send different versions of the Common Application to different colleges?
- How will I know when I have submitted my Common Application to the colleges?
- How do I find a college's supplements using the online Common Application?
- What information do teachers and the college counselor use to write recommendations?
- How can my parents contribute to my college recommendations?
- How should I ask teachers to write recommendations for me?
- When and how should I remind my recommendation writers in the fall of my VI Form year?
- How should I tell the College Counseling office to mail my transcript, profile, school recommendation, secondary school report, and other information to the college?
- What are some common interview questions?
- How do I best prepare for the college interview?
- What is the best method of scheduling alumni interviews?
- What can I do to let the colleges know about wonderful things I do after I have applied?
- What if my college says my application is incomplete? Are you sure you sent my recommendation?
- Does St. Andrew's report suspensions?
Before Thanksgiving break, we will send home a copy of your college list—which you will have already signed—for your parents to sign and return. If your parents have questions about this list you and they would like to talk about it over Thanksgiving break, we would be happy to help any time after the actual day of Thanksgiving. If you and your parents decide to make any changes to the list, we ask that you e-mail us right away, since will be writing and calling in support of your applications, and since we may want to discuss other colleges for you to consider instead.
One applies early, is notified of results early, and if admitted, is committed to attend. One may simultaneously apply to any non-binding early action or rolling application colleges.
Single choice early decision
One applies early, is notified of results early, and if admitted, is committed to attend. One may not simultaneously apply to any colleges under an early action program.
One applies early, is notified of results early, but if admitted early may still continue applying to other colleges. One may simultaneously apply to one early decision college (if it is not a single choice early decision school) and/or rolling application colleges.
Single Choice Early Action
One applies early, is notified of results early, but if admitted early may still continue applying to other colleges. One may not, however, apply early action or early decision to any other college.
Exclusive Early Action
One applies early, is notified of results early, but if admitted early may still continue to apply to other colleges. One may apply only to other early action colleges and/or rolling application colleges. One may not apply to early decision colleges.
One may apply anytime over a long period (frequently September through February, for example), and could hear back as soon as several weeks after applying, though a rolling school might also wait quite a while to notify an applicant.
Starting on your essays is easy and fun! Begin by not trying to write a college essay. If that sounds counterintuitive, it is. Many students have found that giving themselves not only the time but also the mental and emotional space to write without the essay being the immediate goal helps a great deal. So before you consider answering specific questions, writing a certain length of essay, or including or eliminating some topics, we recommend going through the following exercises, moving rapidly through them and not censoring yourself. Enjoy!
Finish these sentences:
-I get into “the zone” (or get a sense of “flow” or “lose myself”) during…
-I showed the most determination (or grit or perseverance) when…
-I am happiest when…
-I feel a sense of fulfillment when…
-I greatly admire…(a person).
-I most struggled when…
-I was most disappointed when…
-My favorite class was/is…
-I hope to be able to…
“Classic” you and adjectives:
Ask a few people close to you—your advisor, your parents, a friend—for stories that are “classic you" stories. Record these alongside the above sentences. Then ask them as well for several adjectives to describe you. Record these as well.
Draw a timeline of your life, marking significant events. Now take all this material and put it away. At another time, come back and move into the essay writing phase.
The College Board also provides some helpful essay writing tips on its Web site.
Note: Some colleges ask for a graded essay. Start saving your St. Andrew's essays now, please.
Now that the initial exercises are over, is the fun over? Not at all. We recommend still not trying to write an essay. Rather, write one “bad” paragraph about each topic you developed. By “bad,” we mean do not worry about editing, writing for a particular audience, censoring yourself, etc. Just go ahead and freewrite.
Feel free to show these “bad” paragraphs to your college counselor or another teacher who might have insight into what makes a strong essay. Narrow down your paragraphs to a handful upon which you think you would want to expand. “Want to” here just means “seems like would be fun and easy.” Add a second paragraph to these, and/or clean them up a bit.
Now for the first time, we recommend considering your audience. Imagine a kind, relaxed, curious adult who has attended the kind of college you wish to attend, and who has already heard great things about you and wants to learn more. Which of these essays might give such a reader the most revealing sense of you? Focus on these several and give them a third paragraph.
Once again, feel free to show drafts to your college counselor or a teacher. Finally, we would recommend reviewing your drafts after reading our essay tips from college admissions officers, and begin to edit the essays with these ideas and cautions in mind.
Now that you have several draft paragraphs, read them through with the critical eye suggested by these tips. What admissions officers look for in an essay (in general):
- Sophisticated writing
- Cogent communication
- Answer the question!
- "Show" don't "tell"—bring your essay to life with concrete examples of your experiences
- The “I” essay
- It's/its; their/there/they're; and other basic mistakes
- Trite phrases or words (e.g. myriad, plethora, broaden your horizons, etc.)
- Using larger words that don't fit your style, tone, or your academic profile in general
- Relying too much on spell check, resulting in non-mispelled typos slipping through (e.g. "sad" for "said")
- Treating online applications like an e-mail: failing to take care in crafting responses and not looking for errors
Risks to avoid:
- Writing about alcohol
- Describing inappropriate behavior
- Boyfriend/girlfriend relationship issues
- Shock value
- Travel/community service (“those poor people”)—not a warning to not write about these trips, just to be careful about the tone and the language
- Humor—if you're not naturally funny, don't try to start now!
- Writing about depression or other mental health issues
- Writing about religion
- Evaluate a significant experience or achievement that has special meaning to you.
- Discuss some issue of personal, local, national or international concern and its importance to you.
- Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you and describe that influence.
- What are your academic goals and objectives?
- Why do you wish to study the program you have selected?
- Discuss any unusual circumstances in your life and their impact on you.
- What book(s) have affected you the most and why?
- Discuss any travel or living experiences you've had in this or other countries and their influence on you.
- Evaluate a significant academic or intellectual experience (course, project, paper, research topic) that has broadened your perspective in some way. How did this experience changed the way your think?
- Discuss a situation in which your values or beliefs were challenged by someone else, or in which you questioned yourself. How was the situation resolved?
One great way to approach this question is to answer it phrased in a slightly different way. Write your response to this question: “Help us picture you at our college. What would you be doing day in and day out? What classes would you take, what activities would you join, what part of our ethos would you work hardest to uphold and embody? Cite what you have already done (or have not yet gotten a chance to do) that leads you to these classes and activities.”
Answering this question allows you to keep the focus on you, where it belongs, rather than telling the college about itself: for example, telling NYU or Columbia that you love New York, or telling Franklin and Marshall that they have a great government department.
As we are sure you already realize, it is wise to take the "Why this college?" question seriously because college admissions officers often find these essays to be more revealing than the more universally well-crafted Common Application essays. They have begun to see this essay as a way to separate the lazy from the hard-working applicant, and those who are focused on their college choice from those who are not as concerned. Make sure you send the right essay to the right college; leaving the word “'Bates'” in the "Why Colby?" essay cannot help your case!
Definitely! During the summer and first few weeks of school we will read your essays and return them to you with our comments. We encourage you to share your essays with your parents, English teachers, advisors, and friends for insights, suggestions, and feedback. Students are ultimately responsible for the final product that is sent to the colleges.
The suggestions below are in order of the Common App online.
- Use your St. Andrew's e-mail address.
- We would recommend asking not to receive e-mails from colleges before submission of your application.
- Use your St. Andrew's username and password.
We suggest filling in all of the optional information (especially the Social Security number, if you have one; it will make it easier for the larger colleges to find your application).
Use your home address for permanent address, and use St. Andrew's for the current/mailing address.
- Selecting “undecided” for your major is perfectly fine.
- If you are considering indicating engineering, business, pre-medicine or pre-law, come down and talk with us first; some colleges hold significantly different standards for students intending to major in these fields.
- Make sure that if you select a major, it actually exists at the colleges to which you are sending the application.
- If there is any chance you will be applying for financial aid, please check that box.
- Our CEEB/ACT code is 080095.
- For the purposes of the Common Application, St. Andrew's is a private, not a religious school.
- The School address is 350 Noxontown Road, Middletown, Delaware, 19709.
- See the contact page on the SAS college counseling website for your counselor’s name, title and email.
- Counselor's phone is 302-285-4227 with no extension.
- Counselor's fax is 302-285-4232.
- Please put in your VI Form course titles as they would appear on the transcript, so you get maximum credit for advanced and honors courses.
- Do not freak out if you have no academic honors—many strong applicants (especially from rigorous schools that do not give huge numbers of awards) do not and still get admitted to colleges they love!
You only need enter dates and scores from dates on which at least one of your scores was your highest score in that area. (In other words, you may leave off test dates on which no scores went up.)
- The sooner you ask your parents the information in this section you do not know, the sooner you will have your Common Application completed. This is frequently one of the sections that keep students from considering their application finished.
- If you have a non-traditional family, this section can be a bit of a downer. You are not alone; call us or come on down to the College Counseling office if you feel like talking.
- List activities according to importance to you and years involved in it.
- Remember that college admissions folks will not understand abbreviations or St. Andrew's club names. You can use your extra activities sheet to explain things like Adaptive Aquatics.
It's not too hard! Notice, first, that you don't need to do this unless you want to say different things to different colleges: for example, you might want to be an architecture major at one college but an engineering major at another. Most students will not need to create different versions of their Common App. If you do, here are simple steps:
1. Submit the Common Application to at least one college.
2. Log out.
3. Go to this special URL: http://app.commonapp.org/application/applicantlogin.aspx?allowcopy=true and login using your existing User Name and Password.
4. Click "Replicate."
All your information from your first version will now be in your second version except for uploaded documents. Now you've got "alternate versions" (and a drop down menu to prove it). From there you can create up to ten different versions! Having trouble? Your college counselor can walk you through the process.
1 .Once you have entered all the required information, you will receive a final confirmation page stating that your application has been submitted successfully and outlining a checklist of what you still need to complete, if anything.
2. This application checklist will dynamically change to indicate that your application was submitted to your selected colleges. You can access this checklist at any time by logging into your online Common Application account and clicking on the "Checklist" tab.
3. Colleges vary in how they handle acknowledgements. However, the student can easily see in the ‘checklist' which colleges have "touched" their application by looking in the App Printed Column inside the checklist.
St. Andrew's School asks teachers writing recommendations to send these directly to the colleges, and not to share them with you or your parents. Similarly, the School recommendation for counselor letters is that they also be a private communication between St. Andrew's and the colleges. We of course gather information from all over the School, especially tapping into your advisor's understanding and knowledge of you. We also ask for feedback from your parents, and from you yourself to present the colleges with a full and positive portrayal. The Headmaster reviews each letter. That the colleges know that you and your parents do not review these recommendations only adds to the effectiveness of our testimony.
We will ask your parents in January of your V Form year for their written insights, interests and concerns. We have frequently found what parents share with us in this way to be extremely helpful in the process. We ask parents to return their thoughts to the College Counseling office in early March. We also welcome your parents to call us, e-mail us or to meet with us any time they have ideas, concerns, or just questions.
At the end of your V Form year, before you leave for the summer, you should ask your teachers to write recommendations. These requests should be made in person. If the teacher agrees, ask them to sign the blue request form and turn it into your counselor. You should follow up with a thank-you e-mail or note to each teacher, and your counselor will put the names of the recommenders into Naviance.
A reminder in early September will help give your recommendation writers the time to create evocative and compelling portraits of you in their classes. If you are applying to a rolling admissions school or to the service academies, a late summer reminder would be even better. A short email thanking them again for writing for you is sufficient.
If you go onto Naviance and follow the instructions for requesting a transcript to be sent, then we will know to do this. Please do not assume that just because your college counselor knows you well and knows your college list that the office will mail. Mrs. Samson has a lot of applications to support and needs your help. Thanks!
- Why are you interested in this college?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a student?
- Do you like your high school? What would you have done to improve it?
- Do you feel you have fulfilled your potential?
- Do you like your teachers? Describe your favorite teacher.
- Tell me about a time you were faced with a difficult challenge and overcame it.
- If you could fight one cause, or make a difference in the world somehow, what would you choose to do?
- Why are you interested in this particular major?
- Which of your extracurricular activities has been most satisfying?
- How do you spend a typical day after classes?
- How did you spend your last few summers?
- How would you describe your hometown?
- Tell me how you have engaged in the life of your community?
- What other colleges are you considering?
- What are some of your criteria or considerations in choosing a college?
- What do you hope to major in and why?
Most colleges do not offer on campus interviews in the spring, particularly during their spring break, but you should be able to attend an information session and take a campus tour on your visit. Visit the school's website to determine their policy regarding interviews, or talk it out with your college counselor.
To be comfortable but sufficiently neat for a relatively “businesslike” occasion such as a college interview, we would suggest Haycock! (So perhaps there is a reason after all for that strange category in our dress code…) IAsk your folks to hang back a little. This will help you present yourself as the independent, mature person you are. Look your interviewer in the eye, consider carefully the questions he or she asks (don't be afraid to pause for a moment and think!), and remember to smile. You may be feeling terrified, but most interviewers are just as nervous as you are. They worry that they may not find the right questions, or that they may not come to understand you. Smile and enjoy getting to know them—they will appreciate your kindness and interest in them.
If you end up needing to be late, don't let this fluster or worry you. Everyone gets stuck in the major traffic backup occasionally. Just be sure to call to alert the interviewer.
You can get ready for a great interview a long time in advance! Check out our list of interview questions, below. Think about these, and try out some responses on your college counselor. St. Andrew's students, being unusually thoughtful and genuine, tend to come across beautifully in interviews. The interviewer is looking forward to a discussion with someone with intellectual curiosity, imagination, liveliness, and determination. You are hoping to make a deeply positive impression, so that they will remember you. Thus, the two of you are on the same team. Be yourself (your best self!) and ask questions that reveal your interests.
Always be positive! Try to find the best in yourself, in your experience at St. Andrew's, and in your impressions of the college you are visiting. Carry along a good book (read it along the way), and be prepared to discuss it, and others like it, with your interviewer. Thank you notes to the folks you met along the way (tour guides, coaches, professors, interviewers) make a great impression. To remember their names, you may want to keep notes.
When you have completed your applications, you can contact each school to see if they offer alumni interviews. If they do, you may schedule these interviews. Frequently these representatives are able to visit St. Andrew's. When you call, if the person assumes you are mobile, it is fine to tell them that you go to a boarding school and do not have a car, and to ask them if it is possible for them to come to you. You can then tell them that Mrs. Samson helps organize these visits, and give them her contact information.
It can be nerve-wracking to receive a postcard that says a college is still missing your materials, or to check the status of your application online and see that documents are missing. You can look on Naviance to see when application material is submitted and uploaded at your colleges.
If you get a note from a college saying that a piece of your application is missing, remain calm. In all likelihood, it is at the office and simply hasn't been entered into the system yet. Go ahead and check politely with your counselor or teacher about the date on which the material was sent, and give the college a few days to sort data uploads. Usually, time takes care of the problem beautifully—but if it does not, please let us know how we can help.
- Do you have financial aid information you can share with me?
- What is need-based financial aid?
- How do I apply for financial aid?
- My situation is a little more complicated. Can you give me more details about applying for financial aid?
- How do I understand my financial aid award ("the package")?
- How do I best understand and compare my financial aid awards?
- Do you have student loan information you can share with me?
- What if my parents wanted to take out a loan for my college education?
- What are merit scholarships? What should I do if I hope to get one?
- What are some financial aid and scholarship search websites?
With the annual cost of attending a private college or university reaching into the $40,000 to $60,000 range, financial aid has become a critical component in the decision-making process for students and parents as they consider where to apply and ultimately matriculate to a particular college. Since most institutions award a large percentage of their financial aid scholarships based on need, it is important for families to assess their resources (current income, assets and ability to borrow) and determine what resources they have available to pay for college. There are several helpful online financial aid calculators that will assist you in determining your approximate level of need as calculated by the federal government.
Two useful sites are:
Using both institutional and federal financial aid methodologies, financial aid offices determine what a family is able to contribute to their child's educational expenses, rather what a family might be willing to pay. After the financial aid office calculates the family contribution, that family will have to come to its own understanding of what they are willing and able to commit to their son or daughter's education. If you think that you will need financial aid at any time during your college years, apply as a freshman. Request and read all materials from colleges regarding financial aid policies and procedures. Note and meet all deadlines, for a missed deadline can be costly.
Please note that not all post-graduate programs at boarding schools offer students need-based financial aid. It is important to inquire about a school's program if you intend to pursue this option.
Although every institution's approach, priorities, and philosophical stance varies on financial policies, most college and universities practice some form of need-based financial aid, even if they blend merit scholarships into their portfolio of financial aid offerings. It is important that you research the policies of the colleges thoroughly and understand the procedures and deadlines of the institutions to which you are applying. How a college uses language in their description of their policies is important to note and recognize. Watch for the following financial aid buzzwords:
Need-blind admissions policy
A college that is “need-blind” makes admissions decisions without regard to the student's ability to pay. The “need-blind college” does not review the student's financial circumstances until after an admissions decision is reached. Many of the wealthier and highly selective colleges are able to admit their freshman class without regard to their financial aid budgets.
Need-aware or need-conscious admissions policy
Some colleges, when considering students with equal academic records and extracurricular abilities who are “on the cusp” of acceptance, will give preference to the student who is able to pay. Due to a smaller endowment and/or a limited financial aid budget, these schools have to consider and monitor the amount of financial aid dollars they can commit on a yearly basis.
Meet 100% of demonstrated need
Whether a school is need-blind or need-aware, it is important to determine if they will meet 100% of demonstrated need of admitted students, through a package of grants, student loans and work-study. Schools that do not meet full need will “gap” admitted students, meaning the family will either have to take out parent loans, ask other family members to help with the costs, or, sadly, not accept the offer of admission. Most colleges will proudly state in their materials or websites if they meet 100% of demonstrated need. It is also important to determine if awards are guaranteed for four years. Some institutions offer packages for the first year and then reduce the amount for each consecutive year, as they believe the student's summer and long-term earning potential increases.
Wikipedia has an excellent and information page on need-blind and need-aware admission policies at various institutions.
Great question! Applying for financial aid does take focus and attention to deadlines, but it is also a lot easier than it appears at first. We use "you" below, but really in most cases your parents will be filling out the forms. Stay in close contact with your parents, and help them complete this task that might be challenging for them, for a variety of reasons. Let your college counselor know if you think your parents have hit a wall.
1. In the spring of your V Form year, use a financial aid calculator to estimate what colleges might give you or loan you.
2. On October 1 of your VI Form year, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and your College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile (which opens on October 1). Finish your CSS Profile by October 15th, especially if you are planning on applying early to a college. Be sure to remind your parents of this deadline, for much of the information needs to come from them. Though the form will continue to be available and colleges each have their own deadlines, meeting this October 15 deadline will simplify your financial aid process. If you or your parents would like some help with this, please just let the College Counseling office know—we would be happy to be of assistance.
3. Check each college's financial aid website for any scholarships for which you may want to apply, and financial aid forms specific to that college that you need to fill out.
And, as always: come to the college counseling office with your questions!
Colleges seek to paint a financial picture of each family by collecting a series of forms, tax returns, and supplemental documents on an annual basis. They also attempt to move beyond numbers and methodologies to understand a family's complex financial history, present circumstances, and concerns in the future. Submitting the appropriate forms, tax returns, and commentary is important as you and your parents attempt to develop a relationship with the financial aid office at the college you will attend. Cultivating open and friendly lines of communication is crucial to the financial aid process; you will probably have more contact with the financial aid office than any other administrative office at the college.
The following financial aid forms and documents are always required (for American citizens and permanent residents):
- Parents' most recent completed federal tax forms with all schedules and W-2s
- Student's most recent completed federal tax forms with all schedules and W-2s (if filed)
- FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile Form
Documents that may be required due to special circumstances:
- CSS Non-Custodial Parent's Statement
- Non-Custodial parents' most recent federal tax return with all schedules and W-2s
- CSS Business/Farm Supplement.
- Most recent federal tax returns for corporations and partnerships
- Letter detailing special circumstances (such as job loss, illness, divorce, death, medical bills, private school tuition, natural disasters, home repairs, support for relatives)
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
All colleges require this form from American citizens or permanent residents. It determines your eligibility for all forms of federal aid and the state scholarship program.The FAFSA is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
A few pointers on filing the FAFSA:
- Your FAFSA is processed faster if you enter the correct 6 digit Title IV code and the name for each college.The Title IV codes are available at Federal School Code Search Page.
- The FAFSA only allows you to list 6 colleges.When you have a final (and correct) copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR), you can then cross off colleges, add new ones and resubmit the corrected SAR. Alternatively, you can give your PIN (personal identification number) on your SAR to the financial aid administrator at the remaining colleges on your list and he or she may be able to retrieve your data electronically.
- Within two to four weeks of submitting your form, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR).The SAR will either request further information, or provide you with a number called an Expected Family Contribution — abbreviated as EFC. Once you have a final SAR (corrected, if necessary) you should follow the directions on the form for signatures, etc. and give the SAR to the financial aid administrator at the college the student plans to attend.
- For questions about the status or processing application or to request duplicate copies of your SAR, call (319) 337-5665. If you do not get a SAR in four weeks, it is wise to call and check on your application.
CSS Profile Form
Although the CSS Profile form asks many of the same questions that are on the FAFSA, colleges use the form as an instrument to ask more detailed and precise questions about your financial picture. Colleges are able to add their own institutionally specific questions on this form. Many private colleges (along with some private scholarship programs and public colleges) require this form. The CSS Profile may be found on the College Board website. This form opens on October 1 annually, and we recommend you finish your CSS Profile by October 15th, especially if you are planning on applying early to a college. Be sure to remind your parents of this deadline, for much of the information needs to come from them. The hard deadline to complete this form is generally around December 13, but meeting this October 15 deadline will simplify your financial aid process.
The College Board provides a list of colleges that require the CSS Profile.
A few pointers on filing the CSS Profile:
- Full instructions for completing the form are available on its website.
- Make sure you register at least four weeks before the deadline.
- Students on full financial aid at St. Andrew's may be eligible for a CSS Profile fee waiver. Contact College Counseling if you believe you are eligible.
CSS Non-Custodial Parent's Statement
Most colleges will ask a non-custodial parent for the Non-Custodial Parents Statement and a copy of their most recent federal tax return. Depending on the age of the divorce and the history of the relationship between the parents, most colleges will assess each biological parent with the understanding that both parents have an expectation that they will support their child in college. Divorced and separated families present the most complicated circumstances, and it is important that families have honest and frank conversations about how they plan on handling educational expenses. In these situations, different financial offices may make different financial aid award decisions, based on their professional judgment. Communicating directly with the financial aid offices and understanding how they handle divorce/separated parental situations is critical. Letters of explanation and even documentation of the relationship may be requested to assist the financial aid offices with understanding the situation. Please feel free to contact the college office with questions. You can download a copy of the Non-Custodial Parents Statement at http://ncprofile.collegeboard.com, after you register for the CSS Profile.
CSS Business/Farm Supplement
Families that own a business or farm may be asked to submit a copy of the CSS Business/Farm Supplement and copies of your federal corporate or partnership tax returns. If your parents file a Schedule C, E or F with your personal federal tax returns, you should expect that the colleges will request more information on the nature and value of the business or farm. You can download a copy of the Business/Farm Supplement after you register for the CSS Profile.
Some colleges have their own internal financial aid forms in addition to the ones above. Check with each college and follow their instructions.
International students applying for aid at American colleges are not eligible for any U.S. government awards, and as a result, find themselves in a much more competitive situation. Only a limited group of colleges award aid to international students. The Edupass website has a list of colleges that offer international need based financial aid. It is important to be in contact with the colleges about the availability of need-based aid and the application requirements.
For students applying for international aid, in most cases, colleges will ask for the following forms:
- Either a most recent tax return from the parents (translated) and/or a letter of employment and verification of annual salary from the parents or their employers
- Institutional aid form (generally found on the school's website)
- An International Student Certification of Finances form
- An International Financial Aid Application
Most colleges offer an aid package that includes grant money/scholarships, student loans, and/or work-study. The loan and work-study component of the aid package is typically referred to as the "self-help" portion of the package, because the student is contributing to his or her educational expenses through the loan (which you or your parents will be responsible for paying back in the future) and earnings from the work-study job.
Questions to ask when discussing financial aid with your college, or when visiting a college:
- What percentage of an aid package from the college is grant aid vs. self-help?
- How does an aid package change over four years? Some colleges entice freshmen with large grants for the first year and then switch to a much heavier loan burden in the subsequent years. Avoid a “bait and switch” situation.
- Does the college have a “preferential packaging” policy? Do they give more grant aid to the student who has a stronger academic profile, pursues a certain field of study, or applies early decision?
- What is the policy regarding outside scholarships? Some colleges deduct money earned in outside scholarships from the financial aid package either by reducing the grant, loan and/or work-study, depending on their policies.
- How much indebtedness should you expect to incur over four years?
- Does the college offer any tuition payment plans that will allow you and your parents to spread out the payments over a period of months?
- How does the financial aid office handle approved study out-of-residence programs as they intersect with the financial aid award?
In mid-spring you will begin to receive financial aid award letters from colleges to which you have applied for financial aid. Keep in mind the following thoughts and concerns:
Wait to hear from all your colleges
If you are considering more than one college, wait until you have received a letter from each one before you make a final decision. Each award letter will include the deadline for accepting your financial aid package because it can be different for each school. If you miss a deadline, your financial aid package could be offered to another student. On the other hand, do not let yourself be pressured into making an immediate decision.
CLOSELY EXAMINE YOUR FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE & CONDITIONS
Look at the combination of awards in each financial aid package. Your aid offer will probably include a mix of several types and sources of aid—“gift aid” (grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid) and “self-help” (job a school offers you so you can earn part of your award) and/or loans that must be repaid. Look for special conditions or requirements stated in the financial aid package. For example, many institutions require scholarship recipients to maintain a certain grade point average before their award is renewed. Other institutions may require continued enrollment in an academic program.
Don't be afraid to ask questions
If you have a question about your financial aid award or the financial aid package does not meet your needs, call the college and ask to speak with a financial aid administrator. Do not panic or get angry; be polite. Financial aid officers are usually very helpful. Review any special circumstances you feel may have been overlooked. Be prepared to offer concrete information that will allow financial aid officers to review your award. It is possible that the financial aid administrator can adjust your award based on new information. Most colleges do not negotiate or match offers from other schools.
Federal Aid constraints
For awards that involve federal aid programs, financial aid administrators must adhere closely to guidelines by the government for determining eligibility and financial need. Very few schools have enough federal or private money to meet every applicant's full need. Although you may have a legitimate and demonstrated need for aid, there may be other students who have even greater needs, and they may receive aid first.
Evaluate the bottom line
Look at the “bottom line"—your “net cost” to attend each institution. Don't be dazzled by the amount of a particular college offers; focus on how the awards affect the cost you have to pay. A $5,000 award may cover your need completely at one school, while a $10,000 award at another could leave you short.
Choosing a School
Once you choose a school and have been awarded financial aid, follow the instructions in your award letter. You may be asked to provide more information or select a lender for a student or parent loan. Complete any forms that come with the award letter, sign the letter, and return it by the due date. Be sure to notify the other schools that accepted you that you will not attend, so any funds you may have been awarded can be given to students who will need them.
Many families use parent loans to finance a portion or total amount of their child's educational costs, or to finance the family contribution established by your college's financial aid package. (Families may approach the family contribution through a combination of monies from current income, assets, and/or loans.) When considering a parent loans, it is important to note the following characteristics of the loans:
- Does the interest rate have a variable or fixed rate? If it has a variable rate, is there a cap? When is the variable rate set?
- What is the length of repayment? A longer repayment period means smaller monthly payments, but it may mean paying more in interest in the long term.
- What measurements are used for the credit check on the parent? Do they base it on credit history, credit score and/or debt-to-income ratio? Can a parent add a co-signer if the loan is initially denied?
- If the school calls the loan a “family loan,” does this mean the student is also responsible for the loan? Do they do a credit check on the student and attach the loan to the student's credit history?
- Are there extended or graduated repayment plans available?
- What happens if a parent loses a job? Can you apply for hardship forbearance?
- Who is managing the loan? The financial aid office, the institution's loan office and/or an outside vendor? Find out who is handling the loan while the student is attending the school.
All American universities and colleges will offer a Federal Direct PLUS Loan for parents. This loan carries an interest rate that varies annually, with a maximum rate of 9% and 10 years to repay. The 3% origination fee is deducted from the amount for which families apply. Extended and graduated repayment plans are also available, and the evaluation of creditworthiness does not include debt-to-service ratio analysis. Find out more about the Federal Direct PLUS Loan at the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Portal.
A college may also offer a menu of additional loan options, some from private vendors such as Sallie Mae, or The College Board Connect Loan, others from state-sponsored college loan services.
Merit scholarships are scholarships that can be given either by schools, or by other organizations, for student achievement in a specific area, talent, or experience, generally without regard to the student's financial status. Merit scholarships are different at every school. Our office unfortunately cannot keep track of all the available merit scholarships. If you are interested in a merit scholarship, we recommend you look into what scholarships are available at your schools of interest, and what the requirements of those scholarships would be. More information on merit scholarships can also be found at finaid.org.
- www.fastweb.com—Fastweb a free online scholarship matching service. Students create a personalized profile that can be matched against its expansive database of scholarships.
- www.fastaid.com—Fastaid authors The Scholarship Book from Prentice Hall.
- www.collegeanswer.com—This site is hosted by Sallie Mae, an institution active for more than 26 years in the student loan business. The site has lots of information about all aspects of financial aid, including a free scholarship search tool.
- www.collegescholarships.com—A financial aid search service that uses a large database of private scholarships. Students can build a personalized scholarship package, including scholarships that match your criteria and a personalized letter with your information to each of the scholarship sponsors. Database includes scholarships for undergraduate, graduate and international students.
- www.internationalstudent.com/schools_awarding_aid—A helpful website for international students to locate scholarship monies, and research universities and colleges offering financial aid to international students.
- Can you advise me about athletic recruiting?
- What are the differences between Division I and Division III Programs?
- How do I "sell myself" as an athlete?
- What are the NCAA regulations I need to know about as a recruit?
- Are there any potential pitfalls in the athletic recruiting process that I should be aware of?
- What should go into a cover letter or email to coaches?
- What should my athletic resume look like?
- Does St. Andrew's shoot athletic videotapes?
- What if I want to pursue the visual and performing arts in college?
- What should go into a letter or email to a special interest person at a college?
Students interested in competing at the varsity level in college should carefully consider their options in the college search and admissions process. First, candidates should recognize that the commitment required in any college sport isc onsiderably greater than that at the high school level. Also, within this context, college programs themselves vary within institutions and between colleges. It is important that students thoroughly research all of their options before they make any commitment to a particular coach or college program.
Take the time to be honest with yourself about your abilities and potential. Talk to people who know you as a player and whom you trust. Your St. Andrew's coaches, outside coaches, and college counselors can help you determine your “market value” as a potential collegiate athlete. Ask yourself:
- Are you a varsity starter, all-conference, All-American, or in an Olympic Development Program?
- Have you attended select summer camps, played on elite club teams, or competed in all-star tournaments?
- If you are a multi-sport athlete, in which sport will you be recruited?
- If you want to pursue two sports in college, at what level do you want to be recruited?
- Have you reached your full athletic potential? For you, what is the difference between your aspirations, perception and reality?
A frank and candid assessment of your abilities will offer you direction as you research appropriate athletic programs to pursue.
You need to ask yourself if you really want to play sports in college. College athletics, whether on the Division I or III level, make tremendous demands on your time, energy and academic commitments. Are you willing to spend 18 to 24 hours a week involved in one activity? Conditioning, weight training, captains' workouts and pre-season sessions are year round activities; coaches and teammates except a total commitment to the program. You need to ask yourself if you are merely using your athletic ability as a “lever” in the admissions process, because if you are unwilling to commit to the college team once you arrive on campus, your decision may have a negative impact on future relationships between college coaches and St. Andrew's athletes. Likewise, it is also important to assess the personality, style and philosophy of the coaches who contact you. In reality, you will spend more time with your college coach than any other adult at the school. Carefully research not only the athletic opportunities for yourself, but also the people who make up the organization.
Contact with coaches
You need to take the initiative to contact college coaches directly, either via e-mail or in writing. Let them know of your interest in applying to their school and your intention to participate in their program. Since coaches at the Division III level do not have the recruiting budgets of their Division I counterparts, it is on your shoulders to cultivate a relationship with a Division III coach. The following steps will help you get organized:
1. Craft a list of schools with your college counselor and current coaches.
2. Develop a boilerplate letter of introduction and an athletic resume.
3. Create a spreadsheet of coach contact information. You can find contact information in the athletics pages of most colleges' website.
4. Return questionnaires from the coaches.
5. Gather and edit a game tape (college coaches typically want a tape of a whole game, not a highlight film).
6. Attend appropriate camps and tournaments.
7. Send college coaches game and camp schedules.
8. Email, call and write the coaches, and be sure to return their e-mails, phone calls and letters. Be your own best advocate by staying in touch.
10. Visit campuses and meet with the coaches and players.
Coaches are not only measuring your athletic ability but your willingness to commit to their program. By showing your interest through regular and positive communication, a coach may be willing to save a valuable spot on his list with the admissions office.
After a student has decided to play as a college athlete, he or she should consider the differences between participation in Division I and Division III programs.
In general, Division I programs are far more time consuming and more intense than Division III programs. Most Division I athletes are heavily recruited before they arrive on a college's campus and, once there, are expected to devote considerable time and energy to their sport. In some Division I programs, students cannot try out for a team if they were not recruited. Typically, Division I programs have a year-round practice schedule and, as a result, it is rare for a Division I athlete to participate in more than one sport per year.
Although all college athletic programs require an increased commitment from their athletes, the expectations at a Division III program more closely resemble the high school experience. In Division III programs, students usually participate in more than one sport per year. Also, in general, non-recruited athletes have access to Division III try-outs.
Regardless of which level of play a student chooses, all colleges expect their athletes to make a serious commitment to the team while sustaining a competitive academic profile. An athlete should consider these expectations before committing to sports at the college level.
- If you do not intend to play competitive athletics once you enroll at a particular college, do not enter the recruiting process.
- Once you have decided on the sport you intend to pursue in college and the level at which you hope to participate, contact coaches at this collegiate level. When you contact an admission office for catalogues and viewbooks, ask for the name, address, e-mail and phone number of the coach of your sport. This contact information is also available online on most college websites. You can also find the NCAA directory of all head coaches in the College Counseling Resource Room. Once you have the contact information, contact coaches by phone, mail or e-mail. Do this even if you are not fully certain you intend to apply to that particular college.
- Make this initial contact as soon as possible during your junior spring. Many coaches begin finalizing their recruit lists over the summer and, in the fall, do not have room for additions. If your sport is played in the spring, it is important to contact coaches even before your junior spring, in order that they can have the time to become acquainted with your talents, and, if possible, see you play.
- Ask a coaches about his or her program in detail. During all initial contact, include your athletic resumé. Ask for the names and contact information of athletes on that college's teams with whom you can discuss the college athletic and academic programs.
- In all your contact with the college coaches you must be honest about your intentions and interest in that particular college and that particular athletic program. Do not commit to a particular college unless you are absolutely sure that the school and athletic program are appropriate for you. Coaches from different colleges are in constant contact; if you tell more than one individual coach that his or hers is your ‘first choice' program, other coaches will discover this. As a result, you will most likely be dropped from both or all recruit lists.
- Maintain contact with the coach throughout the college admission process. Recruited athletes often correspond with interested college coaches on a weekly basis. College coaches are excellent resources during your application process, and can often relay admissions information that the admissions office cannot.
- Under NCAA regulations, Division I and Division II coaches may not contact potential recruits by phone until after July 1 of the summer between the junior and senior year. However, it is appropriate for you to contact these coaches well before that time; this allows the coaches to open a file on you and be prepared for correspondence after July 1. After your initial contact, coaches will send you introductory information and questionnaires. They may also send questionnaires for you to give to your St. Andrew's coaches.
- Always keep your St. Andrew's coaches and college counselor abreast of your recruiting process.
To play sports at the collegiate Division I and Division II level, athletes must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The Eligibility Center is designed to ensure that all college athletes have graduated from an accredited high school with an approved course of study and appropriate GPA.
Students may register anytime up until they enroll at a particular university. However, in order to be recruited by a Division I or II college, a student must already be registered in the Eligibility Center. If the student has not registered with the Eligibility Center, Division I and II colleges are not permitted to offer paid visits to campuses and weekends with college athletes. We encourage all juniors who are considering the Division I and/or II recruiting process to register with the NCAA during their junior spring. Students do not need to register with the Eligibility Center to be recruited by Division III athletic programs.
In order to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, students must do the following:
1. Complete the NCAA Eligibility Center Student Release Form. When registering on line, please remember to print two release forms (the last screen in the registration process.) Give both of these forms to the College Counseling office. We then complete them and forward your St. Andrew's transcript at the time of registration and again at graduation.
2. If you attended another high school prior to St. Andrew's, you will need to give a third release form to the registrar at your old high school. Students must send to the NCAA an official transcript from each high school attended.
3. During Eligibility Center registration, you may authorize the NCAA to release relevant information to four specific schools; alternatively, you may authorize the NCAA to release relevant information to any college that requests that info.
4. The Eligibility Center must receive an official College Board report of an athlete's SAT scores. You are responsible for having these reports sent to the Eligibility Center through the College Board.
Remember that initial registration with the NCAA Eligibility Center only allows a student to be recruited and to make official visits to particular campuses. Athletes are not approved to play Division I and II sports until they have graduated from high school and a final transcript/diploma has been approved by the NCAA..
Watch out for coaches' tactics. Remember that your interests and a coach's interests do not always overlap to your advantage. A coach's goal is to build the best team possible. Typically, a coach is allowed to present to the admissions committee a list of his or her desired candidates from among the applicant pool. There is no guarantee that the admissions committee will admit all candidates on a coach's list or follow his order of preference; academic and personal factors have to be taken into consideration. For this reason, coaches often create their lists by striking a balance between applicant's athletic ability and academic credentials, while factoring in a student's enthusiasm (or lack of interest) in attending that college.
Coaches' promises should almost always be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism. Coaches who guarantee you admission are probably overstepping their bounds. We once heard an admissions officer refer to the friendly and constantly optimistic banner of the recruiting coach as “blowing sunshine." It is to a coach's benefit to keep many athletes interested in the program for as long as possible. But remember that the admissions committee makes final decisions, not the coaches. A coach may lead you to believe that you will make his or her list or team, but there are no guarantees. You could be bumped from a list at the last minute if the coach finds a better athlete or an equivalent, or even a somewhat less talented athlete with stronger academic credentials who is more likely to make it through the admissions process. We have seen cases where a student is courted regularly, with weekly phone calls of good will, only to be bumped from the coach's list in the final hours of the admission process.
It is not unusual for a coach to ask you to state which college is your first choice. After all, in choosing which athletes to support in the admission process, a coach does not want to waste energy or a high position on his or her list on a candidate who is not likely to enroll. We do not want you to lie to coaches. Nor do we want your honesty to put you at a disadvantage in the admissions process. If coaches start asking you to commit, it is of critical importance that you discuss this with your college counselor and your St. Andrew's coach in that sport before responding.
It is important that you keep the College Counseling office informed, throughout the process, about all communications with college coaches. Our work as your advocate is strengthened if we know which college coaches seem most interested in you. If coaches make unfounded promises to you or ask you to commit when you are not ready to do so, we can often intervene to your advantage by contacting admissions officers. Also remember that your counselors have coached before, and/or have worked with similar cases, and know how to discuss concerns with college coaches.
An athletics cover letter should be a short letter indicating your interest in playing at a particular college, describing your achievements in your sport, and requesting information typically sent to recruited athletes by that school. Include your athletic resume with your letter. Here's an example of an athletics cover letter.
An athletic resume is a simple one-page document that lists your contact information, athletic accomplishments, your academic credentials and any other extracurricular interests.Here's an example of an athletics resume.
Have you done a significant amount of visual artwork or performed at a high level as an actor, vocalist or musician while at St. Andrew's? We strongly recommend that you create a portfolio of your best work as part of your college application, regardless of whether or not you intend to pursue art, theater or music in college as a major. Demonstrating your unique talent, skill, and passion will set you apart from many other applicants. If chosen and presented carefully, a portfolio can only be to your advantage. Things to consider:
- First, collect all of the artistic work you've produced at St. Andrew's. (Be sure to keep track of such work during your time here!)
- Colleges will be looking for a selection of images or recordings documenting your work. Most colleges ask you to submit your work through an app called SlideRoom, typically accessed through the college's website.
- For visual arts, a college will often ask for a title for each slide, identification of the media, an indication of size, and a brief description of the project or work. Research what your colleges require on their websites, and check with the relevant St. Andrew's arts faculty when pulling together this information.
- Include a brief artist statement that describes your interests and investment in the arts.
- Meet with your arts teacher and review your collected works, considering which pieces may be most important and representative of your achievements.
- What if I am accepted to a college in early decision?
- What if I am accepted to a college in early action, and I wish to attend that college?
- What if I am accepted to a college in early action, but wish to continue to apply to other schools?
- What if I am deferred from the early action or decision pool to the regular admission pool?
- What if I am rejected in the early decision or action process?
- How do I best respond to April college news?
- What do I need to consider if I have been offered admission for the spring semester?
- How can I maximize my chances of getting accepted off a waitlist?
- Should I visit colleges after I have been admitted? If so, when?
- What do I do when I've decided to attend a certain college?
Congratulations! Come to the office and tell us. Write thank you notes to your teachers telling them of the acceptance. If you have applied early action to other schools, you should write to them as well, thanking them for considering your application and telling them that you are accepting an offer elsewhere.
Congratulations! Come to the office and tell us. Write thank you notes to your teachers telling them of the acceptance. If you have applied early action to other schools, you should write to them as well, thanking them for considering your application and telling them that you are accepting an offer elsewhere. Accept the offer from the school you have chosen.
Congratulations! Decide at what schools you wish to continue your application. Keep the College Counseling office informed of your decisions and next steps. Write a nice note to the school that has accepted you, thank them for the admission, and tell them that you will be deciding in April. Write thank you notes to the teachers telling them of the acceptance and that you will be continuing with other applications.
Be sure to use Naviance to complete a transcript request for each of your colleges to which you will be sending applications, so that we know to send your supporting materials.
If you have applied early action to any other schools and will not be pursuing those schools further, write them to thank them for considering your application, and tell them that you are no longer going to pursue the admission process there.
It's okay—you are still in the running! Let the College Counseling office know. Send a nice note to the colleges to which you applied early, indicating your continued interest and updating them on all the great things you have been doing since you submitted your application. We would be happy to read a draft of this note to us before you send it off.
Be sure to use Naviance to complete a transcript request for each of your colleges to which you will be sending applications, so that we know to send your supporting materials. Submit your completed applications to those colleges.
We are here for you. Come to the College Counseling office and let us know.
Be sure to use Naviance to complete a transcript request for each of your colleges to which you will be sending applications, so that we know to send your supporting materials. Then, go ahead and submit your completed applications to those colleges.
As you hear from colleges, please let the College Counseling office know. When you have heard from all your schools, you should write polite notes to the schools you do not wish to attend, thanking them for the offer of admission. If you know where you want to enroll, you can respond to that college and begin that procedure.
Congratulations! Sometimes referred to as a “Feb Admit” or “Jan Plan Admit," we would encourage you to get excited about such an offer. First, you have been admitted! Second, imagine all the terrific options and adventures that you can pursue next fall. If this school would have been your first choice had you been offered fall admissions, consider: has anything significant about the school or your interest in it truly changed?
1. Submit any waiting list form(s) immediately to the college(s) in which you are interested.
2. Let the College Counseling office know about the schools on whose waiting list you are remaining; we will keep fighting for you at those colleges.
3. Within the week of being placed on a waitlist, draft an email to the college expressing your continued interest in the college, and updating them about fresh accomplishments and enthusiasms you have experienced since your last communication with them. This letter can talk about your excitement about the college, a specific academic path or course at the college that is inspiring you, and highlights from your extracurricular life at St. Andrew's. Share a draft of this letter with your college counselor before you send it to the college. If you indicate to your top-choice school that they are your top-choice school, and that you would certainly attend if admitted, this can help draw their attention.
4. Meanwhile, fall in love with one of the colleges to which you have been accepted. Balance your commitment to this institution in your mind and heart with maintaining your hope about the waiting list. It feels great to be looking forward to what you've got, and to see the waiting-list school as a possible bonus.
4. Be patient. Be ready for news (or no news) to come at any time from May through August.
6. You may wish to ask a teacher whose class you are enjoying, and who has not previously written for you, to write a recommendation for you. Check with us if you want advice on whether or whom to ask.
7. Finish the spring semester on a high note. Your third and fourth quarter grades and comments may really help!
8. Keep us informed of every new success in your life. Just send your college counselor a quick email or come on down to the office with the details.
Congratulations! Come to the College Counseling office and let us know! Next, write thank you emails to the schools who accepted you that you will not be attending, thanking them for their consideration and letting them know you decided to enroll elsewhere. You should also write thank you notes to each of the teachers who wrote recommendations for you. Finally submit any enrollment or other form requested by the college you have chosen, as well as a nice thank you note.