College Counseling FAQ

Do you have a specific question? Or do you just want to learn more about your college search? You have come to the right place! Simply click on one of the topics below to uncover a list of questions. Clicking on an individual question will reveal the answer. Do you want to search for a specific term? Click Show all answers and then "find" using your computer. Still have questions? Contact us.

Learning about colleges and myself

What are some books you recommend for St. Andrew's students and parents?

  • 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.

Test Prep Books

  • The Official SAT Study Guide: For the new SAT, The College Board, Henry Holt and Company, 2007. 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, 2006. 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.

How do I strike a balance between academics and extracurricular activities in V Form?

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 these choices. Fortunately the college counselors, your advisor and your teachers can all help you plan. In brief, seek true, enduring understanding in each of your classes every day. Then turn with energy to a few (more like 2-4 than 6-8!) activities that you really enjoy and in which you can really make a contribution to the other participants. If you happen to be unusually strong in some field, ask the faculty advisor what kind of performances, competitions or activities outside of St. Andrew's you could join.

Once into my V Form year, how often should I check my e-mail?

A hassle-free schedule is to check once a day at the same time, whenever is most convenient for you, with your planner with you. Then the magic words are “Delete, Respond, Defer, or Do.” Spam and e-mails that have nothing to do with you? Delete. Messages that need a quick answer? Respond (and if you are committing to something, record that in your planner.) Things you need to do later? Defer: write them in your planner. Short tasks you can do at the computer right now? Do. Then if you move all of these e-mails into an archive, your inbox can get back to zero! (This cool idea for dealing with your electronic stuff is from Merlin Mann: )

When do college admissions representatives visit St. Andrew's?

From September through November, college admissions representatives visit St. Andrew's. You can find a calendar of scheduled college visits and other college events on the College Counseling Calendar. These 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 numerous colleges and their programs. These meetings are also an excellent opportunity to make personal contact with a member of a college's admissions staff. In most cases the representative who visits is the person responsible for your application as the admission process unfolds.

Most frequently representatives have dinner with a college counselor (a great opportunity for us to remind them of the strengths of St. Andrew's and its students!) and then meet with students at 6:30 PM on weeknights. We post the time and date of each week's visits on the calendar. Students from every Form are welcome! It is a good idea to think of one or two intelligent questions to ask the representative (e.g. what is currently happening on campus, or if she is an alumna, what she enjoyed from her college experience). Dress should be haycock.

What should I do if I have rehearsal, class review, or another important obligation when a representative from a college to which I am applying is visiting?

Good news: this is a win-win scenario. Write the representative a note. We suggest beginning Dear Mr. or Ms. Lastname (which can be found on the calendar), and noting that you are sorry that you could not make the information session, and that you had whatever obligation. Mention your campus visit if you have visited, and a reason or two why the college appeals to you. Thank them for their time in coming, and sign your full name. Easy! Then 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.

What goes on at V Form group meetings?

Every once in a while, the college counselors meet in small groups with the entire V Form. We will cover many topics, including how to:

  • sign up for for the SATs and ACTs
  • use the web to keep organized
  • plan and visit colleges
  • present yourself to colleges
  • use the web to research colleges
  • get ready for writing your essays

How can I help my college counselor learn about me?

In December of your V form year, we will e-mail you a link to a fun questionnaire before winter break. These questions will help us get to know you better and also will help you think about yourself and your interests. Please read the questions and allow them to percolate, and set aside a good chunk of time over winter break to answer.

When is my first individual meeting with my college counselor?

In January of your V Form year, your completed autobiographical portrait is your ticket to your first individual meeting with your college counselor, upon return from winter break. We will not even mention the word college in this meeting; we will simply use the autobiography as a springboard for getting to know you. You need not prepare for this meeting at all. Please make your appointment directly with your counselor.

What happens right after my first meeting with my college counselor?

After you attend the first meeting, we will ask you for some of your initial thoughts about colleges through a 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.

What goes on during V Form Parents' Day?

In November of your Junior year, we will invite your parents to an in-depth morning of discussion about finding a great college match. We will have a visitor from a college admissions' office speak to us, and you will want to attend that part. You are then free to go or to stay and participate, as your parents and the college counselors talk about helpful approaches to researching and applying to colleges.

Is it OK for my educational consultant, independent college counselor, test prep teacher or life coach to speak with my St. Andrew's college counselor?

Definitely! We would be excited to be part of an effective team for you. Go ahead and give them our number or let us know their contact information and we will reach out.

Taking the right standardized tests for me

When do I take the PSAT/NMSQT and what will it tell me?

In October of your V Form you will take the Practice SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Students in the IV Form also take this test as well. You can use this test to get a sense of what sections of the SAT Reasoning test need your closer attention. 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.

What is the SAT Reasoning Test?

The SAT Reasoning Test (SAT I) is a general standardized test with three parts: critical reading, writing and mathematics. You get a score out of 800 on each section; most colleges are not interested in the writing score, so they and we tend to talk in terms of scores out of 1600. Usually you take the test three times. Colleges use your best CR score and math score, even if you earned them on different days.

When should I take the SAT Reasoning Test?

One arrangement would be: December of your V Form year (to give yourself an initial sense of what the test is like), then either January or March of your V Form year. The January test is usually right after first semester and March is usually during spring break, so some students will prefer one and some the other, then October of your VI Form year. (In this plan, you could use May and June of your V Form year and November of your VI Form year for the Subject tests.) Really though the best schedule is the one that works best for you! So feel free to ask your counselor and your folks about this and we can help you come up with a proper schedule.

What are SAT Subject Tests?

SAT Subject Tests (SAT IIs), called Achievement Tests in your parents' day, are one-hour standardized tests in 22 subject areas. Most colleges require two SAT Subject Tests (a handful ask for three) in addition to the SAT Reasoning Test some require specific tests (usually Math 2).

When should I take the SAT Subject Tests?

You should keep your eye out for subject tests to take in June of your III or IV Form years. You then could take two or three SAT Subject Tests in May and June of your V Form year, and then retake one to three tests in November of your VI Form year. If you are able to take a subject test in your III or IV Form year, and you think you will do well, go for it – it can give you some flexibility later. If you are not sure about what to take, check out our recommendations (see “What SAT subject tests should I take?”), then check with a counselor.

What SAT Subject Tests should I take?

Here is an area where our personalized advice can really help, so come on down and chat with us! We will probably use the following guidelines, where “performed strongly” usually means high 80s.

Biology M (molecular)

  • Performed strongly in a one-year course in biology with laboratory experience (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 test for any students who have successfully completed AS Biology.


  • Performed strongly in a one-year introductory physics course on the college preparatory level with laboratory experience (Honors Physics).
  • Performed strongly in a course in simple algebraic, trigonometric and graphical relationships and the concepts of ratio and proportion (precalculus).
  • Strongly recommend the Physics tests for any students who have successfully completed Advanced Physics.


  • Performed strongly in a one-year introductory chemistry course at the college preparatory level with laboratory experience (Chemistry).
  • Sucessfully completed a course in algebraic relationships, ratio and direct and inverse proportions, and exponents (Algebra II).
  • Strongly recommend the Chemistry tests for any students who have successfully completed Advanced or Honors Chemistry.

Math Level 1

  • Performed strongly in three years of college-preparatory mathematics, including two years of algebra and one year of geometry.

Math Level 2

  • 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 (precalculus).
  • If a student has excelled in precalculus (grade of a 90 or higher) or performed strongly in precalculus honors, Math Level 2 is recommended, otherwise take Math Level 1.
  • Strongly recommend Math Level 2 for any students who have completed Calculus AB or higher.

United States History

  • Performed strongly in U.S. History, and have supplemented their coursework with direct preparation for the SAT Subject test, including having taken a practice test.
  • Knowledge gained from social studies and outside reading is helpful.


  • Performed strongly in a class that focuses on close, critical reading in English and American literature from a variety of historical periods and genres (English 5).
  • Possesses a working knowledge of basic literary terminology, such as speaker, tone, image, irony, alliteration, stanza, etc.


  • Performed strongly in three to four years of language study in high school (language courses at least through the “4” level).
  • Gradual development of competence in the language over a period of time.
  • Strongly recommend the language test for any students who have completed an AS language course.

To learn more about the SAT Subject Tests, visit the College Board Web site, where you can find explanations each subject test and mini-practice tests.

What is the ACT test?

The ACT competes with the SAT, and is like a mix of the SAT Reasoning and Subject tests. Some students find that the ACT feels more 'real' than the SAT. You cannot “mix and match” your highest score in math, reading, etc. the way you can with the SAT. In other words, you send all the scores from your best single sitting. Also, it has a science section. But since you do not have to send ACT scores at all if you do not want to, the only downside to trying it is the time and cost! Come chat with us if you are interested.

Most schools now accept the ACT in place of the SAT Reasoning Test and/or the SAT Subject Tests. Some colleges now combine ACT sub-scores from multiple administrations to create a highest possible composite or super-score for the ACT. Here are some of the colleges that follow this practice: Amherst College, Babson College, Boston College, Brandeis University, CalTech University University of Chicago, Clarkson College, Clemson University, University of Colorado, Colorado College, Connecticut College,University of Connecticut, University of Denver, Dickinson College, Drexel University, Eckerd College, Elon University, Emory University, Fordham University, Furman University, University of Georgia, George Washington University, Gettysburg College, Hamilton College, Haverford College, High Point University, University of Illinois, University of Indiana, Lawrence University, Loyola Marymount University, McGill University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Miami, Mount Holyoke College, Northeastern University, University of North Caroline, Pepperdine University, University of Puget Sound, Umiversity of Rochester, Sewanee University, Simmons College, Stanford University, Tufts University Union College Washington & Lee University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Wesleyan University. This not a widespread practice, and we will continue to monitor this new trend with the ACT.

What is the TOEFL?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language is, well, just that. If English is your second language, you should take the TOEFL. Come on in and chat with us about it.

What is Non-Standard Testing?

Non-standard testing usually means getting half again as much time to finish the SAT or ACT. If you or your folks think you might need this (because of ADD, for example), please talk with Mr. Gilheany ASAP. The College Board has all kinds of hoops we can help you jump through, and it can take the better part of a year. You can read more about testing accommodations on the College Board webiste.

When are the current SAT and ACT Test Dates?

You can see the dates here on the College Counseling Calendar.

Should I think about SAT optional colleges and universities? Which colleges are score optional?

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 the students that apply to them. If this size and philosophy appeal to you, these 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 that ask for some tests but allow flexibility in the tests you can tell them to consider; Middlebury, Hamilton and Connecticut College are three of those colleges.) To find a list of the more than 400 colleges that have flexible testing requirements, check out the FairTest, an organization that works to reduce the role of standardized testing in college admissions.

  • Albright College
  • Agnes Scott College
  • American University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Berklee College of Music
  • Bowdoin College
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Colby College
  • College of the Atlantic
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Colorado College
  • Connecticut College
  • DePaul University
  • Drew University
  • Denison University
  • Dickinson College
  • Fairfield University
  • Franklin and Marshall
  • Furman University
  • George Mason University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Goucher College
  • Guilford College
  • Hamilton College
  • Hampshire College
  • Hartwick College
  • Hobart William Smith
  • Juniata College
  • Knox College
  • Lake Forest College
  • Lawrence University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Loyola University, MD
  • Marist College
  • McDaniel College
  • Middlebury College
  • Mt. Holyoke College
  • Muhlenberg College
  • New York University
  • Pitzer College
  • Providence College
  • Rollins College
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Sewanee (University of the South)
  • Smith College
  • St. Lawrence University
  • St. John's College
  • Texas A&M (select campuses)
  • University of Texas (select campuses)
  • Union College
  • Ursinus College
  • Wake Forest University
  • Washington College
  • Washington and Jefferson College
  • Wheaton College
  • Wittenberg University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute

How do SAT scores correspond to ACT scores?

The College Board and the ACT provide these concordance tables.


36 800 23 530-540
35 790 22 520
34 760-780 21 500-510
33 740-750 20 480-490
32 720-730 19 460-470
31 700-710 18 450
30 680-690 17 430-440
29 650-670 16 410-420
28 630-640 15 390-400
27 610-620 14 370-380
26 590-600 13 340-360
25 570-580 12 320-330
24 550-560 11 300-310


36 800 23 540-550
35 790 22 520-530
34 770-780 21 500-510
33 740-760 20 480-490
32 720-730 19 460-470
31 690-710 18 430-450
30 670-680 17 400-420
29 650-660 16 380-390
28 630-640 15 350-370
27 610-620 14 310-340
26 590-600 13 270-300
25 570-580 12 250-260
24 560

Combined Score

V & M
V & M
36 1600 23 1060-1080
35 1560-1590 22 1020-1050
34 1510-1550 21 980-1010
33 1460-1500 20 940-970
32 1410-1450 19 900-930
31 1360-1400 18 860-890
30 1320-1350 17 810-850
29 1280-1310 16 760-800
28 1240-1270 15 710-750
27 1210-1230 14 660-700
26 1170-1200 13 590-650
25 1130-1160 12 520-580
24 1090-1120 11 500-510
Data Source: The College Board, 1999

How do I register for the SAT Reasoning Tests?

Here are step by step instructions:

  1. Call your folks, and get a credit card number and your social security number, if you have one.
  2. Set aside about 1/2 hour to complete regisration for the first time.
  3. Go to
  4. Click on "register for the SAT."
  5. Click on "Register Now."
  6. Click on "Sign Up."
  7. Sign up using your permanent home zipcode. There is no need to enter anything under step 2 of this section, and please use a username and password you can easily remember!
  8. For the next page, please use your permanent home address and your St. Andrew's email.
  9. On the next page, click again on "Register Now."
  10. Next sign on again, click "Register for a Test" again, and then "Begin."
  11. Now you are going to be asked to fill out a profile.
  12. On Step 1 of this section, fill out those that say "required." Then, we would recommend saying "no" to Student search service unless you want junk mail, "I do not wish to respond" to gpa, and leaving class rank blank. The rest you may fill out as you wish.
  13. Steps 2-5 of this section you can leave completely blank; just drag down to the bottom and press save and continue each time.
  14. Begin Part 2; agree to the conditions, and save and continue.
  15. Select "Reasoning Test," "U.S.," and your grade. Unless you are from Middletown, you will need to search for St. Andrew's to answer "your high school." Just search for city and state; the formatting for the name "St. Andrew's" means they often won't find it if you search for it specifically. Unless you have one (if you don't but think you should, ask a college counselor,) answer no to "testing accommodations" (mostly meaning extended time) and "fee waiver." Once SAS is indicated, press "save and continue."
  16. Step 2 of this section, pick the appropriate test date (we recommend juniors first test in December). and press save and continue.
  17. Step 3 of this section, Say no to Student Answer Service unless you want that info, and save and continue.
  18. Step 4 of this section, sign up for your test centers. In general, the optimal test center depends on the testing date. Your order of preference should be St. Andrew's School (08-122)
  19. Step 5 of this section: Don't send your scores anywhere; just save and continue.
  20. Step 6 of this section: Don't purchase anything; just save and continue.
  21. Step 7 of this section: Review all the info, then drag down to the bottom and enter your credit card type, card number, expiration date / expiration year, and CSV code. (Click on "Where do I find... to find the csv).
  22. When you are done with these tasks, check your email for the confirmation emails from College Board. Please forward them to . It really helps us to know that you have registered!

What information do I need for registering online?

  • Web site address:
  • A credit card #, with the expiration date
  • Social Security # (if you have one)
  • SSD Eligibility Code (if you are eligible for extended time)
  • School Code #: 080095
  • 1st Choice Test Center code, 08-122 (St. Andrew's School) [Note that St. Andrew's is not a test center for every date.]
  • 2nd Choice Test Center code, 08-120 (Middletown High School)
  • 3rd Choice Test Center code, 08-135 (Newark High School)
  • Mailing Address: Your permanent home address

What should I bring to standardized test days?

You should go to sleep early the Thursday night before the test, and put together an SAT 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 telling you where to be when.

Does the college office register me for tests or fix problems with the College Board?

Definitely come in and we will help! The College Board is a large organization and has been known to be vulnerable to the drawbacks of other large organizations (like, say, the IRS). If it appears that the College Board has made some error, call them right away, and let us know as well. They will usually only deal with you, but we can help you ask the right questions, etc. Questions about testing at St. Andrew's or about test day? Ms. Hyde, in her role of Director of Testing, is a great resource.

How do I decide if I need test prep and, if so, what kind of test prep I should do?

Here is another area where our personalized advice can help. We now offer an online test preparation course free to St. Andrew's students. This hassle-free and effective method may be just your route to great success! It could also be that one-on-one tutoring, traditional test prep class over the summer, or working on your own with a book could be better for you, or that you could put your time and energy better into something else. Some pointers:

  • Watch out for guarantees.
  • Practice makes perfect (well, ok, not perfect, but better!) If a program gives you homework… (you can figure out the end of this sentence.)
  • Full practice tests, even though they are inconvenient, might be the best, well, practice.
  • True, the tests are not as fascinating as most St. Andrew's evaluations. But if you can approach them as interesting, valuable challenges in and of themselves, this mental state can help!

Building my college list

How do I choose the best college for me?

Read and kick around ideas with your folks, your counselor, St. Andrew's alumni at the colleges, 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 most alums tell us they found the most useful. What will you be researching and talking about? Probably:

  1. Size of school: small college or large university?
  2. Location and surroundings:…rural, urban, suburban and where in the country, or world, I hope to study?
  3. The culture of the school:
    • Socially
      • Fraternities/Sororities…social atmosphere
      • Diversity
      • Activities (extracurricular 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
    • Intellectually
      • Required courses…distribution requirements or core curriculum
      • Number of courses each semester required to graduate
      • Is there a strong department in my area of greatest academic interest? Is a thesis required in my major?
      • Size of classes
      • Availability and interest of the faculty in teaching undergraduates
      • What are the other students like? Do they enjoy studying? Do they take their work seriously?
      • Intensity; degree of independence expected
      • Availability of courses to undergraduates, or non-majors
      • Pre-professional programs, and their access to non-majors
      • What interdisciplinary programs are offered?
  4. Extracurricular opportunities for study beyond the traditional curriculum:
    • College exchanges
    • Study abroad, or specialized study within the United States
    • January terms” and “May terms” notice 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 give great advice.
  6. Consider single sex colleges. There are fewer such opportunities for men, and many more for women. The research on the success women have, both professionally and in terms of gaining access to graduate programs, is disproportionately favorable to women's colleges.
  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.”

Be patient with yourself. You may not be at all certain about 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.

What is the best way to prepare for the college visit?

  1. Map the distance between various campuses (Google maps works well and knows college names.) Two visits a day works well and gives you some travel time and breathing time! You can also see a number of example tours on our College Visits Planner.
  2. Use the web or call ahead to:
    • Discover general information session times (length of typical session)
    • Find out tour times (length of typical tour)
    • 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; most of those colleges offer interviews with alumni from the college who come to St. Andrew's to interview you once you have applied.
    • Contact coaches, professors or others 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 them to learn about you. Some professors might take the time to let the admissions office know about the conversation, which might help!)
    • Don't forget hotel reservations if you will need them!
  3. Doing the research on the college before you go will help make your visit fun and interesting. Surf their Web site thoroughly and develop questions.
  4. For example: you love being part of theatre life at St. Andrew's. You have determined from reading that there is a strong theatre department at the college you are visiting. You see the theatre on your tour and learn that your tour guide has never been to one of the shows, “but hears from friends that they're great!” What do you ask your interviewer? You might ask whether, as a non-theatre major, you can: take advanced courses in the department, try-out for all productions (with any chance of being cast), or find alternative routes for your thespian enthusiasms? If you wish to major in theatre, is an audition required? If so, where, how will it be scheduled, and what should you prepare? May a DVD replace an audition?

    This example can be employed for almost any and every curricular or extracurricular interest. Just use your imagination, and practice. You can help the tour guide, information session representative, and/or interviewer remember something about your particular passions and talents but through the questions you pose.

  5. Pick up a copy of the student newspaper and read the letters to the editor. Discover the “real issues” on campus.
  6. 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.

For more information on the web about college visits and tours, check out; both Web sites are packed with information on virtual college tours, webcams, campus maps, directions and organized group college tours.

When should I first visit colleges?

A few folks visit in the summer before their V Form year. You might decide to visit a college or two in the fall of the V Form year, for example during the fall long weekend or the Thanksgiving and December holidays. You could visit any college that is convenient to where you may be. If you end up seeing several and have some choices, you could see colleges of different sizes and types of locations. Remember to “sign in” at the admissions office when you visit. Many colleges give you credit for visiting!

How do I develop my working college list?

In February you and your college counselor will talk about some of the characteristics you would like in a college. You might have very specific criteria or you might be more open. You may know a lot about colleges or nothing at all. No problem! We can start wherever you are and come up with a very loose list of colleges for you to research and to visit over spring break.

What should I do if I'm considering applying to a service academy?

We've put this question early in the "building my college list" section because it helps to take some early steps. Below we'll describe the application process for the United States Naval Academy. If you are also (or instead) interested in the USMA, USAFA or USCGA the processes will be similar but not identical; come down and talk with us!

The USNA offers 21 majors broken out into 3 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 junior year summer experience if possible. The applications go online on February 1 at
  2. If you feel confident you can prepare a strong application, you can apply as early as April of your junior year. You could then update your application with leadership positions, etc., that you gain later in the spring or in the early fall.
  3. Complete the required physical and medical assessments.
  4. In the summer of your junior 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.
  5. Contact your Blue and Gold Coordinator for advice and information. The Delaware contact is Mr. Jake Spruance, 610-444-3668 or email at .
  6. If you are likely to compete in athletics at Navy, register with the NCAA during the summer prior to your senior year at and makes sure your SAT's are officially sent to the NCAA by listing this code on your SAT registration - 9999.
  7. Simultaneously, apply for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship at The electronic apps open in March of your junior year and runs through until January or your senior year. (In NROTC you train to become an officer while attending a civilian college.)
  8. If you initially do not meet the academic requirements for the Academy and 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 now officers have taken that path; ask our Blue and Gold officer for more information.

When might I see my first larger set of colleges?

Spring break is a great time for many folks to see colleges. Some of the colleges will be in session, since their spring break will not overlap with ours. If you see a good number and learn about some you like, you and your counselor can come up with a more targeted list to consider over the summer. If you end up seeing some "likely" and "possible" schools you like, even better!

How do I identify what schools to visit over the summer?

In the spring, 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 1.5 – 2 colleges for every one to which they apply. Since you want reaches, possibles and likelies on your final list, you probably want them 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.

What can I do to make finding likely schools easier?

  1. When visiting schools for the first time, try visiting schools other than those that are among the most competitive for admission.
  2. 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.
  3. Ask your college counselor about likely schools, and get your folks in on the conversation as well. We are excited to help you reach for the stars and at the same time to find gems that are already within your grasp!

When will I have made my final list of colleges?

When you return from your summer visits, you may have a clear idea of your final list, or you may want first to reflect with your college counselor. Most students come to a fairly settled understanding of their list by the end of September.

How many reach, possible and likely schools should I have on my final list?

Finding at least two likelies and two possible at which you could see yourself being very happy can help you be calm, confident and secure as you wait for the responses from the colleges.

Should I visit colleges during my senior fall?

Sure! If you come to the fall and feel like visiting more schools would help you build your 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 probably will 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) come down and let us know. We can help you plan so you can visit the college, miss the minimum of classes, and continue excelling!

Does a leap in my test scores alter my college list?

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/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 isnot a good standardized test taker. In the ideal world, the goal is to have both one’s grades and testing fall in the college 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. For example, if your grades are in the appropriate range for said college and now your test scores also meet the mean for that college then the prediction of admission may move from being defined as a ‘reach’ to being a ‘possible’ and so forth. However, if your scores are high yet your grades fall below the mean for that college, the improvement will not alter the estimated outcome.

Applying to my colleges

How do I best prepare for the college interview?

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 Web site and determine their policy regarding interviews. If this is hard to figure out from their Web site (sometimes true), come on down and we can help you figure it out.

To be comfortable but sufficiently neat for a relatively “businesslike” occasion, we would suggest Haycock! (So there is a reason for that strange category in our dress code…) If you end up needing to be late, don't worry. Everyone gets stuck in the major traffic backup occasionally. Just call when you know to alert the interviewer. Ask 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, enjoy them…they will appreciate your kindness and interest in them.

Oddly, you can get ready for a great interview a long time in advance! Check out the list of interview questions. 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. Great! 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.

What are some common interview questions?

  • 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?

How do I get started writing my essays?

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 essay or including or eliminating some topics, we recommend going through the following exercises. We recommend moving rapidly and not censoring yourself. Enjoy!

  1. 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…
  2. “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 along with the above sentences. Then ask them as well for several adjectives to describe you. Record these as well.

  3. Timeline
    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 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 essays now, please.

How do I move from brainstorming topics to written drafts?

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 both into what makes a strong essay. Narrow down 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 “Do you have any tips on writing college essays from admissions officers?” and begin to edit the essays with these ideas and cautions in mind.

Do you have any tips on writing college essays from admissions officers?

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
  • Passion
  • Content
  • Answer the question!
  • "Show" don't "tell" (i.e. bring the essay to life)

Landmines – Things to avoid

  • The “I” essay
  • It's/its; their/there/they're; etc.
  • Trite phrases or words, myriad, plethora, broaden your horizons, etc.
  • Using larger words that don't fit/inappropriate given the student's academic profile
  • Relying too much on spell check, resulting in typos slipping through
  • Treating online applications like an e-mail, failing to take care in crafting responses and not looking for errors
  • Risks to avoid:
    • Profanity
    • Alcohol
    • Describing inappropriate behavior
    • Boyfriend/girlfriend relationship issues
    • Shock value
    • Sympathy
    • 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

What are some typical application essay questions?

  • 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?

About what should I write the short answer activity essay on the Common Application?

What do you find yourself a. spending the most time doing and b. most excited about outside of the classroom? You might want to start with a couple of nominees and send them to your college counselor and we can bat those ideas back and forth.

What ideas do you have for the “Why do you wish to attend…” question?

One great way to approach this question is to answer it phrased in a slightly different way. Write your response to the request, “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? For a good number of these activities, cite what you have already done (or have not yet gotten a chance to do) that leads you to these activities.”

Answering this question allows you to keep the focus on you, where it belongs, rather than 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, and those who focus on their college from those who think about it less. Make sure you send the right essay to the right college; leaving the word “'Bates'” in the "“Why Colby?" essay cannot help your case!

Does the essay have to be exactly the length the application states?

We have asked a large sample of college admissions officers this question, and their answer was remarkably uniform: they are flexible. When asked what they meant by flexible, most answered vaguely, but ended up describing an upper limit of around 20% longer than the stated limit. So, a 100-word essay could be 120 words without a problem, a 250-word essay could be 300 words, and a 500-word essay could be 600 words.

What information will simplify filling out the common app?

Filling out the Common Application online will save you time and energy. The new version of the application usually becomes available around July 1st before your VI Form year. 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.
  • Bio:
  • 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.)
  • Address:
  • Use your home address for permanent address, and use St. Andrew's for the current/mailing address.
  • Future plans:
  • 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 these majors.
  • 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.
  • Academics:
  • 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.
  • Our names and positions are Mrs. Katherine B Fritz, Director, and Ms. Anna Hastings, Senior Associate Director.
  • Our e-mails are and
  • 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!
  • Standardized tests
  • 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.)
  • Family
  • If right away you ask your parents the information in this section you do not know, you will have the common application completed sooner. Frequently this is 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 if you feel like talking.
  • Activities
  • 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.

How do I send different versions of the Common Application to different colleges?

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 - let's say you would be an architecture major at one college but an engineering major at another. Most students will not need to create different versions. 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: and login using your existing User Name and Password.
  4. Click 'Replicate.'

All your information from your first version will 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? Come on down and talk to us and we can help you figure it out. Also, more info is here.

How will I know when I have submitted my Common Application to the colleges?

  • 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.
  • As the final application submission confirmation, your application ‘checklist,' which can be accessed by logging into your Common Application Online account and clicking on the ‘checklist' tab, will dynamically change to indicate that your application was submitted to your selected colleges.
  • Finally, after you have successfully submitted your Common Application, you can log back in and your application will show that your application was submitted to X number of colleges, as well as the date submitted.
  • 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.

How do I find a college's supplements using the Common App Online?

Once you have entered some colleges into "My colleges" on the online Common Application, click on the "supplements" button on the left column. This will take you to a page with links to the supplements for those colleges.

How can my parents help add to the college recommendation?

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 it to the College 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.

How should I ask teachers to write recommendations for me?

Before you leave for the summer you should ask your teachers to write recommendations. These requests should be made in person and, if the teacher agrees, ask them to sign the blue request form and turn them 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.

Will you be able to give me feedback on my college essays?

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. This essay should be words without too many other edits!

When and how should I remind my recommendation writers in the fall of my VI Form year?

It will help give your recommendation writers the time to create evocative and compelling portraits of you in their classes if you remind them early in September. If you are applying to a rolling admissions school or to the service academies, the late summer would be even better. In it, you should indicate your earliest date - and you don't need to be sure yet. Here's are two sample emails you could send:

Dear Ms. X,

Thank you again so much for agreeing to write my recommendation. I have decided to apply [or am considering applying] early decision to Eastern, which has a deadline of 11/1. If you would like Mrs. Samson to mail the recommendation, you can just email it to her a week in advance. If you would like the form so you can mail it yourself just let me know and I will put a copy in your box.




Dear Mr. Y,

Thank you again so much for agreeing to write my recommendation. I will be applying to a group of schools regular decision. If you would like Mrs. Samson to mail the recommendations, you can just email her a copy of the recommendation by Monday, 12/10. If you would like the forms so you can mail them yourself just let me know and I will put copies in your box.



How should I tell the college office to mail my transcript, profile, school recommendation, secondary school report, and other information to the college?

If you go onto Naviance and follow the instructions for requesting a transcript 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!

What are Early Action and Early Decision?

  • Early Decision: 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.
  • Early Action: 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.
  • Rolling: 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.

What is the best method of scheduling alumni interviews?

When you have completed the 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.

When should I consider my college list “set”?

We will send home before Thanksgiving break a copy of your college list (that you will have already signed) for your parents to sign and return. If your parents have questions about this list you and they can talk about it over Thanksgiving break, and we would be happy to help after Thanksgiving. Once signed, we ask that you e-mail us right away if you make any changes, since we will be writing and calling in support of your applications, and since we may want to discuss other colleges to consider instead.

What can I do to let the colleges know about wonderful things I do after I have applied?

If you are applying regular action, please send us an e-mail in the last week of February updating us on any activities and successes you have experienced since you mailed your applications. We can talk with you about whether and how to send a note to the colleges as well.

What if my college says my application is incomplete? Are you sure you sent my recommendation?

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.

Does St. Andrew's report suspensions?

Please refer to the Student Handbook.

What information do teachers and the college counselor use to write recommendations?

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 is also a private communication between St. Andrew's School 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.

Affording college

Do you have financial aid information?

With the cost of attending a private college or university reaching into the $40,000 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. 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:

Through institutional and federal methodologies, financial aid offices are calculating a family contribution based on what they determine a family is able to contribute to their child's educational expenses rather than a family's willingness to pay. Each 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.

What is need-based financial aid?

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, if they decided to admit a student, 100% of demonstrated need 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 Web sites 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 belive the student's summer and long-term earning potential increases.

More information about need-blind and need-aware admission policies can be found here.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Great question! It 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 them and help them complete this task that might feel hard to them, and 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. In September of your VI Form year, go to the FAFSA Forecaster to get ready to fill out a form due in January.
  3. On October 1 of your VI Form year, fill out the CSS Profile. Finish by October 15th, especially if you are planning on applying early somewhere. Though the form will continue to be available and colleges each have their own deadlines, following a Oct. 15 deadline will simplify your process.
  4. Check each college's financial aid website for
    1. Scholarships you may want to apply for
    2. Forms specific to that college you need to fill out
  5. On January 1 of your VI Form year, fill out the FAFSA. Follow the link from your FAFSA Forecaster.

Please call us or come down with any questions - thanks!

My situation is a little more complicated. Could you give me more details about applying for financial aid?

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 are trying to move beyond numbers and methodologies to understand a familys financial history, present circumstances and concerns in the future. Submitting the appropriate forms, tax returns and commentary is important as you attempt to develop a relationship with the financial aid office at whatever school your child attends. Cultivating open and friendly lines of communication is crucial to the financial aid process because you will probably have more contact with the financial aid office than any other administrative office at the college.

Required forms and documents (for American citizens and permanent residents):

Required documents based on 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 (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

A few pointers on filing the FAFSA:

  • Do not file the FAFSA before January 1, 2007 and submit only one application.
  • File the FAFSA online. The Department of Education and your college will encourage you to file electronically. You can contact them at 1-800-433-3243 with questions.
  • 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 at It is recommended that the Profile be completed by October 15. The final day to complete this form is approximately December 13. The list of colleges that require the CSS Profile can be found here.

A few pointers on filing the CSS Profile:

  • Full instructions for completing the form are located at the Web site.
  • Make sure you register 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 for the Non-Custodial Parents Statement and a copy of the most recent federal tax return from the non-custodial parent. 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, the financial aid offices at different colleges may make different/independent financial aid award decisions based on "professional judgment." Communicating directly with the financial aid offices and understanding how they handle divorce/separated 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 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 you 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 at after you register for the CSS Profile.

Institutional Forms: Some colleges have their own aid forms in addition to the ones above. Check with each college and follow their instructions.

International Students

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. You can find a list of colleges that offer international need based financial aid here. 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:

How do I understand my financial aid award (“the package”)?

Most colleges offer an aid package that includes grant money (scholarships), student loans and/or work-study. The loan and job 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 current earnings (a term-time job) and future income (student loan).

Questions to ask 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 job depending on their policy.
  • How much indebtedness can you expect over four years?
  • Does the college have 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 and the financial aid award?

Do you have Student Loan information?

For American citizens or permanent residents, colleges will typically offer one or two federal student loans as part of the self-help component of the financial aid package. There is a real long-term difference between the federal student loans depending upon the terms of the loans. Make sure you understand the terms of the loan you have been offered. Descriptions of the various forms of federal aid can be found at the College Board Loan Center.

What if my parents want to take out a loan for my college education?

Many families pursue parent loans to finance a portion or total amount of their child's educational costs. The amount borrowed is typically the total family contribution (total costs minus any financial aid). Families may approach the family contribution through a combination of monies from current income, assets and/or loans. When considering parent loans, it is important to consider 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 payments in the present, 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 the Federal Direct PLUS Loan for parents. In their menu of loan options, they may also offer loans from private vendors such as Sallie Mae and The College Board Connect Loan, as well as state sponsored college loan services.

Federal Direct PLUS Loan: 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.

How do I best understand and compare my financial aid awards?

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:

  • 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.
  • 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. It is possible that the financial aid administrator can adjust your award based on new information. Be prepared to offer concrete information that will allow financial aid officers to review your award. Most colleges do not negotiate or match offers from other schools.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What are some financial aid and scholarship search Web sites?

  • Fastweb lets students create a personalized profile that can be matched against its expansive database of scholarships. This is a free online scholarship matching service.
  • Fastaid has been authoring The Scholarship Book from Prentice Hall for 9 years, and researching scholarship sources for 20.
  • This site is hosted by Sallie Mae, who for more than 26 years has been active in the student loan business. The site has lots of information about all aspects of financial aid including a free scholarship search tool.
  • Contains a database of over 8,000 programs with a distribution level of over 150,000 awards for undergraduate and postgraduate students worth a total of more than $35 million.
  • A financial aid search service using a large database of private scholarships, results in a scholarship package built just for you, including scholarships that match your criteria and a personalized letter with your information to each of the scholarship sponsors. Scholarships are available for undergraduate, graduate and international students.
  • A helpful Web site for international students to locate scholarship moneys and research universities and colleges that offers financial aid to international students.

Where do I find the CSS Profile for financial aid?

If you are applying for financial aid, the CSS profile can be found at Like all bureaucratic forms, it is wise to complete it as soon as possible. Be sure to remind your parents of this, for much of the information needs to come from them. If you or your parents would like some help with this, please just let us know – we would be happy to be of assistance.

What are merit scholarships? What should I do if I hope to get one?

Merit scholarships are scholarships that can be given either by schools or by other organizations that do not depend on the student's financial status. They change rapidly, are different at every school and are frequently linked with specific talents, backgrounds or other student attributes. Our office unfortunately cannot keep track of all the available merit scholarships. We recommend that if you are interested in a merit scholarship, that in your investigation of the school you look into what scholarships are available and what their requirements are. More information on merit scholarships can also be found at

Talking with the colleges about my athletics or arts interests

Can you advise me about athletic recruiting?


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.Are you a varsity starter, all conference, or ODP performer or All-American? Have you attended select summer camps, played on elite club teams or competed in all-star tournaments? Have you reached your athletic potential?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?For you, what is the difference between 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. A college coach on the next level, whether on the Division I or III level, will 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 an impact on the future relationships between college coaches and St. Andrew's coaches and 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 so carefully research not only the opportunities for yourself in the program but 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 the coach. The following steps will help get organized:

  • Craft a list of schools with your college counselor and current coaches.
  • Develop a boilerplate letter of introduction and an athletic resume.
  • Create a spreadsheet of coach contact information. You can find contact information in the athletics pages of most colleges' Web sites.
  • Return questionnaires from the coaches.
  • Gather and edit a game tape (college coaches typically want a tape of a whole game, not a highlight film).
  • Attend appropriate camps and tournaments.
  • Send college coaches game and camp schedules.
  • Email, call and write the coaches.
  • Return e-mails, phone calls and letters.
  • Visit campuses and meet with the coaches and players.
  • Become your own best advocate by staying in touch.

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.

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 is considerably 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.

What are the differences in Division I and Division III Programs?

After a student has decided to play as a college athlete, he or she should consider the differences between Division I and Division III programs. These are the divisions between which St. Andrew's students typically are choosing.

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.

How do I 'sell myself' as an athlete?

  • 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 the college level.
  • Make this initial contact as soon as possible during the junior spring. Many coaches begin finalizing their recruit lists over the summer and, in the fall, do not have room for additions. Likewise if your sport is played in the spring it is important to contact coaches well ahead of time in order that they can become acquainted with your talents, and, if possible, see you play.
  • When you contact an admission office for catalogues and view books, 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 Web sites. As well, in our Resource Room, you will find the NCAA directory of all head coaches.
  • 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.
  • Ask the coaches about their program—discuss this 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/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. The college coaches are excellent resources and they 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 junior/senior year summer. 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.

What are NCAA Regulations?

To play sports at the collegiate Division I and Division II level, athletes must be registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse 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 Clearinghouse. If the student has not registered with the Clearinghouse, Division I and II colleges are not permitted to offer paid visits to campuses and weekends with college athletes.

Students do not need to register with the Clearinghouse to be recruited by Division III athletic programs.

In order to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse students must do the following:

  • Complete the NCAA Clearinghouse 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 our office and we complete them and forward your St. Andrew's transcript at the time of registration and again at graduation.
  • 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 official transcript from each high school attended.
  • During Clearinghouse registration, students may authorize the NCAA to release relevant information to four specific schools; alternatively, students may authorize the NCAA to release relevant information to any college that requests that information.
  • We encourage all juniors who are considering the Division I and/or II recruiting process to register with the NCAA during the junior spring.

    Remember that initial registration with the NCAA Clearinghouse 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.

  • The Clearinghouse must receive an official College Board report of an athletes SAT scores. The Student is responsible for having these reports sent to the Clearinghouse through the College Board.

What are some potential pitfalls in athletic recruiting that I should be aware of?

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. A coach's friendly and constantly optimistic banter is what one admissions officer labeled “blowing sunshine." It is to a coach's benefit to keep the most athletes interested the longest. The admissions committee makes admissions decisions, not the coaches. A coach may lead you to believe that you will make his or her list, 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 St. Andrew's coach before responding.

Indeed, it is important that you keep us posted 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 worked with similar cases, and know how to discuss concerns with college coaches.

What should go into a cover letter or e-mail to coaches?

A 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 sent to recruited athlelets. Include your athletic resume with your letter.

Here is an example of a cover letter.

What should my athletic resumé look like?

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 is an example of an athletic resume.

What if I want to pursue the visual and performing arts in college?

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, CD or DVD 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. What you have done to date will set you apart from many other applicants, demonstrating an unusual talent, skill and passion. What you send them, if chosen and presented carefully, can only be to your advantage.

Visual Arts

  • Colleges will be looking for a selection of slides documenting your work, usually no more than twenty submitted in a slide file page.
  • Each slide should be labeled with your name and a number that corresponds to a typed list accompanying your slides. This list should have a title for each slide, identification of the media, an indication of size, and a brief description of the project or work.
  • Include a brief artist statement that describes your interests and investment in the arts.
  • Other formats are possible depending on the requirements of the school. Check the webpage of the college and then double check with us and with Mr. McGiff.
  • Collect all of your work at school and keep track of it. Start taking electronic pictures of everything of note.
  • Meet with Mr. McGiff and review your collected works with him, considering which pieces may be most important and representative of your achievements.

Music, Drama and Dance

  • In the absence of a live audition (typically reserved for conservatories), an audio or videotape is the best way to present your talent. Your teacher can help you pick the best pieces to select (usually no more than three), and the best time and place to record them.
  • Make several copies of the CD or DVD to send, since they will not be returned to you.
  • Include a brief artist's statement that describes your intentions and investment in the performing arts.
  • Label your CD or DVD with your full name and school. Admissions offices will send the CD or DVD to the appropriate department for evaluation and feedback.

What should go into a letter or e-mail to a special interest person at a college?

If you would like to contact a professor related to a special interest of yours, you should write a brief letter or e-mail expressing your interest and requesting more information. If you plan on visiting the campus, you might also request a meeting with that professor.

An example of a special interest letter can be found here.

Do you shoot athletic videotapes?

If you are on a varsity team your V form year in a sport that uses highlight film in the recruiting process, you should check with your coach about the advisability of shooting some game tape.

How do I learn more about the athletic recruiting process?

If you are at all interested in intercollegiate athletic competition, we invite you to a presentation about the process about athletic recruiting. In addition, please see our section on athletic recruiting in this FAQ.

Responding to news, managing my waitlists, and choosing my next step

What if I am accepted early to an early decision school?

  1. Congratulations! Come to the office and tell us.
  2. Write thank you notes to your teachers telling them of the acceptance and letting them know they need not mail the other recommendations.
  3. If you have applied early action to other schools, you should write them thanking them for considering your application and telling them that you are accepting an offer elsewhere.

What if I am accepted early to an early action school that I wish to attend?

  1. Congratulations! Come to the office and tell us.
  2. Write thank you notes to your teachers telling them of the acceptance and letting them know they need not mail the other recommendations.
  3. If you have applied early action to other schools, you should write them thanking them for considering your application and telling them that you are accepting an offer elsewhere.
  4. Accept the offer from the school you have chosen.

What if I am accepted early to an early action school but wish to continue to apply to other schools?

  1. Congratulations! Decide at what schools you wish to continue your application.
  2. Come in to the office and tell us.
  3. Be sure to complete a transcript request for each of your colleges on Naviance, listing the colleges to which you will be mailing applications, so we know to mail your supporting materials.
  4. Write thank you notes to the teachers telling them of the acceptance, letting them know they need not mail most other recommendations, but asking them to send recommendations to the schools at which you will continue your candidacy.
  5. If you have applied early action to other schools and you will not be pursuing them further, write them thanking them for considering your application and telling them that you are no longer going to pursue the process there.
  6. 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.

What if I am deferred from the early pool to the regular pool?

  1. OK—you are still in the running. Come to the office and tell us.
  2. Complete a transcript request for each of your colleges on Naviance, listing the colleges to which you will be mailing applications, so we know to mail your supporting materials.
  3. Ask your teachers to mail the rest of your recommendations.
  4. Go ahead and mail your (already completed) applications.
  5. 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.

What if I am rejected early?

  1. We are here for you. Come to the office and tell us.
  2. Be sure to complete a transcript request for each of your colleges on Naviance, listing the colleges to which you will be mailing applications, so we know to mail your supporting materials.
  3. Ask your teachers to mail the rest of your recommendations.
  4. Go ahead and mail your (already completed) applications.

How do I best respond to April college news?

As you hear from colleges, please let us 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.

What do I need to consider if I have been offered admission to the second semester?

Congratulations! This is commonly called a “Feb Admit” or “Jan Plan Admit” by the colleges who make these offers. We would encourage you to get excited about these offers. First, you have been admitted! Second, imagine all the terrific options that you can pursue next fall. If this school would have been your first choice of the schools who accepted you if they had offered you fall admission, has anything significant truly changed?

How can I maximize my chances of getting accepted off a waitlist, while having a happy spring and summer?

  1. Return any waiting list card(s) immediately to the college(s) in which you are interested.
  2. Let us know the schools on whose waiting list you are remaining; we will keep fighting for you at those colleges.
  3. 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.
  5. Within the week of getting your news, send a draft to your college counselor of a letter to the college(s) 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 interest or course that is inspiring you and can translate to the college in question, and highlights from your extracurricular life at St. Andrew's. If you indicate to your top choice school that they are your number one school and that you would certainly attend if admitted, this can help draw their attention.
  6. You may wish to ask a teacher whose class you are enjoying and who has not previously written for you to write a letter 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 us a quick e-mail or come on down with the details.
  9. Keep us informed of every new success in your life. Come on down and tell us the details.

Should I visit colleges after I have been admitted? If so, when?

Many students will not need to visit colleges in order to make their decision. You may, however, feel that you need to see your top two choices again. If so, come on down to talk to us and we will help you plan the trips so you miss the minimum of school.

What do I do when I've decided on the college I'm attending?

  1. Congratulations! Come to the office and tell us.
  2. Write thank you notes to the schools who accepted you but where you will not be attending, thanking them for their consideration and letting them know you decided to enroll elsewhere.
  3. Write thank you notes to each of the teachers who wrote for you.
  4. Submit any form asked for by the college you have chosen, as well as a nice thank you note.