The College Process


    Criteria to Consider in Choosing a College


    A good internet resource for college-bound high school students is www.collegebasics.com.  This web site offers college admissions tips and insider secrets about planning for college, applying for college, financial aid, admissions essays, college interviews, and much more.
    What to Consider About Yourself

    Ø      What are my interests?

    Ø      What do I eventually want to work at?

    Ø      How much, if any, school does it require?

    Ø      What is my ability?

    Ø      Can I compete in a four year college or a two year college or shorter program?

    Ø      How much money can my family afford to spend on my education?


    What to Consider About the Schools

    Ø      Type of School:  two year, four year, co-ed, all male, all female, vocational/technical

    Ø      Location of School:  distance from home, commute or not, region, state, climate, urban, rural, suburban

    Ø      Majors/Programs of Study:  Do they offer programs I am interested in?

    Ø      Size of Institution:  small (2,000 or less), medium (2,000-5,000), large (5,000-10,000), very large (10,000 +)

    Ø      Selectivity:  admissions is very competitive, moderately competitive, competitive, open enrollment

    Ø      Cost:  How much is the total cost?  (Including tuition, room and board, books, fees, transportation, and financial aid.

    Ø      Diversity:  composition of the student body (includes race, religion, sex, international students, age)

    Ø      Clubs and Activities:  sports, religious, music, art, environmental, debate, co-op programs, study abroad, radio, TV station, community service, internship, cultural events

    Ø      Housing:  Is dormitory space available?  Are their options for co-ed, single sex, and special interest groups?  What are the meal plan options?

    Ø      Facilities:  Is the equipment in good condition?  Are the buildings and grounds in good condition?  Is there a student union building gym, track and sports field, etc.?

    Ø      Special Programs/Services:  Does the school have transfer articulation agreements for any programs?  (Ex., A 3-2 engineering program with another institution.)  Do they offer co-op programs?  Do they have tutorial help?  Do they work with students who have learning disabilities?  What services do they provide?  Do they offer ROTC programs?

    Ø      Faculty:  Who is teaching the course?  What is the average class size (faculty/student ratio?) How many have Ph.D.’s?  What are the research opportunities for students?  How available are the professors?


    Creating a College List


    Once a student has developed a sense of the schools they are interested in, then a list can be generated. 


    It is difficult to say how many schools a student should apply to, but we do offer a guideline.  We don’t recommend applying to just one campus or just randomly applying to 10, 12 or more schools.  In general, we suggest 5 to 6 choices, keeping some selective guidelines in mind.  A combination of Reach, Realistic, and Safety schools are an effective approach. 


    Ø      Reach:  Colleges that you would consider to be a long shot for acceptance but still a possibility.

    Ø      Realistic:  Colleges that you match up well with.  The likelihood of your acceptance is good.

    Ø      Safety:  A college that you will almost certainly be admitted to.  Pretty much a sure bet.


    There is no foolproof method or guarantees.  However, good research and honest self-assessments have produced the best results.


    The College Application Process


    Applications can be requested from the admissions office, completed in many cases on-line (often tuition fee is waived) or downloaded off your computer.  Many are available in the office of student services as well.


    Once the materials have been collected, it is very important that the student reads the directions carefully.  Then, in conjunction with their counselor, they should review the process for each college.  The requirements vary among schools so this part of the process can’t be over emphasized.  Many schools require essays and supplemental information along with teacher recommendations, counselor recommendations, fees, and transcripts.


    Recommendations from counselors and teachers are usually required from private colleges.  In September of their senior year, the student should be making requests for their recommendations from teachers and counselors.  When making the request, the student should provide a recommendation form (available in the office of student services) along with a personal resume or comprehensive list of all activities, organizations, volunteering, and achievements accomplished throughout high school.  In giving this information in a timely fashion, you will be rewarded with an appropriate recommendation.  Last minute requests should be avoided!  Almost all teachers will submit their recommendation to the office of student services so we can have them readily available for each application.  If your teachers choose, they can mail their recommendation for the student on their own.  In that case, the student is responsible for providing the teacher with a self-addressed stamped envelope for each admissions office.


    One very important factor in the admission process is understanding the policy under which you are applying.  Be sure to know if its Early Decision, Early Notification, Early Action, Regular Decision, Rolling Admissions, Deferred, or Delayed Admissions (see glossary of terms at the back.)


    Another important factor in the application process is understanding what tests are required for admissions.  While the PSATS are optional for students to take, other college entrance tests are not.  It is critical to understand what tests are necessary to take BEFORE the application deadline.  Among the possibilities are the SAT I’s, the SAT II’s, the ACTS, and TOEFL Exam(See page ____)


    The College Essay


    The importance of the essay cannot be overstated.  It is primarily used to see if applicants can organize their thoughts and communicate them clearly, accurately, and concisely in written form.  It is also an opportunity for the admissions counselors to learn about you, your interests, hobbies, abilities, and personality.  In many competitive admissions offices, all standardized information being equal, the well-written essay can set an applicant apart from others.  Time spent on producing a superb essay is time well spent.  Applicants should have parents, counselors, teachers and/or friends critique their work for revisions.  Start early, take your time, and use available resources to develop the best essay you can. 


    Some examples of typical essay questions include:

    Ø      Describe a person or experience of particular importance to you.

    Ø      Identify and discuss a significant problem facing your generation.

    Ø      Describe the reason that influences your selection of your intended major field of study.


    Application Checklist (A single application may include part or all of the following information.)

    Ø      Personal information

    Ø      Fees

    Ø      Essay

    Ø      Resume

    Ø      Teacher Recommendations

    Ø      Counselor Recommendation

    Ø      Transcript

    Ø      SAT/ACT/SAT II Scores

    Ø      Mid-Year Report

    Ø      Final Transcript Requests

    Ø      Interview/Audition


    College Visits


    Visits during the college’s academic semester provide more realistic information about the academic and social life on a college campus.  Generally, we recommend that spring or the junior year is a good time to get the process underway.  If unavoidable, summer or fall of the senior year are also good times to visit. 


    Making arrangements to visit can be done through the admissions office.  If possible, take advantage of a campus tour.  Time permitting, we recommend that you speak with students in the dorms, library, or student union building, and sit in on a class or two.  Many campuses offer overnight programs as well.  Together, the information gleaned from the opportunities will give you valuable insight as to your compatibility with a college.


    Questions to Ask a College Admissions Counselor


    Talk About Your Major

    Ø      What kinds of classes would I take if I majored in ______?

    Ø      What should I expect to do in the classroom?

    Ø      What courses do you recommend students take in high school in order to be accepted and successful in college?

    Ø      How do I know which classes to take to receive a degree?

    Ø      If I am uncertain about a major, what should I do?

    Ø      Are professors available to provide extra help?

    Ø      How many students are there in a class?

    Ø      What can I do with a major in ______?



    Ø      What requirements do you have for admissions?

    Ø      When should I apply for admission and when will I hear if I have been accepted?

    Ø      Can I come in for a personal interview?

    Ø      When do I need to make a decision to attend the college?

    Ø      How much does it cost to come here?

    Ø      Can I sit in on classes prior to making a decision?

    Ø      Do you offer any overnight program for an interested applicant?


    Social Atmosphere

    Ø      Do students stay on campus for the weekends?

    Ø      What kind of social activities are available?

    Ø      Is there an active student union?

    Ø      What are the rules about drinking, smoking, curfews, guests, and having a car?

    Ø      What clubs and organizations are available to the student body?

    Ø      Are there fraternities and/or sororities?

    Ø      Is there diversity among the student body?

    Ø      What is the geographic distribution of the student body?

    Ø      What percentage of freshman transfer and/or drop out?

    Ø      Is there campus security?  How safe is the campus?


    Career Development

    Ø      What kind of job placement services do you offer?

    Ø      Do you have any statistics on what students do after they graduate?

    Ø      What types of jobs do students find after they graduate with a major in ______?

    Ø      What is an internship and how do I get one?

    Ø      Do you have any affiliations with other colleges?  Do you have any articulation agreements?  For what programs?

    Ø      Do you offer study abroad programs?

    Ø      How do I learn more about job opportunities in my field?

    Ø      Are there any research opportunities available at your college?


    The Interview


    Some schools do not require an interview.  Others strongly recommend one and some do require an interview.  An interview should be approached as an opportunity for you and the college to get to know each other on a more personal level.


    Some suggestions

    Ø      Make an appointment by calling the admissions office.  August and September are good times to make arrangements for a fall interview.

    Ø      Dress and conduct yourself appropriately.

    Ø      Read and know something about the college before you arrive.  Doing some research before you get there leaves a good impression with the admissions staff.

    Ø      Ask questions that have not been part of the research you’ve done.  More specific questions about academic scholarships, campus atmosphere, meal plans, and job/research opportunities are very appropriate.

    Ø      Bring a copy of your transcript and SAT/SAT II and/or ACT scores. Be ready and able to talk about your schedule, goals, interests, and work experience.

    ·        Be prompt

    ·        Be courteous

    ·        Be honest


    Sample Questions

    Review these and you’ll be prepared for the college interview.


    Ø      In what major are you interested?  How did this develop?

    Ø      What are you hoping to do after college?  Why?

    Ø      What is your GPA?  What is your rank in class?  What are your SAT/ACT scores?

    Ø      What are your best subjects?  Are they your favorite?  Why or Why not?

    Ø      What book(s) have you read for pleasure this past year?  Do you have a favorite author?  Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?  Why

    Ø      Describe yourself in relationship to the rest of your high school class.  Where do you fit in?  What other groups make up the student body?

    Ø      How would you describe Red Hook?

    Ø      How do you spend your free time?

    Ø      What work or volunteer experiences have you had?  What impact have they had on you?

    Ø      What has been a significant event in your life and why?

    Ø      Who has had a significant impact on your life and why?

    Ø      What do you think this college can do for you?

    Ø      Who or what influenced you to apply to this school?