How do I plan for college?

Freshman: course selection, get involved sports, clubs, sign up for college prep organizations i.e. Upward Bound (see organization in your area, Link to CBOs by state)

Sophomore: PSAT, take challenging classes and course load, connect with your guidance counselor – begin building a relationship early on! Go to: , at the College Board website for 20 questions to ask your counselor. If you are looking to attend a competitive college, talk to your counselor about AP classes in your school. Go to: , on the College Board website, for more information about about AP courses and how they can benefit you.

Junior: visit campuses (over your school breaks or whenever you can), contact admissions for requirements, look for Scholarships, learn more about financial aid – ask questions and get informed about your options, sample essay questions, take or gear-up to take SATS.

Senior: narrow your college selections, continue to visit colleges as you narrow down your top choice schools, organize your transcripts, letters of recommendations, and your essays, contact admissions’ offices for their specific requirements, register (on time) for SAT/ACT test dates and take the exams


How do I choose a college?

Choosing a college is a very personal process and it can be filled with anxiety! Take a deep breath…below, are some steps to help you begin answering this question.

Choosing a college major: Once in college you will choose an area of study that you will focus on throughout your academic career (this is usually declared your sophomore year). It’s okay not to know what you want to study. In fact many students change their majors more than once while in college.

Narrowing your college choices:

  • Areas of interest, majors
  • Extracurricular Activities, clubs, sports and organizations
  • diversity on campus
  • Location, urban, suburban, city
  • Size of school
  • average class size
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Population, diversity
  • Financial aid, what aid does the school offer

Visiting Colleges: College visits are VERY important. Once you’ve done some research, and have narrowed your search down to about five schools, the visit is your last step before making a final decision. Most colleges offer information sessions and campus tours, Mon.-Fri, and residence hall tours. Many schools also offer either informational or evaluative interviews, classroom visits, faculty one-on-one meetings, and financial aid counseling – contact each school on your list for their visit information, and make an appointment if need be. Ask each school about the following visit options: travel scholarships, open houses, special weekend visit days, and overnight visits with a current student host. If you are unable to visit all of the colleges on your list, try to get to some local college fairs where your choice schools will be.

For more information about college fairs, visit: , at the College Board website.


How do I pay for college?

Simply check the sites below:


What is the most important thing colleges look for?

The Levels of Selectivity

At one extreme are “open admission” colleges. These schools require only a high school diploma and accept students on a first-come, first-served basis. Many community colleges have this policy. For more information regarding community colleges, please go to: , on the College Board website. At the other extreme are very selective colleges. They admit only a small percentage of applicants each year. Most colleges fall somewhere in between.

Less Selective: Less selective colleges focus on whether applicants meet minimum requirements and whether there’s room for more students. A GED or a High School Diploma usually meet the minimum requirements. Acceptable grades are often the only requirement beyond an interest in college study. The SAT® I or ACT may be required, but test scores are usually used for course placement, not admission.

More Selective: More selective colleges consider course work, grades, test scores, recommendations, and essays. The major factor may be whether you are ready for college-level study. It’s possible to be denied admission because of a weakness or a lack of interest in higher education.

Very Selective: As many as 10 or 15 students apply for each spot at very selective schools. Admission officers look carefully at every aspect of a student’s high school experience, from academic strength to test scores. Since many applicants are strong academically, other factors — such as your essay — are critical.

Admission Factors

Selective colleges consider these factors for admission:

  • courses taken
  • counselor/teacher recommendations
  • ethnicity
  • grades
  • application questions and essays
  • geographic location
  • grade point average
  • personal interview
  • alumni relationship
  • rank in class
  • activities outside the classroom
  • major/college applied to
  • admission test results
  • special talents and skills

There’s no general agreement about which of these factors are ranked more important. However, most admission officers place the most weight on your high school record.

How Important Are Extracurricular Activities?

The significance of activities has been exaggerated. While schools do consider them, they’re looking to see if you’ve shown a long-term commitment in one or two areas.

Need-Blind Admission: Most colleges have a need-blind admission policy. This means they decide whether to make an offer of admission without considering your family’s financial situation.

Other colleges are need-sensitive; they do consider your family’s financial situation in the admission process. These colleges know they can’t satisfy the financial aid needs of all applicants. Some schools use need-sensitive admission when deciding to accept a borderline student or to pull a student off of the waiting list.

Matching Admission Standards As part of the college search, you should compare your academic and personal qualifications to those of students typically admitted to schools where you want to apply.


What is the difference between a state school and a private school?

State institutions are funded by the state and usually have lower tuition costs. Private institutions are privately funded, with higher tuition costs.


What is the FAFSA?

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It, along with the student’s and parent’s Income Tax forms, is used by financial aid offices to determine how much federal funding is allotted to a student.