Continue to Visit Colleges
- Try to visit while school is in session (http://njsca.org/college-open-houses)
- Arrange for a tour and attend Open Houses
- Talk to students and professors in the department you are considering
- Visit a freshman dorm
- Eat a meal
- Find out about the availability of facilities such as the computer labs and libraries
- Get a business card of the person who gives your information session and open a line of communication
- Visit the college’s admissions office and Interview
Components of the Admissions Application
Academic Record Personal Record
*High School Transcript *Resume of Activities
Course Work *Letters of Recommendation
Grade Point Average *Personal Essay
Class Rank *Personal Interview
There is nothing more important to a prospective college than your grades and your performance in the classroom. The course work that is displayed on your transcript reflects who you are, as well as, what courses you have taken that demonstrate signs of passion and commitment.
The admissions office is interested in your test scores, classroom grades, how you compare with others in your high school and any academic trends that occurred throughout your high school career. Colleges want to see positive trends such as consistently receiving A’s in increasingly difficult classes. They may also look for an upward grade trend such as a student who received B’s in tenth grade and A’s in the eleventh and twelfth grade.
The other component of your application defines who you are. Colleges want to learn about you as a person. Will you make a valuable contribution to their school community?
- Resume: It should include a list of extracurricular activities, honors/awards, work experience, community service and hobbies. Members of the admission team want to see what “meaningful” activities you have participated in. Think quality over quantity.
- Personal Essay: The essay is a chance for you to express yourself to the admissions committee and allow you a chance to explain why you would be a good candidate for their school. Be sure to follow the specific instructions for format and length. Plan to write multiples drafts and edit them carefully. Have teachers or family members proofread them for errors you may have missed. Avoid standard essay topics. Try an original idea, something an admissions office hasn’t read a million times before. Don’t just list attributes. Saying that you are helpful is not as interesting as writing about your experience volunteering. Refer to 19 Common Application Essay Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.
- Letters of Recommendation: Many colleges require letters from teachers and your high school counselor. Make sure that each person writing for you has all of the necessary information. Give that person plenty of time. If you don’t, the quality of the letter may also be rushed. Refer to Procedures for Requesting Teacher Recommendations.
- Personal Interview: This is an opportunity for the admissions team to meet you face-to-face. Prior to an interview, look through your notes about the university, review your resume and prepare questions that you may want to know about them. Arrive on time and above all, be yourself!
Helpful Hints to Survive the Application Process at BRHS
1. Create an email address that is professional. You will use this as an important communication tool with colleges. Keep track of your log in information for each school.
2. Read through the entire application and make a copy of it before making any marks on the form. This provides you with a rough draft.
3. Check the requirements. Do you need an essay, letter(s) of recommendation, personal statement? Make a list of all required material for each school and fill it out on the College Application Checklist. Pay attention to deadlines.
4. Fill in your name and other requested personal data on the top of each section/page that will be used by others (ex. Secondary School Report, Teacher Recommendation Forms)
5. Work on your personal statement, essays, resume and any other supplemental material. If it is a multi-part question, address each part. Allow yourself plenty of time to proofread and edit your writing. Have two people read your essays for suggestions. Refer to 19 Common Mistakes in College Application Essays.
6. CDs, DVDs, and Portfolios – Make reference to them in the appropriate part of the application. Submit them in the proper manner and on a timely basis.
7. Teacher Recommendation Process - Students should follow the Procedures for Requesting Teacher Recommendations.
8. School Counselor Component – Complete the College Application Supplemental Request Form and Transcript Release Form. An official transcript is a copy of a student’s permanent school record. It contains the student’s demographics, a listing of courses taken along with grades for those courses. It also includes the student’s cumulative GPA and class rank. An official transcript also carries the signature of the registrar and the official embossed school seal. Official transcripts are placed in sealed envelopes and should always remain sealed.
9. Make sure your application is neat and complete. Watch spelling errors. Do not treat your online application like an instant message or email.
10. Make copies of your final application and all supporting material.
11. You must contact collegeboard.com and/or act.org to have your test scores sent directly to each school. Scores do not get sent from the Guidance Department. They must officially be sent from the company.
12. Allow at least two weeks (ten school days) for the Guidance Department to process your paperwork and for US mail to meet your application deadline. We may not be able to honor same day requests for transcripts. All transcript requests are dated and processed in the order in which they arrive in the counseling office.
13. Some colleges require that a mid-year report be forwarded at the end of the first semester of senior year. Some colleges may also provide a special form to be used for this purpose. Please complete a College Application Supplemental Request Form when you need to file a mid-year report.
Ways That Parents Can Help with College Admissions
- Make time to visit colleges
- Attend College Fairs and Financial Aid Nights
- Help your son/daughter stay organized. Some students have used large envelopes for each school. The student can write all of the requirements on the outside of the envelope and check each item off as it is completed. Some items on this list may include:
- Deadlines (this also includes scholarship and financial aid deadlines)
- Academic Requirements
- Cost of Application (Paper vs. Online)
- Supplemental Forms
- Official Transcript
- Official Test Scores must be sent directly from collegeboard.com or act.org
- Essays, Activity Resumes and/or Personal Statement
- Be sure that your child has asked teachers for a letter of recommendation and used the Procedures for Requesting Teacher Recommendations.
- Check all college admissions requirements including deadlines
- Sign all necessary paperwork including Transcript Release Forms.
- Go to www.pin.ed.gov to sign up for a FAFSA pin number. Your child must do the same.
- Complete any other financial aid forms such as the CSS Profile, an additional requirement by some private institutions
- Prepare to file your federal tax forms early
- Encourage your son/daughter to write thank you letters to those that assisted with the college process
- Follow up with your son/daughter if a Mid Year Report needs to be sent to colleges in February
Completing the FAFSA
What is the FAFSA? The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the first step in the financial aid process. It is like a giant umbrella where all of your financial information will be stored. Any post-secondary institution that you are applying to will be able to access this information to determine the amount of federal student aid you will be eligible to receive.
How do I know if I should fill out the FAFSA? Most college financial aid of any type requires the FAFSA and many colleges and states require your FAFSA information to award their own grants and scholarships. If you hope to qualify for need-based financial aid, merit aid, state-sponsored financial aid, student loans and/or work-study programs, you should definitely fill out the FAFSA.
When can I complete the FAFSA? For the 2016-2017 school year, you can submit the FAFSA using FAFSA on the Web from January 1, 2016 until June 30, 2017.
How do I begin? Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Click Pin Site. You and your parents must apply for a pin. The pin allows you to electronically apply for federal student aid and it serves as an electronic signature. Once your Pin has been approved, you will be able to begin completing the FAFSA.
What information do I need to complete the FAFSA? For the 2016-2017 school year, you will need financial information from 2015. You may need to refer to:
- Your Social Security card. It is important that you enter your Social Security Number correctly.
- Your driver’s license (if any)
- Your 2013 W-2 forms and other records of money earned
- Your 2013 Federal Income Tax Return IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ
- Your Parents' 2013 Federal Income Tax Return (if you are a dependent student)
- Your 2013 untaxed income records
- Your current bank statements
- Your current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond and other investment records
- Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
If you would like a preview of what you will need to do on the FAFSA, you may complete the worksheet called FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. (These are available in the Guidance Office or on the FAFSA website.) This worksheet will help you collect and organize your and your parents' financial information needed for FAFSA on the Web (parent information is only required if you are dependent). The FAFSA on the Web Worksheet is not the financial aid application, nor is it part of the application. It is merely a guide to help you complete FAFSA on the Web, and should not be submitted to Federal Student Aid.
What happens after I submit the FAFSA? After you submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), they will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). The colleges that you listed on your FAFSA will also receive your information electronically as soon as it is processed.
If your application is complete, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will display on your Student Aid Report. If your application is incomplete, your Student Aid Report will not include an EFC, but it will display text that specifies any issues that need to be resolved.
The EFC that displays on your Student Aid Report is a calculation based on the information that you reported on your FAFSA. Your college uses the EFC to determine the amount of federal grants, loans, and work-study for which you may be eligible. Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive.
**The FAFSA website has a “Browse Help” feature that will answer questions as you go through the process.**