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Scolastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
ADMISSION PLAN :
From Application To Acceptance
What The Colleges Look For :
Colleges seek a generous mix of bright, confident, and positive students who will contribute actively to campus life in the next four years. Basically, your essay tells the colleges whether you're the sort of person they are looking for. Put the finishing touches on your application. A three- port high school athlete, for example, could use the essay prove that his mind is as fit as his body. A serious scholar could prove that he has a sense of humor. Whatever your attributes, admissions people want you to think of your essay as an opportunity to present yourself honestly, openly, and intelligently.
Your transcript and list of activities have already told them what you have done. From your essay they hope to learn 'why'.
Although you probably won't be admitted to a college solely on the strength of your essay, a well-written and sincere piece of writing can tip the balance in your favour. Conversely, a poor and sloppy essay can shut the door on your face. Nevertheless, some college officials claim that fewer than half of all application essays show evidence of real, honest effort. Still, at every college that requires an essay, your work will be read thoughtfully and seriously. In most of the colleges,a team of two or more people will read each and every essay. At one prestigious school, sometimes , up to five admissions people read an essay before the applicant is accepted. It's that important, according to that schools officials.
Colleges Want to Know What Makes You Tick
Because colleges want to get to know you, the cardinal rule writing an application essay is to be yourself. Don't make the fatal mistake of trying to guess what a college wants. Admissions people don't want anything in particular, except you to portray yourself accurately and honestly. They don't ask any trick questions on an application.
Pick a subject you care about-something significant and familiar to you. Nothing will flop faster than an impersonal essay full of sweeping generalizations about issues in the news or philosophical questions that have puzzled scholars, for ages. If you're interested in current events, that's fine, but admissions people can read about apartheid and nuclear disarmament in Newsweek. If you're going to write about a current issue, make sure you have done more than, just read the newspaper, go to a rally, march in a parade, circulate a petition, give a speech in your history class. In short, show personal commitment and involvement in whatever you write about.
Try to make your essay the one that only you could write. After all, it should set you apart in some way from every other applicant. That doesn't mean it must be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, only that it ought to be uniquely personal. It ought to sound like you.
The Questions That Colleges Ask
Colleges have invented numerous ways to test your essay-writing skills. Sometimes you're assigned just one 250 to 300 word essay, sometimes more. Some applications give you choices, others don't. While some give you no directions on what to write-as though to test your ingenuity--others state specific guidelines, in part, to see whether you can follow directions.
Although application questions differ in detail from one college to the next, they all ask you to write about the same general subject: YOU! Your task is always the same-to project personal qualities not apparent in other places on your application.
The mass of application questions fall into five broad categories, each with opportunities for you to project yourself on to the paper, but each with a pen is to watch out for:
1. Why go to college, and why here?
2. Who are you?
3. Would you tell us a story about yourself?
4. What is important to you?
5. What would you like to tell us about yourself?
Responses to these questions frequently overlap. If, for instance, you were to write an essay that describes an important personal value-say, your love of the outdoors- YOU might frame it in the form of a story about a rafting trip down the Ganga River. At the same time, you would be defining who You are-in this case, perhaps an adventurous out-doorsman or a recently-converted city-slicker.
What You Should Avoid
Applying for The Admission
The first step in the application procedure is to obtain applications from the colleges you're planning to apply to. You do this by writing (a postcard is quite acceptable) or calling the admissions office of each school and asking them to mail you an application.
When you receive the application forms, you will be asked to deliver certain parts to your high school authorities so that they may fill out the data in connection with the evaluation of your school record. Your parents may be asked to fill out one section with information regarding your personal health. Another part of the application will delve into your family background; your past history, and your interests and hobbies, as well as your plans for the future.
Filling Out the Application
Neatness counts. Read the entire application before you start to write, and then put it away in a safe place. Writing for a second application may not count in your favour. When you are ready to answer the questions, jot down the facts you must collect. Collect all your data on scrap paper and have some reliable person such as a teacher or guidance counselor review the answers and make suggestions for the necessary mechanical corrections. Some colleges require that all parts of the application be completed in the handwriting of the applicant. In such cases, write out the corrected answers very carefully. If permitted, type or print the answers on the application form.
If a photograph is requested, choose one that is simple and does you justice. Do not use a snapshot with extraneous background. It is not wise to use a photograph that shows you in unusual dress or attire.
Many applications require you to write an essay. This is an interesting, decisive, and revealing part of the application. A superb, original, thoughtful, literate, and mature life story can tip the scales in your favour, if all the phases of the application are satisfactory. A poor essay, on the other hand, might provide sufficient reason for rejection.
This does not mean that you should hire a "ghost writer." Members of an admissions board are quick to detect "masterpieces" written by well-meaning parents or friends of the family.
Evaluation of Your School Record
This is by far the most significant part of the application. Officers of admissions committees were not at all surprised at a recent study that showed that about half of the first year dropouts left school for academic reasons, which included poor grades in college and poor high school preparation.
Some colleges communicate with your high school as soon as your application is filed. Others ask you to deliver a special form to your principal, headmaster, or guidance counselor. The college will want to know if you have met or will meet the entrance requirements. They will therefore request I transcript of your high school record.
In examining this record, the committee looks for grades and the subjects completed. They look for subjects that lave the applicant difficulty and take into account such extenuating circumstances as temporary Illness, or lack of interest in certain (but not all) subjects. They attempt to determine whether the student elected challenging courses, and are on the lookout for students who took easy courses n order to raise their averages.
Your standing in the class is quite significant. This is a direct way of comparing you with the other students in your graduating class. If you have high grades, but a low rank in four classes, it is sometimes a sign that the marking system in your school suffers from inflation. If you attend a specialized school for selected or gifted pupils, then class standing needs special consideration, for you are being compared with special students. Finally, if you attend a very small school, your achievement involves small numbers and therefore carries less significance.
Activities outside the classroom, both in school and In the com- 1lunlty, are important. They afford the opportunity to develop personal talents, to pursue special Interests, and to stimulate qualities of Initiative and leadership. However, admissions offers are not impressed with a long list of rather insignificant activities, most of which merely involved occasional passive attendance at meetings. These make an attractive listing In a high school yearbook but do not impress the scrutinizing eye if a college admissions officer, who is more concerned with any elected and appointed offices you might have held, and those activities you might have engaged In that suggest definite signs of leadership In your character, and who Is also very interested In your ability to play an unusual musical Instrument, paint a canvas, or write a line of poetry.
Certainly no good college will entirely put aside its other standards for admission for a good extracurricular record. However, all other things being equal, In choosing on, of two applicants, the admissions office will generally choose the student who participated In out-of-class activities
Letters of Reference
Many colleges will ask you to submit the names and addresses of people who will furnish information regarding your character. Of course, common courtesy requires that you first ask the individual for permission to use his or her name. In choosing these individuals, it is well to bear in mind that they will be requested to give answers to such questions as:
1. Are you related to the applicant?
2. How long have you known the applicant?
3. In what capacity have you been in contact with the applicant?
4. Give any evidences of good moral character. Leadership, maturity, and consideration for others that you have had the opportunity to observe in the applicant.
Some colleges send you forms to be given to people who can furnish information about your character. It is courteous to supply each of these people with a stamped envelope addressed to the office of admissions. The people you might ask for recommendations include:
1. teacher of a subject in which you excel
2. instructor, teacher, or coach of a creative activity In which you excel (e.g., art, music, drama)
3. advisor of a club or service activity in which you participated
4. coach of a team on which you served
5. scout leader
6. sponsor of a youth group
7. religious leader
8. professional or business person active in your community
9. camp counselor or director
10. employer of your part-time or summer position
11. Public official
Keep in mind that college personnel are not likely to be swayed by letters containing empty platitudes and sweeping praise. They read scores of these letters every day. Certainly they want to know your accomplishments and strong points, those things that make you different from the other applicants; but at the same time they are anxious to learn about a flesh and blood person, not the subject of some glorious ode. The typically general, impersonal recommendation of some well known personality will have less impact on admissions officers than a warm, sensitive letter from a less well. Known individual who intimately knows you and is therefore in a better position to appraise your particular qualities.
Avoid suggesting as references individuals who will not answer the college questionnaire promptly. Similarly, do not use individuals who might not show good judgment, neatness, or taste in corresponding with the admissions office of the college.
The Personal Interview
There is no uniformity among the schools as to the time for holding the interview. It may occur after all other factors determining admission have been inspected and tentatively approved, or it may occur before the secondary school records and test scores have been received. In addition, while some schools require an interview, others consider the interview only a way to give you more information about the school.
If an interview is required, you should write early in the school year for an appointment. If the interview is optional but you can arrange for one, you should also make an appointment. (Where distance makes a visit impractical, a local alumnus may be assigned to talk with you.) Plan your trip to the college so that you arrive punctually. Your appearance and dress should be in good taste. Remember you are not going to a formal dance, nor to a sporting event. Make certain that your shoes are shined, your hair is combed, and your fingernails are clean. Dress conservatively. Be careful about odors of perfumes, tobacco, or foods. This is the day when you should start breaking the habit of chewing gum.
As far as the interview itself is concerned, the best advice is to be you. Since this is not an interview for a role as actor or actress, you should relax and answer all questions with frankness and honesty. If you do not possess a particular characteristic for which they are looking, you may not be happy at this school. The interviewer may give you some valuable counsel and send you off to the school where you really belong.
If you haven't ever experienced such an interview you will be wondering about the topics of conversation and the general tone of this event. It will be informal, and it is safe to say that it will be conducted on a most pleasant level.
You will perhaps discuss people and things you like or dislike. Again, be honest. Perhaps the official interviewing you likes jazz music himself. Even if he doesn't, he won't hold it against you if you do. Don't hide your dista6tes or weaknesses. Some of our high school mathematics students have gone on to become college professors in other fields.
You may be asked about your career plans. If you are not certain about your future, state that as a fact. It is not a sign of weakness. Most students enter college with only vague ideas about what they want to do after graduation. If you have applied to other colleges, don't hesitate to mention them if that question comes up.
The main types of financial aid are grants and scholarships, loans, and student employment. Grants are awarded on the basis of need and do not have to be repaid. These may come from federal or state government agencies, college funds, or special programs. Scholarships are similar to grants, and usually are awarded on the basis of academic achievement and/or financial need. College employment offices often furnish on or off-campus jobs to help supplement other forms of aid. Finally, low-interest loans that do not have to be repaid until after graduation can help pay for college. Loans are also available for parents.
Sources of Financial Aid
There are four main sources of financial aid: the federal government, state governments, private sources, and the colleges themselves.
The federal government has five main student aid pro- grams: the Pell Grant Program, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), the College Work- Study Program (CWS), Carl Perkins Loans (formerly, National Direct Student Loans), and Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS).
The Pell Grant Program, the largest of the federal student aid grant programs, and SEOG are the two main federal grant programs. They are both based on need, and they do not have to be repaid. College Work-Study is a student employment program that provides on- and off-campus jobs for students who demonstrate need. Carl Perkins
Loans and Stafford Loans are both low-interest loan programs. Monies borrowed through these loan programs do not have to be repaid until after graduation unless you take out an unsubsidised Stafford Loan or a PLUS Loan. Then the interest must be paid monthly.
In addition to the federal student aid programs already mentioned, the Veterans Administration provides two types of funds-G.I. Bill benefits and War Orphan benefit&-to veterans of all wars and to the children of deceased or entirely disabled veterans whose disability or death was service-related. Contact a local office of the Veterans Ministration for details on eligibility.
Most states have some type of scholarship or grant pro- gram for residents. These are usually based on achievement in high school and scores on college entrance examinations. But need is often also a determining factor. Often the sd1oIarship or grant applies only if the Student attends a college in that state. Some states also have loan programs.
Many individual scholarships are available from labour unions. Benevolent societies, patriotic organizations, and business. Look in your high school guidance office and in your local library for information on private scholarships such as these as well as local scholarships available in your community. Awards made available by local fraternal societies. Women’s clubs, civic and business organizations, ethnic and religious groups, alumni and PT are numerous but usually modest in dollars and cents value. Your parents' employer or labour union may turn out to be another source of aid.
The largest independently funded scholarship program in the United States is administered by the National Merit Scholar- ship Corporation and is funded by company foundations and colleges and universities. Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of their score on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Other academic factors, and their character, for further information, write to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, One American Plaza. Evanston. Illinois 60201, and ask for the PSAT/NMSQT Student Bulletin.
Nearly every college offers a number of scholarships and grants that range from partial payment of tuition to complete payment of a1l expenses. These grants are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and/or financial need. Special scholarships may be given to attract outstanding athletes or students with special talents in such areas as music, drama, or journalism.
In addition to their own scholarship and grant funds, colleges often act as agents of distribution for federal and state programs.
Since each college has different scholarships, grants, loans, and student-employment opportunities to offer, and since there Is an often enormous difference in the amount of money available for student aid from one college to another, it Is Important that you get your Information about student aid directly from the financial aid office of each college you are thinking of applying to as soon as possible. Many colleges and universities award scholarships and grants on a first-come, first-served basis.
How to Apply for Financial Aid
Most need-based financial aid programs, whether they are government programs, private programs, or individual college programs, require applicants to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). More than one form may be required. Some schools will require you to complete the PROFILE form. All financial aid forms ask the applicant to itemize all family information and financial data pertinent to the candidate's application for aid.
It is important to find out which form or forms the colleges you are applying to require. Some schools will want their own aid application filed in addition to the FAFSA and PROFILE. And some government and private programs request additional forms as well; they use one of the three as an initial qualifying form but then require a separate application for their program.
All forms are available from your high school guidance counselor, or local college financial aid offices.
We've left the most important facts about applying for financial aid for last:
(1) You must apply for financial aid; you are not automatically considered for aid when you apply to a college;
(2) Apply as early as possible so that you have the best possible chance at a share of the available funds before they are used up on applicants who applied for aid earlier;
(3) You must reapply for financial aid each year;
(4) Re-apply if your family's financial circumstances change; and
(5) You can appeal your financial aid award.
There is no getting away from the fact that you'll have to do some research, and that you and your parents will have to spend some time filling out some rather detailed forms. But there is no way to get around this paperwork when you're applying for any kind of financial aid. So be patient and be thorough; hopefully, your efforts will payoff.