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									Identify Important Factors in Choosing a College

In choosing a college, the first things you'll probably consider will be the type of
academic program and the availability of the major—or majors—you are most
interested in. Here are some other things to think about as you compare
colleges. How you rank these other factors will depend largely on your personal
preferences and needs.
Location                                        Financial aid

      distance from home                             deadline(s)
                                                      required forms
Environment                                           % of student population
                                                       receiving aid
      type of school (2-year or 4-year)              scholarships
      school setting (urban, rural)                  part-time employment
      location & size of nearest city                 opportunities
      co-ed, male, female
      religious affiliation                    Housing

Size                                                  residence hall requirements
                                                      availability
      enrollment                                     types and sizes
      physical size of campus                        food plans

Admission requirements                          Facilities

      deadline(s)                                    academic
      tests required                                 recreational
      average test scores, GPA, rank                 other
      special requirements
                                                Activities
Academics
                                                    clubs, organizations
     majors offered                                sororities/fraternities
     special requirements                          athletics, intramurals
     accreditation—recognized by regional or       other
      national accrediting bodies as meeting its
      objectives                                 Campus visits
    student-faculty ratio
    typical class size                             when to visit
                                                    special opportunities
College expenses tuition, room & board
        estimated total budget




Think about Your Reasons for Going to College
What do you want to be when you "grow up" and how will college help you get
there?

Although college cannot be all things to all students, with proper planning it can
meet your needs and expectations. High school is an excellent time to identify
what you expect from college.

Use your interests, abilities, and preferences to help you choose a career and
plan your education. As you decide which colleges and major(s) interest you,
keep your long-term goals in mind. Decisions about college are part of the career
planning process.

For example, if you like planes and want to design them, look for a strong
aeronautical engineering program. Decide what you want from life and use
college as a tool to help you get there.



List, Compare, and Visit Colleges
It's time to narrow down your list of possible colleges. Collect information about
colleges that might meet most of your needs. Then, identify potential choices for
the next step—applying for admission.


Sources of information

        College catalogs, information bulletins or videos
        College representatives
        Parents, students and alumni
        School counselors and teachers
      College websites and Internet searches
      Directories and computerized information systems
      Professionals in the field
      College planning section of your ACT score report

Your high school counselor can lead you to other resources, maybe in a
career/education center in your school or community.



Questions to Ask on a Campus Visit
      What activities and services are available to help students get settled
       (academically and socially) during their first year?
      How big are the classes?
      (Ask students) How easy is it to meet with faculty?
      (Ask students) Are you able to register for the classes you want?
      What is the total cost of attending the college?
      What types of financial aid does the college offer and how do I apply?
      Are all freshmen assigned to an academic advisor?
      Where do most freshmen live?
      Can I take a tour?
      What activities are available for students?
      Who teaches the courses for first-year students?
      How successful are the college's graduates in finding jobs?
      What services (such as transportation and shopping) are available locally?
      What is there to do on weekends? Do most students stay or leave campus on
       weekends?




Make Final Decisions
Waiting for notice of college acceptance can be agonizing. Admissions materials
and financial aid applications list the date by which decisions will be made. Don't
expect to be notified much sooner. Many schools mail notifications to applicants
by April 1, and most require acceptance by May 1.

Once admissions notices are received, the decision-making begins. Make your
decision carefully and thoughtfully, and accept an offer that feels right. If that
dream college doesn't extend an offer, remind yourself that it isn't the end of the
world. A college education, regardless of the school where you earn it, is a
valuable investment in your future.

Be sure you keep the lines of communication open with all of the schools
extending offers. Once you make a final decision, let all who have extended
offers know of the decision.




            Become Familiar with College Entrance
                               Requirements

While particular requirements vary, every college sets some standard for
evaluating prospective students.

Even colleges with an open admissions policy will look at your high school record
and other factors to decide which courses you will be allowed to take. So it's
worth knowing about admissions requirements before you start applying to
colleges.


High school academic performance

  Open admissions is the policy of some colleges of admitting virtually all high
  school graduates, regardless of academic qualifications such as high school
  grades and admission test scores.

  GPA is computed by multiplying the number of grade points earned in each
  course (generally, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) by the number of course/credit
  hours, then dividing the sum by the total number of course/credit hours taken.
  Class rank is a rating that compares your cumulative GPA to other members of
  your class. Class rank is often used as a college admissions and scholarship
  standard.


Your high school grade point average (GPA), class rank, and the types of
classes you take are an obvious place to start. Everyone knows you need good
grades to get into college.

If you're a high school freshman or sophomore, keep in mind that the grades
you're earning now will affect your overall GPA just as much as your later grades
will. Don't wait to start buckling down!

Although a good GPA is important, don't believe the GPA myth and take easy
classes just to pad your GPA. Most colleges require completion of certain high
school courses for admission. Make sure you are taking the right courses so
you'll be considered for admission to the school of your choice.




Standardized test scores

Because grades may not tell the whole story about your academic ability, nearly
all colleges will also ask you to submit scores from a national standardized test.
The ACT is one of two national exams used for this purpose.
Your ACT composite score, together with your high school grades, indicates how
prepared you are for college. In addition, the scores from the various sections of
the ACT will help your college place you in the right classes, matching your skills
with course requirements.
The ACT Assessment is accepted or preferred by more colleges and
universities—including all the colleges of the Ivy League—than any other
entrance exam.
Admission essay, interview or other requirements

Particular colleges may have additional entrance requirements such as
admission essays or interviews. These additional requirements help the college
decide how likely you are to fit into their campus community and to succeed in
their academic program.




Register for and Take a College
Admissions Test
Many colleges require or recommend that students submit test results as part of
the admission application process. The ACT is one of two national testing
programs.


The ACT includes multiple-choice tests in four subject areas–English,
mathematics, reading, and science. The tests measure students' current levels of
educational development in these subjects. The Writing Test, which is optional,
measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.

Most colleges and universities in the United States accept ACT test scores as
part of their application process.


Registration Tips
      Plan ahead and allow time to register for the exam.
      The earlier you take the test, the more chances you will have to retake it if your
       first scores aren't as high as you would like them to be.
      Registration deadlines are typically four weeks before the exam date. There are
       six national test dates each year at test centers throughout the United States.
      International testing is available.
      Registration packets are available at most high school guidance offices and
       college admissions offices.
      Online registration is available.


Test Preparation

Taking a solid academic program in high school is the best test-preparation
strategy. Becoming familiar with the test will also help. Try reviewing ACT test-
taking strategies and working through sample questions. If you plan to use a
calculator during the mathematics section, know ACT's calculator guidelines, and
don't forget to bring your calculator on the test day.
Should You Test Again?
There are no limitations to how many times you can take the ACT. But how do
you know if you should take it again?
You should definitely consider retesting if:

      You had any problems during the test, such as misunderstanding the directions or
       not feeling well.
      You aren't satisfied that your scores accurately represent your abilities.
      You see a discrepancy between your ACT scores and your high school grades.
      You have completed coursework or an intensive review in subject areas included
       in the ACT since you were tested.

How will you do on a retest? ACT research shows that of the students who took
the ACT more than once:

      55 percent increased their composite score
      23 percent decreased their composite score
      22 percent did not change their composite score


Score choice and the ACT

One of the choices you have when taking the ACT Assessment is whether you
want your scores reported to colleges that interest you. Four college choices are
included as part of your registration for the test.
However, if you want to wait to see your scores before sending them to a college
or university, you may do that for an additional fee of $7 for each test date report
sent to each college.
If you take the test more than once, you can select the test date with your best
scores and have them sent to colleges of your choice. The ACT is the only
college entrance exam that allows you to do this.
Apply to "Choice" Colleges
  A prerequisite is a course that must be taken before enrollment in another related course. (Example: French 1 is a prerequisite

  for French 2.)


  A transcript is the official record of high school or college courses and grades, generally required as part of the college

  application.


Before you start applying to schools, find out the application deadline and fees
for each school you are considering.
The application process at each school is unique. You'll find different
requirements, prerequisites, and levels of selectivity. Some things remain
consistent though, and we have advice to help you through the application
process.

Start early.

It takes time to get ACT scores tabulated and sent, and it takes time for school
counselors and others providing references to gather information.

Follow the instructions and proofread.
The application form is often an admission committee's first contact with a
prospective student. Make a good impression with a neat application free of
spelling and grammatical errors.

Work with your high school to send transcripts & test scores.

Go to your school guidance office for help getting all necessary transcripts,
records, test scores, and applications sent to prospective schools. If you decide
to apply to schools that have not already received your ACT scores, you can ask
ACT to send your scores to that college.

Make the most of personal references.

      Ask people who know you and can support the recommendation well.
      Prepare a neat and legible reference form.
      Give your references plenty of time—a school counselor isn't likely to write
       glowing recommendations for last-minute requests! Allow at least two weeks
       before application deadlines.

Write an outstanding essay.

Most college applications require an essay, so spend time crafting a good one. A
great essay probably won't get you into college if you don't meet the other
academic requirements. But if a student is a "possible admit"— one of the
"maybes" the college may admit—it can move him or her higher up on the list.

Be ready to interview, audition, or submit a portfolio.

Some colleges also require a personal interview or examples of work in special
areas such as art or music.

Keep a copy of all your application materials.
Top 10 College Application Mistakes
Senior year is hectic, but don't let it affect the quality of your college applications.
Take your time, pay attention to detail and plan ahead so you can meet the
deadlines.
Following are some of the top responses from counselors and admissions staff
who shared the most common mistakes on college applications.

   1. Misspellings and grammatical errors—This is a big pet peeve of admissions
      people. If you misspell on something as important as the application, it shows that
      either you don't care or you aren't good at spelling. Some students even misspell
      their intended major. But don't stop with a spell check. Proofread for grammatical
      errors, too.
 2. Applying online, but the application isn't submitted—If you apply online, you
     should receive confirmation that the college or university received it.
     Confirmation could be an email message, a Web page response or a credit card
     receipt. Follow through and make sure that your application has been received.
 3. Forgotten signatures—Make sure you sign and date the form. Often students
     overlook that part of the form if it's on the back. Check that all spaces are
     completed.
 4. Not reading carefully—For example, if the form asks what County you live in,
     don't misread it as Country and write United States.
 5. Listing extracurricular activities that aren't—Those that make the list include
     sports, the arts, formal organizations and volunteer work. Talking on the phone
     and hanging out with friends don't make the cut. Make sure your activity
     information is accurate. Colleges may check with your high school.
 6. Not telling your school counselor where you've applied—Let your counselor
     know which colleges you're applying to, and ask him or her to review your high
     school transcript before sending it to colleges. Sometimes transcripts have errors.
 7. Writing illegibly—First impressions count, so take your time and use your best
     handwriting. It will make a better impression.
 8. Using an email address that friends might laugh about, but colleges won't—
     Select a professional email address. Keep your fun address for friends, but select
     an address using your name for college admissions.
 9. Not checking your email regularly—If you've given an email address, the
     college will use it. You don't want to miss out on anything because you didn't read
     your email.
 10. Letting Mom or Dad help you fill out your application—Admissions people
     know if your parents help, whether you have two different styles of handwriting
     or your admissions essay sounds more like a 45-year-old than a 17-year-old. It's
     fine to get advice, but do the work yourself.


Freshman Year
    Find out how to make the most of high school
    Plan challenging high school courses
    Find out why you should go to college
    Become familiar with college entrance requirements
    Take EXPLORE®—a set of four tests that measure academic achievement;
     EXPLORE results can be a benchmark before taking PLAN® and the ACT® test
    Review EXPLORE results with your parents and school counselor
    Start thinking about reasons for attending college
    Join/continue extracurricular activities
    Attend summer camp at a college to experience a college-like atmosphere
    Continue/start saving for college
    Research college costs
    Meet with your college/career counselor at least once a year
    Explore careers on the Internet by using DISCOVER®


Sophomore Year
    Continue to take and plan challenging high school courses
    Continue to meet with your college/career counselor at least once a year
    Keep exploring careers on the Internet by using DISCOVER®
    Think about what kind of education/training different careers require
    Take PLAN®, also known as the "pre-ACT"
    Review PLAN results with your parents and school counselor; compare these to
     your EXPLORE results to measure growth
    Start collecting college information
    Visit colleges and talk with college students
    Be ready with a list of questions to ask on your campus visit
    Use this list of college characteristics to decide how to evaluate different colleges
    Begin filling out the college comparison worksheet (PDF; 1 page, 64KB); for
     assistance with PDF files, see these tips
    Continue/start saving for college
    Consider your reasons for going to college and how they relates to your career
     interests
    Join/continue extracurricular activities




Junior Year
    Keep meeting with your college/career counselor at least once a year
    Continue to take and plan challenging courses
    Keep your grades up
    Join an academic club
    Register for the ACT. You should be academically ready to take it by spring. If
     not, take it early in your senior year.
    Read our key information about the ACT test
    Talk with your parents and high school counselor about colleges that interest you
    Prepare a list of questions to ask on campus visits
    Continue to visit colleges and talk with college students
      List, compare, and visit colleges
      Start or update an academic resume
      Consider putting together a portfolio that highlights your special skills and talents
      Keep filling out the college comparison worksheet (PDF; 1 page, 64KB); for
       assistance with PDF files, see these tips
      Investigate scholarship opportunities
      Volunteer for activities and clubs related to career interests
      Get a part-time job, apprenticeship, or internship; or job shadow in a profession
       that interests you




Senior Year
Senior year is finally here, and it's full of things to do to get ready for college. Use
this senior year checklist to keep track of your progress and upcoming deadlines
for testing, admissions and financial aid.
August
    Sign up for the ACT (if you didn't take it as a junior, or if you aren't satisfied with
     your score, or if you've learned a lot since you first took it.)
    Review ACT test results and retest if necessary


August – December
    Visit with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and
     fulfill college admission requirements
    Consider taking courses at a local university or community college
    Keep working hard all year; second semester grades can affect scholarship
     eligibility
    Ask for personal references from teachers, school counselors, or employers early
     in the year or at least two weeks before application deadlines. Follow your
     school's procedure for requesting recommendations.
    Visit with admissions counselors who come to your high school
    Attend a college fair
    Begin your college essay(s)
    Apply for admission at the colleges you've chosen
    Avoid common college application mistakes
    Find out if you qualify for scholarships at each college you have applied to
    Start the financial aid application process
    See your school counselor for help finding financial aid and scholarships


January – May
    If you need it, get help completing the FAFSA
    Ask your guidance office in January to send first semester transcripts to schools
     where you applied. In May, they will need to send final transcripts to the college
     you will attend.
    Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll
    Decide which college to attend, and notify the school of your decision
    Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and
     paperwork
    Notify schools you will not attend of your decision
    Continue to look for scholarship opportunities
    Keep track of important financial aid and scholarship deadlines
    Watch the mail for your Student Aid Report (SAR)—it should arrive four weeks
     after the FAFSA is filed
    Compare financial aid packages from different schools
    Sign and send in a promissory note if you are borrowing money
    Notify your college about any outside scholarships you received

								
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