a comprehensive guide to the college decision process
table of contents
What Colleges Expect..........................................2
Charlotte Christian Resources.............................29
did you know?
The Class of 2012 earned more than $4.4 million in college scholarships. Recent college acceptances include but
are not limited to the following:
University of Alabama Georgia Institute of Technology Pace University, New York City
AMDA College and Conservatory Georgia Southern University Parsons The New School for Design
of the Performing Arts Gordon College Pennsylvania State University
Anderson University Greensboro College University of Pittsburgh
Appalachian State University Grove City College Pratt Institute
Auburn University Guilford College Queens University of Charlotte
Averett University Hampden-Sydney College Randolph-Macon College
Baylor University High Point University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Belmont University Hotel Institute Montreux Rhode Island School of Design
Bluefield College Johnson & Wales University University of Richmond
Boston University Lenoir-Rhyne University Roanoke College
Bridgewater College Les Roches International School Roosevelt University
Bryan College of Hotel Management Samford University
University of California at Berkeley Liberty University Savannah College of Art and Design
University of California at Los Angeles Louisburg College School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Campbell University Louisiana State University University of South Carolina
University of Central Florida Maryland Institute College of Art University of Southern California
Charleston Southern University Marymount Manhattan College Southern Methodist University
Clemson University University of Maryland, College Park University of Tampa
Coastal Carolina University University of Massachusetts, Amherst University of Tennessee, Knoxville
College for Creative Studies Memphis College of Art Tennessee Wesleyan College
College of Charleston Messiah College Texas Christian University
University of Connecticut University of Miami Tusculum College
Corcoran College of Art and Design Miami University, Oxford University of Vermont
Drexel University University of Michigan Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
East Carolina University University of Mississippi State University
Elon University New York University Viterbo University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (FL) University of North Carolina at Asheville Wake Forest University
Emory & Henry College University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Washington and Lee University
Emory University University of North Carolina at Charlotte Washington University in St. Louis
Ferrum College University of North Carolina at Greensboro West Virginia University
Florida State University University of North Carolina at Pembroke Western Carolina University
Franklin Pierce University University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wheaton College (IL)
Furman University North Carolina State University Wingate University
Gardner-Webb University North Greenville University Winthrop University
The George Washington University Northeastern University Wofford College
University of Georgia Northwestern University
the college planning
A ny discussion about college admissions invariably will be rooted in a discussion about how
to achieve success. Students desire to be successful in their applications for admission,
and parents desire for their children to be successful in laying this important foundation of
adulthood. We work diligently to ensure that success is attained, yet sometimes we begin
the process without taking time to consider how we should define success.
The world’s definition of success often focuses on material gain, prestige and accomplishments.
Students and parents aim for the “best” colleges and categorize them as such if they offer the
promise of high-paying professional positions after graduation and a prestigious reputation
that will follow the student throughout adulthood.
Consider the Biblical definition of success as you prepare to research and choose a college.
God defines success through our relationship with Him. Those who are obedient and seek to
understand God’s plan for our lives are the ones who will experience success. Proverbs 16:3
teaches us, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Similarly,
John 15: 3-4 teaches us, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit
by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” The
message is simple: prosperity flows from our relationship with God.
How does this relate to the college search? First, be sure to cover this decision in prayer. Ask
God to direct your steps as you research, to help you to recognize the qualities in a college
that will make it a good fit and to help you identify which college has those qualities. Ask
God to provide you with wise counsel as you research colleges. Pray that God will help you
not to base your decision on the world’s definition of success, but instead to stay focused on
His definition of success. And perhaps most importantly, pray that God will provide you with
opportunities to deepen your relationship with Him, for it is in that relationship that we will
find the prosperity and success that we are striving for.
Where will this take you? It might take you to prestigious colleges and universities. It might
take you to the college that’s been in your family for generations. It also might take you to
Christian colleges, to colleges outside the Southeast and/or to colleges that you didn’t know
about before your research began. Stay open to God’s leading, and earnestly seek His
direction and guidance as you explore your options.
This college handbook is designed to help you navigate your way through the college admission
process, to explain the timing of certain activities and to provide examples of how to proceed
with certain tasks. While we certainly hope it will be helpful to you, don’t forget that God’s
ultimate handbook for life, the Bible, is also at your fingertips and is filled with wisdom about
how to approach a major decision such as choosing a college.
what colleges expect:
how to prepare
Before beginning the college selection process, it is helpful to know what the institutions of higher
learning expect from you. Since there are as many types of colleges as there are students, each college
handles admissions slightly differently. For example, some of your friends will know where they are
going to college in September of their senior year. Others will wait in suspense until April 1. This
process varies by college. But there are some generalities you can count on wherever you apply.
The most i
Important factor in a college’s admission decision
will be the student’s cumulative GPA.
The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, therefore colleges place great emphasis on your
upper school performance. This is largely considered to be the best predictor of how you will perform
in college. We cannot overemphasize how important your grades are in the admission decision.
Your grade point average (GPA) is calculated beginning in ninth grade and includes all courses you
have taken. Charlotte Christian reports both a weighted GPA, with honors courses receiving one
extra quality point and advanced placement (AP) courses receiving two extra quality points and an
unweighted GPA. Colleges will review your cumulative GPA for all your ninth through eleventh grade
courses. Colleges often will ask to review first semester grades of your senior year as well.
Colleges place great emphasis on your grades. They also, however, pay close attention to the difficulty
of your courses. How much emphasis this particular factor plays in the admission decision varies by
college. In general, the more selective the college’s admission policies are, the more likely it is that
the college will tally up the number of honors and AP courses. In turn, the more selective the college’s
admission policies are, the more likely it is that a student will be denied admission based on a low
number of honors and AP courses (with the definition of low varying by college).
Generally, colleges prefer that you take a more challenging course than to take an easier class for
a guaranteed A. If you take a more challenging course and make a C, however, you may hurt your
chances for admission at a selective college. Factor this into your selection of course levels.
Please note that colleges do not expect you to take every available honors and AP course. Colleges
want you to challenge yourself in the subjects you are strongest in and may make your major. For
example, if you plan to major in engineering, you might be expected to take Precalculus Honors, AP
Calculus and AP Physics, but not necessarily AP English Literature & Composition or AP US Government.
You should not feel pressured to take honors or AP courses in subjects that are not your strength,
particularly if they are not in your proposed course of study in college or if you do not believe you
can earn a B or higher.
SAT and ACT scores are an important piece of the admission decision,
but not the most important piece.
Many parents and students falsely assume that strong SAT and ACT scores can compensate for a
relatively low GPA or less strenuous course selection. This is simply not true. Without knowing the
student, colleges reviewing an application with a well above average SAT or ACT score and a relatively
low GPA and/or weak course selection will assume that the student is lazy. Strong test scores reflect
strong academic potential. If you do not live up to that potential in the classroom, the college will
pass judgment accordingly, especially selective colleges.
The SAT and ACT, however, are important instruments for colleges. They act as an equalizer of sorts
between schools. Since each school’s academic program varies, making the GPA a somewhat arbitrary
number, the SAT and ACT provide a nationally-standardized benchmark. For this reason, test scores
are an important factor in the college’s admission decision.
SAT and ACT scores factor more heavily in the admission policies of selective schools. These
colleges may deny admission to an outstanding candidate who has lower than average
comparative test scores. Why? These colleges have applications from students who are outstanding
candidates and have correspondingly strong test scores. When considering admission to highly
selective colleges, a difference of 50 points on the SAT could impact the admission decision.
The less selective colleges evaluate the SAT and ACT scores differently and will not make a decision
based on a 50-point spread. Instead, they look at the SAT and ACT scores for red flags. Their
definition of a strong test score is lower than that of a highly selective college, and they are more
forgiving of a low test score if other factors such as GPA or leadership potential are strong.
All other factors (letters of recommendation, essays, co-curricular
activities) are reviewed with equal weight.
The admission application is reviewed as a complete package by the college. The college
not only considers what type of student you will be in their classrooms, but also what type of
roommate you will make and how you can contribute to the campus community. This is why colleges
look carefully at your co-curricular activities, community service and leadership experience. Colleges
consider what letters of recommendation tell them about your academic potential, but they also
look to the letters as an evaluation of your character. Colleges review your essay for writing skill,
and to better understand your personality and priorities. Each of these factors has equal weight
in the admission decision and should be developed throughout upper school.
Please remember, however, a stellar co-curricular history cannot compensate for a poor GPA and
SAT/ACT test score. While it is very much advisable for you to show strength in as many areas as
possible, nothing can substitute for good grades in challenging courses.
Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines. In the end, this is a subjective process that
varies according to the academic year, the college and the student.
and the college planning process
Tips for Parents
When we discuss beginning the college planning process in middle school, we are sometimes greeted
with laughter and disbelief. Many middle school parents simply think it is too early.
While your middle school child may not be ready to tackle the decisions and questions of upper school,
it is never too soon to begin college planning. We are not talking about attending college fairs or
dragging your family on college visits. That would definitely be too much, too soon.
What we are recommending, however, is that you use this guide to gain awareness of the tasks
and timeframe involved in this decision-making process. Knowledge alone takes away some of the
enormity of it all and will help you guide your child. In addition, there are specific areas that can be
developed in middle school to provide a strong foundation for upper school.
Course selection is one of the most important factors in selective college admissions. Most middle
school students do not realize that course selection begins in eighth grade. Departments make ninth
grade placement recommendations for students in the winter of eighth grade. Ninth grade honors
enrollment is based on the grades and work ethic shown in eighth grade. This comes as a surprise to
many, especially to those who do not understand the impact it has on college admission.
Please help your child understand this, but keep in mind the developmental experience of the average
13 or 14-year-old. Middle school students typically spend very little time thinking about their future
plans. Your child may understand that eighth grade marks impact ninth grade course selection and
that this course selection will impact their college choice. If he or she is typical, however, this may not
result in a work ethic adjustment. Immediate rewards are the best way to motivate an eighth grade
student. This reward might be something as simple as praise (which students can never have enough of)
or offering a special privilege (treat them to a day at Carowinds or another fun experience). Because
middle school students live in the here and now, their motivation needs to be in the here and now.
Explaining how their work ethic could hurt their college plans is not typically an effective motivator.
Please remember students may take honors and AP courses throughout upper school. A significant
number do not begin taking these harder courses until eleventh or twelfth grade. So if your child does
not take an honors class in ninth grade, it does not mean your child cannot enroll in these courses during
their junior or senior years. This option will still be open and so will admission to selective colleges.
Course selection is difficult to address in a global sense because by necessity it is individualized. If
you have questions about course selection and how to determine the most appropriate placement,
please discuss them with the college counselor.
Outside of the academic arena, your middle school student can be laying the foundation for college
by exemplifying leadership skills and serving others. All students do not have the desire or ability for
leadership. Those who do should develop this ability as early as possible through student government,
church youth groups and athletic teams. We encourage students to try leadership roles in middle
school to see if they are a natural fit. We also encourage serving others. Not only is it biblical, but
our school feels it is a foundational character trait. Service is also highly valued by colleges. There
are many different ways to serve. As a parent, try encouraging your child to try several types of
service to discover which ones they enjoy the most.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the
Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
ninth grade to
and the transition
As a ninth grade student, your most important task is mastering the experience of being in upper school.
So this year, you will work on learning how to study effectively, and how to balance schoolwork with
This year your friends will probably become even more important to you. It is tempting to let your
social life rule. Be careful. You must find the balance between social and academic activities. What
is right for you may be different from what is right for your friends. This balance may also need to
be adjusted throughout upper school depending upon your course load. The time management skills
you learn now, however, will be critical to having an active social life and getting your homework
done. Be sure to use a daily planner. Also remember, you and your parents can check your grades
via the Charlotte Christian website to ensure your homework is turned in on time and to find out
how you did on that chapter test. Ask your parents for ideas on how to balance fun with academic
activities. Some of your friends will spend more time on their social life than academics. Others may
tend to get lost in the books at the expense of their social life. Each type of activity is important, so
try to find success in both.
You will find more challenging academic expectations in upper school. Some students discover that
the study skills that were good enough in middle school are no longer sufficient in upper school. You
may need to find new ways to study or you may need help learning additional test preparation
skills from your teachers or parents. Focus on active study techniques such as making flash cards,
rewriting or typing notes, reading notes aloud and reciting key points, color-coding your notes and/
or being quizzed by a parent or friend on class notes. Experiment with several options to find the
study technique that is right for you. Often it is helpful to start using these study skills on your hardest
class to find what works best.
Please remember, your teachers are here to help you find academic success. You may want to ask
them for extra help and/or spend time with them studying and reviewing before a test. Your teacher
probably has a good idea why something is difficult for you and he/she can help you fine-tune your
study habits and work ethic. Take advantage of this resource.
and the career choice
Before you begin your college research, it is important to think about your college major. You may
not know what kind of career you want, but your college search will be easier if you can narrow
down your career options. For example, if you are interested in a career with a math/science base,
you can research colleges that have strong programs in those areas. You can determine the specific
math or science major later in upper school or once you begin college. It helps to have clarity in your
choice of a college major to avoid needing to transfer colleges.
Finding clarity among career choices is a gradual process. One classroom project on careers will not
be enough. The key requirements are self-knowledge, research and most importantly, prayer. We
will help you think through your dreams and career plans and teach you how to approach a major
life decision with a foundation of prayer as you seek God’s will. Part of this process includes taking
a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a brief career interest inventory, and completing a journal in Bible
class. You will receive feedback from the college counselor on your plans through this journal.
Every student reacts differently to the task of choosing a career. You may feel clueless throughout all of
upper school, despite everyone’s best attempts to help you find a direction. You may have a detailed
career plan in mind based on your childhood dreams. You may have a sketchy idea, or perhaps
two completely different careers as your top interests. Wherever you are in terms of clarifying your
career plan, all of it is normal. There is no one right way for teens to approach the career decision.
Resist the tendency to compare yourself to others. Everyone will arrive at a decision with time.
“All the days ordained for me were written in your
book before one of them came to be.”
Some tips for parents on how to help their children approach their career choice:
1. Model how to approach a major life decision. Pray for, and with, your child. This is your
chance to teach your child the importance of prayer and how to seek God’s will in making life
decisions. These lessons will help your children with other major decisions, including their choice
of a spouse. Pray with them, show them what God’s word teaches us about seeking His will,
and give them a strong foundation of decision-making skills through example.
2. Remember that this is just the beginning. Do not panic if your child announces a career
plan that you believe to be a poor choice. This is just the start of the career selection process,
and it is certainly not going to be the last “great plan” that you hear about between now and
adulthood. Keep it in perspective. Teenagers try on different identities before they find the
one that suits them. Give them the freedom to experiment with the idea of different careers.
3. Help your child research the facts. The classroom project will teach your child how and where
to research basic facts about their chosen career such as starting salary, job outlook and the
required education. Give your children a frame of reference to understand how much money
will actually be needed. Help them think through a career that necessitates living in another
state or that requires graduate school. Process all of these facts with your child as part of the
4. Remember who takes final ownership of this decision – it isn’t you. It is tough to keep your
own dreams and plans separate from your child’s career decision. If you always envisioned
your daughter as a doctor and she announces that she would rather be a graphic designer,
remember that this is her decision. Express your opinion and state your case, but ultimately
make it clear the decision isn’t yours. It is most important that the career choice makes your
child happy, not you.
5. Use your network of friends and colleagues to match your children with someone who
works in their area of interest. The career choice needs to be an educated decision, and this
is best accomplished by talking with someone who has firsthand knowledge. If your son tells
you he’s thinking about becoming a pilot, try to make arrangements for him to speak with a
family friend or acquaintance who is a pilot. This is the best way to truly learn about a career.
standardized testing and college visits
There are two main tasks that need to happen during eleventh grade: you must complete your
standardized testing (SAT and ACT) and begin visiting college campuses.
A college visit is perhaps the most important thing you can do to find the right match. This point cannot
be overemphasized. Students who take the time to visit several campuses and form their opinions of
what they do and do not like will tend to have more direction and focus throughout the application
process in twelfth grade. They are less likely to procrastinate in completing their applications and
generally experience less stress in making their final choice than students who do not visit.
The majority of college visits should occur during eleventh grade. Students in tenth grade are often
too far removed from their college choice to invest fully in the visit, and students in twelfth grade are
too busy with the paperwork of applying to find time for a visit. Parents should take advantage of
every teacher workday or school holiday in eleventh grade to squeeze in visits to different colleges.
This will go a long way in helping you find the right collegiate fit.
Many families are unsure how to begin the college visit process. First, ask yourself whether you prefer
a large, medium or small college. How far away from home would feel comfortable? Would you
prefer a Christian college or a secular college? Answers to these questions often narrow down the
list of colleges and provide a starting point. If you are unsure about these questions, visit each type
of college. You may not have an opinion before your visit, but you will afterwards.
Your college counselor can help you generate a list of colleges to visit. Do not feel like you need to
know everything about area colleges; that is the job of a college counselor. Tap into this resource
by scheduling an appointment sometime during eleventh grade to discuss which colleges would be
the best place to visit. Continue to keep in touch with your college counselor after you have begun
visiting and have a clearer picture of which colleges are preferred. The counselor may be able to
offer additional suggestions of colleges once you know your preferences.
College fairs, which are held in the fall and spring, can be helpful. Each fair typically has admission
representatives from 100-200 colleges. Families can pick and choose which colleges they prefer to
get information on and decide if the college merits a campus visit. The New South College Fair in
September and the National Christian College Fair in October are excellent ways to begin eleventh
grade, and the NACAC National College Fair in April provides another great opportunity. Once you
have generated a list of potential colleges, get out there and visit!
If you are a rising eleventh grade student and you are uncertain which type of college you prefer,
you are not alone. College visits help you form your opinions and decide which colleges top your list.
This is perfectly normal for eleventh grade students.
To schedule a campus visit, call the college admissions office and make an appointment. Most colleges
offer two tours a day and allow people to sign up in advance. These tours will be led by a student
tour guide, often ending in the admissions office with an information session given by an admissions
counselor. Some colleges offer additional services, such as class observations, financial aid counseling,
and/or a matching program that will allow you to stay on campus with a student host overnight. If
you would like any of these extra services, simply ask when you call to schedule the tour.
Charlotte Christian also offers a series of college visits that students may participate in during their
eleventh and twelfth grade years. On these visits, students typically visit two colleges in one day, most
often colleges within a four-hour drive. The schedule of college visits is available on the school’s website
and also is mailed home to eleventh and twelfth grade parents at the beginning of each school year.
letters of recommendation
Before you leave for the summer at the end of your junior year, be sure to ask for letters of
recommendation. This will allow teachers plenty of time to write your letter before you submit
You should plan to ask for three letters of recommendation: one from your college counselor; one from
a teacher; and the last from another teacher, a youth pastor, or a supervisor at work or a volunteer
job. As you decide which teachers to ask, keep in mind that the people who will write the best letters
are the ones who know you best. It is helpful to have letters from a teacher in math/science and
another in the humanities. But the primary rule of thumb should be how well the teacher knows you,
not which subject was taught.
questions to ask
on a college visit
The following page contains a list of questions that you may want to ask while on your campus tour.
This list is not exhaustive, but it will get you started.
1. What are the admission requirements? (GPA, SAT, ACT)
2. Is there a binding early decision program? What about a non-binding early action program?
3. What types of scholarships are available? How do you apply?
4. Are there help rooms on campus that will proofread a paper or help with math?
5. Would you ever have a graduate student teaching a class? What is the average class size?
6. What is the policy regarding AP and CLEP exams?
7. What Christian organizations are on campus? Are there churches within walking distance?
8. What type of housing is available? Are freshmen required to live on campus?
Do freshmen live in separate dorms?
9. Would a student ever be put in a triple room with two roommates?
How are roommates matched?
10. How many dining halls are on campus? How does the meal plan work?
11. Are freshmen allowed to have cars on campus? What’s the parking fee?
12. What types of student organizations and activities are available?
13. What division do athletic teams compete in? What sports are offered?
What about intramurals?
14. Is there an internship or co-op program that students can participate in?
What about study abroad programs?
15. What type of help can students expect in career placement when they’re ready to graduate?
Are recruiters from major companies regularly on campus?
In addition to visiting campuses, the other major task of eleventh grade students is to complete the
necessary standardized testing. We recommend that you take both the SAT and the ACT at least
once before the end of the school year in order to be prepared for the application process in twelfth
SAT compared to ACT
While the predominant test on the East Coast is the SAT, the majority of colleges recognize both the
SAT and ACT. Approximately a third of students will score higher on the SAT, another third higher
on the ACT and the remainder will score equally on each. For this reason, we encourage you to
take both to see which one will yield the higher score. Colleges look at the highest score available
to them in their review of a student. If more than one score is submitted, the lower score will not be
considered. Colleges seek to give you an advantage in test score review. They even combine your
best SAT critical reading, math and writing scores, regardless of whether they were earned on different
test dates, to give you the highest possible score.
There are several reasons why some students score higher on the ACT. The ACT is an achievement test
that measures the knowledge you have gained throughout high school. It contains four sections: English,
math, reading and science. The ACT also has an optional writing section. Because it does not repeat
sections throughout the test, as the SAT does, students who have trouble paying attention throughout
the three-hour test sometimes are able to stay focused on the ACT with more ease. Some students
naturally respond better to the nature of the questions on the ACT and an achievement test in general.
Some students benefit from the reading and science sections that are not found on the SAT.
The SAT is an aptitude test, seeking to measure the student’s academic potential. It includes three
sections: critical reading, mathematics and writing. Students complete two critical reading sections,
two mathematics sections and one writing section throughout the test. Its predominance on the East
Coast is purely geographic. The SAT is printed in New Jersey and therefore is most commonly taken
by students on the East Coast, whereas the ACT is printed in Iowa and is most commonly taken by
students in the Midwest and on the West Coast.
Both the SAT and the ACT underwent major changes in the spring of 2005. Both the SAT and the ACT
added writing sections, and the SAT also revised the content of the verbal and math sections. Most
colleges now require a student to submit a standardized writing score and will accept either the SAT
or ACT writing score. Both writing sections ask the student to write a timed essay, and the SAT’s writing
section also includes multiple-choice questions on grammar. The verbal section of the SAT has been
renamed the critical reading section, with analogies eliminated and additional reading comprehension
passages added. The math section of the SAT now includes content from Algebra II. With the addition
of a writing section on the SAT, the highest possible score has become 2400. To make it easier to
understand a student’s scores in relation to the previous high score of 1600, most colleges have been
reporting a student’s score as the sum of the critical reading and math scores, with the writing score
listed separately. For example, a student might score 1200 + 600 writing.
when to test
The SAT and ACT each are offered several times throughout the school year. There is no best date
for you to take these tests. The date you choose should be one that fits your schedule and gives you
time to prepare. If you are taking a prep course of any kind, it is best to take the test as soon as
possible after finishing the course. This may be in the fall or the spring. If you are not taking a prep
course, we recommend waiting until the spring to take the test. The content of your regular classes
will help you prepare. You may choose to take the test again in the fall of your senior year. One
strategy would be to take the SAT in January of your junior year, again on one of the spring test
dates that same year, and then the October test in the fall of your senior year. Then you could take
the ACT at any point during the spring of the junior year and repeat it if you score higher on the ACT
than the SAT.
how many times to test
Most Charlotte Christian juniors take the ACT once and the SAT one or two times. Most also take
the SAT again once more during the fall of their senior year. We do not recommend taking either
the SAT or the ACT more times than this unless you have prepared differently. Without a change in
preparation, parents will find themselves paying for scores that are very similar.
how to prepare
Some students may choose to take a test prep course to help them prepare for the SAT and/or the
ACT. These courses often help students to feel confident and provide them with strategies for effective
test-taking, but please know that not all students need to take a test prep course. You might want to
sit for the SAT and the ACT once before you undertake a test prep course; you might be pleasantly
surprised by your scores and not feel the need to sit for a prep course after all. If you do decide to
take a prep course, please be aware that Charlotte Christian offers a full Princeton Review class on
our campus in the fall and spring. You may contact the college counselor for more information about
registering for the Princeton Review class. If you prefer to pursue test prep outside of Charlotte
Christian, we recommend the following test prep providers
Briarcliff Hall (704) 365-4289 Heidi Wright (704) 780-5335
how to register
Register for the SAT and ACT online at either www.collegeboard.org or www.actstudent.org.
Registration can be done months in advance, and we encourage you to register early to receive your
first choice test site (please note that Charlotte Christian is not a test site).
the role of the PSAT and the PLAN
The PSAT is administered in the fall of ninth and eleventh grades, and the PLAN is administered in
the fall of tenth grade. The PSAT is designed to predict SAT scores and familiarize students with
SAT-formatted questions. The eleventh grade administration of the PSAT also allows you to enter the
National Merit Scholarship Competition, one of the most prestigious scholarships available. The PLAN
is designed to predict your ACT score and allow you to become familiar with a slightly different test
style. PSAT and PLAN scores are not reported to colleges and are primarily for practice, so make
the most of the opportunity.
PSAT and PLAN score reports list the correct answer key, your answers, and point out strengths and
weaknesses on each section of the test. Students receive their actual test booklet when they receive
their score report so that they can use this information to review and learn from their mistakes. This
is perhaps one of the most valuable test preparation tools available to students.
what are the SAT subject tests?
The SAT subject tests are one-hour tests that allow students to show off their strengths in particular
areas. They are available in history, English, science, math and several foreign languages. The
majority of colleges will not require these tests for admission but gladly will review them because
they add to the information available on the student and help them assess the applicant’s potential.
The most selective colleges in the country, such as Ivy League colleges and those considered to be
semi-Ivy League, will require students to complete three SAT subject tests. They typically ask students
to complete the Math IIC and one other of the student’s choice. The SAT subject tests can be taken at
any time during high school and should be completed at the end of the course in the same subject. For
example, a ninth grade student taking Biology Honors would be encouraged to take the SAT subject
test in Biology in either May or June of their freshman year. This score will be kept on file until the
As an eleventh grade student, the last task you need to complete is an activities resume. This resume
will be sent to all colleges along with the admission application and a letter of recommendation written
by a teacher. Completing the resume your junior year will be very helpful. Therefore, students are
assigned the resume as homework in their junior class seminars.
The next few pages contain a list of tips and a sample resume. Please note that Jane Marie Smith
is not a real person. Jane’s diverse array of activities, however, should demonstrate how to list any
kind of activity on the resume. Your resume does not have to match Jane Marie for admittance to a
writing an activities resume
1. Be specific. Indicate how many years you have participated in the activity.
Also put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your resume. Will that person know that the
Accolade is the yearbook? Clarify if there is any doubt.
2. Explain the time commitment involved in your activities.
Did you participate for one school year or for four school years? Did you volunteer for one day or
once a week for a whole year? These distinctions make a difference; be specific in explaining your time
commitment to each activity you list.
3. Include activities that you intend to participate in during twelfth grade.
If you have participated in an activity for a few years and you know that you will participate as a
senior, include that in your activities resume. Be honest though! You wouldn’t want to be caught in a
little white lie, no matter how little.
4. Always include either your date of birth.
Colleges use this number as your ID information in their computer system. Including this nformation
ensures that your resume will make its way to your application file.
5. Don’t limit yourself to Charlotte Christian activities.
It is certainly appropriate and highly recommended to include activities that you have been involved
with outside of Charlotte Christian. This may include volunteer work or missions work as well as a
part-time job. Remember that colleges are considering you as a whole and not just you as a Charlotte
6. Nothing is too small to include on your resume. This is your opportunity to sell yourself.
Don’t let it pass you by! Include anything at all that demonstrates what kind of person you are. It
may feel a bit awkward to brag, but that’s the purpose of the resume.
7. Try to keep the resume to only one page.
While this won’t be an issue for everyone, some of you have been involved in so many activities that
your resume could spill over to another page. Admissions committees very much appreciate resumes
that are concise and to the point. If you are in the position of needing to shorten your resume, eliminate
some of the descriptions of your activities when possible or reduce the size of your font in some areas
of the resume. If it just can’t be done to shorten your resume to one page, that’s okay.
8. If your resume seems too short…
add a section at the end of your resume entitled “Hobbies and Interests.”
This can include activities that you enjoy doing in your spare time such as camping, reading, hiking,
scrapbooking, etc. It gives the colleges a better picture of the type of person you are and also fills
Jane Marie Smith
123 Maple Avenue Phone: (704) 555-4000
Charlotte, NC 28270 Date of Birth: 01/01/1996
Accolade Staff (school yearbook), grades 10-11
Musical Stage Crew, grades 9-10
Cast Member, Oklahoma, grade 11
CELL Group, grades 9-12 (student-led, weekly Bible study)
National Honor Society, grades 11-12
Environmental Club, grades 10-11
Girls’ Soccer: JV grades 9-10, Varsity grades 11-12
Team Captain, grade 12
Girls’ Basketball: JV grades 9-10, Varsity grade 11
AAU Community Basketball Team, Summers 2011 and 2012
Class Secretary, grades 10, 11
Accolade Editor, grade 12
Student Government Association Treasurer, grade 12
CELL Group Leader, grades 11 and 12 (student-led, weekly Bible study)
Christ Covenant Church Youth Group Executive Council, grades 9-11
Awards and Honors
Highest GPA Award in US History, grade 10
National Honor Society induction, Spring 2013
Mighty in Spirit Award, Girls’ Soccer, grade 10
Named to Cum Laude Honor Roll, grades 10-11
Christ Covenant Church Vacation Bible School, Summers 2011 and 2012
Teacher Assistant for 3rd grade class, 20 total hours per summer
Carolinas Medical Center, Summers 2012 and 2013
Cashier in gift shop, 40 total hours per summer
Mission trip to Mexico sponsored by Christ Covenant Church, Summer 2012 (2 weeks)
Ministered to children in an orphanage, 80 total hours
Habitat for Humanity workday, grades 10-11
Helped install windows and a roof, 15 total hours
Chick-Fil-A Restaurant, June 2012-June 2013
Take customer orders at drive-through window and front counter
Crew Trainer, January 2013-June 2013
a note to athletes
Many students hoping to earn an athletic scholarship mistakenly believe that their junior year does
not need to consist of the same activities as other students. They decide not to visit colleges because
they want to wait and see who will offer them scholarships. While this might end up working out for
some students, it is not what we advise.
If you are an athlete, please keep in mind that recruiting calendars and admissions calendars do
not always align. Some students do not get recruited until the second half of their senior year, after
their classmates have finished submitting applications and college admissions offices typically begin
to close their incoming classes. They find themselves nervously waiting, hoping that someone will
make them a scholarship offer, while they watch their friends receiving admission offers and making
housing deposits at their colleges. You should also keep in mind the difficulty of scheduling campus
visits while playing a sport. Practice and game schedules keep you very busy and leave little time
for a day trip (or longer) to see a college campus.
We recommend visiting campuses during your junior year like your classmates. At some point, you will
need to choose a college. The only way to know the type of college you prefer is to get on campus
and form opinions. There is no short cut and there are no exceptions. Everyone will have to choose
a college at some point, even if that means choosing between scholarships.
Just in case an athletic scholarship does not come through, it is advisable to apply to at least one
college as a back-up plan. The college should be one that you feel is a good match academically
and financially, regardless of whether you play a sport. This application is the just-in-case plan, and
it should help alleviate the nervousness and anxiety if you do not get recruited until the last part of
your senior year.
Please keep in mind that anyone playing an intercollegiate sport at the NCAA Division I or II
level must be academically eligible to play as determined by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Students
shouldregister with the NCAA to be declared eligible once they have completed eleventh grade.
Resources for understanding academic requirements, and instructions for registration can be found at
making the final decision
One word of advice to parents and students as you prepare for the beginning of twelfth grade – be
prepared to watch God work this year. Regardless of your goals or college dreams, God will be
present in many ways as you make this decision. Watch for Him and expect spiritual growth as you
go through this decision-making process. If there is anything that can be universally said about the
college application and decision process, it is that God will walk with our students and make Himself
known to them.
At the beginning of twelfth grade, you should have a list of colleges to which you want to apply. If
you do not, please make an appointment with the college counselor. Deadlines will creep up on you
before you know it!
One of the most useful skills you can have to survive the college application process with minimal
stress is organization. If you are the parent of a procrastinator, please be prepared to step in to
help the student stay organized. Colleges maintain strict deadlines and do not look favorably if you
request an extension. Know the application deadlines for each college you apply to and follow them
precisely. One organizational suggestion: designate a central calendar at home to track college
and scholarship application deadlines.
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world,
yet forfeit his soul?”
Some of you can get a letter of recommendation from an adult who holds a prominent position in the
community, or even from a member of the college community to which you are applying. A note of
caution on these types of letters: colleges only want letters from adults who know you well. They will
not be impressed by a letter from an adult who only knows your parents but does not know you.
When you request a letter of recommendation, provide your teacher with a copy of your activities
resume and a list of desired colleges. The teachers submit their letters to the college counselor to be
kept on file until you turn in your application. You should not receive a copy of the letter or expect to
read its contents. Some teachers, however, may give you a copy as a courtesy. Colleges prefer that
letters remain confidential because that increases the honesty of the letters. If a teacher is asked to write
a letter and feels they cannot be positive, he/she will tell you so you can make another selection.
You also will need a letter of recommendation from your college counselor. Prior to writing this letter,
you will be asked to complete a recommendation conference. This conference serves many purposes,
primarily to give you input on the content of the letter. This letter will remain confidential, so use this
conference time to highlight specific strengths you hope will be discussed in the letter. During the
conference, you and your counselor also will discuss your GPA, course selection and test scores to be
sure you have chosen appropriate colleges. This is a general planning conference that helps you
determine your next step. Schedule this conference in the Spring of your junior year.
how many colleges?
We advise you to apply to three to six colleges. This should include at least one public college that is
considered an academically “safe” college. This provides a back-up plan that is likely to be financially
feasible. In addition, you should include at least one “stretch” school, a college that is considered a
bit of a long shot. Students are sometimes pleasantly surprised at the results of their application to a
stretch school. The remainder of the colleges you apply to should be “target” schools, colleges that
post average GPAs and test scores that match yours.
Applying to fewer than three colleges should be done only after consulting with the college counselor.
You are taking a risk in some cases by not submitting more applications. Yet if you apply to more than
six colleges, you delay the narrowing down process and make the final decision much more difficult.
While the essay is a common component of college applications, it is not a requirement of all colleges.
More than likely, you will need to write at least one essay during your application process. The
primary goal of the essay is to help the college admission counselor know you better. It should be
written in a personal, casual tone and not the formal tone that students use to write most essays for
class assignments. The essay should read like a letter to a friend or even a journal entry. This is not
the time to demonstrate your stunning vocabulary. The essay is the time to show off your personality
and what makes you unique.
Essays should be about one page in length and do not need to be double-spaced. Some colleges
will provide guidelines in the number of words in the essay. Please know that the college will not
actually count the number of words, they are simply trying to avoid the too-short or too-long essay.
You should type your essays unless directed otherwise and include a heading with your full name and
social security number.
Many essay topics are purposefully very general. This gives you the freedom to write on a topic that
best reflects your personality. Before deciding what to write on, consider which aspect of your character
you want to highlight. For example, you may want to showcase leadership skills, perseverance in
difficult situations, the ability to deal with change well, or a love of serving others. Once you choose
which aspect of your character to highlight, select a life experience that illustrates this point. It does not
need to be a traumatic experience, a life-changing event, or something that happened during upper
school. It simply needs to be a genuine experience that reflects a lesson or growth in character.
You may wonder if you will hurt your chances for admission to a secular college if you write an essay
that details the importance of your faith. The answer is no – colleges respect the importance of a
student’s faith and recognize it as a statement of their character and how they make decisions in their
daily life. Colleges do not, however, respond well to essays that indicate you will not be able to get
along with a non-Christian student. This kind of red flag could prevent you from being admitted.
One last word of advice: allow time for editing and proofreading. The college counselor and English
teachers are all available to help you with your essays. We strongly encourage you to take advantage
of this assistance. You want to submit an essay free of grammatical errors on an interesting topic
expressed in a memorable way. Expect to write several drafts of your essays and allow teachers
a day or two to proofread them. This process takes time and requires you to start the essay well in
advance of the deadline. Again, organization is key!
submitting an application
Most students submit applications electronically, using the online applications available on college
websites beginning in August or September of their senior year. Students should check their application
deadlines and work well in advance of these deadlines so that they are not in a position to submit
a hastily-completed application. All students should have their applications proofread by either a
parent or by Mrs. Foxx before clicking “send” to avoid typographical errors.
In addition to completing the online application, students must also request that their records be sent
to the college. Students can make this request by logging on to Naviance, then adding the college to
the “colleges I am applying to list” and then clicking the box to request transcripts. You do not need
to have sent the online application before you request a transcript to be sent. Once the request is
made in Naviance, our office will send the student’s transcript, letters of recommendation, and a copy
of our school profile.
Students must also request that their SAT and/or ACT scores be sent from College Board or ACT to
the college. This request can be made online. Students should log in to the appropriate website and
follow the links for “send my scores.”
early decision, early action and rolling admissions defined
Some colleges offer a type of application called early decision. Early decision programs are legally
binding, meaning the student must attend if admitted. Students may apply to only one college on an
early decision program. Students who submit an early decision application may also apply to other
colleges on a non-binding program. Students applying on an early decision application will receive
an admission decision before Christmas and will sometimes benefit from a slightly less competitive
admission review process. Students should be cautious before submitting such a binding application;
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in
the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
however, they should not submit an early decision application without being completely sure that the
college is an ideal match academically, socially and financially.
In addition, some colleges offer non-binding early action programs. These do not come with the
same legal requirements to attend should admission be granted. Instead, they offer you the chance
to indicate that the college is one of the top two choices and to receive an earlier decision. Students
may apply to more than one college on such a non-binding program.
Some colleges work on a type of admissions system called rolling admissions. This type of admission
system reviews applications upon receipt and mails decisions in approximately four to six weeks.
Each applicant is considered individually in this type of admissions, and the college does not wait for
all applications to be received before mailing decisions. If you are applying to colleges with rolling
admission systems, submit your applications as early as possible, beginning even in August of your
senior year. The sooner you submit an application to a college with rolling admissions, the sooner you
will be notified and the more likely the college will have openings.
One overlooked, but important, aspect of college admissions is networking. Getting to know the local
admissions counselor of your desired college can be advantageous. At many colleges, this counselor
reviews the application first and has significant influence over the admissions decision. If an admissions
committee reviews the application, the counselor will present the applicant to the committee. Having
that counselor on your side and serving as your cheerleader in the committee room may make the
To foster this relationship, we encourage you to have as much contact as possible with the admissions
counselor. Many admissions counselors visit our campus on recruiting visits, and these are prime
opportunities. In addition, you should seek out the admissions counselor at every local college fair
and any information sessions offered in our area. Do not be shy about talking with the counselor,
restating your name until the counselor recognizes you, and asking questions. After each personal
meeting, you should follow up with an e-mail. Of course, stopping in to meet with the counselor during
on-site visits is an excellent opportunity to develop a relationship with the counselor and demonstrate
interest in the school.
Once you have made the final decision of which college to attend, submit your housing deposit as
soon as possible. Housing typically is given on a first-come, first-served basis. Students who submit
early deposits are more likely to get their first choice in dorm assignments. Once this housing deposit
has been mailed, you should notify other colleges as a courtesy that you will not be attending. This
notification can be done over the phone or in writing or via e-mail to the admissions office. Such
notification allows the college to open a spot for another applicant and potentially take a student
off their waiting list.
Deciding which college to attend is difficult without considering the impact of tuition and financial
assistance. Remember, most students do not pay full price for their college education. Private colleges
offer scholarships as an incentive to recruit talented students. Do not rule out a college simply because
of price. It may end up becoming more affordable than expected. By the same token, always
include a public college in the mix of applications to be sure that there will be a “safe” school that
is financially attainable.
There are three main sources of financial assistance: the federal government, the college itself and
private organizations. This assistance may be in the form of grants and scholarships that do not need
to be paid back, or it may be in the form of low-interest loans.
The funds available from the federal government may be applied for using the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application may be submitted on www.fafsa.ed.gov beginning
Jan. 1 of your senior year and will include a review of both your parents’ and your tax information
from the preceding year. These funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so families
should plan to submit the FAFSA as close to Jan. 1 as possible. This application makes you eligible
for the Pell Grant, Stafford Loan and work-study programs. All of these programs contain a need-
based component to them, but it is important to note that the Stafford Loan is available to all students
regardless of need. If you demonstrate need, your interest will be subsidized while you are in school.
Those who do not demonstrate need will not have the interest subsidized. The Stafford Loan, however,
often has a competitive interest rate and should be considered by all families who will use loans to
help cover the cost of college.
Submitting the FAFSA indicates to the college that your family desires financial assistance. While you
may not be eligible for federal funds, you may qualify for funds given by the college itself. For this
reason, we encourage you to submit the FAFSA.
Many colleges offer extensive scholarship programs to recruit talented students, especially private
colleges. In many cases, you apply for these scholarships when you submit the admission application,
but this is not true in all cases. As you research colleges, look into merit scholarship procedures and
find out if a separate application is required. Also find out the type of merit scholarship offered and
their criteria. Sometimes a jump of 20 points on the SAT will make you eligible for a higher scholarship,
and retaking the SAT can become very worthwhile. Colleges also may offer scholarships based on
special talent, such as creative writing, music or theatre -- if you have been blessed in this regard,
investigate these opportunities and apply.
The final source of financial assistance is the most difficult to get, the scholarship from a private
organization. These scholarships are very competitive because most of them are national and receive
thousands of applications for only one or two scholarships. We encourage you to apply, but you
should pay careful attention to scholarships that offer awards on a local basis. Researching these
scholarships can be very tedious. To simplify the process, visit www.fastweb.com, an excellent website
with comprehensive scholarship research. It will save you time and effort. Also pay attention to the
daily announcements and the Focus for postings of local scholarships. These often offer the best
chances because the applicant pool is smaller.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean
not on your own understanding; in all your ways,
acknowledge him, and he will make your paths
• Attend the New South College Fair and the National • Check out the internet’s college research sites to add to
Christian College Fair. your list of colleges to visit. A great one to consider is the
college search function at www.collegeboard.org.
• Begin making a list of colleges you would like to visit.
• Take the PSAT. Plan to use these scores to help you • Attend the National College Fair.
prepare for the SAT and ACT.
• Schedule your last series of college visits.
• Begin your college visits.
• Parents attend the Grade 11 College Planning Parent
• Keep studying! Your grades are still important.
november • Schedule a recommendation conference with Mrs. Foxx.
Bring a copy of your resume to this appointment.
• Keep studying! See your teachers for extra help if you
• Consider volunteering your time somewhere. This is a may
character building experience, plus it is very impressive
• Finish strong!
• Sign up for Briarcliff Hall’s free practice tests to help • Request letters of recommendation from two teachers.
prepare you for the SAT and/or ACT at Charlotte Use the form available from Mrs. Foxx to make your
Christian. request, and be sure to have a copy of your resume on
hand for your teachers.
• Results of the PSAT will be available in mid-December.
• Register for the SAT and ACT testing you’ll be doing in
the winter semester. • By this point, you should have completed the
following:met with Mrs. Foxx regarding your letter of
recommendation, asked two teachers to write letters for
you, submitted a copy of your resume to Mrs. Foxx, and
• Course selection begins for the next school year. Plan narrowed your list to three to six colleges.
your courses wisely!
• The first semester is done - are your grades what you
want them to be?
• Attend the New South College Fair and the National • Begin gathering tax information from the prior
Christian College Fair. year to complete the FAFSA. Submit the FAFSA
online at www.fafsa.ed.gov as soon as possible
• Finalize the list of colleges you will apply to. after Jan. 1.
• Start submitting applications as soon as • Parents attend the Financial Aid Information
possible. Night at Charlotte Christian.
• Parents attend the Grade 12 College
Planning Parent Night. february
• Submit scholarship applications.
• Finalize your application essays. Ask Mrs. march
Foxx and an English teacher to proofread and
edit them for you. • Watch the mail for college acceptance letters
and your Student Aid Report (SAR).
• Take the SAT one more time if you’d like to
improve your score. Take the SAT Subject Tests • Make your last college visits to help you with
if your college requires you to do so. your final decision.
• Start researching scholarships. Check out • Notify Mrs. Foxx of your college choice if you
www.fastweb.com for a great directory of haven’t done so already.
• Finish your college applications. Set a goal to may
submit all applications by Thanksgiving.
• Take your AP exams.
• How are your grades? Many colleges look at
first semester grades. • Plan your graduation party!
• Go online to www.pin.ed.gov to request your
pin number for use in submitting the FAFSA
online. This process takes a few days to complete.
• Start working on scholarship applications if you
haven’t done so already.
This is a comprehensive site on all College Board products, including SAT, PSAT, AP and CLEP. It provides
information on all aspects of career, college and financial aid research. You can also register for the SAT
on this site as well as purchase some great college guides.
This is also a comprehensive site done by the publishers of the ACT. It provides information on all aspects of
career, college and financial aid research. You can also register for the ACT on this site.
If you’re looking for a Christian college, this site is for you! In addition to providing information on Christian
colleges across the country, you will also find articles in making a smooth transition to college life. This site is
a great place to begin as you consider the option of Christian colleges.
This site is devoted to colleges in North Carolina. It also includes career and financial aid information.
This site’s college search takes you to a page that allows you to request information from a college online. It
also offers specialized searches for Christian colleges and also Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs). This site offers virtual tours of many colleges and has a great career link.
This site offers articles on choosing the college that best suits you and articles on paying for college.
This is a site full of general information on colleges, including tips on acing the SAT and electronic
applications. It also offers a recruiting service that can bring you to the attention of selective colleges.
charlotte christian resources
For more information about the college planning process, please contact:
Allen Nielsen Jodi Foxx Patty Little
Upper School Principal Director of College Counseling Personal & Academic Counselor
(704) 366-5657, ext. 4001 (704) 366-5657, ext. 4006 (704) 366-5657, ext. 4007
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Christian School is a Christ-centered, college
preparatory school, equipping and developing students to
effectively integrate Biblical truth and learning into
their daily lives and to impact the culture for Christ.