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college handbook fifth edition a comprehensive guide to the college decision process Introduction..........................................................1 Twelfth Grade.....................................................20 handbook table of contents What Colleges Expect..........................................2 college Junior Timeline...................................................27 Middle School.......................................................5 Senior Timeline..................................................28 Ninth Grade...........................................................7 College Resources..........................................29 Tenth Grade.......................................................8 Charlotte Christian Resources.............................29 Eleventh Grade..................................................10 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 introduction: process the college planning 1 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 2 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). 3 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. 4 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. 5 middle school and the college planning process 5 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. middle school 6 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.” Jeremiah 29:11 ninth grade to and the transition upper school 7 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 extracurricular activities. 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. tenth grade and the career choice 8 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.” Psalm 139:16 tenth grade 9 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 decision-making process. 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. eleventh grade standardized testing and college visits 10 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. college visits 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 eleventh grade 11 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 applications. 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 12 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? standardized testing 13 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 grade. 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. standardized testing 14 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. standardized testing 15 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. standardized testing 16 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 activities resume 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 selective college. writing an activities resume 17 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 Christian student. 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 up space. Jane Marie Smith 123 Maple Avenue Phone: (704) 555-4000 Charlotte, NC 28270 Date of Birth: 01/01/1996 Extracurricular Activities 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 Athletic Participation 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 Leadership Experience 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 Volunteer Activities 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 Employment 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 19 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 www.eligibilitycenter.org. twelfth grade making the final decision 20 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?” Mark 8:36 application process 21 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. application process 22 essay 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! application process 23 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 through him.” Colossians 3:17 application process 24 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. networking 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 difference. 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. financial assistance 25 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. financial assistance 26 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 straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 junior timeline 27 september february • 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. october march • 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 Night. april • 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 need it. • Consider volunteering your time somewhere. This is a may character building experience, plus it is very impressive • Finish strong! to colleges. • 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. december • Results of the PSAT will be available in mid-December. june • 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 january 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? senior timeline 28 september january • 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. october • 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. november april • 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. private scholarships. • 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! december • 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. college resources 29 www.collegeboard.org 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. www.actstudent.org 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. www.christiancollegeguide.net 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. www.cfnc.org This site is devoted to colleges in North Carolina. It also includes career and financial aid information. www.collegeview.com 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. www.nextstepu.com This site offers articles on choosing the college that best suits you and articles on paying for college. www.princetonreview.com 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 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 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.
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