The counselors are pleased with the progress students are making in the college application process. While many students have filed applications for Early Decision, Early Action or rolling admissions, just about all student planning to attend college are now finalizing their lists, completing applications and should be working hard to maintain strong academic records. In addition to our senior guidance seminar session, nearly all seniors have met individually with their counselors to discuss application procedures, essays, and interviews as well as any other concerns. Parents should feel free to call with any questions at any time.
This is a good time to review an application check list with your senior; most colleges provide such a check list as part of the application materials. Students need to be sure they have met all requirements for each application; that they have completed the entire application and essays; that they have requested their SAT and/or ACT scores be sent to any colleges requiring admissions testing; that they have followed procedure and given teachers who are writing their recommendations the required forms; that they have submitted their transcript release form to Ms. Astone in the main office; and that if they are interviewing, the interviews have been scheduled. It is often helpful for all students expecting to apply to college to file at least one application by January 1st (no matter what the dead- line may be) to get the process moving and help make the end of first semester a little less stressful.
Colleges are still visiting South
We encourage the seniors to attend these meetings to meet (sometimes for a second time) the representatives who may be reviewing South students’ applications in their admissions committee meetings. Juniors are welcome to attend these college visits if they do not have a class. The upcoming visits for the week can always be found here.
Applications, Transcripts, and College Lists
As students submit applications in the next several weeks, we urge you to remind them (as we have) that a student’s first transcript release form must be submitted to the Guidance Office by specified deadlines. In the case of a January 1 deadline, we require the transcript release be submitted by December 11. Once your child’s first transcript has already been sent, additional transcript release requests need not meet this two week requirement for notice.
In developing or expanding lists of colleges, it is important for students to apply to colleges in all ranges of selectivity: reach, 50/50, realistic and likely. It is crucial that all the schools on their list be ones the students would gladly attend. Seniors should investigate all of their college choices with careful thought and consideration. For a number of reasons, students sometimes decide to attend a school that is not the most competitive on their list. Therefore they need to make sure that they have given themselves good choices in all ranges. Students should have multiple colleges in their likely range if they want to have several choices in the spring.
Naviance and Application Submission
The Naviance website is available at connection.naviance.com/nshs. Naviance is a web-based platform that allows students and counselors organize information around the college search and college applications. Students applying to Common Application schools must be sure to “match” their Naviance and Common Application accounts and must be sure to complete the FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) waiver.
Tips for Parents of Students with Learning Disabilities
If your child will be looking for academic support in college, his/her search should include an investigation of the support services offered by the colleges your child is considering. When you visit colleges, it is most important to visit the academic support center to see the facilities and meet the staff. Whether designated specifically for learning disabled students or not, many colleges offer very helpful services. It is important to know who will be providing the services — peer tutors or professionally trained LD specialists — and to keep the needs of your child in mind as you choose what colleges would be most appropriate.
It is also important that you are aware of what extra materials are required for admission for students with learning disabilities. You will need to be in communication with your child’s counselor and special educator if he will be applying to colleges as an LD student. If your child is applying to colleges as an LD student, s/he will need to provide any evaluation/assessment information requested to the disability services office at the college or university. Typically, colleges may request a WAIS, a Woodcock-Johnson or WIAT, a writing sample, a copy of your child’s IEP and/or other tests and reports.
NCAA Eligibility Requirements
Any student who is planning to participate in Division I or Division II athletics must be certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse was established as a separate organization by the NCAA member institutions in January 1993. It is the students’ responsibility to make sure that the Clearinghouse has the documents it needs to certify them.
Students should apply for certification before graduation. The Clearinghouse will issue a preliminary certification if a student appears to meet the requirements and will make a final certification decision after reviewing the final transcript. Information explaining the GPA and SAT/ACT requirements, the student release forms, and answers to frequently asked questions are available online at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net.
Financial Aid Information
In October, we hosted the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority (MEFA) for a College Financing workshop in the NSHS Auditorium. Carla Berg Minchello of MEFA and Brown University gave an overview of the entire financial aid process and the financial aid application forms. MEFA is a resource that South families can reach out to at any time. You are also able to reach out to financial aid officers at any college or university for assistance. Please be mindful of financial aid deadlines for the FAFSA, CSS/Profile, and/or institutional financial aid forms to give your child the best opportunity to maximize financial aid awards.
Need vs. Merit
As seniors are completing their applications for college, parents are likely to be focusing on the issue of college costs. Financial aid consists of grants, loans and campus jobs which are provided to students whose parents have demonstrated that they cannot afford the total cost of their child’s college education. Ninety-five percent of the money students receive is awarded on the basis of need, not merit.
Don’t lose heart, however, if you think you may not qualify for need-based aid. There is an increasing amount of merit aid available, particularly from private colleges. These funds are awarded to students in recognition of a particular talent or skill, or to reward them for a high level of academic achievement. Some students find they are eligible for merit scholarships at the colleges in their 50-50, realistic and likely range, as offering money is a way for colleges to draw students who might not otherwise matriculate there.
Options other than college
If you and your child are considering technical schools/colleges or prep schools for a post-graduate year, he or she should meet with his or her counselor to discuss these options. For technical schools and prep schools, the application process is essentially the same as it is for colleges.
Some other students may be considering taking a year off before attending college, and it is important for them to know that they can apply to colleges at this time, be accepted and then defer their matriculation for a year at most colleges. In this way, the student completes the process now when they have all the resources around them and need not go through the application process next year. In addition, should they change their minds, they would have the option to attend college in September 2016. You should be aware that there are many positive options for students who take a year off before college — adventures such as travel, community service, foreign study, or work.
Joining one of the military services may be a good option for some students. They too should work closely with their counselor throughout the year in order for them to be as informed and prepared as possible for the transition to their post-high school experience. It is very important to help your child to consider what is really the best next step for him or her.