Applying to College Tips/Questions

Selecting and applying to colleges may seem to be a daunting task. Choosing your "home away from home" for the next several years is a big personal and financial decision. As your school counselor, I understand the anxiety these decisions may create for both you and your parents. I’d like to share some information with you to ease the process.

What criteria do colleges use to accept applicants?
In general, colleges consider four parts of your application in determining acceptance:

  • Transcript: Grades, Quality of coursework & GPA are most important.
  • Extracurricular Activities/Work Experience/Volunteer & Community Service
  • Recommendations/Honors/Awards
  • Application Essay: If applicable

What college entrance exams are sometimes used for admissions?
1. The SAT is a total scale ranging from 400 to 1600, the essay is now optional, and there are no penalty points taken for incorrect answers.There are also SAT II exams, designed to evaluate greater depth of knowledge in a particular subject area.

2. American College Test (ACT) is composed of four tests: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36 points. The ACT composite score, also based on a 1-36 scaled score, is an average of the four test scores. There is also an optional ACT Writing Test, which is combined with the English Test to also yield a score based on a scale of 1-36 points.

How do I know which college entrance exam to take?
Most colleges accept either the SAT I or ACT scores as part of the admission process. Some students choose to take both exams to give themselves the best opportunity for their highest possible score and/or to qualify for certain scholarships. Community colleges do not require scores but may use them for merit scholarships. Research your colleges exam requests.

What are Associate, Bachelor, Masters, PHD Degrees?
Associate Degrees are awarded following the completion of a two-year program of study. Bachelor Degrees are awarded following the completion of a four-year program of study. Masters Degrees follow the completion of a program of study beyond Bachelor Degrees - A PHD degree is awarded after the completion of a doctoral program- length may vary.

How will I pay for college?
Students pay for college with a combination of savings and financial aid (loans, grants, scholarships). It is extremely important that you and your parent(s) complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and NYS TAP (Tuition Assistance Program). All financial aid applicants must complete these online. Many colleges will not offer their private scholarships to you unless you've applied for whatever "free" money is available to you through New York State (if applicable) and the U.S. Government.

SCHOLARSHIPS:Look at the link on our website to our scholarship page.

What other helpful suggestions can you recommend for me?

SAT and ACT: There is online prep help and practice on both sites and additional preparation materials may be purchased at local bookstores that can be a great help in preparing for the exams.

Begin a list of your activities, honors, and unique experiences both inside and outside of school. Include sports, clubs, work experience, church activities, summer camps, community service, etc. Add to this list annually.

Begin a portfolio if you are pursuing a career in an Art or Architecture field.

Seeking recruitment for a college sport? Share your interest with myself and your coach and get suggestions and support. NCAA Freshman Eligibility Standards: Division I sports guidelines

Begin exploring colleges now. Use the Internet links on my web page to explore, as well as requesting information directly from the colleges. Our school counseling office has some college/major search books to share with you as well.

VISIT, VISIT, VISIT Colleges or Technical schools you are interested in!


  • 10th grade: Take the PRE-ACT. This is a good preparation for the ACT and an opportunity to take a career interest inventory.
  • Fall of 11th grade: Take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT). This is a good preparation for the SAT and is also the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship. To register, sign up in the counseling office and pay the fee.
  • College Visits-Ongoing
  • Spring of 11th grade  SAT SCHOOL DAY HERE @ TOW!
  • May, June, 11th grade: Take the SAT Take SAT II Exams??
  • April & June, 11th grade: Take ACT. Register early!


  • Summer/Fall: Begin College Application Process. Apply to colleges and make your goal to be done before Thanksgiving or December 1st. Be aware of your colleges' deadlines... especially if you are thinking about Early Decision (see Mrs. Griffin prior to deciding about ED) or Early Action.
  • Retake SAT I, ACT, SAT II Exams, if necessary.
  • AFTER OCTOBER 1st: Begin the Financial Aid Process: FAFSA & TAP
  • Ongoing...Mostly in the Spring: Apply for Local Scholarships


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