- RECOMMENDED WEBSITES FOR COLLEGE EXPLORATION
- ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
- 6 STEPS TO GAINING ADMISSION INTO COLLEGE
- IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT COLLEGE FOR YOU
Work hard for good grades.
Enroll in challenging courses.
Spend time preparing for the college entrance exams (SAT or the ACT and SAT Subject Tests).
Polish your writing skills.
Establish relationships with teachers and advisors who can write strong letters of recommendation for you.
Get involved in activities, community service, or work experiences that will enable you to display your values, talents, and skills.
The process of choosing a college can be overwhelming? Below are a few suggested tips provided from the College Board website -
Identify Your Priorities
Think about who you are and what you're looking for in a college. Make a list of what's most important to you - here are some things to consider
- Affiliation - Public or Private? Independent or Religion Affiliated?
- Size of the Student Body - Size will affect many of your opportunities and experiences, including: Range of academic majors offered, Extracurricular activities, Amount of personal attention you'll receive, When considering size, look beyond the raw number of students attending; a large school may offers some smaller departments or learning communities. Investigate not just the ratio of faculty to students, but how accessible faculty are.
- Location - Do you want to visit home frequently, or do you want to experience a new part of the country? Perhaps you want a city or urban location with access to museums, major league sports, or ethnic foods. Or maybe you prefer easy access to the outdoors or the culture of a small college town?
- Campus Life - Consider what life will be like beyond the classroom. Aim for a balance between academics, activities, and social life. Consider what extracurricular activities, athletics, and special interest groups are available? Does the community around the college offer interesting outlets for students and are students welcomed by the community? Think about the geographic, ethnic, racial and religious diversity of the students. How do fraternities and sororities influence campus life? How are dorms assigned? Is Housing guaranteed - and for how many years?
- Academic Programs - If you know what you want to study, research reputations of academic departments by talking to people in the fields that interest you. If you are undecided, relax and pick an academically balanced institution that offers a range of majors and programs.
- Athletic Programs - If you are an Athlete, which sports are offered and what Division?
- Accreditation - Accreditation is a voluntary process of review and self-regulation by members of an accrediting agency. Accreditation ensures that the institution meets the basic standards of that particular Agency in their administrative procedures, physical facilities and the quality of their academic programs. There are many regional and national accrediting agencies with varying standards. Colleges accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education meet the basic standards for college-level study, their students can apply for Federal Financial Aid and/or federal education tax breaks, and the degree you will earn at the end of your studies will be recognized by future employers.
- Admission Requirements - Required Course work, Tests, GPA?
- Selectivity - How many students apply each year and how many are accepted? What are the average GPA and Test Scores for those accepted?
- Retention and Graduation Rates - Learn the percent of students who return after the first year and the percent of entering students who remain to graduate. Comparatively good retention and graduation rates are indicators that responsible academic, social, and financial support systems exist for most students.
- If the Campus or Major is impacted due to overcrowding, what is the likelihood of getting the courses I need and what is the projected time required to complete the degree program?
- What is the school's policy regarding Advanced Placement high school courses?
- As a freshman, will I be taught by Professors or Teaching Assistants?
- Is the surrounding community safe?
- Can I Afford this College? Today's college price tags make cost an important consideration for most students. Most colleges work to ensure that academically qualified students from every economic circumstance can find financial aid.
Attend College Fairs - Pick up catalogs and brochures, talk to representatives and other students, and feel like you're officially starting the search process.
Attend "College Preview Days" or "Open House" Events and Information Nights - Generally held in the Fall (for seniors) and Spring (for Juniors), these events provide prospective students and parents the opportunity to obtain information and get answers to questions about institutions, their admissions process, financial aid, programs and much more. Preview Days and Open House Events are held at the individual campuses. Information Nights are generally held at a location (such as a Hotels, Public Libraries and Selected High School Campuses) and typically are given by Colleges and Universities located outside of our region or state. Many of the Information Nights are held in the Sacrament and San Francisco areas.
View College Websites and Guidebooks - These resources provide a wealth of information about majors and programs offered, activities, campus life and often Virtual Campus Tours.
Attend Presentations by visiting Admissions Representatives in the Sheldon Career Center - See Ms. Hobart in the Career Center for a calendar of which campuses will be visiting Bear Creek. Presentations generally begin in late September and continue through early November.
Schedule Campus Visits - You've heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words." Well, a campus visit is worth a thousand brochures. Nothing is better than visiting and walking around a campus to get a feel for it. Campus visits are a chance to see the campus and its dorms, libraries, and other facilities in person, talk to admissions officers, observe classes, talk to students about student life (clubs, fraternities, sororities, etc), and much more. Visiting may even make you think of needs you didn't know you had.
Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization started by Salman Khan in 2008.
Khan Academy's mission is to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. All resources are completely free forever, regardless of whether you're a student, teacher, home-schooled, principal, or adult returning to the classroom after 20 years.
Online materials cover subjects ranging from math and finance to history and art. With thousands of bite-sized videos, step-by-step problems and instant data, Khan Academy provides a rich and engaging learning experience. You can earn points and gadgets along the way, and coach others as well. Sign up and take the math pretest, then practice and level up your skills! Or choose from thousands of lessons to learn something new. Then on your profile, select your avatar and show off your badges.
Where Do I Begin? How Should I Get Started?
- What is this Financial Aid Thing Anyway?
- GET HELP WITH FAFSA, DREAM ACT & CAL GRANT APPLICATIONS!
What Is Financial Aid?
Any money from outside the family that pays postsecondary (college) expenses
Understanding College Costs
• More than just tuition:
Also includes room and board, books, transportation, personal expenses, etc.
• Vary by type of college:
Community colleges are less expensive than four- year schools
Private colleges can be more expensive than public colleges
• Look at costs over a child’s entire postsecondary education
Four to six years total
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
• Amount family can reasonably be expected to contribute, but not what the family will pay to the college
• EFC the same regardless of what college the student attends
• Calculated using a federal form and formula
What Is Financial Need?
• Difference between college costs and EFC
• Will vary by college
• Amount of financial need determines the aid a student will receive
Types of Financial Aid
Awarded on the basis of merit or unique characteristics; does not have to be paid back
Awarded on the basis of financial need; does not have to be paid back
Considered self-help aid
Must be paid back, usually after student finishes school
Many different types
A good investment in child’s future
Earnings used to cover college expenses
Sources of Financial Aid
• Federal government
Largest source of financial aid
Awarded mainly on the basis of financial need
Apply every year using a standard form
Offer both merit-based and need-based aid (CalGrant Program; http://www.csac.ca.gov/)
Usually have residency requirements
Varies widely from college to college
Offer both merit-based and need-based aid
May be offered as part of the admissions process
• Private sources
Churches, civic organizations, and employers
Varying award amounts and application procedures
Small awards add up
How to Apply for Financial Aid
• Complete a standard federal form every year
• Standard federal form is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) www.fafsa.ed.gov
CA High School Seniors file between January 1st and March 2nd of Senior Year.
Collects demographic and financial information about the student and his or her family
Data used to calculate the EFC
• File the CalGrant GPA Verification Form by March 2nd of the senior year for CalGrant consideration
• Information from the FAFSA may be used by states, colleges, and private sources to award aid
• Ask colleges if other forms are required - Many Private schools require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
https://profileonline.collegeboard.com/prf/index.jsp in addition to the FAFSA.
Federal Financial Aid Programs
• Federal grant programs
Federal Pell Grant
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
• Federal loan programs
Federal Perkins Loan Program (borrowed by students)
Stafford Loans (borrowed by students)
PLUS Loans (borrowed by parents and graduate students)
• Federal employment programs
Federal Work-Study (student earns money through a campus provided job to help pay for education)
Estimating Eligibility Using FAFSA4caster
• On-line tool developed by U.S. Department of Education to help families financially prepare for college
Asks for data provided on the FAFSA
Estimates the EFC
Estimates eligibility for federal financial aid
• Estimates possible financial aid at various types of colleges
• Gives an idea of realistic costs, financial need, and financial aid
Researching Financial Aid
• Begin early
• Find scholarships that match student’s academic interests, hobbies, and unique characteristics
• Don’t pay for scholarship searches
• Be wary of promised results
• Report fraud
What to Do Now
• Begin researching financial aid options
• Start saving
• Encourage child to take college prep classes
• Share information with student
• Encourage student to participate in extracurricular activities
Develop leadership skills
• Help child develop strong study skills
student's Social Security card and drivers license (or government issued ID) if available
parent's Social Security card (if available)
parent's federal income tax return or W-2 forms from tax year 2016
records of untaxed income such as child support, TANF, interest income, veterans non-education benefits, Social Security benefits
student W-2 forms, pay records or records of income earned during 2016
bank account records or statements
records of stocks, bonds or investments
if not a US citizen, bring alien registration card (if available)
a list of the colleges you are interested in
High school graduates may decide that they want to find full-time employment and start bringing home a regular paycheck. Certain things should be done before beginning the job hunt.
With some of the initial work out of the way, it is time to start getting organized.
You can see the entire guide along with some of its features here:
Research the college using their website and/or catalog. It is always useful to know some specifics about the school ahead of time. It can help focus on what you want to learn about the college and can facilitate good questions.
Bring an official transcript with you.
Find out the average GPA and SAT/ACT test scores for entering freshmen.
Ask if they have an Honors program and the criteria used to place students in that program. Students in Honors programs often have priority registration and housing. Their class sizes are sometimes much smaller and are taught by their top professors.
Try to meet with a member of the department your student is interested in majoring in. This can often be a key factor when trying to decide between colleges that you are very interested in.
Visit the library.
Visit a dorm. Try to have lunch there. Try to stay there if visiting over night. This will give you a good idea of the general living environment.
Visit the Student Union. Talk to students regarding their experiences regarding class registration, quality of instruction, school safety, social activities, etc.
Check out extracurricular activities or sports that match your interests.
Visit the Career or Job Placement Center. Find out information regarding companies that recruit there and general information about job placement after graduation.
Visit the Financial Aid Office. Find out information about scholarships and the percentage of students receiving financial aid.
Write a thank you note to the person that gave you or organized your visit and to the member of the department you conversed with.