College Counseling

Timelines
Freshman Year - College Awareness Class
Sophomore Year - SAT / ACT Prep
Junior Year - Countdown to College
Senior Year - Individual and classroom style college counseling throughout the year
 
What are colleges looking for in you? 
- GPA (an upward trajectory)
- Course - Load
- Character
- SAT / ACT Scores
- Leadership
- Recommendations from Faculty
- Extra-curricular Achievements
- Community Involvement
- Special Awards
The Dreaded College Essay
From the College Board, "The National Association for College Admission Counseling's 2011 State of College Admission report found that while grades, strength of curriculum and admission test scores are the top factors in the college admission decision, a majority of colleges and universities believe the essay to be of considerable or moderate importance in determining which academically qualified students they would choose."
 
Typically 3 Types of Essays
- Why You?
Tell us about yourself, don't just re-phrase your resume, pick 1 or 2 things you can provide rich detail on - tell a story only you can tell!
- Why us?
Possible pitfalls - writing about why you like a school and it is not a supported or appropriate reason (the beach, a major they don't even have).
Be genuine - but don't go overboard.
- Creative
Some students try to impress the reviewers and use the creative essay as a license to write in a style that is not appropriate, and even worse, does not adequately answer the prompt .
 
Edits
How many edits are too many and when should you just start over?
Have at least 3 people read your essay (English teacher for grammar and rules, Guidance Counselor for what a college admissions counselor is looking for, and a trusted adult who knows you well).
The essay should be a Polaroid snapshot in words of who you are!
 
Why is the College Essay so Important?
 
Brainstorming Tips for your College Essay
 
Taking your College Essay to the Next Level
 
How to Tell a Unique Story to Admissions
 
Writing a Personal Statement - Different from an Essay

FAFSA

Any students who may be requesting aid, should complete a FAFSA. Many schools cannot provide even merit-based scholarships without a completed FAFSA so this is an incredibly important step! Funds at colleges are also limited on a somewhat "first-come first-serve" basis and disbursed as applications are beginning to come in with an initial pool of funds that diminishes over time, so the sooner students complete the FAFSA the better. Your kids are still way ahead of schedule so please don't panic but please don't wait too long either! Many students qualify for Pell grants and other forms of aid, don't assume you may not qualify.

The FAFSA is a tool that links to federal tax returns to determine a family's projected monetary contributions to pay for college for their child.

To begin, both parents and students need to apply for and obtain an FSA id - this will be your login identification for completing your FAFSA. You can obtain an FSA id at: https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm

Students are the applicants, parents are the parents when applying for this id.

Once you have your FSA id, you can login to https://fafsa.gov/  and complete your FAFSA. Don't be overwhelmed by this document, take your time and if you have questions along the way, there many FAQ options as well as chat options while completing if you need clarification. 

FAQ - https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/fafsa-changes#faq  

This document is a step-by-step process of each individual question if you need clarification along the way - https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2017-18-completing-fafsa.pdf 

You will need access to your 2015 tax returns, and can use an IRS Retrieval Tool that can link your federally filed tax returns to your FAFSA which saves a lot of time in the government verifying your information. I recommend this option as it will automatically populate your tax data for you and reduce the risk of human error.

Make sure your student lists every single school they are applying to so that the FAFSA will also link to those schools. If they list more than 10 schools, the last school listed will bump another school off the list, they can only have 10 total at once.

I found this article really helpful as well - http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/05/before-you-file-the-fafsa-check-for-these-errors.html 

Additionally, some schools like UNC require a student to complete a CSS profile for nonfederal student financial aid eligibility. Here is a list of schools that require a CSS profile: https://profileonline.collegeboard.org/prf/PXRemotePartInstitutionServlet/PXRemotePartInstitutionServlet.srv

If your college or university is on the list, please visit the following website to complete this supplemental tool: https://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile