Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Applying FAQ!

First off, let me apologize to anyone I've been emailing with that feels like my tone is a little curt - I PROMISE it isn't personal! What you are reading is probably just me trying to shorten an explanation that I've typed a few dozen times that day. So, instead I wanted to post a little 'Applying FAQ' to try and cut down on the emails and to put all of the information in one place.

What is our CEEB Code?


How and when should I send my test scores?

You should order your score reports the minute you officially decide to apply to a school. Even if you don't plan to press submit for a few days or weeks, send your scores ahead of time because it can take between 3 and 6 weeks to process the scores. Your scores are not on your NYC transcript and I will not be sending out unofficial score reports for you. You need to order the official score reports directly from the testing company. Students, you'll need to log into your accounts and follow the prompts to 'order scores.' Each company has a different policy on what scores are included, how much they cost, and when the free score reports expire that came with your registration. Read the directions carefully and all should become clear. Remember, use code 2950 to save on sending scores to CUNY - that one code will allow all 6 of your campuses to see them. I do not recommend 'rushing' scores. They will charge you more and your score will probably not get to your application any faster because rushed scores are sent in on paper. And paper in a mail room of 100,000 pieces of mailed isn't exactly 'rushing' anywhere. Order SAT scores by logging in to your 'organizer' at www.collegeboard.com and ACT scores at www.actstudent.org.

How big is our class? What is my rank? How many credits is the class I'm in?

All of this information can be found on our Class of 2012 Profile (first pdf file in the list). In reference to the ranking, you'll note that our school does not rank. Credits are typically 2.0 for the year for a class that meets daily, but the main idea here is you need to be consistent, so just make sure the proportions are correct on what you are listing and you should be in the clear (ie - you don't list Economics for 2.0 and English 12 for 2.0 since Economics is only half the year and English is the full year).

What do I put for the counselor name/title/phone number/email/fax number/blood type?

This information is listed at the bottom of every single email I send. Use that and you'll be all set! (Don't panic, blood type was a joke).

When should I press submit?

I've requested that seniors please wait to officially press submit until after their senior meeting. The reason for this is I don't want you to have proceeded with a bunch of applications only to realize after our meeting that you need to recenter and make a new plan of action. Students should though be working on the online applications and saving as they go prior to the meeting. HOWEVER, if you didn't schedule your meeting early enough and there are no slots left before your first EA deadline, you can still submit that application. All I ask is that you email me your plan so I can be informed about it. We'll then talk about your full list at your meeting. As a general rule of thumb I would submit applications by the following dates:

  • CUNY - asap, particularly because there is no required essay. I do recommend using up all 6 slots and using the admission table posted online to be sure you have enough target and likely schools.
  • SUNY - No later than Thanksgiving, but earlier is always encouraged. If a school has EA and you feel comfortable with your grades and scores, do it. It isn't binding. For most you can use either the SUNY app or the Common App. They are equivalent.
  • Out of State Public Schools - Varies by deadline, but typically err on the side of earlier being better. Schools like University of Texas, Austin, University of Maryland, Indiana University, and University of Michigan each have 'priority' deadlines that it is really important to meet. It is up to you to know these deadlines and abide by them.
  • Private Schools - Just meet the stated deadline. If you are going EA or ED, this is probably Nov 1 or Nov 15. If you are going RD, this is probably Jan 1 or Jan 15. This will always be posted on the individual school website. Go there to check and make a timeline.
Can you read my essay?

Unfortunately, I'm not in a position where I can read and edit every students essay. I'm of the practice that if I can't do it for everyone, I won't do it for anyone. But this doesn't mean you can't get essay support at school. We have a weekly volunteer, Ms. Taitz, who is a published author and does a great job of giving feedback. We also have two fabulous guidance interns that you can speak to about what you've written. I caution you though, limit the number of editors you use. Going to 5 or 10 people will just muddy the waters. And, if you ask for help be open to feedback. At this point in the year, every single senior should have their essay draft started. 

What do I do after I apply?

Update Naviance and complete a Transcript Request Form. The form is posted online but you can also pick up a hard copy in the guidance office. It is essential that you indicate on Naviance what round of admission you applied. If you don't, your deadlines will appear later than they are and your teachers may not get their letters in on time. You may notice that the form requests 2-3 weeks lead time for your items to be sent. Don't panic, traditionally deadlines are for students, so the school portion can come in a little bit later. Typically, it does not take me 2 weeks to send the documents, but that window is there to insure that you don't wait until the very last minute. If I get 150 transcript requests the day before the deadline, it will naturally take some time for me to get through them. You will always be able to tell the status of your request by logging in to Naviance.

Can I apply to School X if I applied to School Y?

Again, the answer here can be found in the policy of each individual school. Students should be looking at websites to clarify if they don't understand something like a Restricted Early Action policy or an Early Decision policy. I also emailed around this Common App chart to help you break it down.

Also, as a word of gentle caution, please remember that the students are the ones going to college so they should be the one applying. I understand that it will take some major time management and possibly some sacrifices, but students really need to be the ones going through the motions here. Parents, your best role is that of cheerleader. Trust that your students are independent enough to complete these applications on their own. Reminding them is great and sitting by their side as they do it is also great. Checking it over after they complete it is great.  But doing it for them won't help them 12 months from now when they truly are on their own. I know it is tempting, but please let them be the ones to do the heavy lifting.

So what can parents do now?

The most important thing parents can do, other than be supportive and help calm the student down if they are stressed, is usually to organize the financial aid process. Some private schools may require the 2012-2013 CSS Profile. Some EA/ED private schools may even require the CSS Profile by November 1. Because so many financial documents are involved, it is a good idea for the parents to take the lead on this piece of the process.