2. How do I begin the college search?
In the fall of your junior year seek out all sources of information -- counselors, college catalog books, the Guidance Department newsletter "The Guidelight," college guidebooks and career information. Many resources are available in the Guidance Office.
3. Do I need to take any tests to get into college?
Check with your counselor about college admission testing such as the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test), SAT I (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and SAT II (formerly called achievement tests). In the fall of your junior year you will have the opportunity to take the three-hour PSAT test that is comprised of several verbal and math sections. The PSAT serves two purposes: it is used as practice the SAT I and it a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship Competition (to qualify for an award from the National Merit Scholarship Competition you will need a very high grade point average, high SAT scores, and a recommendation from the school. Your selection index score is the sum of your math score plus twice your verbal score.) The SAT I is also a three-hour test, mainly multiple choice, that measures verbal and mathematical abilities. An average score would be approximately 1,000 (500 verbal and 500 math) on a scale of 200 - 800. SAT II tests are given in 13 subjects and last one hour each. Once you receive your standardized test scores you should review them with your counselor. Registration materials and guidebooks for all tests are available all year in the Guidance Office. All registration materials must include the Willingboro High School code,
4. When should I take the SAT I test? We recommend that you take the SAT no later than spring of your junior year. This will enable you to retake the SAT if needed. Most colleges will accept your highest scores when they are reviewing your application. Most studies show that students can significantly raise their scores through review classes.
5. How do I sign up for PSAT and SAT tests? The Alternative School at Bookbinder sponsors the PSAT. Students can sign up in the guidance office after-school with Mrs. Caban. The cost is $20 (Cash or Money Orders payable to Willingboro High School). The SAT test will be given at Willingboro High School, please check with the Guidance department for the most recent dates. Sign up information and other test dates are available in the guidance office or www.collegeboard.com.
6. Does a SAT Prep class really help? Taking advantage of SAT Prep classes should give you a more thorough understanding of the test and may lower your anxiety. Students who understand the test format are more likely to know how to best allocate their time, how to locate questions that are easier, and how to decide whether or not to guess.
7. What about the SAT II test?
Students who apply to highly competitive colleges should think about taking the SAT II while course material is fresh in their mind. Colleges that require SAT II's generally require the SAT II writing test plus two others. We strongly recommend that you take at least two of your SAT II's by the end of your junior year. Students who are in accelerated courses should consider taking an SAT II subject test as early as the end of their sophomore year.
8. I have heard of the ACT. Do I need to take it?
The ACT (American College Test) is America's most widely accepted college entrance exam. It assesses high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. There are two parts to the ACT: Multiple-choice and Writing. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The Writing Test, which is optional, measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. If you are unhappy with your SAT I scores, you may want to consider also taking the ACT.
9. Do colleges visit Willingboro High School?
Yes, quite a few. To increase your knowledge about the college process, we invite all seniors and the 10 percent of the junior class to attend information sessions held by the various college representatives as they visit Willingboro High School throughout the year. The guidance office advertises the times and dates of the various college visitations. See Ms. Sacco in the guidance department for more information.
10. Do colleges only look at grades?
When colleges look at your transcripts (a transcript is the official record of your grades) they put heavy emphasis on the courses you have taken and the grades you have received for the first three years of high school (9th, 10th, 11th). A weighted grade point average is calculated which includes all credit courses taken throughout high school. Class rank is formulated after the GPA is calculated. The courses you select and the grades you achieve are important factors in the college process. A challenging college preparatory program or some advanced placement courses will help you get into more selective colleges. Since some colleges look at more than academic information, it is advisable to build a record of extracurricular activities as well as community involvement.
11. When should I visit a college campus?
The spring and summer of your junior year is the most ideal time to schedule campus visitations. Only by visiting a campus will you be able to discover whether that particular college environment is a good fit for you. If you have an opportunity, an overnight stay will give you a chance to attend classes, talk with students, tour the bookstore and student union. In order to set up a college visitation you must call the specific college admission office. Plan ahead and have a specific date and backup date in mind. Most college visitations are arranged in a group format. If you think you would prefer an individual visitation, be sure to request it. Students are required to print and/or pick up the college visitation form
<<broken link>> from guidance, have all teachers sign the form, and get the college to sign and/or stamp the form and return it to WHS for this to be an excused absence. Students are allowed 3 official college visits.
12. Will I need to include a letter of recommendation with my application?
Most colleges require letters of recommendation to accompany the application. Even if a school doesn't require a letter, we strongly suggest that you include one to strengthen you application. You should choose teachers who know you well and like your work. Don't hesitate to choose any you have had through your high school career, not necessarily your senior teachers. It is important to give those recommending you at least two weeks notice to prepare a draft and thoughtfully compose the letter.
13. What about writing a personal essay?
A college essay is an excellent opportunity to provide the admission personnel information about your particular strengths. According to the
Princeton Review, here are a couple of helpful hints in preparing your essay:
1. Good writing is writing that is easily understood.
2. Avoid the overuse of adjectives, adverbs, big words, the word "however", and exclamation points!!
14. Will I have to schedule an interview to get into college?
Colleges rarely require interviews but it is another opportunity for you to obtain direct information about the school and provide them with a more personal look at yourself. It is strongly recommended.
15. How do I go about the application process for college?
Bring in your completed application and all components, including fees, stamps and envelopes, to your guidance counselor. Make sure you give your counselor everything he or she needs to complete and mail the application. Before mailing, the secretary will include your high school transcript (the official record of your grades). It is to your advantage that we send the entire application packet from the guidance office to ensure that no parts will be lost or missing. Check the deadline for each application so as not to jeopardize your chance for admission. Colleges often start reviewing applications as soon as they receive them. All application packets should be turned in to your counselor no later than 2 weeks prior to the application deadline.
16. How do I qualify for financial aid?
Financial aid is based on your family income the year before you enter college. The first step in accessing financial aid is filling out a
FAFSA application (available in the Guidance Office) in January of your senior year. Specific financial aid information is available in each college catalog.
17. Should I apply for "early decision"?
If you know where you want to go to college, you can apply early decision. This means that you apply to your first choice of colleges approximately by November 1st and you should have a reply around mid December. Words of caution -- if you are accepted through early decision then you are expected to withdraw all other college applications. A few schools offer "early action" which is not as binding as early decision. Be sure to meet with your guidance counselor if you are planning to apply early decision.
18. What if I get on a waiting list?
Let the college know you are still interested in being considered and send an update on your activities. Don't be discouraged because many schools reach in to the waiting list.
19. What do I do once I get accepted?
Once you have been accepted, most colleges want your decision my May 1st of your senior year. When you make your decision to accept a college offer of admission, you will be expected to send a deposit. These fees can range from $150 for a state institution up to several hundred for a privately funded college.