A Parent’s Informal Guide to the College Application Process Sarah Kim Mason Former President, SAGT Parent of CISD graduates and current CISD student Disclaimer: This is based on personal experience and is not intended to replace any policies or recommendations of Carroll ISD. Acronyms to Know SAT PSAT NMSQT ACT AP Pre-AP SAT Scholastic Aptitude Exam PSAT Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Exam NMSQT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test ACT American College Testing AP Advanced Placement Pre-AP Pre-Advanced Placement Timelines 9th Grade PSAT in October College visits whenever possible th 10 Grade Summer: PSAT prep College Visits Collect college materials Attend College Fairs th 11 Grade Summer: PSAT prep October: PSAT will be administered to all Juniors Continue college visits and attendance at college fairs Why is the PSAT such a big deal?? The PSAT/NMSQT scores are used to identify participants for National Merit program recognition. National Merit Program Status Commended Students Approximately 2/3 of the top 50,000 PSAT scores will receive letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise, but they will not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships. National Merit Program Status Semifinalist Approximately 1/3 of the top 50,000 PSAT scores will be notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists. Semifinalists are the highest scoring entrants in each state and are notified through their schools. They are eligible to advance in the competition for National Merit Scholarships in the following year. National Merit Program Status This is not intended to predict future success of probability of qualifying for the National Merit Program. This is FYI ONLY! Commended Scores Selection Index Scores have historically ranged from 200-215 Semifinalist Scores Selection Index Scores have historically ranged from around 220 and above A Note about Standardized Testing Accommodations For students with a disability and served either by Special Education or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, certain testing accommodations or modifications may be possible depending on the severity of the condition or disability. Class Rank Does it still matter? CISD elected not to rank students like many other high performing districts in Texas. However, the 10% of the graduating class is, by Texas law, guaranteed admission to a state school with the exception of UT Austin (which is only required to automatically accept the top 7%) Class Rank How important is it? A 2009 Princeton study of Texas students was consistent with previous national studies from 1988 (Crouse and Trusheim) and 2002 (Pike) that a student’s class rank in high school was a better indicator of academic success in college than test scores, regardless of socioeconomic status or high school size. Class Rank Let’s look at some profiles of college freshman admitted in the top 10% of their class: Harvard 95% Stanford 81% Vanderbilt 90% University of Texas 73% Texas A&M University 54% University of Oklahoma 18% (based on entering class of 2011) So what can help your GPA? In Carroll ISD Pre-AP courses 7 grade points are added to course grade AP courses 10 grade points are added to the course grade GPA Calculation In Carroll ISD GPA calculation begins in 9th grade with the exception of Health and Spanish I which can be taken in 8th grade. (These are also on-level courses which do not carry any extra grade points) GPA Calculation In Carroll ISD Weighted GPA’s are not recorded on student transcripts but included for purposes or calculating class rank. Some universities, however, “strip” extra grade points when evaluating student applications. Besides extra grade points, why should I take an AP class? AP courses show rigor of an academic program All AP courses follow the same curriculum across the country. Passing AP exams may earn college credits which saves college tuition. But I am applying to colleges that do not accept AP exams for credit. It will be a waste of my time if I have to work that hard! Remember, AP courses earn 10 extra grade points that are averaged into the GPA. AP exam scores help place students when planning college schedules. AP exam scores earn recognition: Distinguished AP Scholar, National AP Scholar AP Exam Scores Based on scores 1-5 3 is passing Many colleges only accept scores of 4 or 5 ACT v. SAT The ACT is composed of English, Reading, Math, and Science sections as well as an optional Writing section. Scores are reported as a standard score and percentile score. The SAT is composed of English, Math, and Writing sections. Each section has a maximum of 800 points for a possible total score of 2400. ACT and SAT Prep Courses Do they help? TestWise by Betty Harris Karen Dillard College Prep C2 Timarron Prep Huntington Stanley Kaplan Princeton Review SAT and ACT practice books Private Tutors This is NOT an all inclusive list of prep courses “The SAT is not a measure of your intelligence but a measure of your stamina and concentration.” -CISD graduate and Commended Merit Student The bottom line…. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE Choosing Colleges -Check with the guidance office! -Make a list of colleges in preferential order. -Check which colleges have a “Common App” -Common Application Keep track of colleges and deadlines School Stanford USC Claremont/McKenna/Scripps Harvey Mudd George Washington U American University Wash Univ. St. Louis Duke UNC U Penn NYU UT Austin SMU OU App Deadline App Fee Scholarship Deadline Teacher Recommendation Essay Comp? App Submitted Status Teacher/Counselor/Administrator Recommendations -Make sure that you ask someone that knows your academic record. -Ask early, preferably in the summer! -Include a cover letter, timeframe for completion, and resume with clear descriptions of academic record and extracurricular activities. CISD Student Address Southlake, TX 76092 Cell numberHome number Email Address Education Carroll Senior High School Southlake, Texas Class of 2010 Class rank: 66 out of 647; top 11% SAT: Reading 690, Math 750, Writing 640 ACT: Composite Score 32; 98%ile AP Exam Scores 2008 2009 2009 2009 2009 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010 World History US History English Language/Com Calculus AB Physics B Biology Economics-Mac English Literature/Comp Government and Poli Sci Calculus BC Activities Carroll Varsity Swim and Dive Team 2008-present 4 year letterman District finalist 2006-2009, Regional Finalist 2006-2009 Carroll Senior High Drumline, Marching Band 2006-2010 Section Leader 2007-2009 Carroll Senior High Student Council National Honor Society, member Spanish Honor Society, member 5 5 3 5 5 5 5 4 4 5 Volunteer and Work Experience Jamba Juice, Southlake Town Square 2009-present GRACE volunteer Grapevine Relief and Community Relief Food Pantry volunteer Honors and Awards National Merit Commended Student Division I Rating State Percussion Solo 2007 Division I Rating State Percussion Ensemble 2007 Division I Rating State Percussion Solo 2008 Division I Rating State Percussion Ensemble 2008 Division I Rating State Percussion Solo 2009 Division I Rating State Percussion Solo 2010 Division I Rating State Percussion Ensemble 2010 Texas Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association State finalist 2009 1 meter Diving Texas UIL Diving District Finalist 2007, 2008, 2009 Texas UIL Diving Regional Finalist 2007, 2008,2009 Academic All-American Swimming and Diving 2010 American Legion Texas Boys State Representative 2009 AP Scholar with Distinction 2009 AP National Scholar 2010 Recommendations Continued -Include exact descriptions of activities and information as needed -Follow up with a thank you note and small gift of appreciation Essays -Read and answer the prompt concisely. -College admission officers have all communicated the same message: “We want to get to know the student. We want to know if this student is a good fit with this school.” Essays Helpful hints: -Write about what you know -Read or learn about the school’s mission statement or school philosophy. -How do your activities, academic interests, etc. fit with the school’s mission? How would you fit in as a student at this school? Other items to consider: -SAT subject tests -Language placement tests -FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) -Scholarships Apply early! -Service Academies require a nomination by a US Congressman, Senator, the President, or Vice-President (US Air Force Academy, US Naval Academy, US Military Academy, US Merchant Marine Academy, US Coast Guard Academy---no congressional nomination required) Helpful websites: www.collegeboard.com www.nationalmerit.org www.fafsa.ed.gov www.fastweb.com Books: A is for Admission by Michele Hernandez US News and World Report Best Colleges College Essays that Made a Difference (Princeton Review) Thank you! To contact me: [email protected] References Crouse, James and Dale Trusheim, 1988. The Case Against the SAT. Chicago, IL and London, UK: The University of Chicago Press . Niu, Sunny X. and Marta Tienda, 2009. Testing, Ranking, and College Performance: Does High School Matter? Princeton University. Pike, Gary. R. and Joseph L. Saupe, 2002. Does High School Matter? An Analysis of Three Methods of Predicting First-Year Grades, Research in Higher Education 43:187-207.