FALL SEMESTER, SENIOR YEAR:
- Look at the Hillsborough County Public School’s “Precollege Checklist for Senior Students” for ideas. It can be found on their website under the tab “Departments” and then the link “Guidance”.
- Look at the website for the new way of applying to University of Florida and approximately 50 other universities: http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/why.html. This application is called the Coalition for College Access and Success and it includes a “virtual locker” for you to store your achievements, a “collaboration platform” and an “application portal”.
- Narrow down your choice of colleges. Many students create a college list that includes at least 1 or 2 “safety” schools (in which you believe you exceed the requirements), 2 to 4 “probable” schools (in which you believe you meet the requirements), and 1 or 2 “reach” schools (in which you believe you have a smaller chance to get in).
- Ask yourself the following questions about the type of college to apply to: Do you want to commute from home or live away? Do you want to attend a two-year or a four-year college? Do you prefer a large, medium, or small sized school? Does the school offer your major? How much does it cost to attend? Does the school offer scholarships?
- Look through the websites that offer information on colleges. There are some excellent websites (e.g., http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/; www.collegeboard.org; www.actstudent.org; etc.), books and pamphlets in the CUBE (e.g., Colleges that Make a Difference, The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, etc.), and check out college guides from the media center or your public library.
- Robinson has many College Reps coming to the school this fall. Check your Edsby account for the list of colleges that have admissions representatives that are visiting. You have to sign up in the guidance office and meet the minimum GPA level in order to receive a pass from Mrs. Wright, your College and Career Counselor.
- Explore College Websites: Just to learn more about the college application process, log onto the websites of some colleges you might be interested in attending and read through their application processes.
- Attend a College Night: These are held usually during the final week of September at several public high schools in the Tampa area.
- Visit the colleges you are considering for a tour and an informational session. Or, check out the college’s website and take a virtual tour of campus.
- If you are planning to take another ACT/SAT, register for the ACT/SAT and study for the ACT/SAT Register for SAT Subject Tests if required by the colleges you are applying to (you can find out by looking on the college’s admissions website).
- Check with Mrs. George in the IB office, Mrs. Wright in the Guidance office, or your Edsby account for college visits and scholarship opportunities on a regular basis.
- More options for merit-based scholarships: Visit the financial aid page on each college’s website, Hillsborough County School’s scholarship matrix at http://guidanceservices.mysdhc.org/matrix/scholarshipmatrix.pdf, Bright Futures info at www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org, and sign up for scholarship search engines (e.g., fastweb.com, scholarships.com, cappex.com).
- Scholarship deadlines in the fall: “Big name” top scholarships with fall deadlines include Questbridge (late Sept), Barnes (mid-Oct), Coca-Cola (end of Oct), Ronald McDonald HACER (mid-Dec), and Gates (mid-Jan). Full-ride scholarships that require nominations (usually in the fall) from Mrs. George/Mrs. Wright include UVA’s Jefferson Scholarship (deadline December), Duke’s and UNC Chapel Hill’s Robertson Scholarship (deadline Nov. 15), Washington University St. Louis’s Danforth Scholarship (deadline Nov. 15), and Davidson’s Belk Scholarship (deadline Nov. 6). Emory, Boston University, Tufts, and others also have nomination scholarships that cover full cost of attendance – check their websites for details about deadlines. Hillsborough Education Foundation applications generally open in mid-Nov and can be accessed at www.educationfoundation.com.
Start the application process:
- Begin the application process as early as possible, paying attention to priority deadlines (see below). The application process usually has a few steps. These are the typical steps: Fill out online application, send in application fees or fee waiver, complete college essays and resume, send transcripts or complete the SSAR, and finally, send ACT/SAT scores directly to the schools (they don’t appear on your transcript sent by Robinson!).
- In mid-August or September, you can start applying to UF as well as many other Florida universities with rolling admissions. It’s good to begin applying to all colleges with rolling admissions in the first few months of the fall semester.
- Check the websites of the colleges where you are applying to see if they ask for letters of recommendation. Some colleges only require a letter from the School Counselor, some ask for one or two from an academic teacher – sometimes in a specific subject. Many colleges don’t require any letters of recommendation.
- Choose a teacher from junior year or a teacher who has known you for a while, especially if he/she has known you outside of the classroom. The most important factor is that you choose a teacher who can be enthusiastic about writing a letter for you.
- Before you ask the teacher(s), fill out the Student Activity Resume (SAR) on pages 10-11 of the Junior Handbook. Fill out the Recommendation Request Form (attached) and make a copy of both forms.
- Next, talk to the teacher(s) you have identified. First, ask if they would consider writing you a letter of recommendation. If so, hand them a copy of the SAR and the Recommendation Request Form so they will have more information with which to write the letter.
- After they have written the letter(s), send them a hand-written thank you card.
- On October 1, 2016 the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be available. This is the online form to apply for many types of financial aid. It uses information from parents’ income tax return from 2015 (the one that was most likely filed in April, 2016). A new feature of the FAFSA allows parents to “populate” their forms with information from their tax return, simplifying the process of applying for financial aid.
- In October, the first priority college application deadline is usually October 15 (FSU). You’ll know about their decision before the end of the year.
- In addition, the Hillsborough Education Foundation Scholarships open in the middle of November (www.educationfoundation.com). They close their application process usually at the end of January.
- In November, UF application deadline is November 1 (applications open in mid-August, and it’s good to get your application in early). Also on Nov. 1 is the priority deadline for the application to New College of Florida (Sarasota) as well as the scholarship deadline Florida International University (Miami) and Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Myers). November 15 is the Early Action/Early Decision deadline for many other private colleges. Look at their websites.
- In December, the Bright Futures Scholarship application is available online on Dec. 1 (www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org). In addition, the merit scholarship deadline for University of North Florida (Jacksonville) is Dec. 15. Rolling admissions end on December 31 for UCF.
- Submit your transcripts in a timely way. Remember that the school is closed between December 16, 2016 and January 3, 2017. Since many colleges have deadlines on January 1, make sure you request that your transcripts get sent in the beginning of December. In addition, make sure you have requested that your SAT and/or ACT scores get sent from College Board (SAT) and ACT. There is a charge for sending these scores if you didn’t request this when you took the tests.
- In January, priority deadlines for merit scholarships are usually January 1 (UWF), January 1 (USF), January 15 (FAU). Regular (non-priority) deadlines for admissions are January 15 (FSU). Check the websites of these universities to find the exact dates.
- Continue to apply to other 4-year colleges with deadlines in 2017.
- Send mid-year reports if needed/required to the colleges you have applied to. Check the websites of the universities you have applied to in order to determine if they are necessary.
- Be aware of deadlines for college applications and scholarships.
- Some colleges will begin to send admissions decisions letters. Remember that all acceptances are contingent upon your successful completion of the final semester of your senior year.
- Keep Mrs. George and Mrs. Wright advised of college acceptances, scholarships and awards.
- Many colleges notify students of their decisions (either accepted, wait-listed, or denied) within the week surrounding April 1. As you make your decision about which college to attend, make sure to notify all the colleges at which you were accepted of your final decision.
- Be sure to send any deposits that are due to the colleges, as well as any other college forms (housing contracts, food service, etc.).