College Application Timeline: Robinson IB Class of 2016
• What to do now: 1) Fill out the Recommendation sheet (located on the Robinson College webpage at http://robinsonhs.mysdhc.org/robinsoncollege/). Please turn in the completed form to Mrs. George by Friday, June 5 in order to help her get a jump start on writing Counselor recommendations for you. 2) Ask your parent(s) to send in a letter describing your strengths, interests, and what makes you special to Mrs. George at firstname.lastname@example.org. The questions appear at the end of this form. Please ask your parent(s) to send it in before September. 3) If you are applying to colleges that require letters of recommendation, this is the time to ask two teachers if they will write you a letter. Also, be sure to let Mrs. George know if you want her to write a letter of recommendation.
• This summer To Do List, Item 1: Explore colleges you might be interested in attending. You can do this on line or schedule on-campus visits to colleges to narrow down your choices to a good balance of “likely – possible – reach” colleges. Many students like to choose 1 to 3 likely schools (where your GPA and SAT/ACT are on the high end of a recently admitted freshman class), 2 to 4 possible schools (where your numbers put you in the middle range of admitted freshmen), and 1 to 3 reach schools (where your GPA/test scores place you on the lower end of previously admitted students).
• Good college search tools: College Board: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search, College Navigator by the US Dept. of Education website http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/; ACT website: www.actstudent.org, etc.); and many others – for example, www.cappex.com allows you to determine your chances of admission based on GPA and scores.
• This summer To Do List, Item 2: Narrow down your list of colleges: Think about your fit with each college in four different ways – 1) Physical fit – in Florida or out of state, distance from home, urban vs. rural, climate, campus size; 2) Academic fit – selectivity, majors and specialties, class size, research and internships, graduation rates, career placement; 3) Social fit – campus life, athletics, organizations and clubs, diversity; and 4) Financial fit – go to each college’s website to access their net price calculator, expected cost of attendance, and scholarships.
• This summer To Do List, Item 3: Write a rough draft of your Common App essay: The prompts for the new Common App essays are listed below. Summer is a good time to look at the Common App website at https://www.commonapp.org. Review all the great resources on this website, including the grid that lists the application deadlines and requirements for the over 500 colleges that accept the Common App. You can start applying to these colleges when the Common App opens up their website for applications during the middle or end of summer.
• This summer To Do List, Item 4: Learn about how to apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships: Follow this link to a great explanation of financial aid and the steps you’ll need to take to apply: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college. Learn the difference between need based vs. merit based aid. For need-based aid, you will need to complete a FAFSA in order to qualify for Pell Grants, work-study, loans, etc. You will apply for need based financial aid starting on January 1 of your senior year at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
• More options for merit-based scholarships: For merit based aid – visit each college’s website financial aid page, Hillsborough County School’s website 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).
• In the fall, pay attention to college application deadlines: Many Florida public universities have rolling admission – FAU, FGCU, FIU, UCF, UNF, UWF – it’s best to apply as early as possible! Interesting fact: the only Florida public university that accepts the Common App is New College. Public university deadlines that often surprise students: FSU usually around Oct. 15, UF usually around Nov. 1. Early Action/Early Decision colleges (many private and selective colleges) often have deadlines around Nov. 1 or Nov. 15. Many colleges have regular action deadlines in early January. Check each college’s websites for specific deadlines.
• 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). Hillsborough Education Foundation applications generally open in mid-Nov and can be accessed at www.educationfoundation.com.
2015-16 Common Application Essay Prompts
There have been changes to the language from last year’s essay prompts. New language appears in italics:
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
University of Florida Essay Topic from 2014-15 (essay is required)
Your essay is a very important part of your application. What you provide helps the university know you as an individual, independent of grades, test scores and other objective data.
Please submit one essay. Remember to keep within the 500-word maximum length. (The counter on the page counts down from the 3885-CHARACTER limit, which is approx. 450 words with room for spacing between paragraphs.)
In the space provided, please write a concise narrative in which you describe a meaningful event, experience or accomplishment in your life and how it will affect your college experience or your contribution to the UF campus community. You may want to reflect on your ideas about student responsibility, academic integrity, campus citizenship or a call to service.
Florida State University (FSU) Essay Topic from 2014-15 (essay is required)
This year’s essay is described below and should be no longer than 500 words.
Florida State University is more than just a world-class academic institution preparing you for a future career. We are a caring community of well-rounded individuals who embrace leadership, learning, service, and global awareness. With this in mind, which of these characteristics appeals most to you, and why?
University of Central Florida Optional Essay Topic from 2014-15 (essay is not required, but strongly recommended):
Although optional, the essay assists the UCF Admissions Committee in knowing you as an individual, independent of test scores and other objective data. We ask that you respond to two of the topics below. Your responses should be no longer than a total of 500 words or 7,000 characters.
1. If there has been some obstacle or bump in the road in your academic or personal life, please explain the circumstances.
2. How has your family history, culture, or environment influenced who you are?
3. Why did you choose to apply to UCF?
4. What qualities or unique characteristics do you possess that will allow you to contribute to the UCF community?
Harvard Supplemental Essay Topics (from 2014-15)
Harvard Supplement Additional Essays
You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:
• Unusual circumstances in your life
• Travel or living experiences in other countries
• A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
• How you hope to use your college education
• An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science, or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
• What you would want your future college roommate to know about you?
The Stanford Writing Supplement Short Essays
Candidates respond to all three essay topics. (250 word limit for each essay.)
1. Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
2. Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
3. What matters to you, and why?
Mrs. George’s request for a letter from junior parents
This is optional. Please help me write my Counselor report for your son or daughter’s college applications. Together with the letters of recommendation that teachers will be writing on your child’s behalf, the goal of the Counselor report is to present as holistic a portrait of your child as possible. Please answer the following questions and elaborate as much as you’d like to. I will assume that you have shared what you’ve written with your son or daughter unless you tell me otherwise. Please send in the answers to these questions over the summer, by emailing them to me at email@example.com.
1) Describe one or two major events that you see as turning points in your son or daughter’s development, and explain why you view each as such.
2) His/her high school career has been pleasurable because…..
3) I am most proud of my child when he/she…..(provide specific anecdotes, if possible)
4) Here is a description of things a college should know about my son/daughter, especially unique characteristics or experiences:
5) Are there any family-related factors that will influence your child’s decision about where to go to college? Include information about legacy, geography, family in the area, etc.
6) Is there anything else you believe would be good for me to know about your son/daughter?