Campus Interview & Tour

Make the most of your campus interview and tour by asking some of these questions!

Sample College Résumé

The College Résumé provides Admission Counselors with a one-page personal profile of yourself.

The Common Application

Have questions about The Common Application? Check out their list of FAQs.

Applying to college has always combined elements of adventure and worry, triumph and frustration, anxiety and discovery. In today’s fast-moving admissions marketplace, some parts of the process are changing. Today there are many options and many steps to complete the application process.


Before You Apply

In the fall of the senior year, students have likely viewed college websites, attended college fairs and open houses, read through all of the literature they have received from the schools, and visited college campuses. Now it’s time to put together that final list of schools to which they will apply. Typically, we recommend that high school seniors apply to between 6 and 8 colleges. We encourage students to select a diverse list of schools in order to create a more balanced process. This method will give students the greatest opportunity for admission and financial assistance. In our office, we talk about the 2-2-2 approach. In this approach, we separate the schools into three different categories; probable, target and reach schools and suggest applying to two schools in each category. It is important to keep in mind that a particular school may fall into one category for one student and into another category for that student’s classmate. Each student needs to create his or her own list of probable, target and reach schools based upon his or her own accomplishments and academic profile.

Probable: In this category, we encourage students to look for schools where their cumulative GPA and standardized test scores are significantly higher than the average admitted student. Keep in mind that students should not just pick any school to satisfy the need to fill this category. When admissions decisions are sent and financial aid awards have been reviewed, it is possible that a school in this category best meets the need of the student at that time. Be sure to include schools that not only fit the criteria of this category, but also are schools the student would like to attend!

Target: Target schools are those colleges where the student’s cumulative GPA and standardized test scores are on par with the average admitted student. Some students will add more schools in this category if they are applying to more than six colleges or universities.

Reach: In this category, the student’s cumulative GPA or standardized test scores are slightly below the average admitted student, but not so much lower that they do not think they could be accepted. If both the student’s cumulative GPA and test scores are below the average, it may be less likely that they would be admitted. Reach schools could be categorized as “reach” for other reasons as well. A school could be considered a reach college because a student is applying to a more competitive major or the number of applicants is so great that even if the student’s academic profile matches the average candidate, there just may not be enough spots in the class. A school with a higher tuition rate than the student feels they can afford might also be placed in the reach category.

Using the 2-2-2 approach to college admission will provide students with options when making their final college decision.

While college admission may be the initial focus, it is a good idea to think about diversifying the list of colleges based on finances as well. Colleges can be found in a wide array of price ranges. Financial aid is available to help students to pay for their education. Applying to a diverse list of colleges will allow students to view offers of financial aid from many institutions in order to make a more informed decision. If merit aid is available, the schools to which a student applies in the probable and target categories will probably offer them more money as an incentive to attend than schools in the reach category where the student falls below the average candidate.

Students should consider having at least one financially “probable” school on their list as well. Because students will not know what each school will be able to provide in terms of financial aid until the spring of the senior year, it is a good idea to include at least one school on the list that the student feels comfortable with financially. In case the awards of financial aid offered by other colleges still leave a gap in funding, this school (or schools) may provide the most affordable solution for the student.

When creating a final list of colleges, be sure to talk to people who can help. School counselors are available to help students consider, based on their individual academic profile, schools that might be placed into each of these three categories. Admission counselors are available to answer any questions a student might have regarding the admissions process. The counselors in the Center for College Planning are available to answer questions or meet with families to discuss the 2-2-2 approach.

Applying to college has always combined elements of adventure and worry, triumph and frustration, anxiety and discovery. In today's fast-moving admissions marketplace, some parts of the process are changing. Today there are many options and many steps to complete the application process.

What is Regular Decision? Rolling Admission? Early Action? Early Decision?

Regular Decision has a standard deadline. As long as you meet that deadline, you will be considered for admission. Regular Decision deadlines range from January to April. Most students apply in the winter and are informed in the early spring if they have been admitted or not.

Rolling Admission gives students the flexibility to apply to a particular college or academic program throughout the year. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis and are accepted until the class has been filled. Each school may have priority deadlines for their applications or for particular programs. Be sure to contact the admissions office at each individual school for more information.

Early Decision admission is for students who are confident they want to attend one particular college. Students apply early (usually between November 1st and 15th) and are notified by late December or early January of admission decisions. However, if a student is accepted Early Decision, he or she is OBLIGATED TO ATTEND that institution. Students will have to rescind applications to other colleges if they are admitted Early Decision.

Early Action is similar to Early Decision in that students apply in early to mid-November and receive notice in the early winter of their admission status. However, Early Action is not binding, so students are free to apply Early Action without an obligation to attend that college if they are admitted. Because Early Action is not obligatory, students are able to apply Early Action admission to more than one college. Some colleges have begun offering a new admissions option called Single-Choice Early Action. This plan works the same way as other early action plans, but with single-choice, candidates may not apply early to any other school. However, students can still apply to other schools regular decision and are not required to give their final answer of acceptance until the regular decision deadlines.

Some students who are applying to competitive programs such as Nursing or Physical Therapy chose to apply early because there are a limited amount of spots available per year. Many colleges also encourage students planning on playing college division sports to apply early. However, it is always up to the student to decide what application timeline is the best fit for him or her.

How important are deadlines? Meeting deadlines is critical. Keep an organized and accurate list of “dates to remember.” It may be helpful to keep a “college only” calendar. This may include all admission and financial aid deadlines, as well as required application components and SAT/ACT test dates.

Who should apply Early Action or Early Decision? Early application status is generally intended for students who are a strong fit for a particular college or university. Most early applicants have grades and standardized test scores at or above the average of the college. To apply early, students will have to adjust all their timelines so that the pieces of their application are ready to send in November. If a student is unsure if early action is the right fit, guidance counselors or college admissions officers may be able to advise students which path is appropriate.

Applying to college can be costly, but having a good understanding of what money you will need and when in the process you will need it, can give you time to budget and save. Below is a list of different expenses associated with the college application process and when you may experience them.

Standardized Testing Expenses (Fall and/or Spring Jr. Year and Fall Sr. Year of High School)

Most students looking to apply to four year colleges will need to take some form of standardized testing. Both the SAT and the ACT have fees attached to registering and taking the test as well as sending scores to individual colleges. Most students take these tests more than once. There are fee waivers available for some of the fees charged by the testing companies for students whose families qualify for the Free & Reduced Priced Lunch Program. Inquire with your school counselor if you think you may qualify.

College Visits & Tours (Spring Jr. and Fall Sr. Year of High School)

Although touring a campus is “free”, if you need to travel any significant distance to visit the school you may need to budget money to make the trip. With the price of gas or airfare today, just getting to your destination could start adding up. Some other expenses families incur are hotel stays or eating multiple meals on the road while making visits. Look for ways to combine visits to schools that are near each other, make visits with friends to share expenses or ask the college for a lunch voucher to try out their cafeteria.

College Application Fees (Late Fall or Winter Sr. Year of High School)

Application fees are the fees that each college charges to process a student’s application with their institution. These fees can range from $25 – $100 dollars per school, with the national average being $37.88 per school. If you are planning to apply to several schools, these fees can add up quickly. Some colleges will offer fee waivers to students for using an online application or for having attended a tour or admissions event so, ask with at each school to see if a fee waiver is available. There are also fee waivers available for students whose families qualify for the Free & Reduced Priced Lunch Program. Inquire with your school counselor if you think you may qualify.

Financial Aid Application Fees (Winter Sr. Year of High School)

First, let us remind you that the federal financial aid form (FAFSA) is always FREE. However, over 420 colleges in the country require an EXTRA financial aid form called the CSS Profile©. This CSS Profile© form is not free. There is a fee charged for each school the student needs to send the form. You can click here to see a current list of schools that require the CSS Profile©. There are fee waivers available for students whose families qualify for the Free & Reduced Priced Lunch Program. Inquire with your school counselor if you think you may qualify.

Admission Deposit (Spring Sr. Year of High School)

Once you have decided what college you will be attending, you must pay a deposit to confirm you attendance and ‘save’ your space at the school; this is called an Admission Deposit. The admission deposit can range anywhere from $100 to upwards of $500 dollars. This fee amount is set by each institution and for four-year colleges is due by May 1st which is traditionally known as National Candidate Reply Day. If you think that securing your admission deposit will be difficult, you need to contact the school’s admissions and/or financial aid department immediately to see what they advise. If you have completed your FAFSA and were found to be eligible for a federal Pell Grant, you may be able to apply these funds to your deposit, but you must check with you institution first.

Housing Deposit (Spring Sr. Year of High School)

If you are going to be living on campus at your college of choice then you will need to pay a deposit to ‘save’ your space with the housing department. This fee is in addition to the admission deposit. This fee is set by the school itself and can range from $100 – $400 dollars. Simply paying your housing deposit does not confirm your admission with the school, you must pay both, your admission and housing deposit to confirm you enrollment and housing space.

Application Components

The Common Application is used by nearly 700 college and universities — public and private, large and small, highly selective and modestly selective, and East Coast, West Coast, and every region in between. Even some international schools now use the Common App. The Common App started in 1975 with just 15 private colleges that wanted to provide a common, standardized first-year application form.

To use the Common Application, participating schools have to agree to a holistic approach to college admissions. This means their application must have quantitative measures, like grades and test scores, and also qualitative items like essays, interviews, recommendations and include other aspects of a student’s credentials.

The Common Application is a smart form. Based on the answers you provide in each section, new questions will be asked and they may be different from student to student. For instance, if you answer that you speak more than one language; new boxes will appear asking for more specific information. If you state that you speak just one language, you will be asked which one, but it won’t ask additional information about other languages.

The Common Application has many different components. There is a general application that is sent to all colleges utilizing the form. Colleges also have the ability to ask supplemental questions of their applicants. Supplemental questions might include additional information about your family or your college plans. In order to submit your college application to an individual college, both the general Common Application and the supplemental information must be complete.

As part of the general application, there is an essay component. There are 5 prompts students can choose from, listed below. Essays must be no less than 250 words and no more than 650 words. The Common Application has a word count feature built into the essay section. You are unable to upload an essay to the form, but can cut and paste one from another document, such as Microsoft Word, directly into the essay field. If your essay exceeds the 650 word limit, you are still able to paste your entire essay into the field. However, you are unable to submit your application until it is within the accepted word limit.

2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

  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 obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Fee waivers are available for those who qualify. If you think you may qualify for a fee waiver, read through the detailed information provided on the Common Application form and select the appropriate response based on your situation. If you are fee waiver eligible, you are able to apply to all of your Common App schools utilizing this waiver. There is no limit on fee waivers through the Common App for those that qualify. A college may ask you for additional information if you request a fee waiver.

For assistance in filing the Common Application, contact the Common Application’s direct support here.

How important is the college essay?

As with most of the college application process, there is no absolute answer. Colleges may weigh aspects of the application package differently, but in very few cases will a student be accepted or rejected based solely on the essay. Typically, the essay becomes most important for marginal candidates. While a fantastic essay cannot make up for poor high school grades, it can be a factor when an admission decision could go either way.

Do I choose the topic?

Often colleges give students options for writing the essay. We've seen questions ranging from “Who is your hero?” to “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The trick is to find the one topic that you can write about most passionately and effectively. If you can identify a theme in the question or prompt, look to essays you may have written in English class for ideas. You may have written about poverty or family when you read The Grapes of Wrath or racism when you read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Referring back to your own ideas from prior work may provide inspiration. Often you'll have an option to write on a topic of your choice. In many cases, you can save time by submitting the same essay to various schools.

Writing a Successful College Essay:

Step One: Tackling the Questions

Once you've identified a topic, you must now confront the underlying problem of the admissions essay: synthesizing your important personal characteristics and experiences while simultaneously addressing your desire to attend a specific institution.

Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Answer the question. If you haven't addressed the topic or answered the essay question, you've missed the point. (And, you've proven that you don't follow directions well!)
  • Keep your reader in mind. Often your essay, your entire application for that matter, will be read by multiple people in the Admissions Office. Remember that they may be reading hundreds, even thousands, of applications. You want to intrigue your reader and keep their interest throughout the essay. You are not writing a research paper; look at it more as telling a story.
  • Brainstorm! Jot down ideas related to the topic. Think about the details you will use to support the greater message. To begin with, write without worrying too much about grammar or mechanics. This kind of informal writing may help you clarify the best way to approach the topic.

Step Two: Writing Style

  • You do not need long, complicated sentences. Short sentences often pack the most punch and show that you are a good writer by your ability to write clearly and succinctly.
  • Don’t answer the question in the first sentence. Leave a little mystery for what the rest of the essay will be about. Build on your answer all the while weaving in images of your leadership skills or integrity.
  • Show, don’t tell. Rather than listing a series of statements that “tell” the reader facts, find ways to "show" them through anecdotes about yourself and examples that create memorable images.
  • Forget the thesaurus. Big words do not make a good essay. Simple writing isn't stupid.
  • End on a positive note. The idea is to make a positive impression on the reader. This is your last chance to persuade the reader and impress upon them your qualifications. Your essay may just be a deciding factor for admissions when you are close to other students in terms of GPA and test scores and the admissions officer is looking for other ways to distinguish between students.

Step Three: Editing and Revising

Writing is a process. Once you have completed the first draft, take a break. You will have more insight if you come back to the essay with a fresh perspective. Have your parents, your friends, and even your English teacher read and critique your essay. It may take several attempts before you have a completed product.

**Most colleges request an essay that is 250-500 words (the Common Application has a 250 word minimum and a 650 word maximum). It goes without saying you should not submit less than the minimum, but you should also not submit an essay that is longer than required. Admissions officers have to read a lot of essays so keep it manageable for your reader.

Using the Common Application? See their Essay Prompts in the Common Application section above.

Are letters of recommendation important?

Most colleges will require one to three letters of recommendation as part of the application. It is important to submit exactly what the college requires. For example, if they ask specifically for a letter of recommendation from your school counselor, make sure that is what you send them. A strong letter of recommendation is important to show how professionals close to you view your character and credentials. Their observations and referrals are highly respected by college admissions counselors.

Who should I ask to write them?

Begin by considering teachers, coaches, school counselors, club advisors, or work supervisors who know you well and can speak articulately about the special qualities you possess. Narrow the list to four professionals who know you best. Pay attention to the process. Some high schools may require you to request the letter in writing or you have to send an online invitation through the college application process. Either way, common courtesy dictates that you ask the individual in person if they are willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Ask them to write the letter of recommendation at least one month prior to your earliest deadline. This courtesy will allow them adequate time to prepare and write a strong letter for you. Remember, only submit the letters of recommendation (to a college) that they ask for. If a school only wants to see one letter from a counselor and one from a teacher, there may be future opportunities-perhaps in the scholarship application process- to submit letters of recommendations from community members such as coaches, employers, etc.

Can I read what my reference wrote?

Sometimes your references will be delighted to share the letter with you while, at other times, it may be uncomfortable or not allowed. If you are concerned that it may not be a positive evaluation, ask! Find out well in advance HOW the college would like the letters of recommendation submitted. For some schools there may be a specific online format that must be followed or many colleges want the letter of recommendation sealed in an envelope that they provide. Others may request that the reference mail it directly to the college. In this case, include a stamp and an envelope to give to your reference when you ask the reference for a letter. On the application form you may want to waive your right to view the recommendation letters. This may give your references increased credibility as it shows your faith in their assessment.

How will they know what to write about me?

You may want to ask your references to focus on specific qualities or skills that you consider strengths. Give your references your college résumé, activity list, or a “brag sheet” to help them write a stronger letter of recommendation. This detailed background information will help them relate all of your accomplishments and interests to your academic success. Be sure to provide your references with the appropriate forms that are provided by the college.

The college résumé can be very important to your application for several reasons. It not only provides the admission counselor with your one-page personal profile, but also acts as another sample of your ability to write, organize, and present yourself. The college résumé focuses on your academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, and personal interests. This is your chance to neatly list everything you have accomplished throughout your high school career. Keep in mind that while this résumé can supplement your application, you should still fill in everything that’s required on the application itself, unless directed otherwise.

In your résumé:

  • Briefly describe yourself and any scholastic distinctions or honors that you have received.
  • List your extracurricular, volunteer, community and family activities. Include specific events and accomplishments such as leadership positions held, varsity letters, etc.
  • Highlight experiences that relate to your intended major or reveal consistent work experience.

Sample College Résumé

No test can predict with one-hundred percent certainty what your grades will be in college. That's because many factors, including your own personal motivation, influence your college success. However, colleges use SAT and ACT scores to help estimate how well a student is likely to perform in college. For example, if a college tracks the grades of the admitted freshman class and finds that students who scored between 1050 and 1250 on the SAT and maintained a "B" average in high school are students who perform well at their college, then admission counselors are likely to admit students with similar scores and GPA in the future.

The SAT is a national college admissions examination that is accepted by all 4 year colleges and universities in the US. The test is scored from 400-1600 and tests two subject areas: math and evidenced based reading and writing. There is an optional Essay as well. The SAT ascribes to focus on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education: what you learn in high school and what you need to succeed in college.

How to Register

collegeboard.org

Students will be required to upload a current photo of themselves in order to register for the SATs. Students will then need to bring a valid photo ID and SAT admission ticket the day of the exam (ID will be checked against the photo you uploaded at registration).

Timeline for SAT testing:

  • PSAT fall of sophomore and/or fall of junior year
  • SAT spring of junior year AND fall of senior year

PSAT

PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT are practice versions of the SAT’s that are offered by Collegeboard to help students prepare for the SAT. By taking these practice versions of the SAT, students are able to get comfortable with the SAT test format and subject matter before taking the actual test. To learn more about how these tests are scored, their content and dates they are offered got to click here.

Test Prep

One way a student can practice for the SAT is by signing up for FREE test prep through Khan Academy. Khan Academy has partnered with Collegeboard to provide practice tests, personalized suggestions and video lessons. Students can upload previously taken PSAT and SAT tests to Khan Academy to personalize their course of study to meet their educational needs. A student can spend time working on the types of problems they need the most help with and more importantly, if they get an answer wrong, Khan Academy teaches them how to get it right!

Want a daily practice tool you can use from your smartphone on the way to the dentist, practice or on break at work, then, download the FREE SAT Daily Practice App which allows students to answer the question of the day from their smart phone!

SAT Reasoning Test Breakdown:

  • 3 hours (+ 50 minutes with optional essay)
  • Total Score between 400-1600
  • Section scores 200-800
  • Essay is optional
  • No penalty for wrong answers or skipped questions
  • 2 Sections: Math and Evidenced Based Reading & Writing (EBRW)
  • No science section
  • Math section includes: some non-multiple choice questions and non-calculator questions
  • Fee waivers are available

SAT Subject Tests (SAT II’s)

Some colleges require two or three SAT Subject Tests for admission, while other schools will accept your scores without REQUIRING them.

The subject tests fall into five general areas: English, history, mathematics, science, and languages. They help colleges compare academic achievements of students from different schools where course preparation and academic backgrounds may widely vary. Depending on the college, your scores may also be used to place you in freshmen or higher-level coursework. You must check with each individual college to see if they require the SAT Subject tests and if so, which subjects they require you take. For more information you can go to the SAT Subject Test page at Collegeboard.com.

Not sure standardized tests are right for you?

Visit fairtest.org to find a full list of colleges and universities that are “test optional” and do not require standardized test scores for admission.

Not sure if you should take the SAT or the ACT or Both?

Every college that accepts the SAT, accepts the ACT. So there is nothing that says you have to take one over the other. You can take whichever you feel most comfortable taking or take both and send your best test scores.

Colleges will know how to compare the two test scores by using a conversion tool like the one on collegeboard.org.

No test can predict with one-hundred percent certainty what your grades will be in college. That's because many factors, including your own personal motivation, influence your college success. However, colleges use SAT and ACT scores to help estimate how well a student is likely to perform in college. For example, if a college tracks the grades of the admitted freshman class and finds that students who scored between 22 and 25 on the ACT and maintained a “B” average in high school are students who perform well at their college, then admission counselors are likely to admit students with similar scores and GPA in the future.

The ACT is a national college admissions examination that is accepted by all 4 year colleges and universities in the US. The test is scored from 1-36 and tests four subject areas: math, English, reading and science. There is an optional Essay as well. The ACT ascribes to be a curriculum-based achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school.

How to Register

Act.org

Students will be required to upload a current photo of themself in order to register for the ACTs. Students will then need to bring a valid photo ID and ACT admission ticket the day of the exam (ID will be checked against the photo you uploaded at registration).

Timeline for ACT testing

ACT is typically taken once EITHER in Spring of junior year or Fall of senior year

Test Prep

ACT.org offers a FREE test prep booklet called Preparing for the ACT Test that can be downloaded at act.org. This booklet includes descriptions of the each test section and sample questions.

ACT.org also offers test prep materials for purchase. This includes both books and an online test prep program. If interested, a student can purchase these through the ACT.org website.

ACT Test Breakdown:

  • 3 hours 15 minutes (with the optional writing)
  • Score between 1-36
  • Writing test optional (some colleges may require)
  • The test covers four subject areas: English grammar, Mathematics, Reading and Science
  • No penalty for wrong answers or skipped questions
  • All questions are multiple choice
  • Fee waivers are available

Not sure standardized tests are right for you?

Visit fairtest.org to find a full list of colleges and universities that are “test optional” and do not require standardized test scores for admission.

Not sure if you should take the SAT or the ACT or Both?

Every college that accepts the SAT, accepts the ACT. So there is nothing that says you have to take one over the other. You can take whichever you feel most comfortable taking or take both and send your best test scores.

Colleges will know how to compare the two test scores by using a conversion tool like the one on collegeboard.org.

Why should I interview?

While not every college will offer you the opportunity to interview, many colleges do recommend that you schedule an interview with the admissions office. This is an excellent opportunity for the college to learn more about you and for you to learn more about the campus. Colleges receive your grades and standardized test scores, but they do not really know YOU. This is a chance to personalize the admissions process and a way to get all of your questions answered. While a great interview cannot make up for a poor academic record, it will surely enhance your chance for acceptance if you take it seriously and present yourself well.

Are there different types of interviews?

Evaluative interviews have an impact on the acceptance decision and admission criteria. Informational interviews are designed to answer questions and offer an overview of the college. Whichever the campus offers, be attentive, ask questions and show enthusiasm. Don’t forget that first impressions are important. Contact with any college representative should be taken seriously.

Evaluative Interviews (different kinds)

  • Conducted by an Admissions Officer – These are most common; you typically can call or go online to schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor.
  • Conducted by Alumni – These are set up by the college and usually held off campus with a college alumnus. An evaluation is completed and added to your file.
  • Auditions – Arts, music, or dance performances arranged on specified dates.
  • Special-Interest – These could be meetings with athletic coaches, department heads, or club supervisors.

Informational Interviews (different kinds)

  • Informational Sessions – These are formally organized group sessions conducted by an admissions representative for families.
  • High School Visits – College reps visit high schools to distribute materials and to answer questions. These are good opportunities to develop a contact with schools of interest.
  • Student Interviews – These offer the prospective student the opportunity to have an informal, but informative conversation with a current college student.

Make the Most of Your Campus Interview and Tour...Ask Questions!

Watch our College Interview videos here.

Portfolios & Auditions

The process for applying to an art, drama, music, or dance program is often more extensive than for other academic programs. Beyond your high school transcript, you are being judged for your talent and skill in a particular creative field. But, remember that revealing your potential is often more important than your present state of technical expertise.

Below is relevant advice for the potential art, drama, music, or dance major. Be certain to ask your high school teachers or professional instructors for additional guidance.

Audition Tips:

(For song and instrumental)

  1. Try to choose two pieces in contrasting styles with your primary instrument or voice. Make sure at least one piece is in English.
  2. Try not to take too long in your presentation. Eight to ten minutes is typically appropriate. The colleges may provide more specific direction.
  3. It is usually recommended that singers bring their own accompanist.
  4. Be careful about improvising. You’ll only impress if you provide what they require. Understand the specific expectations of each audition.
  5. For instrumentalists, provide a portfolio of no more than five compositions. If you have recordings, include those as well.
  6. Provide a list of all songs and compositions.

(For drama and dance)

  1. Present yourself as a serious actor/dancer with a serious commitment.
  2. The potential for growth is more vital than your present state of technical expertise.
  3. Keep an open mind about performing with others; sometimes auditions will involve multiple applicants performing together. Be prepared, but be flexible.
  4. Show yourself to be a hard worker. Many applicants have talent; let your energy, persistence, and work ethic distinguish you.
  5. Try to present good basic technique.
  6. Keep an open mind about criticism. Constructive criticism provides an opportunity for improvement.

Portfolio Presentation Tips:

  1. Include only your best and most recent work.
  2. Include as many different styles and mediums as possible.
  3. Any cumbersome pieces (such as three dimensional works) should be placed in digital or slide format. Ask the school which format they prefer.
  4. Make sure to label every slide with your name, date, and type of work.
  5. It is important to indicate the top of your work on any slide or photograph in order to make sure the person evaluating your work is viewing it correctly.
  6. Include an inventory of your work with the portfolio.
  7. Make two copies of everything – just in case.
  8. Schools will evaluate your work in the following areas, so try to be as broad as possible in preparing your portfolio:
    • Perceptual Skills: Ability to draw from direct observation
    • Concept: Use of formal art elements to convey your unique ideas
    • Composition: Interesting use of space
    • Craft: Technical skill and knowledge of media combined with presentation

National Portfolio Days

These educational events are free for artists looking for advice. Experienced art college representatives will review your portfolio and offer presentation critique. Visit portfolioday.net for a list of campuses hosting the event. For a college fair specific to performing and visual arts, click here.

As a homeschool student going through the college search, the most important thing to remember is that just as each "homeschool" experience can look very different, so will each college’s admission requirements. Whether you are enrolled in an online accredited high school, fall under an umbrella homeschooling organization or receive academic instruction from your parents, these are some of the things that you want to consider when you start thinking about applying to colleges:

Admission Criteria: Check the college’s website for admission criteria. At some schools they will be looking for the same things that they ask for from traditional students (transcripts, completion of certain core courses, standardized test scores, etc.).

"We welcome applications from students who are receiving their secondary level education at home and we value the different perspective "homeschooled" students bring to our classroom and community. With as many as two million students receiving their secondary education at home, we view homeschooling as simply another viable and well established means of preparation for the transition to college or university." University of New Hampshire (UNH) website

UNH requires that each applicant (with a traditional or non-traditional education background) has completed a particular selection of core courses to include a specific number of English, math, science, social studies and foreign language credits.

Yale University, on the other hand, takes a different approach.

"We will look closely at the list of subjects pursued through your high school program, but as with any applicant, we do not specify the number of years you must spend on any particular subject. We look for strength in all the major disciplines across the high school curriculum. Many homeschooled students pursue some course work at a local college or high school and we are happy to consider grades and recommendations from those sources as well." Yale University’s website

Some schools may ask you to put together a portfolio or want to see samples of your writing.

"The main "problem" that colleges face in evaluating a homeschooler's application is figuring out what you have learned and how you compare to the other, more traditional, applicants. Here is where good record-keeping can make a difference. Some elements of a portfolio might include a transcript written by your parent, titles of textbooks completed, samples of papers or projects you've completed, and anything else that indicates the breadth and depth of your study. Consult the admission office of the college that interests you to find out what they expect." From neacac.org


College Application Components

The Common Application: This is an online application that is accepted by nearly 700 colleges and universities. Participating schools accept the Common Application in place of their own institutional application, penalty-free. Students complete one form, and send it to all of their participating colleges. Using this form is time-saving and simplifies the application process. The Common Application and a list of participating schools can be found at: commonapp.org.

Although many schools accept the common app, some schools do not and you will need to complete their institutional application.

Transcript: Most colleges will ask for a transcript (a listing of the courses you have taken and the grades you received). If you do not have a transcript through an online or other homeschooling program, work with your family to put one together. There are certain courses that some colleges will want all of their students to take or to prove proficiency in (sometimes through AP tests). Most colleges have criteria that may differ from high school graduation criteria, so it is important to determine what colleges are looking for in math, science, language arts and foreign language.

Standardized Testing: The SAT, ACT, and AP tests are a way for colleges to compare apples to apples when looking at students from many different schools and educational backgrounds. Standardized testing can show mastery of subjects, may be a requirement for admission, scholarship opportunity or simply an extra piece of the application.

Community Involvement: Colleges are looking for students with a variety of experiences. They want to see that all students have interests outside of the classroom and have had meaningful experiences. Many homeschooled students still participate in high school sports or after school activities and, even if this is not the case, it is important for homeschooled students to be involved in some way: community organizations, religious organizations, volunteer opportunities, etc.

Letters of Recommendation: Another reason that community involvement is so important is because you may need letters of recommendation for the college admissions process. In traditional high schools, colleges generally want a letter of recommendation from the school counselor and maybe a teacher. If you are homeschooled, your letters of recommendation may be from community members that can speak to your character.

Essay: While most colleges present students with a choice of topics for their college essay (or, as with the common app, a choice of several topics) some colleges will allow you to choose your own topic. What you choose to write about will reflect your creativity, personality and value system to the admissions committee. For homeschooled students this can be an excellent opportunity to discuss how you have grown and the experiences you had had through your homeschooling experience.

Interview: College interviews allow you to present your application directly to admissions officers. By meeting face-to-face, an admissions officer can get a more accurate impression of you. Interviews may be conducted with an admissions representative during a campus visit or may be set up with an alumnus or regional representative in your area.

Deadlines: Keep track of critical dates and deadlines relating to things like college admissions, SAT© registration deadlines, or AP® Exams. Remember that admissions and financial aid deadlines are school specific. So be sure to check each school’s website to find out admission components, financial aid components and the deadlines for each.

Financial Aid: Most schools will require the student to file a FAFSA (free application for federal student aid). Check with each of the colleges to which you apply for specific deadlines. Be certain to ask if any other supplemental forms (such as the CSS Profile Application) are required in addition to the FAFSA.

Final Note: The Center for College Planning at the NHHEAF Network Organizations is dedicated to providing students and families with valuable information about the college planning process-from savings options and college admission requirements to applying for financial aid and scholarships.

Visit our website to learn more about the college admissions and financial aid processes and view our calendar to find out when we’ll be presenting at a high school near you. You can also call our office at 888.7.GRADUATE, ext. 119 to schedule a FREE 60 minute college planning appointment with one of our college counselors.

What Is It?

The TEAS test measures the entry-level skills and abilities of nursing school applicants or first year nursing school students. The test helps to predict the performance of applicants to nursing programs and provides information about general areas of strength and those that may need development for students accepted into a nursing program. This is a computer-based exam with multiple choice questions in four areas: Math, Science, Reading, English and Language usage.

Not every college nursing program uses the TEAS test in the same way. In some instances, students must take the TEAS test to be accepted into a nursing program. At other schools, the test will be taken by students who are currently enrolled in the school’s nursing program. Students should check the requirements at each individual college they are applying to in order to determine the school’s process.

Taking the TEAS Test and Scoring

As part of the college application process, students should research which colleges require the TEAS test for admission to their school. Proper planning may afford students more college options.

The TEAS test is often administered at the individual campus to which a student is applying, but this may not always be the case. Students should check with each individual school to find out their preferred test site, dates and policies for receiving test scores.

TEAS tests are scored individually. Colleges will evaluate a student’s scores for each individual section. Each college will have their own minimum scores they require for admission to their program. Of course, the higher the score, the better the student’s chances for admission.

Retaking the TEAS Test

If students wish to retake the TEAS test, they must wait at least 30 days. However, each college has its own rules about retaking. Colleges have “admissions periods” during which students can retake the test. Some schools will allow students to retake the test once during these set admissions periods while others do not allow them to until the next admissions period. After the second attempt, some colleges require students to wait two and a half months or more before retaking the exam. After the third attempt, students may have to wait up to two (2) years. Contact each college directly for more information on their specific practices.

For more information, including how to register to take the TEAS test, visit: atitesting.com/Solutions/pre-program/TEAS.aspx

Non-U.S. Citizens Applying for Admission

Interested in studying in the U.S.? You need to apply to an accredited U.S. school or higher education institution that is approved for issuing the Form I-17 request so that a U.S. Consulate can issue you a visa.

Follow the application requirements set by the admissions office of the institution in which you are interested. Many institutions have international admissions offices or personnel as well as specific information for international students. Virtually all U.S. postsecondary institutions have websites, as do most schools. An online list of schools and institutions approved by the U.S. government to host international students can be found at MAP of Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-Certified Schools, which is searchable by state and territory and provides location information.

NOTE: Check to be sure that any approved school or higher education institution in which you may be interested is also accredited by a recognized U.S. accrediting agency. Only in this way can you expect authorities in your home country to recognize your U.S. education. Schools that are only approved by state government agencies, but not also accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, will usually not be recognized.

Standardized tests, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®) and others, may be required both for admission to an academic institution and for your visa application. The TOEFL test measures the ability of non-native English speakers to use and understand the English language as it is heard, spoken, read, and written in the university classroom. Visit ets.org/toefl to get more information about the TOEFL exam which is offered in two formats: the TOEFL iBT® test – an Internet-based format – and the original Paper-based test (PBT). The format you take depends on the location of your test center, so your first step is to decide where you will take the test

The TOEFL iBT test provides scores in four skill areas – Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing – and a Total Score:

  • Reading   0 – 30
  • Listening   0 – 30
  • Speaking   0 – 30
  • Writing   0 – 30
  • Total Score  0 – 120

The total score is the sum of the four skill scores.

Get Adobe Acrobat ReaderDownload Adobe Acrobat Reader