You've been admitted in to the college and have the option of attending.
The ACT, (pronounced by each letter, not as a word), is a test that most students take to get into college (you can also take its counterpart, the SAT). The ACT has four sections: English, reading, math, and science reasoning (which is more a test of reading graphs than any science) and is offered six times a year in the United States. Register at www.act.org. When registering, do sign up for the optional writing section because many colleges require it.
The ACT is scored from 1 to 36 points. There is also an essay which is graded on a 12 point scale. The test takes about four hours and you can use a calculator on the math section. The ACT is considered more straightforward and less tricky than the SAT. There is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, as there is on the SAT. Most students do some kind of preparation before the test, so very few students send in raw scores. Preparation typically costs around $800, and can dramatically raise your scores, so many people feel the tests are socio-economically biased in favor of the upper classes. Most students take both the ACT and the SAT and then choose which one to send to colleges. In recent years there has been a rise of students taking only the ACT.
It is not required that you submit ACT or SAT test scores to get into every college in the US, so avoiding the test is possible (check out www.fairtest.org for a list of nearly 400 colleges who do not require the tests because they do not think the tests are fair).
The admissions representative is the person from a college or university designated to a certain region. They are the ones who will attend the college fair, visit your school, or host interviews in your local area. It is a good idea to introduce yourself and try to build a relationship with them if at all possible so that they will know who you are when it comes time to make admissions decisions.
Advanced Placement (AP)
AP classes are high-level courses administered by the College Board. The curriculum provided through AP is equitable to college-level courses. Depending on the score you receive on the final exam, a college may award advanced placement or college credit to you. Criteria for this differs depending on the college; check each school's policy for AP credit. You report any known (high) AP scores on your college applications in fall of senior year. You send AP credit to your college in June of your senior year.
Bachelor of Arts Degree. This is the four-year degree that you get as an undergraduate at college. When most people talk about going to college, this is the degree they will get. If you major in a science, your degree will be a Bachelor of Science (B.S.); BA and BS degrees are equivalent. If you then go on to graduate school, you would get a master's degree.
Bachelors of Science Degree. This is the four-year degree that you get as an undergraduate at college. When most people talk about going to college, this is the degree they will get. If you major in a science, your degree will be a Bachelor of Science (B.S.); BA and BS degrees are equivalent. If you then go on to graduate school after undergrad, you would get a master's degree.
Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA)
Once admitted to a university, you have until May 1 to respond. This deadline allows you to hear back from all colleges that you applied to as well as receive important financial aid package information from each school, so that you can decide where you will attend. You must declare your intent to enroll by May 1st or you will lose your spot. Tell your other colleges your plans so they can offer your spot to someone on the wait list.
An event put on by a collection of universities and colleges designed specifically for students and parents. The college fair is a great place to begin networking with admissions representatives and learn more about any schools you may be interested in. Check www.nacacnet.org for a list of dates and locations.
A list of 5-10 schools to which you plan to apply. Make sure the list has Safety, Match, and Reach schools. Also make sure that you check the Net Price Calculator on each college’s website before adding that college to your college list.
Before you declare your college list final, look at the Safety schools and ask yourself if you would be very happy going to one of those? If so, proceed. Also, pay careful attention to the Match section of your college list, because this is where most students end up going to college, so make sure you are happy with the schools in that section. Make sure your college list is balanced across the three categories. Also, do not apply to more than 10 schools. It is just silly. If your college list is done properly, you can apply to 7 schools very happily and do each application very well, which is key, and get great results!
College Scholarship Service PROFILE (CSS PROFILE)
The CSS PROFILE or College Scholarship
Service PROFILE is an application distributed by the College Board. It is used by approximately 250 institutions to take a deeper look into family finances. The EFC given to you by the PROFILE will be different than the FAFSA. Make sure to fill out both the PROFILE and the FAFSA to see where you can get the most aid.
A standardized college application form that is accepted by many universities and easily saves hours of work. Colleges that accept the Common App consider it equally with their own application, if they have one.
This simply means that the admission committee has declined to make a decision about your acceptance until a later date.
You have not been admitted to the school and should look at your best options from the schools you were accepted to.
DI-DII-DIII Sport Divisions
These designations refer to a school's athletic division. Depending on your commitment to your sport as well as your skill level, you can choose to apply to one of these three divisions. DI is the most competitive conference often made up of the largest universities; therefore, minimum SAT
scores must be met, athletic scholarships are available, there is a larger budget for athletics and playing becomes your priority--be prepared to miss classes and participate in intensive training. In Division II schools you must still plan on meeting minimum SAT
scores, there are still athletic scholarships but often fewer because less of the university's budget is devoted to athletics and training and slightly more emphasis is put on academics. Division III schools do not require the SAT
to be taken; however, they cannot distribute athletic money - only academic scholarships; there is minimal traveling and less emphasis on training. Each division has something unique to offer so be sure to research each one thoroughly and decide on which is the best fit for you.
Under this policy you can transfer certain course credits to a degree-granting institution. Not all colleges allow this so be sure to talk with the admissions office at the institution of your choice to see if they will accept credit transfers.
Early action (EA) is a non-binding application to college. You complete an EA application to meet the early deadline. This shows interest in the college and if your scores and GPA are high or good, then it boosts your chances for admission quite a bit. If your scores or GPA are somewhat low, it is advisable to ask your admissions representative at a college if you should apply early there. You don't want to be in a pool of all very-high scoring peers but similarly if applying early would make you look very interested, then it can help, so call and ask what you should do.
ED is a binding application to one college only. When you apply ED to a school you commit to going there and you do not apply ED to any other school. You can still apply EA and regular decision to other colleges, in case you are not accepted at your ED school, but if you are accepted you must notify all of your other colleges immediately so they can pull and cancel your application. DO notify them because it saves some other student from being denied or waitlisted; be polite. If you apply ED your admissions chances usually increase substantially, even doubling. If accepted ED you are not able to consider your financial aid offerings from all of your colleges, since you commit to going to your ED school if accepted.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
This is the amount colleges will expect your family to pay per year. The smaller your EFC and income, the more aid you qualify for (this is a federal formula, determined by the FAFSA). The earlier you know your EFC the better. It is best if you use the EFC calculator on CollegeBoard.com to determine your estimated EFC. You should do the calculation for both federal and insitutional methodologies. You will need your parents’ AGI, tax, and investment information. This is a very important step!
FairTest schools do not require SAT
scores on an application or to gain admission. FairTest is run by The National Center for Fair & Open Testing.
Final Year Reports
Final year reports are sent to colleges in June of your Senior year. They are your 2nd semester grades and are essentially proving to schools that you did not slack at the end of Senior year. If there is a dramatic difference between the GPA you submitted to universities and your GPA from Senior year, it may be grounds enough for the college to alter their admissions decision.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The application that every student must submit in order to be eligible for federal financial aid. The CORRECT link for this is www.fafsa.ed.gov. Do NOT use the link "fafsa.com". That site is not official.
A gap year is a year typically taken between high school and college. Most students apply to college during Senior year, accept a spot, and then defer the admission for one year to go on a gap program. Colleges recommend you not mention your intent to do a gap year in your application. Gap year programs can be structured, in a group setting, or very independent, like an internship. Most kids do a structured program in the fall for three months, take a break, and then do a more independent program from January to June. A gap year allows students to explore their interests, and after going on a gap year most students have higher GPA's in college because a gap year allows you to recharge your batteries and discover your passions. Studying abroad, typically done after sophomore year of college, also falls under the gap year category. You must apply to go on a gap year, usually 3-5 months in advance.
GPA (Grade Point Average)
A quantitative measure of your academic record; it is usually based on a scale from 0 to 4.0. Your GPA is a cumulative number of your progress in every class, all together.
An institution of higher learning, generally a division of a university, that enables students to earn a Masters or even Doctorate degree. Grad school is usually highly specialized and very intensive. You attend graduate school after you get your BA degree from your four years of college.
Greek life is the collection of sororities and fraternities that make up the Greek system on a campus. They often have a large influence within the campus social life of a university.
A guidance counselor is an educator who advises students on academics, career choices, personal problems, and similar situations. Guidance counselors also help students through the college application process and the school counselor writes you a letter of recommendation for your college applications, so get to know this person, don't cause problems for them, and always be on your very best behavior to make a good impression. If your school does not have a guidance counselor, or if she/he is swamped with kids, consider going to your local Boys and Girls Club, or joining another community organization that matches mentors with students. Post questions in the Forum on CollegeMapper and our volunteer counselors will answer them for you, too!
Students may choose to conduct independent research during their summers or even during the school year. Independent research can cover a variety of topics that are of personal interest to a student such as: World War II, breaking the poverty cycle, how music affects your brain, antique cars, theories involving magnets, etc. A student can conduct research through: the internet, *reading*, interviews, podcasts, museums, films, lectures, books, magazines, etc. You do not necessarily need to "do" anything with your research--although that is a bonus--but the fact that you explore something of interest to you on your own time shows your colleges that you are a curious thinker type, and everybody in academia loves that! (Reading is a main component of any independent research).
Some schools offer interviews while many do not. If a school does offer interviews it is definitely in your best interest to take advantage of any time you can meet with an admission rep and start networking. Be sure to sign up early in Senior year to get a time and date that works for you. Be prepared and have answers to basic questions (see the CollegeMapper handout on this) but most importantly just be yourself. Admissions reps are people too and they just want to get a better feeling for how you would fit in at their school while helping you decide if their school is right for you.
A student who has a close relative who attended the university is considered as a "legacy" to that university. Parents and siblings count the most, but grandparents may help. More distant relatives such as aunts and uncles do not really help unless they're significant donors. Relatives who and have donated to support the university since graduating are very helpful to you in admissions.
Letter of Recommendation
A letter written by a teacher or guidance counselor describing you as a student. These letters are sent with your college applications and are considered as part of your admissions file. You need two letters from core subject teachers in Junior year, and one letter from your guidance counselor, so get to know these people as well as you can.
Joining the mailing list of a college or university is an important first step in networking. After joining the mailing list you will begin to receive information regarding the school. Each school can tell when you join the mailing list, so do it to demonstrate interest in the school—it makes you look good! (Note: the colleges will purchase your SAT
scores and begin to send you mail. This does not mean they are actively recruiting you necessarily, nor does it mean you are "in their system." Be sure to join the mailing list on your own because you are put in a different pool of people who have shown interest, and that is a good pool to be in.)
Also known as College Essay and Personal Statement. This is a 1-2 page piece of writing that you submit to all of your colleges. You will also write smaller pieces, called Supplements, for many of your colleges. Before you begin writing, make a list of all prompts you have to write and spend 30 minutes strategizing so that you don't write any piece twice--recycle!
This will be the main focus of your studies while in college. Your college or university will specify the number of credits you will need to take to complete your major, in addition to the sequence and level of the courses that must be completed in order to earn your degree. You can double major.
Master List of Writing Prompts
A list of each question you have to answer in writing for your applications. Make this list before you start writing, in July before your Senior year. Carefully note if the prompt has a word limit *or* a character limit--these are not the same thing! Copy and paste each prompt from each college's website onto one single word doc to create your Master List of Prompts. Do not put the prompt in your own words or sum it up--copy and paste it exactly, trust me. Then spend 30 minutes strategizing which prompts are very similar or identical, so that you can recycle writing pieces. This is time well spent because it gets your ideas flowing. Write the pieces in the order that they are due; have most of them drafted during July. Try to have most of them finalized in August, before school starts. Summer writing is the single smartest thing you can do in the whole admissions process.
Master of Arts Degree (MA), Master of Sciences Degree (MS). This is the diploma many people get if they go to graduate school after the 4 years of undergraduate school. Masters Degrees can be granted in many disciplines, and usually take 2-3 years to earn. If you do schooling past a Masters Degree that is typically to earn a PhD
Match schools are schools where you have a very good chance of being accepted, but maybe it's 50-60% chance. Make sure you are happy with this section of your list because it is where most students end up going to college.
Financial aid awarded based on individual achievements and talents. Merit money is most commonly given out by private colleges and universities.
Mid Year Reports
Mid year reports are sent to colleges in January or February of Senior year. They are your 1st semester grades from Senior year and allow colleges to monitor your academic progress throughout the application season. If a college sees that your mid years do not match up with your GPA, it will often influence their admissions decision. Be sure to keep those grades high!
An emphasis in your studies that requires fewer credits to complete than a major. Your minor can be related to your major or not. For example, you may major in architecture but pursue a minor in political science. You can have more than one minor. You cannot, after graduation, attend graduate school in the area of your minor, and most companies would not hire you to work directly in your minor area. Minors give you some specialty knowledge, but they do not make you a specialist (that's a major).
National Portfolio Day
National Portfolio Day is an event specifically for visual artists and designers. It is an opportunity for those who want to pursue an education in the visual and related arts to meet with representatives from colleges accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. School representatives will be available to review your artwork, discuss their programs and answer questions about their school and professional careers in art. High school students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and college transfer students are encouraged to attend.
Financial aid given based on the ability of you and your family to pay for college.
Doctor of Philosophy Degree (also called Doctorate). A PhD is a very specialized degree that can take 4-7 years to earn. You can begin a PhD program after you have your Bachelors Degree, in which case you are often awarded a Masters Degree
as you work toward your PhD. You can also begin a PhD after you finish your Masters Degree
. Having a PhD means that you can call yourself Doctor and that you can teach on the college level. Having a PhD also means that most colleges expect you to do research and publish books. (It makes their college look good.) This expectation gives rise to the little slogan: Publish or Perish, which means, write books or be fired. This causes a debate in academia because some professors would like to focus on teaching but they often feel pressured to focus on research and publishing. Publish or perish is more of an issue at large, research universities. Small liberal arts colleges usually allow and encourage faculty to focus on teaching. Finding a job as a professor is very difficult, but the profession is very rewarding.
PLAN (Practice ACT)
pre-test, given sophomore year. It gives an indication of how prepared you are for the upcoming ACT
Post Grad Year
A post grad year is like a 13th year of high school. It is a stepping-stone to college, teaching students great skills like time management, organization, study skills, and how to use technology for your studies. Some people think of a post grad year like academic boot camp. Most post grad programs are very structured, and the majority of those attending are boys. In 2011, 1400 students in the US did a post grad year. Most of these programs are located in the Northeast.
PSAT (Practice SAT)
pre-test for juniors. This test links to the National Merit Scholarship
program, and is given in October. Colleges use this data to begin recruiting potential students.
Reach schools, and everyone should apply to at least one (why not?), are schools that you have very little chance of getting into, say, less than 25% chance. Whatever you do, do not apply to only Reach schools; this is a recipe for disaster. Even Valedictorians with perfect ACT
scores should not apply to only Reach schools because there are so many students applying to college these days that Harvard could fill its freshman class four times with kids who have 4.0's and perfect test scores, so nobody is guaranteed to get into a Reach school ever.
The sports recruitment process can often be tricky to navigate. It begins as early as your freshmen year in high school depending on your skill level. Be sure to understand the differences between verbal and written agreements, the importance of deadlines, and red shirting and gray shirting, among other terms.
You submit your application by the specified date and receive a decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time. Most applicants will hear back in March.
Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC)
Each branch of the US military sponsors a ROTC program. ROTC is a training program to prepare college students to become commissioned officers; in exchange for a certain number of years on active duty, a portion of your college education will be paid for by the armed forces.
Refers to the legally required amount of time you must reside in a state to be considered eligible for in-state tuition at one of its public colleges or universities. Check the college admissions requirements to find this information.
Restrictive Early Action
Similar to Early Action
, except here, as the name implies, it is restrictive. This means that you complete an EA application to meet the early deadline for ONE school and can apply to no other colleges under Early Action
. Remember that maybe you don't want to be in a pool of all very high scoring kids (aka: the people who apply early), but similarly if applying early would make you look very interested, then it can help, so call and ask what you should do.
A list of all of your activities during high school. The resume is typed in 12 point font size, and should consist of no more than 2 pages single spaced. Categories typically include: advanced coursework, leadership, sports, clubs, community service, awards, job, hobbies, reading, research and summers. The resume is attached to the Common Application
and can always be given to an interviewer. It should be proofread at least 5 times and updated continually. Have someone else edit it for you; no one can be their own editor.
Rolling admissions means the college will read applications as they come in and they will usually let you know within a month or so if you have been accepted or not. Rolling admissions deadlines are often much later than regular decision deadlines. If a school does rolling admit, then apply early before spots fill up.
Safety schools are schools that you are certain you can get into, based upon your GPA and test scores.
The SAT Reasoning Test, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a test that most students take to get into college (you can also take its counterpart, the ACT). The SAT has 3 sections: Critical Reading, Math and Writing. The SAT is offered seven times a year in the United States. Register at www.collegeboard.com. Fee waivers are available from your guidance counselor.
Each of the three sections of the SAT is scored from 200 to 800 points, so in theory you could get a 600 to a 2400 on the test as a whole. There is also an essay, which is graded on a 12-point scale. There is a quarter point penalty for wrong answers on the SAT. The SAT is considered more conceptually tricky than the ACT. Students who prefer analysis and interpretation tend to prefer the SAT. Most students do some kind of prep before the test, so very few students send in raw scores. Prep typically costs around $800, and can dramatically raise your scores, so many people feel standardized tests are socio-economically biased in favor of the upper classes, who can and do afford test prep. Most students take both the SAT and ACT and then choose which one to send to colleges. The test takes about 4 hours. You can use a calculator. It is not required that you submit SAT or ACT test scores to get into every college in the US, so avoiding the test is possible (check out www.fairtest.org for a list of nearly 400 colleges who do not require the tests because they do not think the tests are fair).
SAT Subject Tests
These are hour-long tests offered in:
- US History
- World History
- Math: If you take Math, take Math Level 2 (many colleges won't accept Level 1). Much of the math is from Algebra 2 and lower, so take the Math test as soon as you have had a little bit of Trig, even in June of sophomore year.
- Modern Hebrew
Subject Tests are required or recommended by only the most selective colleges (and occasionally by a competitive major at a school, like Engineering). Check your colleges early to see which tests you might need, if you need any at all. Most students do not end up sending these tests unless the scores are very impressive, say 650+, or even better, 700+. For Ivies you will need 750+ on 3 tests. That said, many students take them in May and June of Junior year, just to have them in case they need them. I do not recommend waiting until Senior year to take these because you are very stressed then and you do not have the results in time to easily apply for ED/EA. Subject Tests are offered on the same days as the SAT and while you can take up to 3 Subject Tests in one day, you cannot take Subject Tests and the regular SAT in the same day because they are offered at the same time. Some colleges, even some Ivies, do not require the Subject Tests at all if you submit your ACT scores (with writing) instead, so check school by school.
Money for college that does not need to be paid back. Usually awarded based on specific criteria, such as sports and other extracurricular activities, academic performance while in high school, ethnic heritage or religious affiliation. Scholarships can be awarded by individual high schools or through state and national organizations.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
After you file FAFSA you will receive a SAR stating your expected family contribution and eligibility for financial aid. In addition, this report is sent to colleges you indicate on the FAFSA.
Financial aid that must be repaid eventually. Student loan programs are available through both the federal government and private lenders.
Summer programs consist of all different types of activities and levels of rigor. It is important to be doing something with your summer whether that means getting a job or doing a summer camp/program. A few great ideas worth considering include: taking a class at an accredited university (big schools often offer many options), studying abroad, being a camp counselor, doing independent research, job shadowing, and many, many more. Check www.collegemapper.com/summer for a list of summer programs.
Test preparation is a step that many high school students take when preparing for the SAT
. You sign up for a course that is designed to improve your test taking strategy in a class that is tailored specifically to the demands of each individual test. Test prep can be done individually or in a class, depending on the needs of each student.
An official record of courses taken and the grades you received, kept by the registrar at your high school. You must provide a high school transcript with your college application. It is an excellent idea to verify that your transcript is correct before you ask your high school to send it! Also, be sure to request transcripts for applications in September or October, as your school will have a procedure that may take some time to complete.
Volunteering is an extremely important aspect of your high school career. Volunteering is when you donate your time to an organization without being paid for your services. Examples of places you can volunteer include soup kitchens, retirement centers, humane societies or animal shelters, camps, community centers, schools, etc. Get involved and give back to your community! Check www.collegemapper.com/volunteer for a list of volunteer ideas.
A list of students a college may eventually decide to admit if space becomes available after they know who has committed on May 1st.
Financial aid given in exchange for work (usually a job on campus). In order to qualify for the Federal Work Study (FWS) program, you must complete the FAFSA.
The percentage of accepted students who actually go on to enroll at the college. Most competitive colleges have high yield rates. All colleges are very concerned about their yield rates, so the more likely you are to accept their offer, the more likely they are to make it in the first place! Let your top choice school know - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that they are your top choice. Colleges cannot read your mind.