There are over 73 private colleges in California alone and over 3,000 in the nation. These colleges and universities range in size, cost, specialty (art, music), and character. Some are religious based, have more project based learning, may be more diverse, they come in all shapes and sizes. It is your job to determine what you are looking for in a school and which schools have what you are looking for. Students will find the various collge search websites where you can input your criteria and the site will develop a list of schools that meet your criteria; Try: www.collegeboard.com, www.collegeconfidential.com, www.review.com, www.collegenet.com, www.petersons.com Also helpful are college guide books available in the CCC.
Admission requirements vary but generally focus on in this order:
- GPA in college preparatory, honors and advanced placement courses
- Test scores, although a few do not require tests
- Recommendations from counselor and or teacher
- Writing samples/portfolio/audition
In general, private colleges tend to be smaller than public universities, students are more likely to graduate in 4 years, more institutional money is avialable and housing is often more readily available on campus for all four years.
Each fall 25-30 colleges choose to visit the CCC. Everyone considering attending a 4 year college should attend one or two of these 20-30 min sessions in order to hear what colleges have to offer and to hear other students' questions. Look for the current list of schools visiting by looking at the front of the sign-up binders in both the CCC and the Counseling Office. If you have a school that is of interest and it is not visiting SRHS, go to that school's website and check into a possible Bay Area visit.
Sending for Applications
All colleges want students to apply online although one can obtain a printed application from a few colleges. The Common Application (www.commonapp.org) is a generic application used by over 100 private colleges and allows a student to complete one application for a number of schools. Once the Common Application is received, the individual schools applied to will send their particular supplemental materials to you. Use the Common App only if you are applying to three or more privates, in order for it to be a time saver. There are reference books in the Counseling Department and College and Career Center where you can find college website addresses or by simply doing a Google search. Copy all material sent regardless of the method of transmission.
Reading the Application
Although similar, each application will vary a bit in what is asked for as well as how the application should be completed. Read each one carefully and know what needs to be sent and when. Check to see if you will need a counselor and/or teacher recommendation. If you are applying to several schools, use the “College Application Checklist” in the “College Handbook for Juniors/Seniors”, or create your own chart with headings to keep track of each part of the application process and their deadlines. Copy all materials submitted.
Most private college applications will want at least a counselor recommendation. Many will also want one or two teacher recommendations. It is vital that you give your counselor and/or teacher 3 weeks to allow for a well thought out, strong recommendation. If you decide to apply on the spur of the moment, the counselor and/or teacher will do their best to complete the recommendation but it may not be as strong or be completed on time. When you give the rec forms to the counselor and/or teacher, make sure that you give them your completed “Autobiographical Sketch” (available in the Counseling Department or the College and Career Center) at the same time. Be sure you provide them with addressed(college address) and stamped envelopes for each recommendation and give them all of your requests at the same time, if possible, even though they may have different deadlines. Those who write your recs have a special interest in your success so be sure to let them know about your acceptances, ultimate decision, and make sure you thank them.
Completion of the Application
By now you can see that the application process can be very complex! Remember to be compulsively thorough in completing all the parts of the application. If you end up using a paper application, use black ink as it copies and faxes well. Be sure and look at every single line and be consistent with the name you use on your school records. Private schools will accept more recommendations, samples of your creative work etc, than the public colleges and universities. The most important tip is to COMPLETE ALL INFORMATION ACCURATELY, MEET ALL DEADLINES, AND COPY EVERYTHING! Postmarked dates are the deadline dates.
There are several admission options to consider.
· Early Decision: A student makes a commitment to an institution that, if admitted, the student will enroll. Only a student who can make a deliberate and well reasoned first choice decision should apply early decision. Students can apply to other schools but can only have one early decision application pending at anytime. If admitted, the student will enroll unless the financial aid awarded is insufficient.
· Early Action: This process permits a student to make an application to an institution of preference and receive a decision during the senior year well in advance of normal response dates in the spring. The student is not committed to enroll at that particular institution and can apply to other schools. The student does not have to make a decision until May 1st but is encouraged to do so as soon as a final college choice is made.
· Single Choice Early Action: non-binding the student is prohibited from applying either Early Decision or Early Action to other colleges, but may apply regular admission anywhere else.
· Regular Admission: This is the most common method of applying to private colleges. Applications must be received in December or January and notifications are mailed by April. Students must decide where to enroll by May first.
· Rolling Admissions: The rolling admissions process allows colleges to review applications as they are received and notify students shortly thereafter so students can apply continuously through their senior year. Applying early is encouraged.
· Wait List: If an institution does not initially offer or deny admission, a student may be placed on a wait list for possible admission sometime in the future.
All colleges want you to apply online but if you are mailing an application, be doubly sure everything is complete and correct, make a copy of all the parts of the application for your records. You need to go to the post office clerk and obtain a certificate of mailing. The certificate of mailing proves that you mailed it by the deadline, in the case that the application gets lost in the mail or is delayed. Many colleges say that any type of mailing that requires a signature on the receiving end will delay an application, so send them by regular mail not special delivery.
Depending on the type of admissions decision you made, you should be notified no later than April of your acceptance or denial. If you applied early decision or early action, you will hear sooner. If the college has rolling admissions, you could know within four weeks of mailing your application. You need to notify the one college you choose to attend and all other colleges, that accepted you, that you will not be attending. The Counseling Department would like to know where you were accepted and where you plan to attend so let them know by the end of May.