College Planning

The College Application Process — Yearly Timeline

Attention Seniors:

What should you be doing now regarding the college application process?

  • Start the year off on the right foot academically
  • Organize an area to keep your college information
  • Meet with your counselor to comprise a list of schools that best match your interests
  • Register for the fall SAT/ACT if necessary
  • Research your list of colleges (college fairs, school visits, college websites, publications, etc.)
  • Finalize essays
  • Request letters of recommendations from your teachers.
  • Visit colleges, arrange tours, interviews
  • Complete applications and bring in for review
  • Complete Senior questionnaire and return to your counselor
  • Have parents complete the parent brag sheet and return to your counselor
  • Continue to check the Guidance webpage for updates

Attention Juniors:

What should you be doing now regarding the college application process:

  • Start the year off on the right foot academically
  • Prepare for the upcoming PSAT exam which will be administered in October at SCPA
  • Attend college events (college fairs, college visits to the school, evening presentations)
  • Participate in extracurricular activities
  • Speak with parents regarding your college plans
  • Begin a list of schools that you are interested in researching
  • Meet with your counselor regarding your college plans
  • Register to take the SAT and/or ACT in spring of the junior year

Attention Sophomores:

  • Start the year off on the right foot academically
  • Prepare for the upcoming PSAT exam which will be administered in October at SCPA
  • The PLAN test will be administered in November at SCPA
  • All Sophomores will take the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) in March 14th
  • Attend college events (college fairs, school visit to the school)
  • Continue to read and write daily
  • Begin visiting college campuses
  • Continue to make a contribution to your community
  • Arrange meeting with your counselor to discuss academic planning for college
  • Participate in extracurricular activities

Attention Freshmen:

  • Start the year off on the right foot academically
  • Explore and participate in extracurricular activities that interest you and to which you can make a commitment.
  • Participate in your community
  • All freshmen will take the prep OGT
  • Make a commitment to read every day
  • Begin journaling your thoughts daily
  • Arrange meeting with your counselor to discuss academic planning for college

Obtaining Applications

When you have chosen the colleges to which you want to apply, obtain the appropriate applications via the college Web sites. If you do not have access to a computer, you may use one in the counselor's office or public library. You can also telephone or e-mail the Director of Admissions at those colleges for application forms.

Before you send in a college application, review the admission requirements of that particular college and decide if you are a likely candidate. Check with your counselor for further information.

Many colleges recommend that you send in your application early in your senior year. Watch the deadlines for specific colleges as well as for particular programs within a university. The college catalog will usually state what the deadline is. Many colleges require a non-refundable fee to be sent with the application. In most colleges, dormitory space is reserved for you when your application is accepted. Some colleges, however, have a separate application for housing, and it is your responsibility to be certain that you have filled out all forms completely. If you have questions, your counselor will be glad to help you.

If you wish to apply for scholarship/financial aid, ask that a scholarship/financial aid application be sent at the same time as the application for admission. If you write a separate letter at any time regarding financial aid, write to the Director of Financial Aid.

Completing The Application

  1. First, photocopy the application.
  2. Read application directions and questions carefully.
  3. If there are questions you do not understand or answers you do not know, consult with your counselor.
  4. Use a pencil to complete the photo-copied version of the application.
  5. Complete the original application with a pen. Be neat.
  6. Many colleges have their applications available on-line and will accept electronic submissions. If you apply via the internet, you must notify your counselor. Be certain to print a copy for yourself and your counselor. Remember that the counselor needs two weeks to process the application.
  7. Information you will need:
    1. Number of students in your graduating class
    2. Your rank in class
    3. Date of graduation
    4. Your Social Security number

Some colleges require the application, letters of recommendation, transcript, and counselor's report to be sent in one envelope from the counselor's office. Other colleges require that a student submit Part I of the application before sending Part II that includes a transcript request. Be certain to give your counselor all necessary forms two weeks in advance of the deadline and include a pre-addressed envelope.

College Essays

Most colleges require an essay as part of the application. As competition to colleges has increased, admissions committees rely on the essay to evaluate an applicant's "intangibles" or personal qualities that are not revealed by academic performance or test scores.

While an applicant will not usually be admitted to a school on the basis of an essay alone, a lively, absorbing, well-written essay can set an applicant apart from others with comparable credentials.

For your study, the counselor's office has several books offering excellent advice about the process of writing a college application essay. Most books stress the following points:

  • BE YOURSELF. The purpose of the essay is to communicate a sense of who you are. The essay should be sincere and personal.
  • WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING YOU CARE ABOUT. A good topic is one you want to write about, not one you think you should write about.
  • REWRITE, REWRITE, REWRITE. Write the first draft of your essay several weeks before filing the application. Take time to revise the essay. Seek help and critique from your English teacher and/or counselor.
  • PROOFREAD YOUR COPY. Rid the essay of typing errors and grammatical faults.


Your counselor completes your school recommendation form. Do not take any of the transcript or recommendation forms to the principal. Make certain you have turned in your senior questionnaire and parent brag sheet. Your counselor uses the information you provide to write a personalized recommendation.

Colleges also require letters of recommendation from teachers and friends who know you well. Some colleges place the responsibility on you to request recommendations. It is helpful to provide a resume of your achievements to anyone who is writing a recommendation. At the same time, furnish the person who is writing your recommendation with a stamped envelope addressed to the college. Be sure to carefully check the address, as it is vital that the correct person at the college receive your information.

Test Scores: It is the student's responsibility to have test scores sent from SAT and or ACT. (This is needed for test scores to be official)

College Interviews

Many colleges require an interview. Local alumni of colleges conduct interviews in Cincinnati. Visiting college admissions representatives may also interview prospective students.

The interview is a good opportunity for students to learn specific information about a school. The interview also allows the interviewer to evaluate an individual student. Some interviews function as a form of student recruitment.

  1. Make an appointment. — Call the school well in advance of your planned visit to ensure that admissions personnel are prepared for your arrival. It is a good idea to schedule a campus tour prior to the interview.
  2. Do your homework. — Read the college catalogs or brochures and be familiar with required courses and other specific data.
  3. Prepare to answer typical questions. Why do you want to attend this school?
    What do you plan to major in?
    What do you hope to do with your life?
    What books have you found enjoyable but challenging?
  4. Show your curiosity. — Formulate questions that reveal a legitimate interest in the school and will also provide answers that will help you decide whether you would like to attend this school:
    Is there an internship program?
    What do students like best about this school?
    What are the major campus issues?
  5. Explain, Expound, Boast. — Use the interview as a chance to show yourself in the best possible light. You may discuss your academic and extracurricular strengths. Offer information that reveals your potential contributions to the school.
  6. Look the part. — Wear appropriate clothes. The way that you dress, act, and conduct yourself shows the importance you place on the event.
  7. Send a thank you note.

Researching Your College

Visit these websites for help in research: and

Listed below are a number of factors that enter into the college decision. Highlight the points that are important to you and your family.

Geographic Location

  1. Area of the country (East coast, Midwest, West coast, urban, suburban, rural)
  2. Convenience and cost of transportation between college and home
  3. Climate
  4. Social and cultural facilities near college environment

Size of the Institution

  1. Number of students
  2. Average class size
  3. Faculty-student ratio

Aims and Philosophy of the College

  1. Instructional services and equipment
  2. Religious affiliation or sponsorship
  3. Research orientation
  4. School calendar (semesters or quarters)

Physical Plant

  1. Campus housing: guaranteed, sororities/ fraternities, single sex, coed dorms, off-campus options
  2. Dining hall; food service
  3. Library facilities
  4. Computer availability, network/Internet access, wireless connections
  5. Recreational and athletic facilities


  1. Scholarships — need based, merit and honor
  2. Financial aid opportunities
  3. Campus, part-time job opportunities
  4. Work/study options
  5. Student loans


  1. Academic pace, expected course load
  2. Major fields of study; interdisciplinary programs
  3. Degree requirements for various majors
  4. Grading policies
  5. Strength of department in which student intends to major
  6. Accessibility of faculty to students
  7. Unique enrichment opportunities — co-op programs, study abroad, Washington semester plans, internships, work and field terms
  8. Independent study opportunities
  9. Graduation rate/% graduating in 4 years

Extracurricular Opportunities

  1. Sports — intramurals
  2. Clubs and organizations of various interests

Social Atmosphere

  1. Diversity of student population
  2. Ratio male/female
  3. Ratio commuter/resident
  4. Influence of fraternities and sororities

Admission Requirements

  1. Grades, class ranks
  2. Tests: SAT, ACT, SAT II
  3. Advanced Placement, recognition and credit
  4. Early admissions/early action dates/rolling admissions
  5. Recommendations and interviews
  6. Extracurricular activities

Reputation of Institution

  1. National rank and reputation
  2. Achievements of alumni
  3. Percentage of students entering graduate or professional school
  4. Remember that you will probably be spending the next four years of your life on the campus. Will you be happy there? Will you be challenged? Will you be in over your head? Consider all factors in making your decision. However, there is no one right college. Keep an open mind as you wait for the decisions from the colleges and believe that the right door will open for you.