Frequently Asked Questions
For many college-bound students, standardized testing seems as certain as death and taxes - and no less desirable. In truth, students have choices all the way through the process, including which test to take, when to take (and perhaps retake) the test, and even whether or not to test at all! With the changes to the SAT that began with the Class of 2017, many college counselors recommended that students just stick with the ACT during this time of transition, but which test might be the best for you and when is best to take it is something best discussed one-on-one with your counselor.
Should I take the ACT or the SAT?
Every student is ready to jump into this process at a slightly different time. One of the best parts of working with an independent counselor is being able to start the process when the student is ready rather than when the school launches its college program. Most students find it helpful to begin working with a college counselor junior year and with so many college-bound students in Georgia applying to college early in the fall of senior year, an early start makes sense. Space permitting, we will begin working with students on a package program as early as the fall of the junior year and as late as December of the senior year. Of course, we are available by phone and email for quick questions and advice anytime. It can often be helpful to have a college counselor consult on course selection freshman and sophomore year, for example, or to discuss summer planning throughout high school.
When should I start working with a college counselor?
There is no standard formula for weighing the various parts of your application. Half of the application – namely, your transcript (grades, curriculum and class rank, if available) and standardized testing results – offers some objective measurement; the other half – recommendations (including an interview if one is offered), essays and extra curricular involvement – is more subjective and helps the admissions committee develop a complete picture of each candidate. For every college, the classes you have taken and how well you have performed in them is the best indicator of how well you will do at their school; therefore, your transcript is usually the most important component of their evaluation.
What's the most important part of my application?
Should I apply "early" - and what does that mean?
A student can apply to a college "early" in the application cycle and those colleges that practice what is known as Rolling Admission may make a decision on that application earlier than the promised deadline. Early Action is non-binding; a student simply receives an earlier response in return for an application filed at an earlier deadline. Early Decision, however, is a binding agreement between a student and a college indicating that the school is that student's first choice and, if admitted, he or she promises to enroll. Early Decision isn't available at every college and certainly isn't right for every student, so this is a topic best addressed one-on-one with your counselor.
The best way to prepare yourself for the challenges to come both in the application process and in college itself is to take the most rigorous courses you can and do well in them, to make connections with your teachers and share your curiosity with them, and to involve yourself fully in the various opportunities your school and community have to offer by contributing your talents and enthusiasm.
Identifying any areas of weakness and working to address them is a great way to learn and grow... and, in so doing, improve your chances for success not just in the college application process but in every challenge you face in life.
What I can do now to help improve my chances?
The college application process can be overwhelming. There are nearly 4000 colleges and universities in the United States alone! Trying to find the schools that best match your academic and personal strengths and weaknesses on your family's budget can seem impossible. An independent counselor is a knowledgable, unbiased guide who can help you learn enough about yourself to identify those schools that suit you best and he or she can teach you how to tell your story in a way that will be compelling to the colleges to which you apply. Just as each student is a unique individual, each college has unique strengths. Mapping those strengths to a student’s strengths and interests is much easier when you are able to work one-on-one with an experienced and professional counselor.