Juniors and their parents learn about what’s to come
For high school juniors it might not seem like it now, but time will pass quickly and soon they will head off to college. This was just one of the realities presented at the College and Career Night at Port Chester High School.
The school’s guidance department hosted one of three such gatherings on Jan. 9. Parents and their 11th-grade students had the opportunity to hear from college representatives about what they should think about now and what is to come as they begin the college application process.
Representatives from CUNY Hunter College, Syracuse University and SUNY Binghamton University spoke with parents in the auditorium, while admission counselors from the University of Rochester, Monroe College and CUNY presented a similar program for parents and students in Spanish in the gym.
Craig Broccoli, Assistant Director of Admissions at SUNY Binghamton University noted that this time may be scary and confusing for students, but exciting as well.
He spoke about the college search, which he admitted can raise a lot of questions for students and parents.
He suggested that students think about what their interests are, which can change as the process develops.
He advised the students to take college tours, email representatives to get information and speak with admissions counselors when they visit their high school.
Asma Malik, the associate director of Syracuse University’s Metropolitan New York Office, addressed the “nitty-gritty” of the application process.
Students have three options for their application, she said. They can apply for early decision, early action or regular decision. Each one brings with it differing response times and stipulations.
There are different types of applications too, Ms. Malik said.
The common application is the most popular, the coalition application and CUNY and SUNY schools have their own application.
Regarding test scores and their importance, there are different approaches schools take.
Some schools are test-optional and do not require SAT or ACT scores. Others are test-flexible and some require test scores.
“Do not make test taking a hobby,” Ms. Malik said. “Generally, students will improve from the first to the second test, but usually don’t improve from the second to the third.”
Letters of recommendation are important as they can reveal what type of character a student has, how they improved as a student and some of their personality traits.
The college essay is an opportunity for a student to explain something about themselves or their academic record.
Colleges, Ms. Malik said, are often interested if you had a leadership role.
“Most institutions are not looking for the student who has done everything,” CUNY Hunter College Joseph Fantozzi, Deputy Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment said. “Do not overwhelm yourself, definitely think of it as quality over quantity.”
Mr. Broccoli suggested juniors begin writing their college essay now and do not get stressed about the endeavor.
“It gives us a better idea of who you are,” he said. “If you like what you are writing about, it’s probably going to be a good piece of writing. Find the thing that makes you you. Everybody is a little bit different, every essay should be a little bit different.”
“Make sure you advocate for yourself and that you come off as a mature individual,” Ms. Malik suggested.
Students should include new information in their essay and not regurgitate information that a can be found elsewhere in the application, Mr. Fantozzi said.
Parent Sandy Fiorino attended the College and Career Night with her daughter, Samantha, even though she had previously went through this process with her son who is now a Port Chester High School graduate.
This time around she said she feels more confident about the process. However, there are always a lot of questions.
“It’s understanding what needs to be done and what the resources are,” Ms. Fiorino said. “Port Chester High School really does a fantastic job helping you get through the process from beginning to end.”
Samantha said she is excited to get started and hopes to study early childhood education. She is considering applying to Manhattanville, SUNY Purchase and Leihman College.
Mr. Fantozzi also addressed what happens once applications have been submitted, and students, now seniors, are waiting for a response.
Colleges look at each student from a wholistic point of view. They start with a student’s high school performance in context of his or her high school, observing if he or she challenged themselves, if there are any trends and subjects for their specific field of study.
In about a year students will have received some acceptance letters.
“It becomes more real then,” Mr. Fantozzi said. “This is the exciting time. Now you are looking at schools more seriously.”
Before any final decision is made, families, should review the financial aid packages offered by each school.
Parents had an opportunity to ask questions and inquired about finding admissions information, merit scholarships and financial aid.
Regarding financial aid, most colleges will offer support when they send out their acceptance notices. In the fall, Mr. Fantozzi said, the federal financial and state aid forms will be available.
Parent Cecelia Kelapile attended with her son, Edzani, who is considering studying computer science.
“It’s a little daunting for me,” Ms. Kelapile admitted, especially when she thinks about the financial component and what aid might be available and which schools are affordable.
“It seems like a lot of steps, but I’m going to get through it,” Edzani said confidently.
Typically, the national deadline for a final decision is May 1.
The best advice Mr. Fantozzi said he could offer is for students to stay organized, start and continue relationships with college representatives, and practice writing professional emails, letters and making phone calls.
“Every time you are talking to us, you are making an impression,” he said.