College Search Tools

  • http://www.collegeboard.org - College Board home page containing college, testing and financial aid information
  • http://www.petersons.com - Peterson’s education center with a wide range of information and services
  • http://www.collegeview.com - Offers College search options, financial aid and career information
  • http://www.princetonreview.com/rankingsbest - Princeton Review’s site of 373 Best Colleges
  • http://www.mycollegeguide.org - College search options as well as numerous articles and information about the college search process
  • http://hscounselorweek.com - Top stories in the media regarding college admissions
  • http://www.anycollege.com - A comprehensive site to research colleges
  • http://www.careersandcolleges.com - College search options as well as financial aid and admission information
  • http://www.gocollege.com - Database containing up-to-date college and scholarship search options
  • http://www.clas.ufl.edu/au/ - Links to many college and university home pages
  • http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator - National Center for Education Statistics’ site on the college search
  • http://www.mass.edu - The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education’s home page with information about higher education and admission requirements at the state universities and colleges
  • http://www.nationalappcenter.com - Provides information and links about the college, scholarship, and career search process.
  • http://www.myfootpath.com/ - Information on colleges, career choice, volunteerism and gap year experiences
  • http://www.commonapp.org - Access to the Common Application accepted at over 200 private schools
  • http://www.nacacnet.org - The National Association of College Admission Counseling home page including a list of national college fairs and college related articles
  • http://www.eligibilitycenter.org - Information regarding eligibility for college bound athletes
  • http://berecruited.com - Information on the athletic recruiting process, post athletic resume and videos
  • http://www.naia.org - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ home page
  • http://www.college-scholarships.com/historically_black_colleges_universities.htm - Links to historically Black college and university home pages
  • http://www.uncf.org - Web site for the United Negro College Fund that includes scholarship information and list of affiliated schools
  • http://concordspedpac.org/Colleges-LD.html - Provides information on colleges in the New England Region that offer support for students with learning disabilities
  • http://www.hillel.org/index - Information about Jewish life on college campuses
  • http://www.christiancollegeguide.net/ - Information and search engine for Christian Colleges
  • http://www.catholiccollegesonline.org - A comprehensive listing of Catholic colleges and universities
  • http://www.ajcunet.edu - Links to Jesuit college and university home pages
  • http://ope.ed.gov/security - A cohesive source for campus crime statistics
  • http://www.greekpages.com - A listing of national and local fraternity and sorority chapters
  • http://waceinc.org - Information on colleges with cooperative education programs

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The Counseling Department produces a monthly list of available scholarships in The Senior Scoop which comes out around the first of the month. Each November a Financial Aid Night program is offered to seniors to assist families in completing the required financial aid application forms. Additional information can be found at the following websites:

  • http://www.finaid.org - A comprehensive site with hundreds of links providing info and advice on financial aid
  • http://www.fafsa.ed.gov - File the FAFSA electronically through this site
  • http://studentaid.ed.gov - Detailed information about completing the FAFSA
  • https://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile - Electronic version of the CSS/Financial Aid Profile
  • http://www.fastweb.com - Financial aid information and scholarship search engine
  • http://www.fastap.org - Large database with search options for scholarship information
  • http://www.meritaid.com - Directory of merit scholarships from colleges
  • http://www.college-scholarships.com - Provides information on colleges, test preparation and free scholarship and financial aid searches
  • http://www.salliemae.com - The home page for the Student Loan Marketing Association
  • http://www.collegenet.com - Free scholarship database sponsored by College Net

Writing College Application Essays

Your college essay or personal statement is probably one of the most important parts of your application, so here are a few tips to help you write a good essay. Most colleges ask you to respond to one or two questions in order to get a better sense of exactly who you are. The essay gives you the opportunity to take charge of the information that the college receives about you and to provide information that does not necessarily appear in your grades, test scores, and other information. It allows you to use your creativity, enthusiasm, talent, sense of humor, sincerity, and writing ability - traits that probably do not come across in the rest of the application. Essays may be typed or written depending upon the instructions. It is important that you write a new essay for each application that you submit. Simply photocopying the essay is not recommended as colleges ask different questions and that does not make a nice presentation. Your essay should be thoughtful and completely answer the question that is asked, unless you are allowed to explore a topic freely. If there are two parts to the question, make sure to answer them both. The admissions staff will evaluate your essay based upon different criteria, but the most common include the following:

  1. Your correct use of standard written English which includes proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and syntax.
  2. The content, depth of insight, and ability to think about your own life in respect to the topic.
  3. Your level of creativity and originality. Admissions counselors read hundreds of essays, so yours needs to be somehow different to attract attention. Don't over do it though.
It is suggested that you develop your essay in the following manner:
  1. Give yourself plenty of time. Start formulating a series of topics to write about in the summer before your senior year since once school begins, you will have much less free time. You may even want to start a rough draft at this time. Never leave this to the last minute as the quality will inevitably suffer.
  2. Be sure you understand the question(s) which are asked of you. If you need assistance, ASK. By not understanding the question, you will likely end up with a less than exciting essay.
  3. Start by jotting down ideas or list of things you want to include in your essay. Develop a focus with a clear starting point and where you want to end and then fill in the middle with supporting information.
  4. Consider different writing styles. Maybe another genre other than straight prose may be more appropriate.
  5. After completion of a draft, put it aside for a few days and then go back to it. See if it makes sense and is structurally sound.
  6. Have someone else, whom you respect, read the essay to give constructive feedback. Do not let the person rewrite or change your essay, rather have him/her give specifics to tighten up what you have already written.
  7. If necessary, go back and repeat steps 3, 4, or 5.
  8. Read your essay aloud to locate the rough spots.
  9. Type or handwrite your essay (depending upon the instructions) and proofread it several times to check for errors. Have someone else also check for errors that you may have missed.
  10. Make a copy of the essay for your files before you mail it in with your application. Then, sit back, relax, and wait for your hard-earned efforts to pay off.
After completing the application, you should give it to the Guidance Office in order for them to complete their portion if this is their policy. If not, then send it directly to the college. Make sure to include the appropriate application fee. You need to give the application to the guidance office at least two weeks before the deadline. You should also make copies of the application for your records and in case it is misplaced. You may find it more advantageous to have the guidance office send in the application to avoid having materials arriving at the college separately. For students who have a demonstrated financial need, the guidance office should provide you with a fee waiver for your application(s). This basically waives the application fee. Check with your school counselor if you believe you may be eligible for such a waiver.

The College Interview

Whether an interview is a required part of the admission process or if it is optional, says a great deal about the importance of the interview in making a decision about a candidate. If the interview is optional, go anyway. This shows interest in the school on your part and may make the difference between acceptance and denial. You should look at the interview as an opportunity to tell the counselor about yourself and why you should be admitted to the school. You should not view the interview as being put in the hot seat, rather as a give and take. The school will learn about you and you will be able to ask questions of them. The interview allows you to expand your application and life experiences. You can show your attitude, commitment, creativity, interpersonal and leadership skills, sense of humor, zest for life, and overall potential for making a contribution to campus life in an interview, which is not always apparent in your application. You may want to schedule your interview at your first choice school last for two reasons. One, you will be better able to compare it to other schools and secondly, you will have polished your interview techniques by them. Although this may be hard to do, this technique should prove to be very beneficial. When scheduling your interview, you may want to speak with a particular interviewer. If you know someone or someone has been recommended, then inquire to see if that person is available on the day of your visit. If not, either change your visit date or take another appointment. Never insist, as that would reflect negatively upon you. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind during the interview process:

  1. Learn as much as possible about the college before your visit.
  2. Prepare both questions that you want to ask and answers to questions you think you will be asked (see below).
  3. Talk to someone else who may have interviewed at other schools to see what the process is like, especially if it is someone who has already interviewed at the same school.
  4. Arrive at least 10 minutes early as sometimes you can be seen earlier than the actual appointment.
  5. Be yourself at all times! Be honest, sincere, and interested. Admissions counselors are very keen and can perceive a lot about you by the way you talk, sit, and present yourself. Most of all, BE POSITIVE!
  6. Know your background and experiences so if asked, you don't stumble with your answers.
  7. Don't read from a resume or try to impress the interviewer with all of your qualities. Let him/her ask the questions and you answer appropriately - not too short, not too long. Be sure to include specific examples.
  8. Speak clearly, loudly, slowly, and convincingly.
  9. Be prepared to discuss your high school courses and activities including your class rank and S.A.T. scores and why you are interested in that particular college. If there are any "bombs", diffuse them now while you have the chance.
  10. When asked about your activities reflect upon them, don't just list them. What gain did it have for you? Especially talk about the experiences relative to your field of study.
  11. Maintain direct eye contact with the interviewer and maintain a firm body posture.
  12. Don't forget to ask the questions you have prepared. The best questions are those which can't be easily found in the literature (see pages 26-27 for some examples).
  13. State and defend positions only if asked. Don't be argumentative. If you don't know something, admit it. Don't try to bluff.
  14. Dress neatly and attractively, but in clothes which you feel comfortable in. Whatever you choose, make sure that you are neat and well groomed.
  15. Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration.
ALUMNI INTERVIEW You may also have an opportunity to meet with an alumnus of the school for your interview. This is usually conducted by an alumnus if you live a great distance from the campus and cannot make it there for your personal interview. You may also want to have an alum conduct the interview even if you have a campus interview to add to your file, as an alumni recommendation may help your chance of acceptance. The procedures for the alumni interview would be the same for the campus interview. To arrange an alumni interview, contact the respective college admissions office. QUESTIONS THAT STUDENTS ARE COMMONLY ASKED AT A COLLEGE INTERVIEW The following questions are a cross section of questions that are commonly asked at college interviews:
  1. How did you hear about college/university?
  2. Why are you interested in majoring in?
  3. What accomplishments have you achieved or activities have you participated in that have a particular effect on you and your life? How do they relate to your intended major?
  4. What kinds of things do you do outside of school?
  5. What are your career goals - long and short range?
  6. What has been your strongest and least strongest classes?
  7. Which one of your activities has given you the greatest satisfaction?
  8. How familiar are you with this college and its programs?
  9. Where do you see yourself in four years?
  10. How would you describe your high school and how would you make it better?
  11. What are your priorities in selecting a college?
  12. How has your family affected your decisions?
  13. What particular goals do you have in attending college?
  14. What is something you really want to do in your life, but as of yet, have been unable to do?
  15. Who is a role model for you?
  16. What books or articles have made a lasting impression on your way of thinking?
  17. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
  18. What do you have to offer to this college?
  19. How would a friend describe you?
  20. Is there anything you would like to discuss which we have not spoken about?
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO ASK AT THE COLLEGE INTERVIEW Some questions you might like to have answered may include:
  • What on campus social activities are available for students? How much importance is placed upon social and extracurricular activities?
  • How many of the students receive financial aid? How does one apply for financial aid?
  • What dormitory facilities are available? What is provided in each room for students? What must they bring? How is housing assigned?
  • What kind of security services are provided?
  • Are there any museums, theaters, or concert halls in the area which are accessible to students?
  • What athletic opportunities are available for students?
  • What are the size of the classes and the faculty-student ratio?
  • Are professors easily accessible? Do graduate students teach any of the classes? How much emphasis is placed on faculty research?
  • What religious services are provided?
  • How adequate is the library for the number of students using it?
  • Are there adequate areas on campus for students to study outside of their dormitory rooms?
  • Do many students go home on the weekends? What is the weekend social life like?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • How close is bus, train, and air service to the college? How good is the transportation?
  • What is the biggest issue facing students on campus?
  • What is the campus atmosphere like?
  • What percentage of students go onto graduate school?
  • How are minorities and ethnic groups represented on campus?
  • How are roommates and dormitory rooms selected? Can students live off campus?
  • What computer facilities are available on campus for students? Are they adequate for all students and easily accessible?
  • Is a computer required? Can I bring my own or does the school provide one?
  • Does the college have tests to determine class placement.
  • What is parking like on campus? Are freshmen allowed to have cars on campus?
  • How difficult is it for a student to change a major or obtain a minor?
  • Are job placement services available for graduating seniors?
  • What kinds of co-ops are available? Which students are eligible?
  • Is there any interaction between local colleges?
  • (If it is a rural school) How easy is it to get into town?
  • What is the relationship between the school and the community?
  • Are cultural activities/opportunities on campus available?
  • How soon will a decision be made about my application? Have I completed all of the requirements necessary?
Obviously, you would not ask all of these questions in your interview. Hopefully, some will be answered for you. You might ask more of the technical questions during the interview and save the person/social questions for the tour. Again, DO NOT ask questions which can be easily found in the college literature.

SAT Information

Visit https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat?navid=sat-sat

ACT Information

Visit http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act.html

MCAS Information

Visit http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/