Senior Year - The College Application Process
Senior Year: This is when students truly find out what the term “college prep” has all been about! Seniors should not construe this a “cruise year.” Colleges and universities want students to continue to take the most challenging classes available to them and to perform to the top of their ability.
- Still, focus on academics! Contrary to the urban myth - grades DO count in the senior year!
- Most competitive universities expect seniors to carry at least FIVE College Preparatory, AP or Honors courses each semester, and they also expect seniors to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA throughout the year.
- Seniors should be taking their SAT Reasoning Test, Subject Tests, or ACT test for the last time during the fall of their senior year. The December SAT or ACT testing date is the absolute last date to take either of these tests for most fall college admission cycles.
- The deadlines for some college applications begin early in the fall semester of the senior year but vary widely from school to school. Seniors must be aware of DEADLINES! If they are applying Early Decision or Early Action, everything has to be done EARLY! Some colleges want the application in by a certain date and some accept applications on a "Rolling" basis. It is absolutely critical to pay attention to deadlines.
Click here to print a PDF copy of the OPHS Counselor's PowerPoint Presentation
Click here to print a PDF copy of the OPHS Senior College Application Checklist
Critical Application Issues:
*There are any changes to the reported classes for your senior year.*You have a change of address, phone number or e-mail address.
- Be 100% honest, colleges do verify everything and will "cancel" your admittance if they discover discrepancies, or if you don't complete classes you've listed on the application, or if your grades drop dramatically in the final semester.
- All classes taken should be listed on the "self-report" portion of the application, even those that were repeated later.
- Pay attention to the application deadlines for all applications (admissions, housing, financial aid, scholarships etc...)
- If you are submitting the application online take the time to go through whatever tutorial or help sessions are offered. Read the "Online Application Do's & Don'ts" section below.
- Contact all campuses you applied to immediately if:
IMPORTANT DATES & DEADLINES:
March 28, 2020 (9-11am): Spring College Application Essay workshop. This two-hour workshop developed and taught by OPHS teacher Dr. Kathy Schultheis, will help students organize their thoughts and show them how to write an effective personal statement that will get noticed by college app readers Click here to sign-up. Space is limited!
August 1, 2020: The Common Application for 2020-21 will open on this date. Here is the link to open an account with the Common Application: http://www.commonapp.org/ If you opened your account prior to August 1st make sure to "rollover" your information to the 2020-21 application year. For more info go to: https://www.commonapp.org/blog/common-app-system-refresh-july-28-31August 1, 2020: The UC application will open on 8/1 for students to work on, but the window for submission is 11/1 - 11/30. For more information go to the UC ApplicationEarly Action/Early Decision deadlines vary from as early as October 15th to as late as February 1st for some Colleges. Most "Regular Admission" deadlines are set from Nov. 30 to Jan. 15 (although some colleges have even later deadlines). For more details click here: Early Action and Early DecisionOctober 1 - Nov. 30, 2020: The window for submitting the CSU application opens on 10/1. The deadline to submit to most CSU's is 11/30. For more information go to the CSU Application web pageOctober 1, 2020: Federal Financial Aid applications (FAFSA’s) may be submitted after beginning this date. For more information go to our Financial Aid & Scholarship$ page. The link for filing the FAFSA is: https://fafsa.ed.gov/ Some schools also require the CSSProfile which can be accessed at the following link: https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/The Counselors use SignUpGenius for their appointments. Students should reserve their appointment by 10/31. You can find the SignUpGenius link for each counselor on their web page.Nov. 1 - Nov. 30, 2020: The UC application will open on 8/1 for students to work on, but the window for submission is 11/1 - 11/30. For more information go to theNovember 30, 2019: This the application deadline for both the UC & CSU systems.Feb. 15, 2021: Some colleges also require the CSS Profile, found online at https://profileonline.collegeboard.com/prf/index.jsp; complete the CSS PROFILE before your earliest college or program priority filing date. At the very latest, you must submit your PROFILE Application by February 15.Mid-March, 2021 is when most UC and CSU schools begin notifying applicants of admission or denial. Berkeley and UCLA are the last to send notices.Spring Break 2021: Spring Break is the time to make final visits to schools that have made them offers of admission. This is also the month students will begin notifying schools of their decisions. Information about scheduling trips to UC & CSU campuses can be found at the following links on our website: UC Campus Events & Tours or CSU Preview DaysMay 1, 2021: Commitment Deadline! Students must formally confirm acceptance or declination of an offer of admission by this date.May & June 2021: are critical months for seniors because last semester grades do count! Spring semester classes (that were listed on the student’s admission application) that are dropped or not passed with at least a "C" may result in a college rescinding its offer. Most competitive universities expect seniors to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in the senior year.
THE OPHS COUNSELOR'S COLLEGE TASK LIST:What do students need to do to prepare for the College Application process BEFORE scheduling an appointment with their Counselor must complete the 39 Counselor's Tasks that have been assigned in Naviance and mark them complete. You can access the Counselor's Task List by clicking on the 'About Me" Tab and then clicking on the "task" link.
The college application process can be broken into three categories:
1. The (UC/CSU) systems: The University of California deadline and the Cal State University deadline is November 30th. For UC's, there are NO exceptions! Most Cal State’s use the same (11/30) deadline but some will stay open if they have not filled all of their freshman spaces. If you apply by this date for all UCs and Cal States, you are safe. The online application for the CSU opens on 10/1, and the UC application opens on 8/1, but students cannot submit until the 11/1 - 11/30 window. For more about the admission process at the UC & CSU systems please refer to the following page on our website: UC & CSU Admissions2. Private/Independent/Highly Selective & Out-of-State: This diverse group of schools uses many types of applications that can be either unique to their school or they may use the Common Application, the Coalition Application, the Universal Application, or CollegeNet. Deadlines are typically between November 1st and January 15th.For more information on the admission process at these types of schools please go to the following page on our website:3. Colleges with their own unique applications. (i.e. MIT, Georgetown, UT, Austin, International Colleges and many Art/Music schools). Students should review the application procedures for these schools very carefully because the submission of documents (i.e. transcripts, letters of recommendation and portfolios) is much different than other schools. They may require you to "invite" recommenders via their application system, and/or to upload documents in a unique way (i.e. not through Naviance). In some cases, it may actually be necessary to mail things to them via USPS. So, don't "assume" that everything can be submitted electronically through Naviance/Parchment. Students need to read the application procedures carefully.UC & CSU ADMISSIONS:Both the UC & CSU systems use what is known as the "A-G" list to establish what their course requirements are for admission purposes. Click Here for more information about the "A-G" requirements.The (UC) University of California system has established a comprehensive website for all application and admission information for the UC system. It also contains hotlinks to all UC campus websites, High School “a-g” lists as well as Junior College Transfer Agreements. You must disable your "pop-up" blocker to use the application feature. You can access it at the following link:The (CSU) California State University system has established a system-wide homepage that provides hotlinks to all CSU campus homepages. School comparisons by region, SAT/ACT scores, major, and GPA are available. CSU applications are also be submitted through this site! You must disable your "pop-up" blocker to use the application feature. It can be accessed at:PRIVATE, INDEPENDENT, OUT OF STATE & HIGHLY SELECTIVE COLLEGES:Private & Independent Colleges differ from public schools like the UC & CSU's significantly in their admissions application processes. Generally speaking, they will have the same subject requirements as the UC/CSU's "a-g" subject pattern. However, students should check the home website of the college in question to be certain. Where the UC & CSU systems do not require letters of recommendation or even transcripts with their applications - private and independent schools will typically want all of these things as part of their application process:Click here for more information about Private, Independent, Out-of-State & Highly Selective Colleges.The Common Application has been in existence for more than 20 years and is accepted by over 750 colleges and universities. Many schools accept it as the sole application document, while others may still require a supplemental form of their own to complete the application process. The concept is simple: Students complete one Common Application and submit it to any of the participating colleges. The procedure simplifies the college application process and eliminates duplication of effort. In fact, it has become the preferred method of submitting applications to most Ivy League schools. You can access it directly from the internet at: https://www.commonapp.org Many member institutions have their supplements linked to this website and will also accept the common application itself online! If a school has signed the Common Application agreement, then they have agreed to accept and process this applies equally to their own form. If you have any doubts about whether a school you’re interested in accepts the Common Application you may check the aforementioned website. It should be noted that the CSU & UC systems do not subscribe to the Common Application."Refresh" your Common ApplicationIf you created your Common Application prior to August 1st, 2019 you will need to "rollover" your application to the Fall 2020 application cycle. If you fail to do this, colleges will think you're applying for Fall 2019 admission. Click here for more information about "refreshing" your Common app.Matching You Common Application with NavianceNaviance gives Oak Park High School's Counselors and Teachers the ability to submit your transcripts and letters of recommendation to your Common Application schools electronically. However, before we can do this - you must match your Common Application account with your Naviance account.Click here to view a training tutorial video on how to match your Common Application with your Naviance account.The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success was developed to improve the college application process for all students as they search for and apply to their perfect college. The platform provides a single, centralized toolkit for students to organize, build, and refine their applications to numerous institutions. It can be accessed at: http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/The OPHS Counselors recommend that students use the Common Application if it is an option because our teachers are not familiar with the Coalition Application process. Plus it requires them to create an additional account with the Coalition Application instead of using Naviance.Electronic Submission of College Application DocumentsMost college applications, as well as transcripts and letters of recommendation, are submitted electronically these days. Parchment Exchange is the electronic documentation service that Naviance uses to submit documents to multiple application systems and schools (i.e. the Common application, the Coalition Application, UC, CSU etc...).Click here for more information about electronic document submission
ESSAYS/PERSONAL INSIGHT STATEMENTS:For more information about writing strong essays/personal insight statements please go to essays/personal insight statements
Financial Aid & Scholarships:Please go to our Financial Aid & Scholarship$ page to get more information on this profile and other resources to help you fund your education. Many Private Schools require financial aid information in the form of a CSS/Financial Aid ProfileThe link for filing the FAFSA is: https://fafsa.ed.gov/Also click here to learn more about the Cal Grant
GPA & CLASS RANK:OPHS does not use weighted GPA's, nor do we rank our students. A student's high school GPA is one of the most misunderstood topics that we encounter. This is because there is no single GPA formula that applies to all students, in all situations. Every high school has the freedom to assign weighted grade points to their GPA's - or not, as they see fit. Furthermore, depending on who (or which institution) is viewing a student's transcript, they all have differing views on how to calculate the GPA, what classes to include in the GPA, and whether to assign weighted grade points. The most important thing to understand is that colleges do not use a high school's GPA formula for their admission decisions! For more information please refer to the GPA & Class Rank page on our website.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION:Procedures for Requesting a Letter of Recommendation:
- Do NOT attempt to assign recommenders via the Common Application!
- Determine how many Teacher Recommendations your colleges require.
- Speak to the Teacher(s) in person to confirm that they will be willing to write you a recommendation.
- Confirm your request by submitting it to the Teacher(s) in Naviance via the "Letters of recommendation" link in the "Colleges" section of Naviance.
Click here to print out instructions on how to use the "letters of recommendation" request feature in Naviance.Click here to view a Naviance training video on how to request letters of recommendation.For students who are interested in playing collegiate sports, the first step is to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at the end of their Junior year. In addition to filling out all of the NCAA's registration materials, students must submit either their SAT or ACT scores and a transcript with their grades through the end of 11th grade. If they do end up being recruited students will need to make sure they have completed the necessary NCAA course work by the end of their Senior year, and submit a final transcript at the end of their Senior year. Click here for more information.SAT/ACT Score Reporting
How are students supposed to report their scores?1. Students are responsible for self-reporting their scores in each of their college applications. This also includes the NCAA Clearinghouse as well.2. Students are responsible for sending official score reports (from either the College Board or the ACT) to all the schools they're applying to.FYI - these scores are not posted on the OPHS transcript!For more information go to our Score Reporting pageWAIT LISTS, DEFERRALS & APPEALS:What can students do? Many students frequently find themselves in the unhappy position of having been deferred or waitlisted at their first choice school. The following information should be helpful both in terms of what to do, as well as what the chances are of still being admitted in these situations. To learn more about each of these topics please refer to the following link on our website: Wait Lists, Deferrals & AppealsTHE JUNIOR COLLEGE OPTION:More and more students are enrolling in community colleges across the nation, even as media attention focuses mostly on selective four-year colleges. Why are students choosing community colleges, and should you consider a community college as a part of your college search? For more information please refer to our Junior College webpage.
TRANSCRIPT ORDERING PROCEDURES:Check the “colleges I’m applying to” page in Naviance to determine what kind of document transmission format your school(s) prefer.This is a Common App school and will require a mid-year transcript. All transcripts will be transmitted electronically to these schools. Please indicate (ED) on the order form next to the schools/destinations that will be sent electronically.This is an electronic school. If they require a transcript or any other supporting documentation it can be transmitted electronically via Naviance eDocs. Please indicate (ED) on the order form next to the schools/destinations that will be sent electronically.