Charting Your Course


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Class of 2017


Sturgis Charter Public School



Post-Secondary Planning




SAT Registration Deadlines


                       Test Dates

Registration Deadline

October 1

September 2

November 5

October 7

December 3

November 4

January 21


March 11


May 6


June 3



ACT Registration Deadlines


Test Date

Registration Deadline


September 10

August 5

October 22

September 16

December 10

November 4

February 11

January 13

April 8

March 3

June 10

May 3



Information you will need for applications:


School phone:  EAST   508-778-1782                          WEST  508-771-2780

            School fax:      EAST    508-771-6785                          WEST   508-771.0287


EAST  School Address: 

Sturgis Charter Public School

427 Main Street

Hyannis, MA  02601


WEST School Address:

                        Sturgis Charter Public School

                          105 West Main Street

                        Hyannis MA 02601





Table of Contents


Testing and more…






The College Search


Variables to Consider When Choosing a College


College Admissions Policies


College Representatives at Sturgis




Visiting a College Campus


Interviewing Tips


IB and College Admissions


Information for Students with Learning Differences


Information for the Student Athlete


Computer Searches




College Entrance Testing


College Board Testing


Tests, ACT, Scores and Score Reports




Managing the College Application Process


“Test Optional” Colleges and Universities


Teacher Recommendations


Application Forms


Essay Prompts


Tips for Filling out the Common Application






Financial Aid




Second Semester Senior Year


Academic Concerns and Follow Through


The Wait List


Career Decision Making


Gap Year   Deferring College Acceptance


College Vocabulary




Appendix of Forms, Essays and More


The Campus Visit Form


Essay Samples


Financial Aid Records


Activities Record Worksheet or Resume




























This booklet is updated and reprinted annually by the Sturgis Charter Public School Guidance Department.  It is given each year to parents and students in order to provide important information for post-secondary education planning.


The booklet includes specific information on college entrance testing, financial aid, and college application procedures.  Some sections are designed to raise questions about individual priorities.  Other parts provide information about resources available for further research.  Finally, the concluding section suggests a variety of alternatives for the student who chooses not to continue on to college at the conclusion of her or his high school career.


Some students and families enjoy researching colleges before junior year, visiting schools during their travels and learning about colleges from friends and relatives that have gone before them.  Most start looking seriously into college materials during junior year and do the most focused research in the spring of that year and the fall of senior year.


The most important factor in making up a list of colleges for serious investigation is the student’s own self-understanding and finding a good “match” in terms of academic fit, college location, setting, course offerings and size of the student body.  On the next page of this booklet, take a look at the variables to consider when choosing a college.


Students and parents are encouraged to contact the school counselor for assistance with post-secondary planning.  All students will have a chance to discuss the issues surrounding post-secondary planning one-to-one with their school counselor during the second semester of junior year, and again in the fall of senior year.  Parents are welcome to join us.


We hope you will find this resource useful as you plan your educational opportunities for after high school.  As always, we look forward to assisting you in any way possible.





Sturgis Charter Public School Counseling Department




Variables to Consider When Choosing a College


Consider the following:


Self - Exploration:

            What are your interests, abilities, goals, and expectations?  What is your “learning style”?

Do you learn better in a small group or listening to a lecturer?  Would you rather do a long-term project with opportunities for fieldwork or do research in a library and have frequent exams on the material learned?  Do you value the availability of professors for individual discussion or would you rather work with your peers on group assignments?   Students should consider these questions and think about the course work, extra-curricular activities, and/or community service that they have found most interesting throughout their lives.  Academic interests and feedback from teachers, coaches, club advisors, your CAS advisor and other adults can help students reflect upon how their activities have influenced them.  Career interest inventories and consultation with your guidance counselor may be useful in considering personal and career goals. Students are encouraged to meet with their counselor to explore all these factors.




        Type of institution (two or four year, coed or non-coed)


        Geographic location (region, state, distance from home)


        Majors offered/curriculum (liberal arts, technical, business)


        Setting (urban, rural, suburban)


        Size of institution (small, medium, large, very large)


        Selectivity (very difficult, moderately difficult, open)


        Cost (tuition, room and board, books fees, travel, financial aid)


        Diversity (race, religion, national, international, age)


        Extracurricular activities (sports, entertainment, culture, religious, educational)


        Housing (on/off campus, coed, single sex, special interest, size of room, food, meal 

             plans, rules, roommates)


        Facilities (buildings, architecture, libraries, student unions, classrooms, lecture halls, labs,

             recreational/athletic offerings, stores, laundry, handicapped access)


        Specialized Programs (programs and services for students who are learning disabled,

             physically challenged, or for whom English is a second language.)

College Admissions Policies


            Explained below are the most common application plans students may encounter during the college admissions process.  Given the variety of plans and the subtle differences between them, read each college's admissions policies carefully.


Regular Application Deadline and the Candidate's Reply Date

            Many colleges establish an application deadline by which all applications must be received.  All students are then notified of the college's decisions at a uniform response date, typically on or before April 1st.

            At most colleges, May 1st is the date by which accepted applicants must indicate their intention to enroll.  By use of a Universal Reply Date, students may evaluate all notices of admission and financial aid awards before deciding on any one college.


Early Decision-(Binding Agreement)

            Many colleges offer this plan to applicants who are absolutely certain they want to attend the college.  This college should clearly be the applicant's first choice.  Traditionally, the deadline for early decision applications has been November 1st or 15th.  Colleges then render a decision by mid-December.  Some colleges also have a second round of early decision (usually in January or February). These later plans have the advantage of giving students more time to think through their decision. If accepted under this plan, the student must withdraw applications to all other colleges, immediately upon admission.  Note:  Early decision applications require both parent and guidance counselor approval.


Early Action or Early Admission (Non-binding)

            This program is similar to early decision in terms of timelines.  The important distinction is that, if admitted, the applicant is not bound to attend and is not ethically obligated to withdraw other applications and has until May 1st to decide.  Variations:  Some schools offer single-choice early admission.  Read the policies carefully.


Rolling Admissions

            Under this program a college considers a student's application as soon as all the required credentials have been received.  Notification of acceptance or rejection is mailed as soon as a decision is made.  Colleges that follow this practice may make their admissions decisions continuously over several months, in contrast to the practice of other colleges who accumulate their applications until a deadline date and then announce all their decisions at the same time.


Deferred or Delayed Admission

            Most colleges allow an accepted candidate to postpone enrollment in a college, generally for one semester or one year.


Open Admissions

            An open admissions policy grants acceptance to all high school graduates without regard to additional qualifications. Some majors at open admissions schools can be very competitive (i.e. CCCC nursing program).




College Representatives Mini-Fair!


Sturgis Charter Public School hosts between over 40 college admissions representatives who meet with students and staff.


October 18 and October 20th, at lunchtime, visiting college representatives will be available to meet with students.  This is an opportunity for the visiting representatives to talk about their schools' programs, and should allow students the opportunity to gain a general impression of a college, ask specific questions about programs, activities or admissions at that college, and gather literature about the institution.


Suggestions for students:


                Develop a few specific questions to ask. 

                  Questions might include:

Does the college offer courses that appeal to your special academic interests?

Are there club sports just for fun? Division I, II or III sports? 

What kinds of support services are offered?

What clubs and activities are offered?  Theatre program?  Music?  Dance?


                Sign a card provided by the college.   That will put your name on a mailing

                  list to receive more information from the school.  If you have already

                  visited a college or had an interview, a quick hello to the admissions

                  person visiting us provides a good way to be remembered.  Colleges monitor

contact with prospective students and use this information to gauge interest,

which can be a determining factor in the admission process.




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Visiting a College Campus


A personal visit to a post-secondary institution is often the most useful step in helping students and their parents decide whether or not to apply to a particular school.  Students are encouraged to make use of group tours, open house events and group information sessions as a way of obtaining first-hand impressions of schools they have previously researched.   We also encourage independent exploration of a campus.  Eat in the cafeteria, spend time in the library, and pick up a copy of the student newspaper.  Make it a point to speak with students other than your official tour guide.  Your guidance counselor can provide you with names of Sturgis graduates attending the school if you’d like to have a more personal connection on campus.


Visits during the regular academic year provide a more accurate view of the academic and social life of a campus, but families often make use of summer vacation to visit several schools that are at a distance.  Where possible, it is a good idea to avoid the distortions of registration, final exams and special campus events such as homecomings or festivals.  Several high school holidays such as Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, and February and April vacations, allow students who visit colleges to minimize the disruption to their own academic program.


What Are Some Questions to Ask a College Admissions Representative?


             1.  What constitutes a typical first year program?

             2.  Who teaches first year courses - graduate assistants or permanent staff?

             3.  What is the average class size for first year and introductory courses?

             4.  Which departments are strongest?

             5.  To what extent is there interaction between faculty and students?

             6.  How good are the library facilities?  What are the library hours?

             7.  What cultural opportunities are available in the community?

8.     For what reasons did the students you see on campus choose that particular college?

9.     What is the makeup of the student body?  Are there a number of international

students and students from all over the U.S. and from all types of home          environments?  Does one region predominate?

            10.  Is there a professional counseling service available for career planning and

                    personal concerns?  Faculty advisor?

            11.  How active is student government?  What are some of the “hot” issues this


            12.  What are the opportunities for participating in intercollegiate or intramural


            13.  Is campus security an area of concern to students or faculty?







When Is a Good Time To Visit a College?


Students should begin planning college visits after they have given considerable thought to their abilities, interests, and career plans.  They should also consult with their guidance counselor and utilize on-line search instruments such as the College Board ( Your counselor may be able to provide you with names of Sturgis graduates attending the school.


Some students begin visiting colleges during the spring of their junior year.  Others visit campuses during the summer between the junior and senior year.  By starting early, the process will feel less stressful.  We strongly encourage Sturgis students to visit schools during the spring of junior year because of the demands of IB in the fall of senior year.



How Do You Make Arrangements For a Campus Visit?


Students should sign up on-line or call admissions offices at least two or three weeks in advance and make arrangements for a personal interview and a tour of campus facilities. Many colleges now enable students to register for visits on their websites.  Open houses can fill up quickly, students are encouraged to register early. Some colleges, usually large universities will grant only group interviews.  Most schools offer tours and group information sessions while others may offer personal interviews.  If you are interested in a particular major and have questions, you might wish to request to sit in on a class and/or meet with a faculty member.  At a few colleges, typically the most competitive schools, you may need to schedule an interview several months in advance.  Some Ivy League schools will not be able to grant a personal interview; they rely on alumnae/alumni interviews, which are arranged after an application is on file.


Take advantage of the campus tour often provided by the admissions office.

The library, student union, freshmen housing, music, drama, and athletic facilities are areas to consider in addition to the academic classes and labs. Sit in on classes if you are given the opportunity.  Talk to students in the dorms, in the student union, at the bookstore, or wherever they congregate. Eat in the cafeteria!


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Interview Tips


While the trend at colleges and universities is away from the once all-important personal interview and toward a more relaxed, general information meeting, some colleges still require an interview, some recommend it (which is an offer students should not refuse), and still others leave it up to the applicant.  We strongly recommend that you schedule an interview if it is an option.   College interviews are a great opportunity for the college to learn more about you and for you to learn more about the college.  An interview can prove crucial when the decision hangs in the balance.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:


Arrive promptly, dressed in a manner which you feel represents your "best

foot forward."


Conduct yourself in a friendly, inquisitive, and interested manner. 


While it is not necessary, feel free to bring your parents.  They probably won't

sit in on the interview but they too, may have questions and concerns which

may be answered on campus.



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Avoid being overly impressed by a "super salesperson" in the admissions office.

On the other hand, don't be "turned off" by an unimpressive admissions officer.

Try to gain information and don't be unduly influenced by a personality.


Be sure to prepare in advance a list of questions to ask about the school.  Bring

a written list to be sure you don't forget your questions due to nervousness or excitement in the interview.


Take this opportunity to discuss IB!  While there is a growing awareness of the IB, not all admissions counselors are IB savvy.  Explain our acronyms and jargon, e.g. IA, Mocks, External Assessments, EE, etc.


Avoid asking questions that can be readily answered by reading the catalog. 

This approach enables you to make the most effective use of your limited

interview time and may show a knowledge of the catalog and thorough planning on your part.



What Questions Might You Be Asked During An Interview?


            1.  Why have you selected this particular college?

            2.  In what academic areas are you interested?  Why? 

            3.  What kind of things are you most interested in outside of school?  Why?

4.  What type of reading matter do you enjoy?  How has a certain book influenced             


            5.  What, in your opinion, is a college education?  What do you hope to gain from


            6.  Is there a certain current event you are following?  Why is this event important

                 to you?



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What Is An Alumni Admissions Interview?


Some colleges do not give personal interviews to students, but do offer the option of an alumni interview.  Colleges are increasingly utilizing alumni in the college admissions process.  In some cases on campus interviews are not granted, but once an application is filed, the student may arrange for an alumni interview.  Many Ivy League schools utilize this system.  Please be aware that alumni interviews for highly selective schools are offered as a courtesy to all applicants and may have little bearing on admissions decisions.


In other cases, on-campus interviews are encouraged, but a student may be unable to arrange a visit.  In such cases, the alumni interview may be requested, and is a good alternative.  These interviews are arranged through the admissions office or through the alum and are often conducted locally.













Sample Thank You Letter to an Interviewer








Name of college visited



Dear (Name of interviewer):


            I was very pleased to meet with you on (date of interview)

and would like to thank you for the time and consideration you gave to me during my admission interview to (name of college).


            I particularly enjoyed (add point(s) which impressed you).  The tour guide, xxxxxx, was funny and informative.  I was amazed that he could walk backwards!  The science building, the labs and the up-to-date equipment definitely inspired me to want to attend your school.




(Your name)








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IB & College Admissions


Students and parents are often curious about how colleges view the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. The good news is that the vast majority recognize the rigor of the curriculum. The bad news is that there is no uniformity in how colleges factor the IB into their admissions decisions, nor is there uniformity in the way that colleges award credit for IB courses. We encourage you to research the answers to these questions for each of the colleges you are interested in.  If you find that your admissions officer is not familiar with IB programming, ask for the International Recruitment Admissions Official who will be more aware of the significance of the IB.


Begin with a college’s web site. Search the site for references to the IB. If you do not find the answer to your question, set up an appointment for an interview or an information session and pose your question. Should you have an interview remember to advocate for yourself. Explain that your courses require much more than the successful completion of an exam. Bring samples of your work, and discuss the various assessments, both internal and external, that you are required to complete.


The IB Programme is designed to provide students with critical thinking, communication and other skills that enable them to be successful in college. It does not offer students a guarantee of admission to their colleges of choice. However, as was mentioned earlier, the rigor of the program is broadly recognized, and more colleges in the US are beginning to court IB students with special scholarship opportunities and well articulated offers of credit. A few examples follow: Suffolk University, St. Lawrence University, The University of Rochester, SUNY Geneseo, Savannah College of Art and Design, Bennington College.  For additional information visit the IBO website ( and see your counselor.


Information for Students with Learning Differences


         Students with identified learning differences may want to investigate the programs and services that are specifically designed to meet their post-secondary educational needs. Within a four-year college there are often special support services necessary for the student to succeed in regular classes.  These programs also frequently provide non-credit courses which help the student identify her or his learning style and develop appropriate compensatory skills. Students with documented learning differences may request appropriate modifications such as extended time testing and taping of lectures and may take advantage of advances in technology to assist with reading, writing and taking notes. 


            There is sometimes a separate admissions process to enter a Learning Differences program. As students explore post-secondary options, they should raise questions about the availability of support services, the presence of trained learning specialists, and the provision for classroom modifications, if necessary. Support services provided on the college level do not necessarily mirror those provided by the high school.  


            A student must self-identify as an individual needing assistance due to a disability and supply the appropriate documentation from a qualified evaluator. In most instances, students should indicate in the application process the nature of the learning services they have received in high school, and the nature of accommodations that will be necessary in college, if any.  Sturgis cannot request assistance for you.  There may be a formal application and the college’s Office of Disability Services will request a copy of the most recent psycho-educational testing or other formal diagnostic information.  We are happy to provide students information from their files, if requested.  If the school has a special learning support program, the student should also be in contact with the director of that program during the admissions process.  Colleges that have a program for students with learning differences frequently require professional assessments that document and identify the specific learning disability of the student who is applying.


                                          Useful website:









Information for the Student Athlete


     Athletics is an area of special talent that can make a difference in the college admissions and financial aid process.  At most colleges, athletics are regulated by the rules established by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).  These guidelines are available on-line. The NCAA has instituted several rule changes in the last several years.  We suggest that student athletes do the following:


v Let your counselor know that you are interested in competing in athletics at 

the Division I or II level.  This is an extremely competitive process.  In almost all cases, students are recruited by colleges for the level of sport.    


v Inform your high school coach that you are interested in playing that sport in

college.  Work with the coach and ask if he or she will contact college coaches

on your behalf.  Give them a copy of your athletic resume.


v When visiting colleges be sure that you have read the NCAA Guidelines which

will inform you of the rules regarding contacting college coaches.


v To be eligible to participate at the Division I or II level, students must be certified

as eligible by the NCAA via the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse.



Website: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

NCAA information for college-bound students. Academic eligibility,

recruiting, etc.





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Computer Searches


            Internet searches enable students to perform a college search, get information about specific colleges, explore occupations, and explore additional sources of financial assistance, such as scholarships, much more quickly and efficiently than by any other means.

            Many students who want to develop a list of colleges or look for specific information about individual colleges can use the website.  Sturgis students are introduced to this useful tool in a classroom format during the early spring of junior year.


            The site contains information on approximately 4000 two-year and four year colleges.  It enables students to explore colleges that match certain factors selected by students, such as degree desired, geographic location, school size, and more.  Once a list is obtained, students can explore individual colleges and learn about degree offerings, entrance requirements, student life on campus, and extracurricular activities.


Other useful Internet resources are listed below:

Download The Common Application, accepted over 400 colleges and universities

Learn about SAT/ACT optional schools (that don’t require tests for admission)

Colleges that Change Lives

Information on retention rates, net price, campus security.  Objective statistics gathered by the federal government.

Retention, debt to earnings ratio, graduation rates

Peterson’s Education Center

A wide range of information and resources.

Information on loans and financial aid


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SAT        College Board Testing

            Students planning to attend college after graduation should take the College Board Entrance Examinations and/or the ACT Examinations. Both tests are universally accepted. Students should plan to take the SAT with essay and, if appropriate, the SAT Subject Tests in the spring of the junior year and probably again in the fall of their senior year.

            The SAT with essay is four hours long,   It measures ability to reason verbally and mathematically and to write.  The SAT is required by most four-year colleges and some two-year colleges.  Registration and practice tests are available on-line. We strongly encourage all of our students to sign up on the website for the SAT question of the day.  My College Quickstart also offers useful tools. Students who sat for the PSAT have accounts. 

            SAT Subject Tests are required by many private colleges, usually the more competitive institutions.  Those colleges that require the SAT Subject Tests often require two. A small number require three. It is a good idea to speak with your teachers before deciding which tests to take.  If not specified by the college, students may select the subject tests they wish to take.

Tests are given in Literature, American History and Social Studies, World History, Mathematics Level I Mathematics Level II, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Chinese with Listening, French and French with Listening, German and German with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese with Listening, Latin, Spanish and Spanish with Listening. 

All SAT Subject Tests take one hour, and a student can take a maximum of three on a given test date.  Students should confer with their counselor to determine if and when to take a specific test. A student cannot take the SAT with essay and the Subject Tests on the same test date.

Because last minute cramming is not likely to be of much use, a student who decides to take an SAT Subject Test in a subject she or he has not studied recently should review the course material over several weeks.   Sample questions are available on-line and are also contained in Taking the SAT Subject Tests, a booklet that students can obtain from their counselor.  In addition, preparation books for the SAT with essay and SAT Subject Tests are commercially available in many bookstores.

Sturgis’ College Examination Board (CEEB) High School numbers are located on the first page of this handbook. Please note that Sturgis is not a Test Center.  Test Centers are listed in the back of the registration bulletin and on the websites.  Students are reminded to bring a picture I.D. with them to the test.


Fee waivers


The College Board and the ACT companies provide fee waivers for students with demonstrated financial need.  Students that are granted fee waivers are also eligible for some free college applications.  If the cost of making application to college will be an obstacle, it is important to ask for the SAT or ACT fee waiver to ensure this benefit.  Fee waivers are also available for the SAT Subject Tests.  See your counselor for details concerning eligibility.




Test Scores and Score Reports


Scores can be obtained approximately three weeks after testing at the and websites.  Students’ score reports will be mailed to their home address about five weeks after the test. If students request that their scores be sent to colleges or scholarship programs, a report will be sent to each, usually within four weeks after the test.  Sturgis will also receive a score report if students provide our high school code number:

Sturgis EAST:   221-082

Sturgis WEST:  221-091


SAT score report requirements differ from college to college.


Fast Facts from the College Board website:


·  Students can select which scores they send to colleges by test date for the SAT and by individual test for

    SAT Subject Tests, through “Score Choice”.

·  If students need scores “Rushed” to colleges, this service is available from the

    website for an extra fee.

·  Scores from an entire SAT test are sent—scores of individual sections from different test dates cannot be

    selected independently for sending.

·  Students can send any or all scores to a college on a single report—it does not cost more to send one,

    multiple or all test scores.

·  Students are instructed to follow the different score-use practice for each college to which they apply.

·  “Score Choice” is optional—if students do not use it, all scores will be sent automatically.  


For the ACT, all test scores from all test dates are NOT sent together in one file.  Students request specific score reports be sent for each test date, to each college.

Requests for scores to be sent from test companies should be made at least four weeks before the date colleges and scholarship programs need to receive a report. This can be done on-line.   It is the student’s responsibility to release scores to colleges.



                                 What is the ACT?


The ACT is an alternative to the SAT. It is administered by the American College Testing Service located in Iowa City, Iowa.

The ACT is composed of four 35 to 50 minute sections in English usage, mathematics usage, social studies reading, and natural science reading.  There is an optional Writing test (recommended). The ACT + writing can sometimes replace the need to take SAT Subject Tests. If students need more information about the ACT, they should seek out an ACT guide, check with their counselor and go to the website



Managing the College Application Process


Your Transcript Package:  Putting it Together


            It is the student’s responsibility to see that their application is complete by calling the college two weeks after materials have been sent.  Many colleges now provide an electronic PIN for on-line status checks. 


            In addition to the student’s portion of the application, colleges and universities require a number of supplemental pieces of information which, taken together, form a student’s “transcript package”.  This transcript package is sent electronically and/or on paper from the Counseling Office directly to each college to which a student is applying.  A student’s transcript package includes:


1.     A transcript of high school courses

2.     If a candidate for the full IB Diploma, a special notation appears on transcript.

3.     GPA as of end of Junior year.

4.     Report card noting senior year classes and grades to-date

5.     A counselor recommendation

6.     Secondary School Report Form

7.     Sturgis profile and mission statement

8.     Description of IB Diploma Programme

9.     First term grades

10.  Mid-year report after first semester

11.  Final transcript in June

12.  Transcript package from Sturgis does not include SAT/ACT scores.



Sending Test Scores


It is important to note that your SAT and/or ACT test scores are not a part of your transcript. You are responsible for requesting that the College Board or ACT forward official scores to the colleges/universities to which you are applying.


Official standardized test scores need to be sent directly from the SAT company and/or from the ACT company, as applicable.



Test Optional Colleges and Universities

            According to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (, as of the spring of 2016 over 850 four-year colleges and universities across the United States have de-emphasized the use of the SAT or ACT when making admissions decisions about a substantial number of their incoming freshmen. While these colleges and universities range widely in size, selectivity and culture, and have moved away from using standardized tests to make admissions decisions for a variety of reasons, they share concerns about the impact of over reliance on the tests.

            A test-optional admissions policy means certain applicants can choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores. However, it is important to note that the rules governing these policies vary from college to college. Some test-optional schools will not accept or consider your test scores at all; others require test scores under certain conditions; some colleges and universities require test scores only for certain types of students, such as out-of-state students, students in certain majors, or those applying for college-based scholarships; while still others have created alternative test policies that allow students to submit scores from Advanced Placement tests, SAT Subject Tests, or International Baccalaureate (IB) results.

            For many students, hearing that some colleges are "test optional" is great news. However, this does not mean students can avoid taking the SAT or ACT. The vast majority of colleges (there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States alone) still require standardized test scores. Nonetheless, if you are a student who has difficulty with standardized testing, test-optional colleges may be well worth considering, and you should consider discussing an appropriate strategy with your guidance counselor.

         FairTest maintains a searchable list of colleges and universities that de-emphasize the use of standardized tests by making admissions decisions about substantial numbers of applicants who recently graduated from U.S. high schools without using the SAT or ACT. You can search for schools alphabetically or by state. After reviewing the list, students should check with each prospective school's admissions office to learn more about specific admissions requirements. You can usually find this information on the college's website. If you are considering applying to a test-optional college, carefully review the school's test-optional admissions information before you decide not to submit test scores.


Teacher Recommendations and

Teacher Recommendation Forms


Be sure to give your teacher advance notice and allow your teacher a minimum of three to four weeks to complete your recommendation.


Most colleges/universities require one teacher recommendation, some require two. If you have not yet done so, please make an appointment to meet with the teacher you intend to ask for a recommendation. In addition to requesting the teacher’s support, plan to spend a few minutes familiarizing the teacher with your college plans. Please keep in mind that the best recommendation letters come from teachers who know you well, often those who have seen you struggle, yet succeed in mastering a subject.  If a college required two letters from teachers, please speak with your counselor before asking the second teacher.  Once a teacher has agreed to write for you, it will serve you well to submit the Teacher Recommendation Form.  The are supplied just to the right of the Counseling Office door.


We strongly recommend that you waive your right, (as part of the FERPA, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) to view the letters of recommendation. College and university admissions personnel feel such letters are more open and candid and, as a result, tend to give them more weight in the admissions process.


Ask your teacher to return the letter directly to the college admissions office, or upload to the school’s online interface, or, in the case of the Common Application as directed by an email they will receive from the Common Application website.  If a paper version will be mailed, provide the teacher with a business-size envelope, addressed to the college, and jot the school's deadline and your name on the inside flap of the envelope. No return address should be written on each envelope. Sturgis will cover the cost of the stamp, included in the CAPS fee paid years ago.

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If a college application you are completing contains its own Teacher Recommendation Form(s), we suggest the following:


1.    Complete the steps as outlined above.

2.    Fill out the personal information section on the college’s teacher form, and then give it to the teacher with the materials listed.  If you request the letter before you are sure of which colleges you are applying to, provide those materials to the teacher as soon as possible.







Application Forms


While traditional paper applications are still available, many colleges/universities are now encouraging students to apply on-line. Regardless of the format that you choose, keep in mind that neatness, grammar and effort count. First impressions are important, and often your application is the first contact the reader has with you.  Make sure that you have a “second set of eyes” review your application before submission.


Take the time to personalize your responses to each individual school. Like you, colleges are exploring fit, and they are interested in knowing if you have done your research. Do not short-change your application by offering a “one size fits all” response when asked why you want to attend a particular school.


Finally, print a copy of your completed application form. From time to time applications and supporting materials do not find their way to the correct location. To avoid the hassle of having to fill out the application for a second time, have a back-up.





            The college essay is one part of the application process that gives students the opportunity to inform admissions officials about their special abilities, interests, and qualities, or about any significant factors that might set them apart from a large number of qualified applicants.  As many colleges begin to doubt the usefulness of standardized test scores, college essays are being given more weight than ever in the admissions process.  While a superb essay will not cancel out a poor high school record, a well-written essay can make a student with a good record stand out from the other applicants.


When it comes to essays, avoid the obvious. Do not repeat information that the college admissions counselor will be able to glean from your transcript, a resume of activities and awards, or from a short answer response on the application. Your essay should add “dimension” to your application. Share an experience that gives the reader insight into you as a person. To make sure that your “authentic voice” comes through, share your essay with a trusted friend and a teacher. Ask them if it sounds like you.


            Colleges that ask students to write essays really do want to know the person behind the numbers.  A good essay can present the student as an interesting and valuable person who is worth knowing, who is genuine, thoughtful, engaging, and able to handle what he or she has set out to do.  An essay can also comment on any setbacks the student has suffered or explain any gaps in the academic record.



In general, essays are evaluated on three basic criteria:


·      The student's ability to use standard written English that is correctly written, punctuated, and contains correct grammar, usage, and syntax.

·      The content, substance, and depth of insight which reflects the student's ability to

       think about him/her self and to convey authentic feelings or opinions about a topic.   

·      Creativity and originality which shows an individual who would bring qualities

       such as  intellect, initiative, energy, and a fresh viewpoint to the college community.


Students writing college essays would do well to avoid the following:

·      Beware of inflating experiences, trying too hard to impress, or adopting a pompous or overly intellectual tone.                     

·      Omit expressions of anger or hostility toward others.

·      Avoid mere repetition of information that is available elsewhere in the application.          

·      Undue influence by parents or other adults in the writing of the essay.  The voice of an adult can easily come through an essay too strongly and drown out the authentic voice of the student writer.

·      General statements and clichés that make the essay unremarkable from hundreds of

      similar essays which are read by admissions officials.  Telling details and specifics

      make the essay "live".

·      Being overcautious or too eager to please the admissions committee.  A mediocre

      essay won't hurt the applicant much, but a truly good one can help immensely.           


2016-2017  Common Application Essay Prompts

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

 2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.








Tips for Working with The Common Application

Save the e-mail you receive when you initially register, you may want the link information.

Save your work often. Logout after each session.

Be aware that most colleges will also have a supplement for you to fill out, and these supplements might include additional essays.

Please keep in mind that the “search” tool is limited in scope to member schools (600+).  It does not offer the range of schools that you would find using other search vehicles such as College Board (4000+).

Note:  The “Questions” section of the application is specific to each school.  All other sections are common to all schools.  Do not tailor your responses to questions OR your Common Application essay to a specific school!

Mandatory fields have a red asterisk.  All other information is optional, although you are encouraged to respond.

Students applying to colleges/universities that are “test optional” should consider whether to list the scores on the application, as they will go to all schools.

Enter all course information.  Enter HL courses first.

Use a word processor to type your writing samples before uploading them into the online forms.

Once you hit send your application is gone:  you can no longer edit it. You can make changes for applications to schools that you have not yet “submitted” yet, however.

Even though you self-report test scores, you must submit official results through the College Board and/or ACT.

When requesting recommendations and supporting documents, remember to authorize the release of your transcript, and acknowledge the FERPA Privacy Notice responding to the waiver regarding access to teacher/counselor recommendations.

Please Note:  we will not submit our Secondary School Report until you submit your first application (we have access to this information).

Helpful information to keep handy:

Sturgis EAST School Code (CEEB):  221082           Sturgis WEST School Code (CEEB): 221091

Sturgis EAST  Phone #:  508-778-1782                     Sturgis WEST Phone #:  508-771-2780

Sturgis EAST Fax  #:  508-771-6785                         Sturgis WEST Fax #:  508-771-0287 










At least three weeks before your first deadline you need to provide your counselor and any teachers you have asked to write recommendations with the following:


Completed transcript request form to counselor or “invitation” from Common Application.


Teacher envelopes (for non-common app schools) should be addressed to schools. No return address should be written on envelope. No stamp required.


If a college application contains a Secondary School Report Form, complete the personal information section on the form and submit it to your counselor, with your Transcript Request Form.


Every college bound senior needs to review their college application deadlines with her/his counselor by December 1st.


Please remember, due to other work commitments your counselor and teachers may not be in a position to accommodate a last minute request for a letter of recommendation.


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Once Your Applications Have Been Submitted


Be aware, it may take two or three weeks for colleges to receive, sort and file materials sent from Sturgis on your behalf (letters, transcripts, etc.)  Once you click “submit” on an electronic application, you may receive a notice that items from your high school are “missing”.  Check back in two weeks with the college, that should give them enough time to register your paperwork from Sturgis.


Once your applications for admission have been submitted, it’s important to take steps to finance your college education: file for financial aid; look into and apply for scholarships; and look into loan and other financing options. This part of the process involves some serious family discussions, as well as some substantial paperwork. Now it’s time to manage this end of the process. Begin by researching the paperwork required by the schools you are applying to (the FAFSA, and the CSS profile (if required) and/or any school forms) as well as their recommended filing dates.

Financial Aid


Sturgis hosts an annual Financial Aid Information Night in the fall for parents of seniors.  Save October 17, 2016 for this year’s event. This event provides an overview of the financial aid process for parents and students. Also, is a useful source of information.  After acceptances and financial aid award letters are in-hand, counselors will host another informational event in April: Making an Informed Decision.  Students need to commit and deposit to one college by May 1st.

         Financial aid programs are designed to assist those who, without such assistance, would be unable to meet the costs of a post-secondary education.  Financial aid comes from

several different sources: The federal and state government, colleges and universities, local private organizations, and scholarship programs.

            While eligibility for financial aid is generally based on need, some financial assistance is awarded not on the basis of need, but for scholastic excellence, athletics, or other specialized talents.  Student financial need will vary from college to college according to the cost of attending the school and how much the student/family is expected to contribute to the student's education.  Need is not one set dollar amount.


Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution = Financial Need


Cost of Attendance: Each college or university has its own cost of attendance.  This is calculated using a combination of actual costs and indirect costs.  Actual costs are those expenses that will be billed to students such as tuition and fees and room and board if the student will be living on campus.  It will also include indirect costs (not billed) that students still must plan for such as travel and books.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): All colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs will require families to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The information provided on this form will help financial aid officers determine a student’s eligibility for a variety of programs including grants, loans, and work-study.  The FAFSA will produce an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which will be used to determine a student’s need for assistance.  The EFC is primarily based on student income, parent income, family size, and student and parent assets (not including the home).  It is a complex formula, established by Congress that includes things like allowances that vary depending on how close the parents are to retirement.

            Financial Need: Financial need is the difference between the Cost of Attendance and the EFC.  Since costs vary greatly between schools, a student’s financial need can also vary greatly.  For example, a student with an EFC of $6,000 attending a community college with a Cost of Attendance that is $5,500 will not be eligible for need-based financial aid.  If that same student was attending a private 4 year school with a Cost of Attendance of $56,000, the need would be $50,000.  Please be aware that just because a student has financial need does not guarantee that each school will meet financial need.  The student in this example may have $50,000 in need, but it is unlikely that they will actually receive $50,000 in financial aid.  Schools use a combination of federal, state and institutional resources to meet as much need as they can for each student.

            Some schools, particularly private institutions, will require additional forms including the CSS Profile form and/or an institutional financial aid form.  You should check with each school to see which forms are required and what the deadlines are.  The FAFSA (that determines the federal EFC) cannot be filed until after January 1 for the following September.  The Profile and institutional forms can be filed prior to January 1 and may be used by some schools to estimate a financial aid award early, particularly in the case of early action or early decision admissions.  Be sure to check deadlines.

            Although colleges and universities must use the FAFSA Expected Family Contribution to determine federal and state aid, they may use additional information that is collected through the CSS Profile or their own form to calculate an institutional family contribution.  This number could be quite different from the federal EFC.  The college or university may use the institutional family contribution to award their own institutional grants and scholarships.


Completing Financial Aid Applications


1.         FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – on or after October 1 (not before) – 

Learn more from helpful videos here:


Before you can complete the FAFSA, you must apply for two pin numbers – one for the student and one for the parents.  These will serve as electronic signatures when the form is submitted.  You will find a link to the PIN website on the main FAFSA website.   You may estimate the information based on the prior year’s tax return.  The FAFSA has an option that allows you to link your tax return to your FAFSA.  This is the easiest way to have the information updated later once your returns have been filed.

2.              CSS Profile – Administered by The College Board –

3.              Institutional Financial Aid applications – Check each school’s website for requirements and deadlines.

4.              Tax Returns - You will use information from your federal tax return from the prior- prior year (see #1) to complete your FAFSA.  A percentage of applications are selected for verification as part of the process.  Sometimes this is random, and sometimes it is because there is conflicting information on an application.  If this happens, you will be notified by each school and required to complete a verification form (from each college or university).  If FAFSA is able to link with the IRS, then you will not need to submit tax returns to the financial aid office.  If the link can not be made and you are selected for verification, then you will be required to obtain a tax return transcript from the IRS and submit it to the financial aid office.


The fafsa4caster is a helpful tool to estimate how much federal student aid a student might expect.


Packaging: Packaging is the term used by financial aid officers to describe the process of using family financial information and availability of financial aid funds to determine what types of financial aid and in what amounts will be offered to a student.  The financial aid package will consist of a combination of different types of assistance including grants and scholarships (free aid that does not need to be repaid), student loans (will need to be repaid), work-study (student works – usually on campus - for a paycheck), and sometimes parent loans.  Some schools vary the proportion of each kind of aid based on the student's academic performance or other factors.

Need Blind:  Need Blind admissions guarantees equal opportunities for admission into a college or university regardless of the student's ability to pay for the costs at that college. There are only a handful of colleges in the country that actually have need blind policies. These schools have substantial endowments.


Need Sensitive:  Need Sensitive admissions will sometimes take into consideration a student's ability to pay for the college costs when deciding to admit the student. In actuality, the vast majority of colleges and universities are need sensitive in one way or the other.


Types of Financial Aid


Grants and Scholarships


Federal Pell Grant: These federal grants, awarded to eligible full and part-time undergraduate students, are available to the students with the most need based on Expected Family Contribution.  The amounts range from $400 to $5,775 per year for the 2015 -16 school year.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (SEOG):  This is another type of federal grant that is offered to students with exceptional need (usually also eligible for the Federal Pell Grant).  

MASSGrant:  This grant program is for Massachusetts residents who are enrolled in a certificate, associate, or bachelor degree program and attending a Massachusetts college or university as a full-time student.  The MASSGrant may be used at eligible institutions in other states that have reciprocity agreements with Massachusetts.  These include New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.  Award amounts vary depending on the student’s EFC and the type of institution he or she attends.  Students apply by completing the FAFSA by May 1.

Institutional Scholarships: Colleges and universities often offer their own scholarships.  Some of these may be merit based and will be awarded at the time the student is accepted.  Other awards will be based on financial need.  These types of scholarships are often renewable each year as long as the student is making satisfactory academic progress or maintaining a particular GPA.




Federal Direct Student Loan (Formerly called the Stafford Loan):  These loans are offered by the federal government to eligible students.  Student eligibility is determined by the financial aid officer, and these loans will usually be included in a student’s financial aid package.  There are two types of Federal Direct Student Loans – subsidized and unsubsidized.  Subsidized loans will have their interest paid by the government while a student is in school at least half time.  Unsubsidized loans will not have the interest paid – it will accrue and may be paid by the student monthly while in school or deferred along with the principal. Students must have financial need to be eligible for the subsidized loans.  Eligible students can borrow up to $5500 in their freshman year (subsidized) with an additional $2000 (unsubsidized) , $6500 in their sophomore year with an additional $2000 (unsubsidized), and $7500 in their junior and senior years to a maximum of $31,000.  When a student graduates or takes a break from school, they have a 6 month deferment period that is also interest free before they have to start making payments.  If they re-enroll in school, their Direct loans may be put back into deferment.  The current interest rate is 4.29%.

Perkins Loan:  This federal loan program, administered by the individual colleges, provides low-interest educational loans for qualified students who are enrolled at least half-time.  Like the subsidized direct loan, the loan is deferred as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time.  The current interest rate is 5%.  Not all schools participate in this program.

         Federal Direct Plus Loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students):  A parent may borrow up to the total cost of attendance minus any financial aid received.  Interest rates change yearly.  For the -14 year, the rate was 6.84%.  The parent must not have an adverse credit history.  Repayment usually begins 30-45 days after loan disbursement.


Other Aid


Federal Work Study Program (FWS):  Many colleges and universities include work study in their financial aid packages.  This is a need-based program, so not all students will qualify.  Students will usually work on campus (library, cafeteria, administrative office, computer lab, etc) for an hourly rate that is at or just above minimum wage.  Most students work 6 - 18 hours depending on their time and the amount of their award.  They complete a timesheet each week and receive a paycheck for the hours worked.  Since the money must be earned, it can not usually be applied directly to the tuition bill.  This money is usually used to help the student pay for travel and personal expenses throughout the year.  The student may earn up to the amount that is awarded to them.

Payment Plans: Most schools offer monthly payment plans that allow families to spread the balance after financial aid over 9 to 12 months with a minimal fee or no fee and no interest.


Additional Resources


National Search Vehicles:  Students should use national scholarship search vehicles such as: or

Beware of any scholarship sites charging you a fee!  Stay away!  There are lots of free services out there!

College’s Institutional Scholarships:  Be sure to check out the website of each school to which you are applying.  Some schools have separate applications with deadlines for their merit scholarships.

Other Outside Scholarships: Check with any civic and religious organizations to which you or your family belong.  These types of organizations often offer small scholarships to students.












Additional Resources


National Search Vehicles

Students should use national scholarship search vehicles such as:


College’s Institutional Scholarships

College merit scholarship websites


Beware of any scholarship sites charging you a fee!  Stay away!  There are lots of free services out there!




Senior Year:

Academic Concerns and Follow Through



Academic Performance


Sturgis follows the National Association of College Admissions Counselors Statement of Principles and Good Practices pertaining to responsibilities in the college counseling and advising process.  As such, we agree to report any significant changes in a candidate’s academic status or qualifications, including the personal conduct record, between the time of recommendation and graduation.  Accordingly, we will notify a college or university of a change in IB diploma status or a change in course level.



Admissions decisions are also contingent on the successful completion of all course work, and admissions officers reserve the right to reverse an admissions decision should there be a shift in academic status including personal conduct.


The Wait List: Questions and Answers



Should I ask to remain active on the wait list?


            Yes, only if you are seriously interested in attending that college.  Notify the college  in writing or by returning the postcards many colleges provide for that purpose as soon as possible.  If you definitely will attend if admitted, let the college know your intentions.


Should I continue to communicate with the college admissions office?


            Yes!  Students that have been successful at getting off of the Wait List have kept the admissions office informed about any new academic accomplishments, award, achievements, and projected IB scores (if strong). 


When will I learn if I will be admitted from the wait list?


            The earliest you can expect to hear from colleges is late April, but typically not until after the first week of May.  Most colleges will finalize the status of students by June 1st.  Occasionally colleges will extend the opportunity to remain on a wait list throughout the summer.


Should I call the college?


            No.  Colleges will only ask you to indicate your position in writing.  Until the first week or so of May, colleges rarely have any information that will be helpful to you in your planning and decision process.


What are my chances?


            Until early May this is an impossible question for even the colleges to answer.  Quite simply, they do not know.  Colleges must wait to hear from all of the students to whom they have extended an offer of admission.  Those students have until May 1st to respond.  Often times those responses, mailed on April 30, do not arrive until May 3rd or 4th.  Wait list practices vary from year to year.  Therefore, past practice has no bearing on the current wait list.


How many applicants usually end up on a wait list?


            Usually quite a few.  For even a small school 300-500 is not unusual.  Remember, not everyone who is offered a position on a wait list will choose to remain on the list.  The initial number placed on a wait list usually "melts down" quite significantly.







What can I do to improve my chances? 


            If your transcript since mid-year is good, sending it along to the colleges may help.  If you've taken on responsibilities or in any other way distinguished yourself since you applied, don't hesitate to let the colleges know.  Remember, though, despite your continued accomplishments, college may not be in a position to offer admission to wait listed students.


Should I try to set up another interview?


            Colleges rarely permit second interviews, particularly before May 1st.  If you happen to be in the area it doesn't hurt to stop by "just to check on things", and to say hello.  A major investment of time and money to visit a college where you have been placed on a wait list is probably not worth the effort.  Consult with your counselor regarding this matter.  It will vary from case to case.


What should I do while I wait?


            Assume you are not going to get in off the wait list.  Statistics clearly indicate the chances are quite a bit less than 50/50.  The most important thing for you to do at this time is to focus on the options you do have and make an informed, rational decision regarding those options.


Should I make an enrollment deposit at my second choice college?


            YES!  You should make a deposit at the college that you feel is the next “best fit” option.  Unfortunately this fee is normally not refundable after May 1st, but it is important for you to guarantee that you have a place in a college next year.


What should I do if I have been placed on several wait lists?


            There is nothing wrong with remaining on more than one wait list as long as each one of them is a school that you are more interested in than the options you currently have.  Obviously you can only indicate to one of them that they are your first choice.


Who should I keep informed about my wait list status?


            Your parents and your counselor should be kept advised of your status.  There should be no miscommunication or lack of communication during this time.









Career Decision Making


      Students who are unsure of their future educational and/or occupational plans, unable

to decide whether or not to continue with their education, or confused by the number of

educational and/or occupational possibilities, can meet with their guidance counselor to:


        Obtain information about career or educational options,


         Identify those options that have possibilities,


         Evaluate the possible outcomes of different options, and


         Choose one or several options to pursue.                             




     Through the use of interest surveys, computer-aided educational and occupational searches, and by exploring the available materials, students can either narrow or increase their options, depending on their objective.  Students who are having some difficulty putting together their post-secondary plans or would like to discuss questions about their future plans are encouraged to see their counselor.


Deferring College Acceptance

The Gap Year


            Many students are not yet ready or prefer not to go directly to college or to some other degree granting educational programs immediately after completing high school.  Some choose to work full time before enrolling at a college, others are seeking alternatives for a single transition year.


            In a process called deferred admissions, students can apply to college in the fall of their senior year and in the spring ask permission of the college they wish to attend to defer their enrollment for one year.  Enrollment can also be deferred until the following January.  In other words, students wanting to pursue this option can maintain their acceptance to a college but not begin until a year or six months later.  A student and a family who are thinking about this option should discuss the idea with their school counselor as well as consider the following:


1.     Why do students take gap years?


Some of the reasons students take gaps years are rejuvenation, discovering interests, earning money for college costs, growing up and establishing independence, gaining skills, transitioning from high school to the world of work, and gaining information regarding college majors or course of studies.


2.     How do I research gap year programs?


Talk with your school counselor, search the internet,, read books and guides, and talk to friends who have taken a gap year.


3.     What type of gap year programs are available?


Students can create their own Gap Year plans. 

Academic, adventure/trips; arts; community service, environmental, work experience, travel/culture.


4.     Should I attend a gap year fair to learn more about options available?


To find a USA Gap Year Fair more information and a location near you, go to




College Vocabulary

Associate's Degree: granted after satisfactory completion of a two-year program.

Bachelor's Degree: granted after satisfactory completion of a four-year program.

Candidates Reply Date: May 1, the deposit deadline for most schools using the regular admission system.

Common Application:  A uniform college application accepted by almost 600 colleges which simplifies the process of applying to those colleges. See

Community College: a two-year college established by a state government; generally the tuition is low and the education of good quality.

Deferred Admission: permits an accepted student to postpone enrollment for a year or more.

Early Decision: A binding decision. Student applies early to first choice school. If accepted, the student must withdraw all applications from other schools and is ethically bound to attend this school. Students not accepted under Early Decision are often added to the regular pool of applicants.

Early Action: student applies early, if accepted, is not bound to attend and need not accept the admission offer prior to May 1.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): the amount that your family is expected to contribute toward your education. The amount is similar for different colleges, even though the colleges' costs vary.

Fee Waiver: provided by the testing agency, this permits eligible students to submit college applications or test registration forms without the fee. Waivers for eligible students available through counselors.

Financial Aid Package/Award: a combination of grants/scholarships, loans and work-study that the college is able to offer you to meet your financial need.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): the primary form used to determine your eligibility for financial aid.

Group Interview: an interview including several or many applicants with a representative from the college's admissions office. During these interviews, students hear about the school and ask questions.

Liberal Arts: a degree program consisting of study in the area of arts, natural sciences and humanities.

Open Admissions: all students who meet a college's minimum grade and test score requirements are accepted. Decisions are made continually throughout the year.

CSS Profile: used by colleges, universities, and scholarships to award their own private funds.

Regular Admissions: colleges using this plan generally have a January, February or March application deadline and notify all of the applicants at the same time (usually around April 15).

Rolling Admissions: the process in which a candidate’s file is reviewed once complete and a decision is rendered shortly thereafter with notification following.

SAT with essay:  A four hour test minute test of verbal, mathematical reasoning and writing ability. 

SAT Subject Test (formerly SAT II):  Standardized tests given by the College Board which measure knowledge in specific subject areas.  Students can take up to three one-hour tests in one sitting.  College that require SAT Subject Tests generally require two.

Student Aid Report (SAR): reports aid eligibility information from the FAFSA.

Waitlist: A possible admissions decision, in which students are notified only after the admitted candidates have accepted admission, with space permitting.












Appendix of

Helpful Forms, Sample Essays


Additional Information
The Campus Visit


Don’t let your campus visits blend together!  Write your thoughts down while the visit experience is still fresh in your mind.  Take pictures.


School_________________                            City, State____________Visit Date________________


Planning:  Location of Admissions Office______________________________

Tour Time:____________Date____________Phone______________________

Interview Time:_________________________Date______________Phone_____________


On-Campus Impressions


The Campus Tour (Guide’s Name) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



The Interview:  Is there something left to mention in your thank you note, something you may have forgotten to say? (Interviewer’s name and title) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Other discoveries while on campus (facilities, student center, resources)



Overall Assessment


Worth remembering (extracurricular activities, politics, arts, ecology, music, new construction, social life or lack of social life) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What I like most about this school:___________________________________________

What I like least about this school:____________________________________________



Off Campus Resources:_____________________________________________________


Number of students?____________________


Athletic facilities______________________________________________




Does the school have what I am looking for?________________


Would I feel comfortable here?___________________


Visit for more useful information.


Handy pocket guide for college visits:





Sturgis Student-College Essays

(reprinted with permission)


August was upon me. It arrived with such expert stealth that I never noticed July had left. But had it had left, and now I am faced with the dilemma that it left behind - my horse Danny, had suffered a major ligament injury to his left leg in June and would not be ready to travel with me to Saugerties, New York, in two weeks for Lendon Grey’s Youth Dressage Festival. This annual show was by far the biggest equine event I've ever been invited to compete in, and it seemed that my last chance to attend had been tugged just out of reach.

This past summer, I was a newcomer to both trainer Sandi Every and the discipline of dressage. I had been a "backyard "rider who loved horses but knew very little about them, and will admit I thought dressage riders to be a bit snobbish. Upon being adopted to Sandi's program, I found it not only that I loved the dressage riders and their often intense appreciation of horses, but also that I loved dressage. It was the most elegant, disciplined, precise, yet free dance between two partners I had ever seen. Nothing had ever challenged me to place so much time and trust into a teammate before as dressage was for me with Danny, and I enjoyed spending chasm of our language barrier. By July, both Danny and I had become refined and controlled in our muscles and movement, and we had begun to connect in a way that creates one being out of two.

But then July gave way to August, and Danny's leg was too unstable to considering competing. Initially, I refused to go to New York without him, explaining that I loved him and he was the only "dance partner” for me. In reality, I was afraid of failure and letting the team down, and I seriously considered backing out of the invitation. I see now how safe and stupid that decision it would have been.

As it turns out, my trainer, my team, and my mom had far more faith in me than I had in myself. I was offered more horses, more instructions, and much more encouragement, and about three days before the show I accepted the offer of an old gray mare named Idle Fling. I repacked the trailer with all of her tack and supplies, and prayed the whole five-hour drive that we'd at least not drag the team score too low. What happened over the next four days surprised everyone, but no one more than me. Not only did I focus under the pressure, but I actually rode better on that horse, whom I had never met, then I had ever written before. After my written test on two prescribed books, my equitation class judged on posture and seat, and the comprehensive dressage test judged on the accuracy of your pattern as well as the teamwork and ability of both horse and rider, I ended up with a high score on my team and the second highest as an individual in my division. I found I was extremely underestimating my abilities especially under pressure, as well as just how much faith I had from my team and my mom. And quite uncharacteristically, I branched out. I took a chance, I welcomed risk, and wore my hairnet and breeches all day in public.

I know this horse show was not a monumental feat by most standards, even if it may have seemed then, but is doesn't take a monumental feat to change a life. Over that weekend I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I saw the power of writing opportunities as they come regardless of their circumstances. I took my first a small leap off the ledge of a cliff only to find that I could fly after all.


Sturgis Student-College Essay


This past summer I ventured abroad for the first time. I had been invited to be a student ambassador and travel through a "People to People" program to Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales over twenty days. People to People was founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower to give the United States’ students a chance to travel abroad and represent the country. The mission is to challenge students intellectually, physically, and to build leadership skills. Some of the activities on the trip ranged from meeting with a former member of Parliament in England to repelling off a castle in Wales.

Prior to my departure, I felt excited but nervous since I had never traveled that far away from home without my family. I hoped that this trip would go smoothly but it was rocky from the start. My mother had advised me to pack less "stuff "and bring more money. However, being the know-it all-teenager, I thought I could get by with $150. It never crossed my mind that my $150 would not be worth the same amount in British pounds. I realized this when, at the beginning of the first week, I purchased a gift for my parents that left me with 20 pounds for the remaining two weeks.

When I realized that every stop on our trip across the United Kingdom had gift shops and saw my friends buying gifts for their families, I began to regret leaving my mother’s advice at home. I became so desperate for money that I was willing to do chores for other students on the trip. I did laundry to earn two pounds and even attempted to auction my brand-new sunglasses and sneakers. I hit an all-time low when, one morning, my friend told me she dropped five pounds in the toilet of her hotel room. Five minutes later I swallowed my pride as I rolled up my sleeves and reached into the watery depths to retrieve my sunken treasure.

I began to grasp the futility of scrounging around for money which I did not really need, especially since I only had two weeks left to enjoy my time abroad. I wanted to use my time to my advantage, exploring the new cultures in which "People to People "immersed me. Instead of and envying my friends shopping, I spent my extra time on my own, talking to the locals, and learning their dialect and customs. I began to truly appreciate the scenery when I was by myself, taking pictures of the green hills, tranquil farmlands, lively cities, and ancient architecture that I experienced over my three week sojourn.

Driving through the countryside in Wales wasn't an especially memorable experience. I remember gazing out the window at the green hills, while nearly everyone else was sleeping on the bus. I felt at ease as I rested my head back and examined every inch of the countryside that we passed as the bus grew smaller as it strolled through the growing hills. It was a changing experience for me because I have never seen such beauty as I did in those lush green hills staring back at me.

Even though I had the disadvantage of running out of money early in the trip, the setback proved to be a blessing. While my friends were focused on the next gift shop and purchasing "stuff "to show off back home, I managed to take away something different: a lesson that cannot be bought. I learned that it was not necessarily what you have that makes an experience, but what you take away. I might not have brought back a sweatshirt plastered with the name of a tourist attraction, but I did bring back the knowledge and experience of a new continent and culture, seen through my own eyes.


Sturgis Student-College Essay


The sign read: TAKE BIG STEPS. Slowly and carefully, I started to fumble up the big steps to the colossal boat before my eyes. At the top of the long, tedious climb awaited a three day environmental seminar on the TS Enterprise offered to me through an advanced leadership program at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. As I stepped onto the TS Enterprise I walked past many officers dressed from head to toe in uniform. As I began to smell a mixture of oil and salt water, I thought to myself, "This is going to be awful. What was I thinking when I signed up for this!"

Minutes passed as I put my belongings on my bed, which was the middle bunk of a "triple-bunk” bed gradually becoming more and more discouraged, I sat down in the cafeteria, where we had been told to go once we settled in. I felt as if everyone there knew someone, everyone except me. As I was pulling my cell phone out of my back pocket, in an attempt to call my mom and beg her to pick me up, they walked in. And they began to speak. "You have your schedules, you should know where to go. And if you don't, well the ship isn't that big." Wrong! That ship was huge! But I figured now would be a good time to put on my big girl pants and do things for myself.

I headed to my first destination: a lecture on the benefits and problems with wind farms on Cape Cod. "This ought to be interesting," I thought to myself as I sulked into my seat. A few hours passed, dinner had been served after lecture, I was beginning to make some friends, and I was thoroughly fascinated by what the woman speaking earlier that day had to say. Later throughout the three day seminar, all of my fellow novices, and now friends, were told to head off ship toward Harrington building, where we were about to be lectured on career choices through the fields of math and science. On the third day, I even signed myself up for the next seminar they had available. Never had I been so sure that I was on the right path with my education. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to be.

We all sat in the cafeteria Sunday morning, waiting for a closing speech from the director of the program, and anxious for the fearful moment where we'd have to say our goodbyes. After that painful hour or so, I went back down to my triple-bunk bed and gathered my things, sparing time so that I could change into my new environmental symposium shirt that they had given me. Janelle called for me to walk off the ship with her, something new best friends would do together.

As I began to walk down the greatly spaced steps to the concrete floor, I saw the big sign again: TAKE BIG STEPS. Leaving the TS Enterprise inspired and passionate, I took the big steps off the ship and toward my future, without fumbling one bit.











Sturgis Student-College Essay


It all came about at the end of seventh grade; it was a typical Colorado summer day, I remembered because the black seats in the car were blistering hot the day we set off on our journey to Cape Cod. This was no ordinary road trip. It was a 2000 mile adventure from the jagged soaring Rocky peaks, through the winding Black Hills to Mount Rushmore, a long track across the Badlands of South Dakota, crossing the wide Missouri, through the lush farmlands of Wisconsin, on past the Great Lakes and over Niagara Falls to a spit of land jetting out into the ocean. To up the ante, I was leaving everything I knew behind, my dad and friend of many years, for the land of the Pilgrims. In many ways I was not unlike my ancestor, a pilgrim, as I was traveling to a new land searching for a new start, uncertain but filled with hope.

Soon after arriving, one day at the beach, I saw someone raise an enormous red and black kite soaring into the air, and take off across the water, leaving a plume of spray behind him. That day, that site, change my life forever; I too would become a kite border. I started working out, taking gymnastics lessons, working on strength and control; working a tedious job to earn the money for my first 10 meter kite, but nothing can describe the frustration, determination, perseverance and ultimately the satisfaction of accomplishing this dream. After a few years word got around, no matter how hard I crashed, I would get right back up and attempt it again…and again. If not today then tomorrow, that was my motto and led to that "job "and hanging with the big guys.

Now, as I sent my red and black kite on Nauset Beach, I tried not to stare at the snarled mass of white water and fight down the feeling of anxiety grinding in my stomach. Once I launch my kite, grinning like an idiot, I am electrified with exhilaration. I grab my board and head into the surf. The monstrous shore break winds the first round, then I lower my kite into the power and let it battle the waves for supremacy. On the other side, I put my feet on the board, dive the kite and take off across the water leaving a spray high crest of spray behind, then tack back toward the shore. I glance over my shoulder and realize I am being chased. A Blue giant rises menacingly, towering over me. Still grinning, with a mix of fear and joy, I accept the challenge and crank the kite for more power. I turn again to face the wall of water; cranking back harder on the kite, I feed off its strength to cut off the top of the wave and race down the curling tunnel. So begins another journey, a 20 mile rolling ocean tide to Marconi station.





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Sturgis Charter Public School                                                     September 200___ -

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