In this issue
Helping With the Application Process
It's a busy time for high school seniors as they decide which colleges and schools or career training programs they're interested in and learn how to apply or complete applications for early deadlines. The ACT college planning website provides tips on the application process.
Because every college, school, and career training program has its own entrance requirements, the application process at each one is different. Help your student determine the application deadlines and fees for each option being considered. Suggest that your student keep a folder with a checklist of required materials, due dates, and related details.
Many applications request a list of students' activities, job experiences, honors, and awards received. Brainstorm with your student to determine which ones will most help him or her stand out. Admission officers don't want to see a list of every activity your child occasionally participated in, but rather a clear picture of your student's talents and interests.
Talk to your student about financial expectations, such as how much you can contribute and how much you expect your student to contribute. Discuss financial aid options (see related article below). You may need to have some say in making the decision about where to apply, particularly if you're the one who's paying the bill. But don't assume that you have to limit your student's choices to only schools or programs that have a certain price tag. Many students qualify for some sort of financial aid.
Avoiding Application Mistakes
Gaining admission into a school or career training program requires careful attention to detail on the application, which typically contains such information as students' academic records, personal interests, extracurricular activities, personal essays, letters of recommendation, high school coursework, and more. Because the application represents your student, it's important to make a good first impression. Caution your student against these common application mistakes:
- Misspelling words and making grammatical errors
- Filling out an online application, then not submitting it
- Forgetting to sign the application
- Misreading the instructions, which can lead to incorrectly filling out the application
- Listing extracurricular activities that don't fulfill the requirements
- Giving the school counselor too little time to meet deadlines
- Writing illegibly
- Forgetting to check e-mail accounts for responses and messages
- Asking someone else to fill out the application or write an essay
Encourage your teenager to take care in completing the application process. Life happens, counselors have many students to help, choices may change, and checking documents takes time. A little extra effort will make the journey smoother and calmer during a very busy period in your student's life.
Paying for the Next Step: Dollars and Sense
The cost of postsecondary education—whether it's college, trade or technical schools, or career training programs—shouldn't keep students from applying. A variety of financial aid options can help pay the cost. While cost can be a major part of the decision process, it's often best to help your student first concentrate on being admitted into a school or program, then on finding financial aid.
Federal and state governments offer loans, grants, and scholarships. Colleges have scholarships, other aid packages, and work-study programs. Community groups, churches, and civic organizations also offer financial assistance. Many of these financial aid options only appear in the college admissions acceptance letter.
Here are tips for helping your student develop a plan to pay for postsecondary education or training:
- Determine the direct costs, such as tuition, fees, and room and board. You can obtain these costs from an admissions office, financial aid office, catalog, or website.
- Determine the indirect costs, including books and supplies, transportation to and from home, and miscellaneous expenses such as clothes, laundry, entertainment, and recreation.
- Add up your estimates for each item and use ACT's Financial Aid Need Estimator to plan how to meet your student's postsecondary education or career training costs. The ACT tool includes an Expected Family Contribution (EPC) Estimator that estimates the amount your family will be expected to pay and also estimates your student's eligibility for financial aid based on need.
- Help your student complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. The US Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine how much your family will be expected to pay toward your student's expenses. The application process examines such aspects as your income, living expenses, dependency status, and more. Students should also check with the school or program to determine if there are additional forms that need to be submitted.
- Help your student monitor all the information received from college or school business offices regarding fees, payment schedules, etc.
Check out these websites for more information about financial aid:
- www.actstudent.org/finaid—Explains how financial aid works and offers links to other websites about financial aid.
- www.studentaid.ed.gov—Lists federally funded scholarships, fellowships, grants, and internships geared to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.
- www.ed.gov/fund/landing.jhtml—The US Department of Education financial aid website.
- www.fafsa.ed.gov—The Free Application for Federal Student Aid website. This is where to start when ready to apply for financial aid.
- www.finaid.org—Features a free scholarship search function and information on loans, savings programs, and military aid.
- www.hsf.net—The Hispanic Scholarship Fund website. This site provides families with financial and educational resources.
- www.studentaidalliance.org—Student success stories, descriptions of need-based financial aid programs, lobbying tools, and legislative updates.
Using Explore, Plan, and ACT Test Scores
ACT assessments do more than test students on their knowledge and skills. They provide information that gives educators, students, and parents valuable insights into a student's level of readiness for college and career by high school graduation and his or her potential for future success.
ACT Explore helps eighth and ninth graders prepare for high school coursework and explore options for their future.
ACT Plan helps tenth graders measure their current academic development, explore career/training options, and make plans for the remaining years of high school and beyond.
These assessments help students prepare for college and training programs, as well as for the ACT Test, which is a curriculum- and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students' academic readiness for college. All four-year colleges and universities in the United States accept the ACT Test, which provides them with excellent information for recruiting, advising, placement, and retention of students.
Each test includes four parts—English, mathematics, reading, and science. Students can use the test scores to find out how well they know the subject matter and what they need to learn next. This information will guide them as they prepare for college and training programs.
The results can also help students by predicting a score range for the next assessment. For example, the ACT Explore score report includes the student's predicted score range for ACT Plan. Students then get a predicted ACT Test score range on their ACT Plan report. The predicted score ranges assume the student will take additional coursework and will have made academic progress.
Each ACT assessment offers an interest inventory, which helps provide career information for students based on their interests, abilities, and work preferences.
Scholarship Alert: ACT Video Contest
Lights. Camera. Action. ACT is hosting a video contest. High school students in eleventh and twelfth grades who are residents of the United States and who plan to attend a two- or four-year college in the next two years are invited to participate.
Encourage your son or daughter to get creative and make a video that covers one of five categories: test-day tips, the use of photo IDs for admission, the consequences of cheating, the ACT English Test, or myths about the ACT Test. The student with the winning video in each category will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the college of his or her choice. The second-place winner in each category will receive a $500 scholarship.
The winning videos may be featured on the ACT Student website and our social media channels. Original two-minute videos may be submitted between October 29 and December 4, 2012. Online voting will be held January 7 through 21, 2013, and winners will be announced on January 22, 2013. Who couldn't use a scholarship?
Click here for more information about this exciting contest, including details about the five categories.
2012-2013 ACT Test Date Schedule
|Test Date || Registration Deadline ||Late Registration Deadline |
(extra fees required)
|December 8, 2012 || November 2, 2012 || November 3-16, 2012|
|February 9, 2013* || January 11, 2013 || January 12-18, 2013|
|April 13, 2013 || March 8, 2013 || March 9-22, 2013|
|June 8, 2013 || May 3, 2013 || May 4-17, 2013|
*No test centers are scheduled in New York for the February test date.
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