Senior Guidance Information Booklet
Welcome to a wonderful and exciting senior year! Besides being a fun-filled time, it will also be a year of increased challenge and responsibility for each one of you. To help you get your post-secondary plans organized, this booklet will inform you of important deadlines, scholarship information, financial aid information, college and military representatives and more. This information will be critical in aiding you in your decision making process.
Please visit the guidance office whenever you have questions or concerns. If we are not in our office, please leave a note on our door so that we can call you in as soon as possible. Our guidance secretary Mrs. Fegley can also assist you.
Seniors should keep their options open as they decide on their post-secondary plans. It is important to find out as much as you can about how your abilities and interests match up with a career, and then finding out how to get the training you'll need to accomplish your goals. The resources to help you make wise decisions about your future are here - it's up to you to become acquainted with what's available.
The following information is for all students who plan to pursue some form of education or training beyond high school. When the term "college" or "school" is used, it means any institution that provides further education: 2 - year college, 4 - year college, business school, nursing school, technical school, vocational school, and service academies.
Most schools prefer you to fill out an online application, and some may even waive the application fee. We have a limited number of paper applications in the guidance office. Please check to see if the applications you need are here. If we have not received the ones you need, you will need to: wait for the college representative to visit Southern, call the admissions office at the college to request an application, or visit the college website to request an application or print one out.
The following information is often required on college applications:
High School Code: 390595
High School Address: 812 Southern Drive Catawissa, PA 17820
Mrs. Jenna K. Sellers (last name A - L)
Phone number: 356-3458 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Tom Donlan (last name M - Z)
Phone number: 356-3464 E-mail: email@example.com
Your high school transcript is a printed copy of your high school record which may include courses completed, SAT scores, GPA and class rank. Your high school transcript is the most important part of your application packet and must be sent by the guidance office directly to the college. You will need to sign a transcript release form (green form), which gives us permission to send this document. This form must be filled out for each college that you apply to.
Students have two options for sending their SAT & ACT scores:
1. Use your SAT or ACT account to request that they send your scores directly to the colleges that you are applying to. The SAT allows you to send your scores to four colleges for free when you register. Each score that you send after that will cost $9.00. Collegeboard may allow you to "split up" your SAT scores - for example, you may send your math scores from December and your verbal scores from March.
2. Have Southern send all of the SAT & ACT scores that we have on record. We will only have your scores if you have used our school code when you register. If you would like to make sure that we have all of your scores, please stop in the guidance office. We will not split your scores - we will send every score that we have on record.
If you're applying used a standard printed application form provided by the college, you should plan to have it sent from the guidance office along with your transcript. You should complete the application very neatly, either typed or hand written in dark blue or black ink. Once completed, bring it to the guidance office along with a check or money order (no cash) for the application fee and any other supporting documentation that the college has requested (essays, teacher recommendations, etc.) Bring all of your materials to the office at one time, not a piece her and a piece there!
More colleges are encouraging online applications. If you apply online you must still sign a transcript release form. We will also send letters of recommendation or any other supporting documentation that you cannot submit online. If you are using the Common Application, we cannot complete the school form and transcript online. You must bring in a paper copy of the required school forms.
If teacher recommendations are required, make sure that you ask teachers at least two weeks before you want your application sent. The guidance office has a teacher recommendation form that you may use when asking for a letter of recommendation. Teachers will turn the letter in the guidance office so that your application can be sent as a complete package. We do not make copies of these letters or keep a copy - that is your responsibility!
If you will be participating in college athletics, you must have your eligibility cleared through the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. The fee for registration is $50.00. Students must have their SAT or ACT scores forwarded directly to NCAA by using the code "9999" whenever you take the exam. If you have already taken the SAT or ACT you must contact the testing company and have your scores sent directly to NCAA. They will not accept the scores from us. You can complete the registration form at http://web1.ncaa.org/ECWR2/NCAA_EMS/NCAA.html. The clearinghouse customer service number (Monday - Friday, 8 am - 5 pm) is 877-262-1492.
Types of Admissions
Each college and university has its own admissions policy. When choosing a school, make sure that you are aware of each individual school's policy and admission schedule. To find out which type of admissions a school has, refer to the college's undergraduate catalog.
Traditional or committee- With traditional admission, there is a specific application deadline that MUST be adhered to. If the application arrives even one day late it will be thrown out. A committee of admissions representatives and faculty in that major will make the admission decision. Students will be notified of the admissions decision on or after April 1. This method is used by smaller, private schools such as Bucknell University.
Rolling- When people think about college admissions, they usually think of rolling admissions. These schools have an open ended deadline for admission, and students will be notified of the admission decision in 4 - 6 weeks. These schools operate on a first come, first served basis. For example, a student with average grades and test scores should apply in September or October, because in April the school can be more selective in whom they admit. This method is used by the Pennsylvania State Schools, which include Bloomsburg University and Penn State University.
Early Decision - In early decision, the student agrees that if they are accepted to the school they will pay the tuition. THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENT. Once the student chooses early decision they are obligated to pay tuition at that school, even if they decide not to attend. This is not recommended, as you will not fill out your FAFSA (financial aid packet) until January. This leaves you agreeing to pay for a school before you know how much it will cost you. The benefit of early decision is that students will know the admission decision before Christmas. If the student is not chosen for early decision they are placed into the regular admission pool. Please carefully review the obligations that go along with early decision before you sign.
Dual Enrollment- Dual enrollment allows exceptional students to enter college before they graduate from high school. Not all colleges and universities offer these programs. One example would be Bloomsburg University's ACE Program (Advanced College Experience). Not only do students in ACE receive college credit while in high school, but they also receive a 75% tuition decrease.
Please check deadline dates before you begin the application process. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get the application completed, gather supporting documents, and get teacher recommendations.
Colleges that have rolling admissions often do not set a deadline date for applications - they will accept students as long as they have room. Other schools have specific deadlines and will not accept applications after the deadline date. Also, many times programs and colleges within universities may have different deadline dates. Examples of these may be honors programs.
The guidance office requires two weeks notice for applications to be sent out. If you bring your completed application packet to the guidance office and counselor forms or recommendations are needed it may take two weeks to be processed by the office. Normally it does not take that long, but if we have received a large number of applications at once it may take two weeks to be processed.
If you have an important deadline, make sure that we are aware of that when you sign the transcript release form. If there is a reason why your application must be given priority, we will try to send it as soon as possible.
When you're looking at deadlines, make sure that you allow time for the postal system to deliver the application. Also, know the difference between a "post-marked" deadline and a "received by" deadline. Also realize that an application may arrive at a college but not be opened by an admissions counselor for several days. We have no control over this!
Bottom line - get your applications completed and mailed as early as possible! Our general recommendation is for you to get all applications completed by Thanksgiving, unless your college or program has an earlier recommended deadline.
For many colleges and universities, college catalogs are available in the guidance office. You may sign out any that you are interested in, or use them in the guidance office. Please return them to the proper place on the shelves when you are finished so that the next person will be able to find them easily. If you receive catalogs from colleges that you are not interested in, please bring them to the guidance office so that we can extend our collection. Many colleges are no longer printing catalogues because of the increasing cost in printing and shipping. If we do not have a catalogue for the college that you are interested in, visit that schools website for program information or how to request that a catalogue be sent directly to you.
The guidance office has many valuable resources for students and parents, most of which can be signed out and taken home. Our resources include (but are not limited to): Peterson & College Board College guides (2- and 4-year); Vocational & Technical School guides; Money & Scholarship books; Career & Vocational encyclopedias; ACT & SAT study guides; Financial Aid information; ASVAB & Military books; as well as exam study guides for the following entrance exams: state troopers, postal worker, police officer, firefighter, federal law enforcement, court officer, civil service, EMT, case worker, probation & parole officer, and corrections officer. We also have two student computers that you can use to apply to colleges, register for the SAT or ACT, write college essays, or do career research. You MUST get a pass from the guidance office in the morning to come down during study hall. We will not give you a pass to leave class.
The internet is a valuable resource for career, college and scholarship information. One website that the guidance counselors have used with students every year in grades 9 - 12 is www.educationplanner.org. This website will provide information on career planning, college data, application assistance, and financial aid information. No user name or password is required to use this site. College Board offers an excellent college search tool at www.collegeboard.com. For scholarship searches, we recommend that students register with www.fastweb.com.
College & Military Representatives
College and military representatives will be visiting Southern throughout the fall months. You should take advantage of the opportunity to hear what they have to say about their programs and to have any of your questions answered.
In order to attend a college representative session, you must sign up at least one day in advance. The list of schools and the visit dates will be posted on the bulletin board in the guidance office. You may only sign your name to the list. College representatives only come once a year, so make sure that you do not miss a school that you are interested in. It is your responsibility to ask for teacher permission to miss class BEFORE the day of the representative visit. You are responsible for any and all missed work, notes, quizzes, tests, etc. If you sign up for a visit and do not show up you will be reported to the office. If special circumstances prevent you from attending, please see us before the session.
Military representatives come more frequently than college representatives. You do not need to sign up ahead of time to speak with the military. Military representatives set a up a table in the hallways outside of the cafeteria during "C" lunch. You may leave the cafeteria to speak with the military if you are interested.
There will be a College Night held on Monday, October 10, from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Gerhard Field House at Bucknell University. Typically, there are about 100 colleges and institutions represented at this fair. This is an excellent opportunity to speak to many colleges at one time. A list of the colleges that will be present will be posted on the bulletin board in the guidance office as soon as it becomes available.
College visits will count as excused absences as long as students provide Southern with the appropriate documentation from the college that they are visiting. Students must obtain a "College Visit Form" (white form) from the guidance office prior to going on the visit. An official visit must be scheduled with the school - you cannot just show up and walk around campus all day for it to be considered a legal day. The form must be signed by a staff member at the university, and a parent must sign as well. When you return to school, give the form to your guidance counselor to sign. If you forget to have the form signed by a college official, it will be your responsibility to call the college and have confirmation faxed to Southern. If you do not hand the form in within three days of your return to Southern, the visit will be unexcused.
SAT I, SAT II & ACT Admission Tests
SAT I, SAT II, and ACT registration materials are available in the guidance office. Online registration is encouraged. Seniors who need to take any of these tests are encouraged to do so as soon as possible in the school year. Remember, it may take 2 - 3 weeks for the colleges to receive your scores, and you don't want your college acceptance to be held up because you missed the early testing dates. If you had high junior year scores, you may still want to test again as a senior. There is a good chance that you might boost your scores enough to qualify for scholarships.
SAT 2011-2012 Test Dates
||Late Registration Deadline *
ACT 2011 - 2012 Test Dates
||Late Registration Deadline *
* Both the SAT and the ACT charge an extra fee for late registration
Scholarship applications will be available in the guidance office as they are received from sponsors. All scholarships that we have are kept in the top drawer of the filing cabinet behind the door in the guidance office.
Seniors and parents also have the opportunity to sign up for Senior Info, an email service that the guidance office provides. Approximately every 2 - 3 weeks you will receive an email with news, scholarships, open houses, testing information, programs, and representative visits. This information is also available by following the appropriate links on Mrs. Sellers web page.
It is very important that you contact the Financial Aid and / or Admissions Offices at your selected colleges as well. They may have private grants or departmental scholarships available to students.
Keep in mind that your eligibility for academic scholarships will be determined by your class rank, GPA and test scores.
We recommend that every student use the Internet and register with www.fastweb.com to get the most current scholarship information. Students can receive regular updates via email about new scholarships as they become available. Students can also search for scholarships by using www.educationplanner.org.
Using a search engine such as Google or Bing is also a good way to refine your scholarship search. You can use phrases such as "PA Scholarships" to find scholarships that are only available for Pennsylvania seniors.
The Southern Columbia scholarship packet contains scholarships and awards that are only available to Southern seniors. During a senior meeting at the end of April, seniors will complete a future plans packet that will automatically make them eligible for these awards. Last year, there were over $12,000 worth of scholarships in the Southern Columbia scholarship packet.
Please Remember: Applying for scholarships is your responsibility - if you miss deadlines we will not be able to assist you!
There are several different types of financial aid available:
Grants are money from state and federal sources which you do not have to repay
Loans are money from federal sources and private institutions, such as banks, which must be repaid
Work Study is a program within the college that allows the student to work on campus and receive a pay check. NOTE: Money is not given up front and taken off of your tuition - the student is paid a regular pay check during the semester, depending on when (and if) they work
Scholarships are monies from private sources as well as colleges which you apply for and do not have to be repaid. Scholarships may be merit based (grades, clubs, sports, leadership) or need based (financial). There are many places to check for scholarships, including your parents place of employment, church, and community memberships.
Private schools (which have higher tuition costs than public schools) can often offer more in the way of grants and scholarships. Don't rule out a more costly private school if you are a strong student who might qualify for an academic scholarship.
One of the first steps in the financial aid process is to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The FAFSA will ask information regarding both student and parents income based upon last year's taxes. The FAFSA cannot be completed before January 1 of the student's senior year. While the federal filing date in in May, colleges and universities often have earlier deadlines that require the FAFSA to be completed earlier. It is your responsibility to check with each college to find out their deadline.
We will hold a financial aid workshop for parents on December 1, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Marla Kane, a representative from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) will be on hand to present and answer parent questions.
Parents are encouraged to call the guidance office and schedule an appointment to discuss college choices, SAT information, the financial aid process, or any other concern. The guidance counselors will also present a Guidance Information Night in the fall to discuss the college process with parents and students.
Due to the flooding, the Guidance Information Night that was to be held on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm in the High School Cafeteria has been postponed. Please check your e-mail for more information on the new date.
There will also be a Financial Aid Night on Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm in the high school cafeteria. Marla Kane, a representative from PHEAA, will be on hand to help parents with their financial aid questions.