Question: How do I decide which colleges to apply to?

Many factors  go into this important decision. Most notably: …

•Your cumulative average as of the completion of Junior year and results of your standardized test scores.

•Your academic interest in potential majors and careers.

•The geographic location  (urban/suburban/rural and how far from NYC).

•The ability of your family to pay tuition/housing/food, and the willingness to finance through loans.

•Faculty-Student ratio, overall size of undergraduate and student population.

•Internship placement and research opportunities available to undergraduate students.

•The admissions data for each individual college compared to your academic record.

Question: Do my Senior year grades matter for college admissions?

YES! Senior grades should be consistent with or exceed past levels of performance. The cumulative average you have earned as of the end of Junior year along with your standardized exam scores– is the greatest indicator of your eligibility for particular colleges as based on their published admissions data. However, most colleges will not consider an outstanding fall term or Senior year as the deciding factor for admissions since this will not greatly boost  your cumulative average for the past three years. On the other hand, an under-performing fall term or Senior year can damage your ability to be considered for admission into more competitive colleges. Colleges have revoked admission or required remedial tutorials for students  if their academic performance suffered significantly in Senior year.

Question: Do my extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts and special academic program matter for college admissions?

Absolutely! BUT the first and primary factor in gaining admission to a particular college will always be the academics! The most competitive colleges use long-term participation in quality extracurriculars, volunteerism, and special program as ways to distinguish among candidates of similar academic and testing achievement who fall within their admissions criteria.

Question: What is a “reach” or “dream” college?

A “reach” college is also known as a “dream” college: It is a college for which you may not meet the ideal or upper-range academic admissions criteria yet   merit consideration. CSS highly recommends that each student submit a maximum of three applications  to “reach” colleges.

Question: What is a “probable” or “match” college?

A “realistic” or “probable” college is one  for which you fall comfortably within the stated range of admissions criteria and in which you have a strong interest in attending. MOST APPLICATIONS SHOULD BE “REALISTIC” OR “PROBABLE” APPLICATIONS.

Question: What is a “very probable” or “safety” college?

A “very probable” college is a college for which you exceed the upper range of the admissions criteria and have a likely chance to be admitted.  Students should be just as thoughtful with their selection of “safety” colleges as they are with “dream” or “match” colleges.  These institutions should meet your interests and be a school you would be happy to attend. . CSS recommends that students  complete a minimum of two or three applications to “safety” colleges. Many students view CUNY and SUNY colleges as “safety” colleges when in fact many of these schools are highly competitive, so please investigate wisely.

Question: Why should I visit colleges?

Seeing a college–especially those that are residential– when school is in session  is an invaluable way of getting a sense of the facilities, student body, and educational rigor. Campus tours are important, but  sitting in the cafeteria or Student Union and observing, or initiating conversations with students offers  an insider perspective of the colleges. Finally, sitting-in on classes (when allowed) will give you a sense of the academics and class sizes. The CSS College Office will work with students interested in visiting specific colleges to locate ‘diversity overnights’ or other special events that provide students with free or low-cost opportunities to visit. 

Question: What is the role of the College Office in advising students in creating a college list?

The CSS College Office is available to advise students regarding the wealth of opportunities available, to help identify schools and scholarships for consideration, and to help focus your energies on the important responsibilities you carry during your Senior year.  CSS Juniors and Seniors will participate in individual college advising meetings and will meet in small groups with Professor Harris throughout the year.

Question: What are Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) or Higher Educational Opportunity Programs (HEOP) & SEEK?

The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at SUNY colleges or Higher Educational Opportunity Program (HEOP) at many private NYS colleges are ways in which lower-achieving and economically disadvantaged students might gain admission to colleges for which they are otherwise ineligible and  receive educational support services. These programs request  economic and/or ethnic criteria for admissions;  investigate these options at the colleges to which you wish to  apply. Students MUST research to determine whether  they  qualify since, if  not, your application may be delayed for consideration for regular admission. Note: Within the CUNY community, HEOP and EOP are known as SEEK and CD. Upon graduating from a college within a HEOP program, the diploma is the same as everyone else’s.


Question: What is the Common Application? What is it for?

The Common Application is a single application that  once completed  may be  submitted to many– but not all–colleges and universities electronically or by mail. The Common Application helps to standardize and organize the applications process and ease the stress.. Most colleges do require a supplemental application to accompany the Common Application, which is  submitted separately from the Common Application (or– in some cases–together  with the Common Application).  Students MUST research which colleges require a supplement. Go to www.CommonApp.org for more information.

Question: Where do I get applications for colleges that do not accept the Common Application?

The easiest and most direct way is to go to the college’s web site to complete the application online.  You may also have the option to download the application to complete it manually.

Question: What does “rolling admissions” or “rolling deadlines” mean?

“Rolling admissions” or “rolling deadlines” indicate that a college– CUNY and SUNY schools, for example– has no set deadline for submission of applications.  These colleges may, however, have a priority deadline. It is still in your best interests to complete and submit applications for schools with rolling deadlines as soon as possible during Senior year because once these schools have met their enrollment goals there will be no spots left! For this reason CUNY applications are due to the CSS college office by September 30th and SUNY applications by  October 14th.

Question: When the applications or letters of recommendation ask me if I “waive my rights” to review my application, how should I respond?

Always say YES and waive your rights.. When an application or letters of recommendation are confidential, the colleges may consider such material as more honest and critical and therefore of greater value..

Question: How can I determine my eligibility for a Fee Waiver for college applications?

Return the Family Income Form to the CSS College Office, ASAP.  Bring copies of your parents’/guardians’ most recent tax return or Social Security/public assistance benefits statement. Fee Waivers must be mailed  with college applications. Students who are eligible for and seek Fee Waivers must  also file the necessary school lunch forms indicating their family’s financial status.

Question: What is the difference between “Early Decision” and “Early Action”?

Early Decision applications are for those students who comfortably meet or exceed a single college’s admission criteria and for which the student is willing to accept binding admission before the general acceptances are mailed . If you apply Early Decision and are accepted, then you must attend that college regardless of ability to pay for that college; financial aid packages may be limited for Early Decision. You may apply to only one college via Early Decision. Those high-achieving students with a solid interest in a specific college for which they meet or exceed the admission criteria, and whose family is financially able to willing to commit to necessary loans, are the strongest candidates for Early Decision.

Early Action applications differ in that you may apply to more than one college without any obligation. . With both Early Decision and Early Action applications, students will know whether or not they have been accepted into a school by mid-December.  Apply Early Action or Early Decision only to those colleges for which you are a “comfortable fit” in terms of admissions criteria, and in which you have a strong interest.

Question: Should I submit my applications for all regular decision colleges to the College Office before I have the results of my Early Decision and Early Action applications?

YES, you should have all the applications completed and ready to submit to the College Office according to the timeline on page 5..

Question: Can I apply to college if I am not a legal citizen or legal resident of the United States?

SUNY and CUNY are  public university systems that usually consider undocumented students for admission. Individual private colleges have different policies; it’s best to contact each private school in which you are interested during the summer prior to Senior year to determine how the school wants an application to be filed.  Explain your situation but do not feel obligated to provide your name; keep notes regarding the day and time of your call and the name and title of the person who provided you with information. Some colleges  require  an International application  and may require that you apply for a student visa first in order to enroll (which may cause  difficulties), and then  ask for proof of your ability to pay the tuition and housing. Some colleges will allow an undocumented student living in the United States to file the same application as everyone else. Others may suggest that you not apply at all..  It is best to contact each school  directly  for specific details.

Question: What should I enter into the Social Security number section of my applications if I am not a legal citizen or resident?

In most cases, you will leave this section blank and each college will assign you an identification code unique to it; contact the Admissions Office at each college for more specific information. 


Question: Why does the College Office have deadlines so much earlier than those stated by the


The CSS College Office will process over 700 applications for more than 90 Seniors, handling thousands of pages of documents.  This takes time and care to properly complete and cannot be done if material is submitted later than the College Office deadlines. To meet   postmark deadlines we must have your material early to guarantee timely delivery. Please see page 5 for those deadlines.

Question: What happens if I submit an application to the College Office after the College Office deadlines?

Your application materials will not be processed or mailed until after January 1, which may result in applications received after college deadline. All students must meet stated College Office deadlines to avoid this possibility.  The College Office is not responsible for any applications received late by colleges when a student has submitted material to the College Office after stated deadlines.  

Question: What if I do not meet the College Office deadlines?

Missed deadlines can create  difficulties in meeting all obligations in Senior year (academic, personal, work, and college-related). To minimize overall pressures and challenges of Senior year each student should maintain  ongoing research and preparation, seek parental support and supervision, and be aware of time management.. The choices the students and parents make in completing college application tasks on time will determine how challenging and successful the applications process will be for you. College Office deadlines are not flexible because college deadlines are not flexible

Question: When do I pay my application fees?

Bring application fees in the form of a check or money order   with each completed application packet to the CSS college office. The CSS College Office will advise any student eligible for fee waivers or cost reductions, for how to take advantage of these opportunities.

PLEASE BE AWARE:  CUNY provides an extremely limited number of exemptions from its $65.00 application fee.  Students and families should plan now for this necessary expenditure; fortunately, this single fee allows students to apply to up to six CUNY senior colleges and community colleges.  SUNY applications cost $50.00 per college; fee waivers are available to all students who qualify.  With a CUNY fee waiver, you are able to apply to up to six campuses free; for SUNY you are able to apply to four campuses.   Students completing applications online will need a credit or debit card to process application fees.

Question: What about on-line applications?

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all on-line applications are complete and properly submitted by the CSS application deadlines.

Even when applying online, CSS seniors must supply the confirmation page for applications submitted, with an addressed envelope for each college he or she is applying to by the stated deadline in order for CSS to mail transcripts, recommendations and additional documents. The College Office and CSS are not responsible for omission of material from applications due to students’ negligence or any technical problems.

Question: How is an envelope prepared for submission to the College Office?

For every college to which you apply, except for CUNY and SUNY, you must prepare a 9”x12” or 10”x 13” manila envelope addressed to the Admissions Office with the address neatly written or typed on a mailing label in the middle of the envelope.  You will receive detailed instructions in senior year Advisory for how to address college application envelopes and for what must be included in each envelope.

Question: How many transcripts can I have mailed out free?

Every senior is entitled to ten (10) free transcripts, including CUNYs and SUNYs. Additional transcripts are $2.00 each. Keep in mind that applications to multiple CUNY and SUNY schools require only one transcript.,.

Question: How will I know when my application materials were processed and mailed?

All completed applications submitted by the stated deadlines will be mailed on or before the December, break providing appropriate fees or fee waivers were included in the submission envelope.  CSS will not mail incomplete applications. In the two weeks following the December break, it is not unusual for students to receive notices from SUNY that applications are incomplete—this simply means that received applications materials have not been logged in by the colleges.  Any such notices after January 15th should prompt students to call the college to determine the status of missing materials. . 

Question: What do I do if a college indicates it is missing some document(s) related to my


Regularly review the progress of your  applications via the web sites of each  college and by calling the college admissions office; if any application materials are listed as “missing,” contact the individual college to verify this and then– if necessary– visit the CSS College Office to send duplicate material.

Question: What other paperwork am I responsible for submitting to the College Office after all my applications have been mailed?

Once all your responses have been received, submit copies of all your acceptance letters as well as copies of all your scholarship/grant award letters to the College Office so that our college application database is updated. The mailing of your final transcript indicating that you have graduated from CSS may be delayed until you have fulfilled this responsibility.

Question:  What if I need a transcript or copies of my letters of recommendation for scholarship applications?  CSS will supply copies of needed documents ONLY if a student completes a “Request for Official Transcript/Letters of Recommendation Form” to the College Office, along with an envelope addressed to the sponsoring organization.  These materials will not be turned over to the student for mailing.  Please allow five business days for transcript requests to be processed.   


Question: When will CSS students take the SAT Reasoning Test (SAT I’s?)

CSS students will register to take the SAT Reasoning Test for the first time in March or May, though the test can be taken as early as January.  Students also have the opportunity to retake the SAT during October or November of senior year.

Question: Do SAT Test Preparation courses help?

If a student is a “poor test taker,” reputable test prep programs can provide key skills and “tips” on how to improve the score using proven methods and real-life testing conditions. These same skills are often described in test prep books, which are a less expensive option but require more self-motivation.  CSS makes every effort to offer and/or locate free and low cost SAT preparation courses for students.  A list of those programs is available in the CSS college office.  Most free or low cost SAT preparatory courses have strict requirements about attendance.

Question: How many times should I take the SAT Reasoning Test?

Taking the test more than once is recommended because colleges will consider a student’s best score on the Reading Section and best score on the Math section in computing the Math-plus-Reading score.  However, students should place importance on doing well on the Writing Section because many colleges now use it for placement purposes.  Few students need to take the SAT Reasoning Test more than twice. The College Board grants two fee waivers to eligible students, per lifetime, for the SAT I’s and two per lifetime for the SAT II’s.  For information regarding the testing requirements of specific colleges, contact those colleges or see their web sites.

Question: In what circumstances should a student consider taking the SAT Subject Area Tests (SAT IIs)?

SAT Subject Tests evaluate mastery in subjects such as U.S. History, Chemistry or French. There are 21 different subject tests, each scored on a scale of 200-800. These exams are only required by more selective private colleges; some request two or three SAT II tests.,. If you are given a choice, select tests that reflect your academic strengths and preferably in a subject you have recently studied. As colleges have different requirements for these tests, check with each college.

Question: When are the SAT Reasoning Tests and SAT Subject Area Tests administered? Where can I learn more about these tests, what are the registration deadlines and fees, and how do I register?

Go to http://www.CollegeBoard.com/student/testing/sat/reg.html for this information and more.

Question: Can SAT Reasoning Tests and SAT Subject Area Tests be taken on the same day?


Question: When should I release my standardized testing results to colleges, and how do I do it?

After the last administration of exam you take in senior year, you must formally release your scores to every school to which you applied or to which you anticipate applying. Though you can copy and include Score Reports in your application envelopes, this is not formal notification of your testing results and colleges will usually only consider official Score Reports provided directly to them by the testing services. Go to www.CollegeBoard.com to pay for formal release of score to all your colleges. 

Question: What is the ACT exam and how does it differ from the SAT?

The ACT is an exam many colleges consider as an alternate or supplemental exam to the SAT Reasoning Test. Students have reported that the ACT allows more time for both the Reading Comprehension and Math sections. The ACT also includes a Science section, however, and has an Essay component that is administered after all the other sections. Check individual college web sites for particular testing requirements and visit http://www.actstudent.org/index.html to find out more about the ACT and to register for the exam.  CSS provides fee waivers for eligible students for the ACT. 


Question: Why should junior year teachers write my college letters of recommendation?

These teachers know you best, and from the high school year in which you were the most mature and––in which you most reached your potential.

Question: From what academic subject areas should my letters of recommendation come?

Most selective colleges expect one Humanities/Liberal Arts recommendation letter (English or Social Studies) and one Science or Math recommendation letter.  Check with specific colleges for their requirements. If you know what major you intend to pursue in college, one of your letters should be from a subject related to that major. These letters of recommendation should include information regarding your overall academics, extra-curricular activities, special program, and community service and most importantly character.  Colleges want to know what you will bring to the campus community.

Question: When should I ask junior year teachers for letters of recommendation, and how much

Time should I allow the letters to be written?

Refer to the timeline on page 5.  Teachers expect you to follow CSS procedure:  present a copy of your college resume (typed) along with a completed Request for Teacher Recommendation form including typed answers to questions on the form, a college essay/personal statement. In general, approach teachers before the end of junior year or early in the fall term of senior year. . Respect their professional obligations as teachers by allowing them as much time as possible to complete the task of writing your (and many others) letters of recommendation. Teachers receive no additional compensation for the hours spent writing letters for students and are free to deny your request.  Seniors should write a formal ‘thank you’ note to each recommender including the college advisor or college assistant.

Question: Should the teacher recommendation letters be mailed directly to the colleges or be included in the application envelopes given to the College Office?

CSS asks that teachers supply completed recommendation letters directly to the college office by stated deadlines. Letters received late from teachers will be the teacher’s responsibility to mail and will greatly jeopardize student acceptance. Students applying to CUNY will not need letters of recommendation for general applications, but may need some for special CUNY programs.

Question: When the form that accompanies my letters of recommendation asks me if I “waive

My rights” to review my application, how should I respond?

Always say YES and waive your rights to review. When letters of recommendation are confidential, the colleges may think that such material is more honest and critical and therefore of greater value.

Question: Can I add extra letters of recommendation to the three that are already being sent (two

teachers and one CSS School Recommendation)?

Only if individual colleges indicate that such material is welcome, contact each college for specific

guidelines. If colleges do accept extra material, then letters from club advisors, team coaches, mentors, employers, college instructors, volunteer supervisors, and others can supplement your academic letters.

Question: What makes a quality letter of recommendation Those letters that specifically discuss your individual efforts and achievement in the subject class are more valuable than those letters that generally discuss the nature or scope of the subject class alone. Ideally, the teacher will include comments about assignments you completed or class activities in which you were engaged, your character, and other specific anecdotes… this will make the letter more effective and more personalized. Specific and detailed letters distinguish you from other college applicants.

Question: What is the Secondary School Report?

This is a standardized form that reports your academic performance and personal qualities to colleges and is prepared by your College Advisor. 


Question: What is the purpose of college application essays?

The essays provide the college admissions officers with insight into your personality, experiences, opinions, and interests. The essays are another way in which you try to “sell yourself” to the college and stand out from the other applicants.

Question:  Why are all CSS Seniors required to write application essays, even if the colleges to which they are applying do not appear to require essays?

At least one well-crafted college essay is required of each CSS senior. NO EXCEPTIONS. CSS teachers have specified that they will not write a letter of recommendation for any student who has not completed a college essay/personal statement AND answered the Teacher Recommendation Form questions.  Students must also supply recommending teachers with a College Resume or “brag” sheet. Having a finished essay on file in the College Office is essential for students to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities or late decisions to apply to a college(s). , Too often students realize later that a specific college program, scholarship application, or other opportunity for high school seniors requires an essay.

Question: How many words are expected of a college essay, and can I exceed the word limit?

See individual applications for specific guidelines, but 350 to 600 words is the usual range. Students who submit

applications on-line may find that word counts are usually strictly enforced. Students who submit paper applications are advised to follow the stated word limit; if it is “absolutely necessary” to run long; exceed the limit by no more than twenty-five (25) words. . .

Question: Can an essay written for one application be “recycled” for use in a different

application? Absolutely… if the topics are identical or very similar and if specific references to one school are changed to reflect the other schools.  If you reuse an essay, be sure to make the necessary edits to reflect the intended college.  For example, do not conclude thanking the admissions committee at Swarthmore when you are applying to Wesleyan.

Question: What are some key issues regarding college essays I should NOT do?

There is rarely a “one size fits all” approach, but generally speaking…

DON’T discuss politics and religion, (the same two topics you should avoid discussing with people you don’t know well), unless such topics are specifically requested by a college OR reflect a long-term aspect of your character and personality that can be positively explored and demonstrated in concrete ways.

DON’T write anything that might embarrass the reader, make him or her feel uncomfortable, or which might possibly be offensive.

DON’T write about romantic relationships.

DON’T discuss subjects that can leave a negative perception about your personality or habits.

DON’T make yourself appear egotistical or arrogant.

DON’T recycle an academic report you wrote for school; this is inappropriate because you are writing a personal essay drawing on your experiences and observations for its subject matter.

DON’T repeat things that have already been discussed elsewhere in your application.

DON’T try to “explain” some flaw or weakness in your character or academic record.

DON’T select subjects that could have been written by anyone else.

DON’T use a “recycled” personal essay from 10th or 11th grade; if you have a strong essay written prior to summer before senior year, be sure that it is significantly updated and accurate for who you are now.

Question: Is there any assistance I can receive in school with revising my college essays?

Yes. There will be dedicated time in your junior year English class to work on your essays and short answer responses.  Ask teachers with whom you built a strong relationship for revision, as well as trusted and competent peers. Be mindful that your teachers are busy teaching their current students and may not be under time constraints. .  Approach teachers for assistance after you have made considerable effort at composition and revision; never ask a teacher who is “volunteering” to assist you to read a first draft.  ALSO, please be aware that many colleges are now comparing college essays with your SAT essays to insure that students’ essays are truly their own work.  THE COLLEGE OFFICE CANNOT CHANGE STUDENT DEADLINES BECAUSE A TEACHER WHO IS ASSISTING A STUDENT WITH AN ESSAY IS UNAVAILABLE TO HELP UNTIL A LATER TIME.

Question: What are the trademarks of an effective essay?

Again, there is no “one size fits all” approach, but generally speaking…

DO select a topic or theme to which you can relate or about which you strongly feel.

DO grab your readers’ attention with a dramatic opening sentence and paragraph that will make the greatest impact and will focus them on the rest of the essay.

DO address the topic of the essay in a direct manner and do not lose focus.

DO avoid cliché subjects like parents or grandparents having a great impact on you unless their stories are extraordinary.

DO use natural language and avoid use of a thesaurus in a misguided attempt to sound sophisticated.

DO use concrete examples based on your first-hand experiences and observations, not generalizations.

DO proofread your work in print form, not on a computer monitor, and never rely only on spell-check or grammar check in a word processing program to catch your errors.

Question: How do I select which one of my many experiences to write about in a college essay?

There is no single way to brainstorm or choose, but one method is to simply…

•Compose one paragraph for each significant experience that has changed and/or challenged you in life.

•Compose one paragraph for each person who has significantly influenced your life.

•Compose one paragraph to describe your personal philosophy or outlook on life and explain what is important to you as a human being.

•Compose one paragraph to describe each of your potential career goals and how you have worked to achieve

them; connect these goals to the majors/resources available at the colleges to which you may apply.

•Compose one or two paragraphs to describe what makes you special and distinct from other young adults,

including any uncommon interests or talents that you hold.

•Compose one paragraph for each work of fiction, poetry, art, or film that has influenced you and explain how.

By the time you are done with all these sample paragraphs, you will have brainstormed and developed a large collection of notes to use as a basis for many–if not all–of your college essays and will be in a more informed position to select those experiences that may have the greatest impact on a reader.

Question: What are some of the essay topics about which I might write?

The Common Application, Individual applications, or supplements may mandate a specific topic. Among these may be:

•Describe the world you come from, for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dream and aspirations.

•Describe the courses of study and the unique characteristics of [specific college name] that most interest you. Why do these interests make you a good match for [specific college name]? Why do you want to attend [specific college name]?

•First experiences can be defining. Cite a first experience that you have had and explain its impact on you.

•Recall an occasion when you took a risk that you now know was the right thing to do.

•Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

•Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

•Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe his/her  influence.

•Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

•A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

• Write an essay that conveys to the reader a sense of who you are and what you care about. 


Question: How important is an interview when being considered for admission by competitive colleges?

An interview is rarely the “make-or-break” factor in you winning admissions to a competitive college, but it is one more way in which you can distinguish yourself from the thousands of other students who apply to the same schools. The interview is an additional opportunity for you to make a positive impression on an admissions committee.

Question: Should I sit for an interview and who are the interviewers?

Yes. If you are asked to sit for an interview, accept; if you would like to schedule an interview when a college has not yet made the offer to you, contact the Admissions Office of the particular college and request one. The interviewers are usually recent alumni of the college. 

Question: What are some tips for good “interview etiquette?”

Many different factors will help your interview be successful, including:

  • Dress “business casual” or semi-formally; avoid denim, sneakers, t-shirts, and excessive jewelry.
  • Arrive early to your interview location.
  • Greet your interviewer with a full introduction and a firm handshake; know his or her name.
  • Maintain eye contact with your interviewer.
  • Speak clearly and maintain good posture without seeming too rigid.
  • Prepare some specific questions of your own about the school’s academics and your intended major, the campus environment, research opportunities, student organizations, and other items of interest to you. This will indicate to your interviewer that you have a strong interest in the school and have already begun to inform yourself about specific details but want to know more from someone who attended the school.

Question: How should I respond to the questions?

Directly and sincerely, with thoughtfulness that will leave a positive perception of you in the mind of the interviewer. When you are unsure of something, take a few seconds to consider the question and, if necessary, adapt it to your life experiences and opinions. When you legitimately do not know something and cannot find a reasonable way to “fake” it, just say something like “I’m sorry, I don’t know that.”

Question: What kind of questions will be asked of me?

The interviewer will ask many questions, including ones like:

  • Why do you want to attend [insert school name]? What do you have to offer [insert school name]?
  • What is your greatest strength? What is your weakest flaw?
  • What have you done to prepare for college? What do you want to do in the future?
  • What has been your greatest experience in high school?
  • Tell me about your interests.
  • Tell me about your involvement in extracurricular activities.
  • Tell me about your family.
  • What do you think about (insert a current event of the past week)?
  • What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Why?
  • Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of?
  • If you could meet any person from the past or present, who would it be? What would you discuss?
  • If you could be any animal what would you be? Why?
  • How would you want to die? What would you want in your obituary?
  • What would you do with infinite wealth and resources? 


Question: What is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), when should it be

completed, and how do I submit it? 

CSS students seeking financial assistance must complete the FAFSA.  Working with Professor Harris, you will bring in a copy of your family’s most recent tax return/proof of income.  Only the parent(s) you live with participates in completing the FAFSA, though your college may request financial information from your non-custodial parent.  Beginning January 1st, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is accepted on-line at www.fafsa.ed.gov.   After filing a FAFSA in January, those students who wish to enroll in a college within NY State will then be able to file for the New York State Tuition Assistance Program through the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation web site. .  IMMEDIATELY AFTER COMPLETING THE FAFSA IN JANUARY, FAMILIES MUST UPDATE THE FAFSA WITH RECENTLY FILED TAX/INCOME INFORMATION.  BE PREPARED TO GET YOUR TAXES COMPLETED THE FIRST WEEK OF FEBRUARY.  THERE IS AN IRS LINK TO UPLOAD YOUR RECENTLY FILED TAXES.  YOU WILL NEED TO USE THIS LINK IN ORDER TO PROCESS YOUR FAFSA.

Question: What is the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, when should it be completed, and how do I submit it?

In this case, “CSS” is not referring to our school but to College Scholarship Service.  This profile is a financial aid document required by many private colleges.  .  Around October 1 of senior year, the CSS/Financial Aid Profile is accepted on-line. Completion of this document is mandatory to be considered for any college-based financial aid at many private colleges. Go to https://profileonline.CollegeBoard.com/index.jsp to review which colleges require this document and click on the link for the academic year in which you will be a college freshman to begin the form. The CSS/Financial Aid Profile should be completed no later than February 9 of your senior year (earlier if your colleges indicate a specific deadline or for Early Decision or Early Action). Depending on your family income level, you may incur a cost to complete the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. The fees are $25 for the application and initial school report, and $16 for each additional school report.

Question: Are there other forms required to be considered for financial aid?

Many colleges will also have their own forms to supplement the CSS/Financial Aid Profile and FAFSA. These forms must be completed and filed by the colleges’ specific stated deadlines.

Question: How should the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and college financial aid forms be completed if I am in a single-parent household or my parents are separated/divorced?

This is a very complicated answer with no “one size fits all” response. Students and parents should carefully review all documents and contact the Financial Aid Office at each of the colleges to which you applied with specific questions or concerns. As a general rule of thumb, many colleges consider the income of any adult who shares responsibility for your care–biological parents and stepparents, whether living in the household with you or not. For absentee parents it may become necessary to provide legal statements to prove the absentee status and lack of financial or emotional involvement in your life; for divorced parents it may become necessary to provide a copy of divorce decrees and support stipulations.

Question: What are the types of financial aid available?

Need-based aid is offered by Federal and State-governments to students who qualify based on documented household income; many colleges also provide grants to financially eligible students so that they may attend that particular institution.

Work Study is federally subsidized part-time employment, usually in school offices, that goes directly to student for expenses.

Student Loans often allow for a family to take out low-interest loans to finance an education and housing with no repayment or interest until the student graduates or leaves school.

Merit or Private Scholarships and other grants are awarded to high-achieving students by the colleges and by private foundations and organizations to underwrite the cost of attending. Some very competitive colleges offer “need-blind

Admissions,” which may offer admitted students with documented financial hardship a full tuition scholarship.  Many private scholarships are available, but require students to be extremely organized and motivated to apply and submit additional essays.  CSS College Office will support students with information about private scholarships for which they are eligible.

Question: What is the role of the College Office in securing scholarships or financial aid for students?

The College Office cannot secure scholarships or financial aid for students, but will provide transcripts and letters of recommendations throughout the financial aid process. Students are highly encouraged to check Naviance and their CSS email regularly for updates on scholarship opportunities as well as other important college office updates.  It is the students’ responsibility to take an active role in searching out and applying to scholarships.

Question: Am I eligible for Federal- or State-based financial aid if I am not a legal citizen or resident?

No. Your parents should seek to legalize your status as soon as possible to allow for the possibility of Federal- and

State-based financial aid.

Question: Am I eligible for college-based financial aid if I am not a legal citizen or resident?

Sometimes, this varies from school to school. Check with the individual colleges.


Question: Are only the highest-achieving students eligible for consideration for scholarships?

Scholarships are available to a wide range of students of all backgrounds, interests, and varying levels of achievement.  Students and parents must conduct research to identify potential ones to which the student may apply.

Question: How do I identify scholarships to which I might apply?

Use the scholarship resources in the CSS College Office, or use online databases for potential scholarships based on your level of achievement, cultural/religious background, possible career path or college major, established talent or service, your parents’ union affiliations (if any), and other criteria. You should also review the web sites for individual colleges to which you are applying. Avoid paying for any “scholarship locator” service on-line since this is public information that is readily available online for FREE.  Check your email and Naviance account daily!

Question:  Is it true that my college might reduce my aid if I receive a scholarship from a private organization? 

Students and families should be aware that most private scholarships can only be disbursed to your college and not to your personally.  In some instances when the college judges that you have received sufficient aid, the college may opt to reduce the college’s institutional grant to you in the amount of your private scholarship.