Will I get accepted to my dream college?

Princeton University (photo by Rana Slosberg)

High school students often worry whether they will get into their first choice college or university. One way to assess their chance for admission is to use Naviance scattergrams as described in this Forbes article.

Here are three additional considerations when using Naviance scattergrams. If:

  • Very few or no students from your high school have attended the college you are interested in, there won’t be a scattergram for you to use. Don’t let that discourage you from applying. You can still assess your chances for admission by looking at data like acceptance rate, GPA distribution, and mid-50% ACT or SAT scores of accepted students. This data is generally available on the college’s website and/or or college search sites like the College Board’s Big Future (which includes it under the “Applying” tab for each college).

  • There is a Naviance scattergram with only a few points, the scattergram will be less reliable than if many students from your high school had applied to this college. You may want to use the techniques listed in 1. to better assess your chance for acceptance.

  • The college you are looking for has an acceptance rate of less than a third, the college will most likely be a reach school.

High School Guidance Directors Reflect on College Admissions



Catherine Angelastro,
Director of Guidance at
Watchung Hills Regional High School

 

Hillary Charney,
Director of Guidance at
Hillsborough High School



‘Tis the season for high school seniors to apply to college. New Jersey high school guidance offices are bustling with activity and have wisdom to share with families who are going through the college application process.

ADVICE FROM THE GUIDANCE OFFICE

Catherine Angelastro, Director of Guidance at Watchung Hills Regional High School offers this advice, “Get applications in early. The earlier the better.” She also strongly recommends the use of Naviance scattergrams, which shows the GPA and SAT scores of students from the high school who were accepted and rejected at a particular college. “Naviance is a great reality check.”

“Start doing your homework [on colleges] in the sophomore year,” said Sean Siet, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Ridge High School. “Visit [the colleges]. Make sure you can fit in,” he continued. Mr. Siet also recommends that students “use Naviance.”

Students should “be willing to consider schools they haven’t heard of” in order to find “schools that are a better fit,” offered Hillary Charney, Director of Guidance at Hillsborough High School. “Go look at colleges. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it,” she continued. 

CHANGES IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS

In the last five years there have been a myriad of changes in the application process. The changes included more early action and early decision applications, rising application and college costs, additional of families applying for financial aid, increasing instant decision days on site, and a larger number of students taking the ACT, according to Sean Siet of Ridge High School.

Admissions have become “much more competitive”, according to Hillary Charney of Hillsborough High School. A lot of students are switching from private to public colleges because of the financial situation, and students are applying to more colleges. Some “students are applying to ten or more colleges,” she continued.

Catherine Angelastro indicated that many high schools, including Watchung Hills Regional High School, switched to a paperless application process. Once everyone learned the system, it made preparing applications easier and less expensive for the school district.

MYTHS

There are a lot of myths associated with college admissions. Hillary Charney indicated that some students mistakenly believe that if someone from Hillsborough High School got accepted at a particular college last year, no one from Hillsborough will get accepted at that college this year.
“Parents worry [unnecessarily] that there isn’t a college for Johnny”, Catherine Angelastro shared. She also indicated that some families incorrectly think that children of alumni get a free ride.
Applying to more colleges doesn’t guarantee you’ll get accepted to more colleges, shared Sean Siet.
CHALLENGES
Everyone knows that students and their families face many challenges in college admissions. The guidance office also face many challenges. Catherine Angelastro indicated that it is hard to be in the middle of the family financial situation. “Economics once planned, [families are] now unable to do”. Hillsborough High School tries to help parents get a better understanding of financial aid basics.
Sean Siet indicated that guidance counselors have to manage the family’s expectations. They need to make sure that students apply to target and safety schools, in order to avoid the situation where the student doesn’t get accepted into any college.
In this stressful season for New Jersey high school seniors, guidance counselors are a resource for students and their families. They “go on college tours” in order to give students first hand information, said Hillary Charney. They have relationships with college representatives from around the country, according to Sean Siet. They can help ease the transition from high school to college.