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2017-2018

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHOICES
Why Go To College? .................................................................................................................................................. 3
SAT and ACT Test Dates........................................................................................................................................... 4

TIMELINE
Semester Planning Guide for Seniors ................................................................................................................. 5

RESEARCH
How to Choose a College or University ............................................................................................................. 6
Competitiveness and Types of Admission ........................................................................................................ 7
Questions to Ask College Recruiters ................................................................................................................... 8
Housing Options .......................................................................................................................................................10

APPLICATIONS
Helpful Online Applications ..................................................................................................................................11
How to Apply Online ...............................................................................................................................................12
The Application Essay .............................................................................................................................................13
Why the Essay Matters ...........................................................................................................................................14
How to Write a College Application Essay ......................................................................................................16

RECOMMENDATIONS
Protocols for Presenting Yourself to Recommenders .................................................................................18
Requesting Letters of Recommendation .........................................................................................................19
Requesting a Transcript..........................................................................................................................................20

MONEY
Financial Aid Glossary .............................................................................................................................................21
Financial Aid Details for Students and Parents .............................................................................................22
Free Tuition Programs ............................................................................................................................................23

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Why Go to College?
Cant I get a good job now?
Yes, maybe you could, but a college degree will make your chances even better. Check out the
earnings and unemployment rates for people 25 years and older with different levels of education.

Unemployment Mean (Average)


Rate in 2014 Level of Education Completed Earnings in 2014
9.0% Less than a high school diploma $30,108
6.0% High school graduate, no college $43,056
6.0% Some college, no degree $48,984
4.3% Occupational program (Career School) $48,152
4.6% Associate degree (Academic Program) $52,364
3.5% Bachelors degree $74,308
2.8% Masters degree $88,036
2.1% Doctoral degree (e .g., Ph .D .) $105,456
1.9% Professional degree (e .g ., M .D ., J .D .) $124,904
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, unpublished tables, 2015

Sometimes its hard to stay in school if you think you need to be working to earn money. But if
you get an education beyond high school, youll have a wider variety of jobs to choose from, and
youll earn moreespecially in the long run.

But I dont know what career to go into!


If you cant decide what to do, talk to our school counselor or visit StudentAid.gov/prepare to find
out how to prepare for college and explore your career options.

Doesnt college cost a lot of money?


Think of college as an investment. You spend money now so you can earn more later. The U.S.
Department of Education may help you pay for your education. Take a look at StudentAid.gov
for more information about our federal aid programs. The site also links to free scholarship search
engines at StudentAid.gov/Scholarships.

Still have questions? Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
Download this fact sheet at StudentAid.gov/resources.

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WHY TAKE THE SAT and/or ACT? SCORE REPORTS
Your university admission application is not complete When you register for the SAT and/or ACT, you will be
until you submit an official SAT or ACT Test Score Report. asked to select the schools that will receive your scores
You may take the tests as many times as you wish, but (normally, you get 4 choices). These score reports are
be warned, your score is expected to improve with FREE. After this, you will have to pay approximately
every retake. Do not take these exams lightly. $12 to send your ACT or SAT scores to each additional
school. There are no fee waivers available for sending
TESTING FEE WAIVERS
additional SAT or ACT score reports. Choose your
Students who participate in the National School Lunch
schools wisely!
program (free or reduced lunch) are eligible for free
SAT test and ACT test fee waivers (limit is two per
school year). Use your fee waivers wisely. Ms. Reyna
has the waivers in the front office.

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

SEMESTER PLAN GUIDES

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

CHOOSING A UNIVERSITY
FACTORS TO CONSIDER RESEARCH A SCHOOL
1. LOCATION 1. Meet with college representatives that come to
The location of a university and its proximity to Jimmy Carter or to the local college fairs. Take
home are important. Consider whether you will notes and ask questions about the universities.
want to visit home often. Is it important to you 2. Do online research. Use reputable websites such
that your family can visit you throughout the year? as:
Think about the weather in the city that you are www.bigfuture.collegeboard.org
considering. www.fastweb.org
www.usnews.com
2. STUDENT BODY SIZE
www.collegescorecard.ed.gov
Universities and colleges exist in every size.
Although most schools have both large classes www.nces.ed.gov
and small classroom settings, the number of 3. Visit universities. Beginning early in your high
students that attend the university is important. school career, visit universities whenever possible.
Do you want a small school of 4,000 students? Will Is your family planning a vacation? Take an
you be OK in a large school of 40,000 students? afternoon to visit the university in the city.
Consider also the size of the community (rural,
mid-size, urban) where the school is located. 4. Speak to former Jimmy Carter ECHS students,
3. AREAS OF STUDY teachers, or individuals who attended the
universities youre interested in. They can help you
Look for a school that offers the areas of study that
interest you. Consider the opportunity for understand the transition from the Early College
High School to the university.
internships in your field or for study abroad
opportunities if you want them.

4. COST OF ATTENDANCE
Every school is required to have a Cost Calculator
feature on their website and to list costs of
attendance. Use these tools to calculate how
much money youll need to secure to attend the
school. Remember that cost should not be a
deterrent when applying for a school; financial aid
and scholarships are available to help you and
your family offset the cost of school.

5. ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS
Universities list the admission requirements and
application process on their websites. Learn what
they expect from you in terms of GPA, SAT or ACT
scores, class ranking, etc.

6. CAMPUS LIFE
The school that you select should be a good fit for
you. You should choose a school where you will
earn the degree that you want in the most
competitive environment for you. You should also
be able to do the extra-curricular activities that
you like. Consider special programs, clubs,
housing arrangements, etc. before choosing.

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

TYPES OF ADMISSION
COMPETITIVENESS OF A UNIVERSITY
COMPETITIVE UNIVERSITYA competitive university is one that historically receives more applications
than the available slots for students. These universities have a rigorous application process and review a
students academic record closely before offering admission. Competitive universities turn applicants away
if their qualifications do not meet the standards set by the university.

TYPES OF ADMISSION
Competitive universities have various types of REGULAR ADMISSIONStudents apply before the
admission. The different admission types have regular deadline, usually by December or January, and
individual deadlines and sometimes have particular receive notification of the decision by March or April.
requirements. The most common type of admission is Students have until May 1st to respond to the offer of
Regular Admission. admission.

EARLY ACTION/EARLY NOTIFICATIONThis non- WAIT LISTWhen there are too many qualified
binding program allows students to submit an early applicants for a particular institution, some students
application (usually by November) and to be notified may be waitlisted. The waitlisted letter will report the
early (usually in December rather than April). Students number of students on the wait list, the number of
have until approximately May 1st to express their intent students historically offered admission, as well as the
to enroll. availability of financial aid and housing. Students may
remain on the wait list for a final decision or they may
EARLY DECISIONUnder this binding program,
choose another school. Some selective schools may
students are allowed to apply to only one college
have already offered admission to more students than
through an early decision program (usually by
they can enroll; hence, there is no guarantee of moving
November with decisions received in December rather
from the wait list to the admit list.
than April). Students who are admitted under Early
Decision must withdraw all other applications and IMPORTANT NOTE: Early Decision and Early Action
agree to attend this school. plans are best suited for a student who has researched
universities extensively, is absolutely sure that the
ROLLING ADMISSIONColleges with Rolling
college is their first choice, has found a university that
Admission review applications as they are received.
is their perfect match, meets or exceeds the
Students apply at any time within the admission
admission profile for the university for SAT/ACT scores,
window with notification made within 4-6 weeks.
GPA, and class rank, and has an academic record that
Space availability at some schools may become an
has been consistently solid over time.
issue the longer a student waits to apply.

SELECTIVITY
To determine the competitiveness of a
university, research the Acceptance Rate (the
percentage of applicants that are accepted).
Use www.collegescorecard.ed.gov or another
reputable website. Universities list
acceptance rates on their website.

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QUESTIONS TO ASK OFFICIALS


1) What academic elements are considered in the admissions process? For example: courses, grades, test
scores, rank, interests, institutional needs, essays, recommendations, and interviews? How important are
each of these factors?
2) Is the college/university accredited?
3) How many students return after their freshman year?
4) What percentage of students graduate in four years or less?
5) Which academic programs on campus are the most popular?
6) Does this college offer the major that interests you?
7) Will your STC college credits transfer?
8) What are the largest classes you could have as a freshman or sophomore? How many large classes
can you expect?
9) Who teaches the freshman classes? Teaching Assistants? Graduate Assistants? Will you get enough
contact with and/or attention from them?
10) How easy is it to get the courses you want at the times that are convenient for you?
11) (If this applies to you) Are there any special support services if you are a special needs student (ADD,
ADHD, LD, etc.)? How do these support services function and is there any additional cost charged
for these services?
12) Is there an Honors Program for talented students? How do you qualify?
13) What does the school do to help graduates find jobs?
14) What percentages of graduates find jobs within a few months after graduating?
15) What percentages of graduates find jobs in the field they studied for?

STUDENT LIFE AND SOCIAL/RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES


1) How diverse is the campus?
2) What portion of the student body lives on campus? What portion of the student body remains on
campus for the weekends?
3) What activities do the students participate in during their free time both on campus (school
sponsored) and in the community:
4) Does the campus have a Greek system of fraternities and sororities? If so, what percent of the student
body participates in Greek life? Are parties open? How do students who elect not to participate in the
Greek system fit in?
5) What are the most popular extracurricular activities?
6) What student organizations are active on campus?
7) What intramural sports are on campus?
8) Where is the central gathering place for students?
9) Can freshmen have cars on campus? What is the fee for having a car on campus?

AUXILIARY SERVICES
1) Where do students go if they have a medical emergency?
2) What tutoring, counseling, and support services are available on campus and how are they accessed?
3) What computer access will you have? Do you need to bring your own computer? Are the dorms wired
for Internet/e- mail services?
4) What recreational facilities does the campus offer?
5) What are the safety issues on campus? How are they addressed? Ask for a crime report. Federal law
requires schools to provide safety information to students.

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HOUSING & FOOD SERVICES
1) How much does housing cost? Is it easy to get on-campus housing?
2) What housing options exist? (Honors? Themed? Single sex? Co-ed? Greek?)
3) What meal plans are available? Are freshmen required to purchase a specific type of meal plan?
4) Do the meal plans provide menus for special diets? (vegetarian, kosher, ethnic, etc.)
5) What hours may students access food services?

PAYING FOR THE UNIVERSITY EXPENSES


1) What is the yearly cost of attendance, including books, tuition, fees, housing and meal plans? In other
words, what is the all-inclusive cost?
2) Does your ability to pay the full cost of attendance have any impact on the colleges decision to admit
you?
3) Which financial aid forms are required? (The most common are the FAFSA and the CSS
PROFILE, but some schools have institutional or school-specific forms and some states have
special forms.)
4) What percent of entering freshmen receive aid? What was the average freshman aid package? Is there
a way aid is packaged (loans first, for example)? If you are unhappy with your aid package, is it
negotiable?
5) If you demonstrate need, will the school be able to prepare a financial aid package that will meet
100% of your demonstrated need?
6) Will outside scholarships affect the amount of aid the school will offer you?

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

HOUSING OPTIONS

Where to live? Part of the decision-making experience It is the students responsibility to request housing
is finding a place to live which best suits your needs contracts. Colleges do not automatically send the
and preferences. Some colleges have strict rules for information. Every institution has an Office for
single, under 21-year old students. Other colleges have Housing. Contact the office at the same time you
absolutely no regulations regarding student living request your application for admission and financial
arrangements. So again, you must refer to the college aid.
materials for the rules and regulations regarding living
If you are accepted at several schools but have not
arrangements.
decided which school to attend, you may need to place
UNIVERSITY RESIDENCE HALLS (DORMS) a deposit on housing at more than one school. This
Typically, this is a university-owned facility which is will ensure a place for you until you make your final
reserved for freshmen and sophomores. The plans are choice. However, this could be expensive since
flexible in terms of people per room or suite, number deposits are usually non-refundable.
of meals per week, bed linen rental, refrigerator rental,
Please be aware that even if you send in several
air conditioning, computers, etc.
housing deposits, you may only accept admission to
PRIVATELY-OWNED, CERTIFIED HOUSING ONE university. Admission officers consider it
Ordinarily, this facility is owned by someone other than unethical if you notify more than one college by
the university, but is approved by the college for fire May 1st that you will be attending. Sending
codes, curfew hours, meals per week, etc. acceptances to more than one school can keep another
student from attending and impact scholarship awards.
SORORITIES OR FRATERNITIES
Living in these facilities is by invitation only. A student HOUSING SCHOLARSHIPS
is invited to pledge to the organization and then is Some universities offer scholarships to cover the cost
permitted to live in the house, as space is available. of housing. Look into them early in the semester. You
OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING should have your housing scholarship ready to submit
Often, these facilities are apartments with renting on the day that you receive your acceptance
arrangements like renting apartments anywhere. notification from the university
These facilities may, or may not, be university-
approved.

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

O N L I N E A P P L I C AT I O N S

APPLY TEXAS

Most colleges and universities in Texas


can be accessed with one application.

www.applytexas.org

COMMON APPLICATION

Many private and out of state universities


can be accessed with this application.

www.commonapp.org

COALITION APPLICATION

This application seeks to facilitate the


college application process.

www.coalitionforcollegeacess.org

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

A P P LY I N G O N L I N E
Online applications are available for you to use during 9) Record the date and time of your submission in
the application process. The three most frequently your calendar. This will help you determine when
used applications are the Apply Texas Application (for you can expect a response from the school. Print
public schools in Texas), the Common Application (for the confirmation page. If no confirmation page
many schools in the U.S.), and the Coalition Application appears on the application, call the college or
(selective schools in the U.S.). Some schools have their university to verify that the application went
own online applications. through.

STEPS TO FOLLOW 10) Submit your application AT LEAST one week


before the deadline. Application websites slow
1) Set up an email account to be used solely for down to a crawl when the deadline approaches.
college correspondence. Be conservative with the Remember to send all your supporting
address (no nicknames or anything inappropriate). documentation. This usually includes SAT and/or
Create a username and password that youll ACT scores, transcripts, letters of
remember easily. Never create more than one recommendation, rsum, supplement to the
account on any online application. Common Application, art portfolio, etc.
2) Before you begin the online application, you must
11) If technical problems arise, contact the help desk
disable the pop-up blocker on your computer.
at the college or university. There is usually a
Save your application often.
simple solution to technical problems.
3) Dont treat the online application casually. It is an
important document that reflects who you are as FEE WAIVERS
a person and as a student. Do not use casual Students who receive free or reduced-price
speech, nor language used in text-messaging or participation in the National School Lunch Program
emailing. may qualify for fee waivers to submit in place of
university application fees.
4) Do not compose your essays online. Instead, use
a program such as MS Word for composing and
editing. Once your essay is edited and ready to be
submitted, copy it onto the online application.
5) You will be applying as a First-year College
Freshman. Your STC college credits will be
evaluated after you are admitted to a university. If
your classification needs to change to being a
college sophomore or junior, the university will
change it. Always apply as a freshman; NEVER
apply as a transfer student.
6) Submit your application only after it is reviewed
carefully.
7) Fax, email, or mail the required supporting
documents. Do not mail a copy of your application
with the supporting documents. Doing so may
cause confusion. All supporting documents must
be received by the university before the
application deadline.
8) Pay the application fee unless you qualify for an
application fee waiver. If you do qualify, follow the
instructions for sending them.

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JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

T H E A P P L I C AT I O N E S S AY
The college application includes information about you, your grades, recommendations, lists of
extracurricular activities and test scores. All of that is important and helps admission officers form a picture
of your accomplishments and abilities. However, while the application packet tells about how other
people see you, it does not say much about how you see yourself. The application essay helps
admission officers see how you view yourself and how you view the world. Therefore, competitive
universities require at least one application essay.
The essay personalizes your application. It is your chance to use your voice. The essay is a living, breathing
part of your application to a college. It can speak in your voice and personalize your application. It is your
opportunity to show something about you that doesnt come across elsewhere in your application.

STEP ONE: REFLECTION STEP THREE: WRITE


Take a step back and be reflective. Think about who Admission officers want to read about you, who you
you are as an individual. Think of what qualities exist are, what youve experienced, whats important to
in you that you want the university to understand. you, and who you want to become later in life. A
good way to organize your admission essay is to use
How do you view the world?
15% of the essay space to describe background
What do you care about deeply?
information, anecdotes, and situations. The
What experiences and people have been
remaining 85% of your essay should be about how
important in shaping you as a person?
you have changed because of your experiences and
What are your aspirations in life?
about how you plan to live your university and
It is in such reflection that you can find your unique career life.
voice. Thats the voice that will help you write an
interesting essay that only you could have written.
STEP FOUR: REVISE
Have someone read your essay and give you an
STEP TWO: KNOW THE PROMPT opinion. It may be necessary to rearrange, add,
Essay prompts vary little between schools. Most delete, etc. to improve your essay. Make sure your
prompts are a variation of one of the following: essay has these parts:
1) Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, Details of your past experiences
risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you Information of who you are right now
have faced and describe its impact on you. Your goals and aspirations
2) Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, A strong opening line/paragraph
or international concern and its importance to Information of your qualities
you. A clear answer to the question asked in the
3) Indicate a person who has been a significant prompt
influence on you and describe that influence. A strong closing
4) Describe a character in fiction, a historical
character, or a creative work (as in art, music,
A MOVIE
science, etc.) that has had an influence on you Think of the essay as a small movie about you. Like
and describe that influence. a movie, it must have a main character (you),
5) A range of academic interests, personal supporting characters, action, a resolution, and an
perspectives, and life experiences adds much to ending. The main character must learn a valuable
the educational mix. Given your personal lesson by the end of the day. The essay is the story
background, describe an experience that of what qualitiesyou, the main character
illustrates what you would bring to the diversity developed.
in a college community, or an encounter that Spend a few minutes reading successful college
illustrated the importance of diversity to you. application essays before beginning your own.
6) If you could change one thing about your
community, what would you change and why?

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W H Y T H E E S S AY M AT T E R S
WHY DO COLLEGES REQUIRE ESSAYS? Remember that mistakes, especially sloppy
A college application includes information about you mistakes, make it look as if you dont take the
such as grades, recommendation letters, lists of your essay (and by extension, the application) very
extracurricular activities, and test scores. That seriously.
information helps admissions officers form a picture of
your accomplishments and abilities. However, while it
tells about how other people see you, there isnt much
about how you see yourself. Its that inside viewhow
you see yourselfthat colleges hope to find in your
essay.
ESSAYS PERFORM OTHER FUNCTIONS
The essay can be a way of showing that you have
researched and thought carefully about the
college to which you are applying. It shows, in
your own words, why you and the college would
be a good match.
An essay demonstrates your writing ability, a key
component of success in college.
In your essay, you can show that you are willing to
put yourself into what you do. That kind of
commitment is an important part of effective
learning in college. It shows the admissions
committee that you are willing and able to be a
contributing member of a community of learners.
For selective colleges especially, the essay helps
admissions committees draw distinctions and
make choices among applicants. An essay will
rarely take an applicant out of consideration at a
GOOD SOURCES OF ESSAY TOPICS
college, but it can certainly elevate an applicant in
Does the application ask you to choose a topic? There
an admissions committees eyes.
as many good topics as there are applicants. Look for
CHOOSING AND HANDLING A TOPIC a topic among your interests, or among causes or
Show your command of the basics of good writing. events that touch you personally:
Here are some key points that admission officers look What is your background and what type of person
for in an essay: have you become as a result of that background?
How do you deal with setbacks and difficulties?
Make sure to answer the essay question and to
Do you have hobbies and non-school pursuits that
follow all the instructions.
engage your heart and mind? Writing about your
Start off with a strong opening paragraph that
out-of-classroom interests can help reveal a part
captures the readers interest.
of you thats not covered to your fullest advantage,
Use a style that you find comfortable and that is
elsewhere in your application.
appropriate for the subject matter.
Is there a social cause that you hold near and dear?
Use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Remember, an essay is not an academic paper;
Make a point and stick to it; develop your
however, a cause that you feel passionately about
argument or narrative.
may be the basis for a strong essay.
Check all your facts. Do you mention a date, a
Perhaps there is an event (local, national, or
place, or an event in your essay? Make sure its
international) that has touched you in a personal
correct.
way.
Give your reader complete information, so he or
Is there an academic subject that sparks your
she wont be confused.
interest? Why does that subject excite you? Has
In general, be succinct. If there is a recommended
it led to experiences or study outside of school?
length for the essay, pay attention to it.

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HOW TO HANDLE A TOPIC Check out these tips before you begin:
Often, you will be asked to write about an experience
Keep your focus narrow and personal. Your essay
youve had, an achievement in your life, or a person
must prove a single point. The reader should be
who has been significant to you. Go beyond the what
able to find your main idea and follow it from
or who and dig into the how and why.
beginning to end. Ask someone to read just your
This is a personal essay, not a travelogue. So, if
introduction to see what he or she thinks your
youre writing about a trip, describe how your
essay is about. Essays that attempt to be too
experiences affected you and why they were
comprehensive end up sounding watered down.
interesting or meaning to you. The people reading
Remember, the essay is not for telling the
the essay are interested in what makes you tick
committee what youve doneits for showing
and how you got the way you are, not in how the
them who you are.
trains run in Paris.
Develop your main idea with vivid, specific facts,
Are you writing a tribute to your grandparents and
events, quotations, examples, and reasons. The
their influence on your childhood? Be personal
details must tell the story.
and specific, not just sentimental. Explain how the
Weak: I like to be surrounded by people with a
particular things your grandparents did or said
variety of backgrounds and interests.
were important to you.
Better: While volunteering at the senior center,
AVOID THE PITFALLS one resident shared with me her experiences
Writing a poem or making a video in place of an during WWII, and another told me his stories of
essay is probably not a good idea, unless youre playing baseball in Brooklyn in the 1950s. Slowly,
applying to a specialized school that encourages I developed an understanding of the
such a submission. commonalities that humans experience.
Humor can be risky, so be careful how you use it. Regardless of our past, we all have passions and
Honor code rules are in effect when you write an memories that define who we are. My defining
essay, so do your own work and dont make things memory begins when
up. As a practical matter, other items in the Be specific. Avoid clichs, generic, or predictable
application, such as letters of recommendation, writing.
make it likely that youd be found out if you tried Weak: I want to help people. I have gotten so
to give misinformation. much out of life through the love and guidance of
SOME FINAL TIPS my family. I feel that many individuals have not
Leave yourself time to write and revise. For most been as fortunate; therefore, I would like to expand
people, this is not an easy assignment. You need the lives of others.
to give yourself weeks, not days, and certainly not Better: My mom and dad cheered me on from the
hours, to rework your essay. sidelines until their shoes filled with water and
If your essay is longer than three pages (unless the their fingers started to freeze. That kind of
instructions call for something longer), then it had commitment and dedication is what Id like to
better be interesting! Think hard about what you bring to working with fourth graders.
really want to focus on, take out whatever distracts Avoid foul language, sexual topics, references to
from your central point. drugs or alcohol use, and to illegal activities of any
The admissions committee will take your essay kind.
seriously. You should, too. You have a lot to gain Dont tell the readers information about their
by putting in the time and effort to write a good university. Most admission officers read plenty of
essay. essays about the charms of their university, the
evils of terrorism, and the personal commitment
DOS AND DONTS OF ESSAY WRITING involved in being a doctor. Bring something new
A great application essay will present a vivid, personal, to the table.
and compelling view of you to the admissions staff. It Dont write a rsum. Dont include information
will round out the rest of your application and help you that is found elsewhere in the application.
stand out from other applicants. The essay is one of Dont use 50 words when 5 will do.
the only parts of your application which you have Dont forget to proofread. Typos, spelling errors,
complete control, so take the time to do a good job on or grammar mistakes can be interpreted as
it. carelessness or bad writing.

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How to Write a College Application Essay
By Margaret Metzger
Many colleges require a short essay as part of the words would you use to describe your personality? Do
application process. The directions for the essay vary you belong to any organizations outside high school?
from college to college. Most colleges offer some What jobs have you held? What have you learned
variation of the topic. Tell us more about yourself. about organizing your time? Who is your most unusual
friend? What magazines, newspapers, columnists or
Like most students, you might hate this subject and
authors do you like to read? What are some of the
dread writing the essay. You know that it is a crucial
failures or disappointments in your life? What kind of
piece of writing and that it must be done, but secretly
plans do you have for the future? Who has been
you hope somehow to avoid the task. Like most tasks,
influential in your life? What responsibilities do you
the tension created by procrastinating is worse than
have at home? What do you do for other people? What
the work itself in this case, just sitting down and
does music (particularly playing or composing) mean
writing the essay.
to you? How have you changed (besides physically) in
You can use the college essay to strengthen your the last four years?
application. In fact, your essay can be the strongest
part, presenting you as a thoughtful, sincere, BE SPECIFIC
interesting applicant. You can use the college essay to Remember that the admissions board is reading
explain mistakes of the past failed courses, low hundreds of applications, and you must make yours
SAT scores or few extracurricular activities. Best of all, memorable. Some students resort to gimmicks: 8-inch-
you can demonstrate that you know how to write well, by-10-inch glossy pictures of themselves hang gliding,
an ability all colleges value. or a videotape or a cartoon book about themselves.
You may have heard stories about an ordinary student
FIND A TOPIC getting into an exclusive college by taking a creative or
Colleges genuinely want to know who you are. startling approach. But gimmicks are high risk. Maybe
Although it is difficult to believe, they do not have an the admissions board doesnt have the time or the
ideal student in mind. They want a variety of students. equipment to play the videotape of your band. Maybe
They understand that they cant know everything about you will seem egocentric or cute or, more likely, as
you by your grade point average and your SAT scores. though you are dodging the difficult task that everyone
They want to know what kind of person you are, what else has done: writing an essay.
aspirations you have, what struggles you have gone
You can make yourself stand out from the crowd and
through, what is important to you. They ask you to
stress your individuality by a less risky method. Your
write an essay about yourself because they want more
English teachers have been telling you for years to use
personal information.
specifics when you write. Specifics make a piece of
Before you write, think about how you may be different writing memorable. This basic principle of good writing
from other applicants. What unusual experience would applies, as well, to writing the college essay. Be specific.
you bring to the college? What interests, activities, Tell the truth about yourself as specifically as possible.
travel, struggles or situations have had a particular If you claim that you like school, say exactly what you
impact on you? You are probably thinking, Nothing is like: I like biology and got particularly interested in a
special about me; Im just an average kid. Thats what three-month project I did about algae on the teeth.
most students think. Sometimes it helps to ask other Always be as specific as possible.
people what they think is unique about you.
NARROW YOUR TOPIC
If you know exactly what you want to write about, you
You have only one-and-a-half to two pages for this
are lucky. Use that topic. Be sure to consider the
essay. You cant write about everything that has ever
traditional, but appropriate and effective, topics, such
happened to you. You need one to three topics for this
as academic achievements, extracurricular activities,
paper. You must pick a few of the most important
travel and work experiences, and life-changing events.
aspects of your identity. If you cover too much, you will
Also think of more subtle accomplishments. What kind be forced to be superficial. Dont say, I like school. I am
of student are you? In which class did you learn to a leader. I play basketball. Ive traveled to Sri Lanka,
think, to study? What do you do with your free time? Alaska, Iowa and South Africa. I play the violin. I work
What have you done for the past two summers? What every weekend. I believe in responsibility. I want to be

16
famous. Pick one, two, or at the most, three important When you are explaining what you learned, do not say,
things about yourself and concentrate on them. I learned a lot. Be specific. Tell exactly what you
learned. You want to show colleges that you will
SHOW, DONT TELL change and grow through a college education.
You need to know and apply the writing principle of
show, dont tell: Give the readers such convincing FOCUS ON YOURSELF
evidence that they draw the conclusion you want them If you feel self-conscious writing the essay, you may be
to draw. If you provide all the evidence of your fine tempted to dodge the task of writing about yourself
qualities, you dont have to list them. Besides, the and write, instead, about something related to you,
college will be much more likely to consider you sincere such as a group or an organization you belong to.
if you give examples rather than a list of glorious Avoid this approach.
adjectives about yourself.
WORK ON THE FIRST SENTENCE
For instance, you might be embarrassed to say, I am
There are two opposing approaches to making a strong
extremely responsible. Instead you could say, Last
opening sentence. The first suggestion is that you
summer, I was put in charge of 12 ten-year-old girls for
spend hours on the first sentence because it sets the
a three-day hike. When the college admissions board
tone and direction of the essay. The reasoning is that
members read your example, they will come to the
you need to know where you are going before you
conclusion, Ah, some adult must have felt this
begin. The problem with this approach is that students
applicant could be responsible for a dozen childrens
become paralyzed trying to find the perfect beginning.
health and safety for several days. This sounds like a
responsible person. Give your readers the evidence The second suggestion is that you begin anywhere and
and examples, and they will reach the right conclusions. write the first sentence last. The reasoning is that you
need to get started, and you dont know what you will
DESCRIBE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE end up saying until you have finished the essay. You
You dont need a long list of flashy experiences. What may discover that your essay really begins in the
you have experienced is not as important as what you middle of the second or third paragraph, and you can
have done with the experience. Real maturity depends cut out all the preliminaries. Then you can start with a
on how you understand what has happened to you and sturdy statement. The problem with this approach is
whether you let your experiences change your that you might begin an essay without a sense of
perceptions. direction and wander too much.
Colleges want to know how you have reacted to your You may go back and forth between trying to write a
experiences. For example, many students have failed perfect beginning and just trying to get started. No
some test or course. Colleges would like to know what matter what you do, when you finish the essay, go back
you did with that failure. Did you mope? Blame the to the beginning and work on the first sentences. Cut
teacher? Quit doing homework because you were out all wordiness. Make it specific. Check the grammar.
angry at the failure? Did you see the failure as a
warning, an impetus, a challenge? FINAL BIT OF ADVICE
Millions of students before you have written college
Even if you write about something exotic, you must say
essays. They hated the task, too. But it must get done.
what you did an d what you learned. One student went
Of course, it is better to write it long before the
to Israel for two weeks; her only observation was that
deadline. The real problem for most students is how to
the Israeli women wore longer skirts than the
get started, what topic to use and how to avoid
Americans. Her trivial description revealed her
procrastination. The solution is simply to begin.
immaturity and poor powers of observation.

17
JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

RECOMMENDER PROTOCOL
A letter of recommendation is a requirement for most
university admissions and scholarship applications. In
this letter, an adult who knows your academic
background and your personality speaks candidly
about your qualifications and accomplishments.
Choose your recommender carefully. Recommenders
are required by ethics to speak the truth about you;
therefore, you should choose someone who can give
information that will help you gain admission into your
school of choice.
Your letters of recommendation should never come
from a family member. Ask a teacher, a church or
community leader, or another adult to write for you.
All letters must contain perfect grammar. Consider this
when choosing your recommender. DETAILS ABOUT PROJECT
Letters of recommendation are private communication Your portfolio must be tailored for whatever school or
between your recommender and the recipient. You will scholarship you are seeking. You must provide your
NOT be allowed to read the letter before it is sent. recommender details of what you are wanting to gain.
These details can be website information about the
In order to request a letter of recommendation, you school that you are applying to, website information
must create a portfolio. about the scholarship you are applying to, or copies of
A portfolio is a collection about yourself that you use the application materials that your recommender must
to present yourself to people from whom you need complete. You may not submit a portfolio to your
letters of recommendation. The portfolio includes recommender without details of what you are applying
several pieces (each will be discussed in detail later) to.
and is bound as a notebook or sent as one file via email. WRITING SAMPLE
LETTER OF REQUEST Include one of the essays that you plan to use for your
This is a letter that you write to your potential application. This should be your best writing.
recommender asking him/her to write for you. This is UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT
the first page of your portfolio. You must provide for your recommender a copy of
RSUM your unofficial transcript.
A written report outlining your goals, academic history, NOTES
community service efforts, and major Provide for your recommender any extra information
accomplishments. The rsum for your portfolio must that is not included elsewhere in your rsum,
be detailed. transcript, or essay. You can include an extra page in
your portfolio stating your proficiencies, challenges at
home, relevant experiences, and anything else that may
help your recommender communicate clearly who you
are, what you stand for, how you cope with adversities,
and what your goals are.
STAMPED ENVELOPE
You must provide your recommender with an
addressed, stamped envelope in which they can mail
the letter to the university.
THE HONEST TRUTH
A recommender will put only as much effort into the
letter as you put into requesting it. Be thorough and
professional in requesting recommendations.

18
JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

REQUESTING
LETTERS O F R E C O M M E N D AT I O N
Use this template as a guide for requesting a Letter of Recommendation.

REQUESTING A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION


Letters of Recommendation are required with most applications for admissions and scholarships.
The letter can never come from a family member.
Choose your writer carefully. The grammar must be correct and the writer must give specific details about your
life. Anecdotes and other details are important.
You must know the writer personally to obtain a good letter. A generic letter is useless (even if the recommender
is famous or influential).
The template below is a guide for what your request should include. It is only a GUIDE.
You MUST tell the recommender what you want him/her to highlight about your accomplishments. Its OK for you
to remind them of your accomplishments and/or skills when you request the letter.
Give this request to your recommender at least two weeks before the due date.
The student should NEVER see the letter of recommendation.
If the letter is to be mailed to the organization, you must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your
request.
Submit this request letter and the accompanying documents to your recommender in either a folder or by e-mail.

Date Goes Here


Dear Mr./Ms./Pastor/Father ______________________:
I am in the process of applying for university admissions at (name of school) and I need a letter of recommendation.
I believe you know me well and could possibly speak about me because I was a student in your class/member of your
congregation/volunteer in your organization. You may remember that I (in this space, say two or three things
that were positive about your relationship with this person).
May I count on a recommendation from you?
The scholarship/admissions process requests that my recommender discuss (in this pace, give details about what the
writer is expected to say: how you deal with adversity, how your contributing changed the lives of others, etc.).
Will you please mention that (in this space, give details about what you want them to mention: economic
challenges at home, highest number of volunteer hours in the program, president of a club, etc.).
I am enclosing a copy of the materials that I will be completing, plus a copy of my rsum, and a sample of my writing.
These will you learn about me. (You MUST include these items. Materials from the organization may be a list of
requirements for the scholarship or a print out of the website from the university, etc.)
My goal is to study (list your educational goal here) and to eventually have a career in (list a type of company, a
project that you would like to work with, a profession, etc.) This can only be possible if I (gain admission into this
university, win this scholarship, etc.).
The deadline for the letter is (type the deadline here). I have included an addressed, stamped envelope for your
convenience.
Thank you,
Your typed name goes here
Your signature in ink goes above the typed name

19
JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

REQUESTING A TRANSCRIPT
OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT
A record of your high school or college courses and grades. The official transcript is signed by a
school official, sealed with a school seal, and sent directly to the requesting school. A student is
not allowed to see the information on an official transcript.

UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT
This transcript contains the same information as the official transcript, but it is not signed or
sealed. This transcript is intended for the student and will not be accepted by a university.

REQUESTING A HIGH SCHOOL TRANSCRIPT


Transcripts are available from the school Registrar, Ms. Gonzalez. There is no charge for
requesting a high school transcript, but you must give an advance notice to Ms. Gonzalez when
you request them. Please refer to the Transcript Request Form in the Important Forms tab.
Fill out the form and turn it in to Ms. Gonzalez so she can process your request.

REQUESTING AN OFFICIAL STC TRANSCRIPT


Official South Texas College transcripts are ordered online. You order them through your Jag Net
account. Fees may apply for official STC transcripts.

Most public universities in the state of Texas participate in an electronic transcript transfer service
called T-REX. Your transcript can be sent electronically via T-REX if you request it. Consider that
most universities take up to two weeks to process transcripts. Keep this in mind when reviewing
your schools application deadlines.

20
JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

F I N A N C I A L A I D G L O S S A RY
AWARD LETTER. A means of notifying students of FAFSA ON THE WEB. An electronic option for completing
assistance the college/university has offered. The letter the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
describes the type(s) and amount(s) of aid, lists specific (www.fafsa.ed.gov).
information of the students responsibilities and the
FEDERAL METHODOLOGY (FM). The process of analyzing
conditions that govern the award. Generally, the award
the students household financial information on the FAFSA
letter gives students the opportunity to accept or decline
to calculate an expected family contribution and the
the aid. The letter also includes a deadline date by which
students eligibility for federal and state aid.
to respond.
FINANCIAL NEED. The amount by which your familys
COST OF ATTENDANCE (also known as cost of education
contribution falls short of covering your expenses.
or budget). The students cost of attendance, covering not
only tuition and fees (including loan fees), books and FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID (FAFSA). A
supplies, but also the students living expenses while form completed by all applicants for federal aid. The FAFSA
attending school. The cost of attendance is estimated by is available on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov. In many states,
the school, with guidelines established by federal completion of the FAFSA also establishes a students
regulations. The difference between the cost of eligibility for state-sponsored aid programs. There is no
attendance and the students expected family contribution charge to students for completing the FAFSA. The FAFSA
determines the students need for financial aid. may be filed any time after October 1st of the students
senior year.
CSS/FINANCIAL AID PROFILE. A web-based application
service offered by the College Board and used by some INDEPENDENT STUDENT. Students who are either at least
colleges, universities and private scholarship programs to 24 years old, enrolled in a graduate or professional program,
award their own financial aid, Students register for and married, a veteran, an orphan or have legal dependents (not
complete the PROFILE at the College Board Web site including spouse). Independent students do not need to
(www.collegeboard.com). CSS provides a customized provide parental information to be considered for federal aid
application for each registrant, based on the students programs. However, private institutions may require
independent students to provide parental information to be
registration information and the requirements of the
considered for nonfederal funding. Most high school students
colleges and programs to which he or she is seeking aid.
are NOT independent students.
Students complete the online application and
supplements, if required. CSS processes and reports the NEE-BASED FINANCIAL AID. Financial aid (scholarships,
application data to institutions. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE grants, loans or work-study opportunities) given to
may not be used to apply for federal aid. Students pay a fee students who have demonstrated financial need,
to register for PROFILE and for the reports sent to calculated by subtracting the students expected family
institutions and programs that use it. contribution from a colleges total costs.

DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool NEED-BLIND ADMISSIONS. The policy of determining
allows applicants who have already filed their federal college admissions without regard to a students financial
income tax returns to prefill the answers to some questions need or financial aid status.
on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by
SCHOLARSHIP/GRANT. A type of financial aid that doesnt
transferring data from their federal income tax returns.
have to be repaid. Grants are often based on financial need.
This can save the family some time in completing the FAFSA. Scholarships may be based on need and other criteria, or
It may also reduce the likelihood that your FAFSA will be solely on other criteria such as academic achievement,
selected for verification. artistic ability or talent in the performing arts.
EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION (EFC). The total STUDENT AID REPORT. A report produced by the U.S.
amount students and their families are expected to pay Department of Education and sent to students who have
toward college costs, from their income and assets, for one filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The SAR
academic year. The amount is derived from a need analysis contains information the student provided on the FAFSA
of the familys financial circumstances. The Federal as well as the federally calculated result, which the financial
Methodology is used to determine a students eligibility for aid office will use in determining the students eligibility for
federal and state student aid. Colleges and private aid a Pell Grant and other federal student aid programs.
programs may use a different method to determine
eligibility for nonfederal financial aid frequently, the WORK-STUDY. An arrangement by which a student combines
Institutional Methodology, developed and maintained by employment and college study. The employment may be an
CSS. integral part of the academic program (as in cooperative
education and internships) or simply a means of paying for
college (as in the Federal Work-Study Program).

21
JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

F I N A N C I A L A I D D E TA I L S
FAFSA is the free application for federal financial DETAILS TO REMEMBER
aid. Universities use the FAFSA as a funding All written communication to financial aid offices
account for scholarships. All students should must include the students Social Security
complete a FAFSA application. number.
BEFORE APPLYING Keep copies of all financial aid documents sent to
If you are in doubts as to whether to apply for aid, FAFSA and/or universities.
apply!
Do not guess answers to the FAFSA. See Ms.
Do not wait for college acceptance letters before Reyna or speak with the college financial aid
filing for aid. File in October, November, or officers directly.
Decemberthe earlier the better. You must have
Do not leave blank spaces on the forms. Use
completed your tax returns for 2015 prior to
zeros instead.
finalizing the FAFSA and the CCS Profile. The
FAFSA application opens on October 1st. AFTER YOUVE FILLED THE FORMS
Once you fill out the FAFSA form correctly, you
Students must have a Federal Student Aid ID
will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that will
Number (FSA ID) to complete the FAFSA form.
give you your eligibility index for federal and state
Students must request this number at least two
aid. Keep a copy of the SAR. You will need it to
weeks before completing the FAFSA form.
support any scholarship applications for need-
Request it at www.fasfsa.ed.gov.
based aid.
The FAFSA form is available on October 1st.
If there are errors or incorrect information on the
Gather all parent and student tax documents
SAR, you can make corrections online.
before beginning the FAFSA form.
Financial aid offers are sent by colleges shortly
If you are applying to colleges that require CCS
after you receive a letter of acceptance. Compare
Profile, try to file that form in November or early
the awards carefully and sign the acceptance
Decemberas soon as you know the colleges to
letters only once you have made an informed
which you plan to apply. If you are applying
decision with your parents. You will be asked to
under an Early Decision plan, complete your CCS
sign an acceptance of the amount received, and
Profile in October or early November.
the money will be sent to the
Inform each college about your interest in college/postsecondary institution.
applying for aid. Make a list of the financial aid
Ask your counselor for assistance if you have
priority dates and deadlines at the colleges to
general questions. Specific questions should be
which you are applying. Ask each college if it
directed to the college financial aid officers.
requires supplemental forms, and obtain them as
needed. TAFSA
Students who do not have a Social Security
CHECK FOR SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WHICH YOU
number can qualify for state financial aid by
MIGHT BE ELIGIBLE
completing the TAFSA available at
Each college/postsecondary institution (your
www.collegeforalltexans.org.
best source)
Those posted online on sites like
www.fastweb.com
Organizational, local, and national
scholarships

22
JIMMY CARTER EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

FREE TUITION PROGRAMS


These schools in Texas offer free tuition to Texas residents who meet income qualifications. Some
programs also require that students meet other requirements such as SAT/ACT scores and GPA.
Detailed information is available on the schools website. Students can apply for the Free Tuition
Programs by completing the FAFSA form.

You may be able to find similar programs at other universities.

Angelo State University The Blue and Gold Guarantee


Lamar University Lamar Promise Program
Midwestern State University Mustang Guarantee Program
Prairie View A&M University Panther Promise
Sam Houston State University Bearkat Promise
Stephen F. Austin University Purple Promise Guarantee
Tarleton State University Texas Tuition Guarantee
Texas A&M International University DUSTY Promise
Texas A&M University College Station Aggie Assurance
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi Islander Guarantee
Texas A&M University Galveston Aggie Assurance
Texas A&M University Texarkana The Eagle Promise
Texas State University San Marcos Bobcat Promise
Texas Tech University The Red Raider Guarantee
University of Houston Cougar Promise
University of North Texas Emerald Eagle Scholars Program
University of Texas Dallas Tuition Promise
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Advantage Tuition Guarantee
University of Texas Tyler Pathway to Success Program
University of Texas El Paso UTEP Promise
West Texas A&M University The Buff Promise

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