What do I need to know about the college admission process?
Applying to college may seem like a daunting task. There’s early decision, early action, common application, essays, letters of recommendation, SAT and ACT exams, and so much more. Don’t fear; your school counselors are here to help you navigate the process. Please make an appointment to see us for help. Here are some of the basics of college admissions:
Your transcript contains all of the classes you’ve taken at North Allegheny from grades 9-12. Only final grades are listed.
You can find your unofficial transcript on your Tyler account under Documents. It is a good idea to have a copy to review and check for accuracy, be aware of your grade point average which will help guide you to find appropriate schools and to take on college visits if necessary. Keep in mind transcripts are updated after each semester only. This is the same as your official transcript except official transcripts are signed and sent directly to a college/university, scholarship, or military officer from the counseling office.
Class rank will not be reported by the school through any means (applications, school reports, letters of recommendation, etc.) A student can choose to report their rank to a school but it will not be verified by the school.
Teacher Letters of Recommendation
The best time to ask teachers for a letter of recommendation is either at the end of your junior year or the beginning of your senior year once you know how many you will need. You must allow ample time for teachers to write letters. It is best to check the school(s) in which you are applying in order to determine how many letters they require and if they would like particular subject teachers. The other(s) could be in an elective area of strength or interest, a coach, or a community leader. It is important to follow the specific school’s guidelines when determining what letters to send. Ask teachers with whom you have a good relationship and know you well enough to write a thorough letter. Remember to send your teacher a “thank you” card after they write your letter. Each teacher uses his/her own form. There is a common teacher of letter of recommendation form on the NASH School Counseling site. Please get this completed form to your teacher at least two weeks before your first deadline.
Counselor Letters of Recommendation
Counselor letters of recommendation are not always required. If you are not sure, check the college/university’s website under “undergraduate admissions”. If one is needed, ask your counselor ASAP. Since the fall semester is very busy with college applications, you do not want to wait until a college application deadline to ask for the letter. The form is filled out electronically and can be found on the NASH School Counseling site. Once you have completed the form, please email it to your school counselor as an attachment at least two weeks before your first deadline. These forms give you the opportunity to share detailed information about yourself that you would like your counselor to highlight in their letter for you.
Sending SAT and ACT Scores
SAT and ACT scores are sent directly from the testing agency and are NOT included on your transcript. It is your responsibility to have your scores sent directly from the testing agency. You have some choices when deciding what scores to send to colleges. Both the SAT and ACT have the option of only sending certain test dates rather than every time you have taken the test. This is more expensive, so if you are considering this option, please make an appointment to see your counselor to see if this is appropriate in your case. If you have not already requested your scores be sent to intended colleges before taking the exam, you can do so after the test(s) for an additional fee. To send your SAT or ACT scores, go to their websites, www.act.org and/or www.collegeboard.com.
Common Terms for admission deadlines
This application deadline option allows you to apply early (usually November) and receive a decision well in advance (usually December) of the school’s notification date. A contract is signed by you, your parent/guardian, and your counselor which states you will attend there if accepted. You may only apply to one school early decision. If you are accepted, you must withdraw all other applications. This is a big decision and should be well thought out in advance. Make sure you are confident the school is your first choice, and you and your family are prepared to pay the tuition.
This application deadline option allows you to apply early and receive a decision earlier in the admissions cycle (usually January or February). This is not binding like the early decision option, and you may still consider all of your other school choices before making a commitment. You may apply Early Action to as many schools as you desire.
Each school sets its own deadline (usually sometime in January) and notifies all students simultaneously by April 1. Some may respond earlier.
With rolling admission, you have a large window of time which you can apply. The application process usually opens up in early fall and may continue until the end of the school year. Rolling applicants are typically notified within weeks of submitting their application. A college with rolling admissions continues to accept students as long as space is available. It is best to apply earlier to increase your chances of acceptance.
Use your Naviance account for your college exploration and application needs. Your Naviance account can be found through your TigerID.