- Scotch Plains - Fanwood HS
- College Planning-FAQ's
- Family and Student Resources
- Counseling Staff Contact Information
- College Planning-FAQ's
- ACT and SAT Testing
- College Application Support References
- College Transcript Request Deadlines
- Counselor-Student Assignments
- Grade Specific Information
- Naviance for Families and Students
- NCAA for Academic Eligibility
- Program of Studies 2021-2022
- Course Selection Sheets 2021-2022
- School Profile
- Step by Step to College Prep
- Transcript Request Form for Alumni
- Virtual College Exploration
- Course Selection Sheets
Our Frequently Asked Questions about college planning can help students about to start college prepare for the years ahead. Click each heading to expand.
Important Articles and Information Regarding College Admission
More than 300 college deans explain what they want - and don't want to see from applicants: Care Counts in Crisis:College Admissions Deans Respond to COVID-19
Standardized Testing for College Admission (SAT/ACT/Subject tests)
The June administrations for both tests have been canceled, but there are preparations in place for the following test dates:
ACT: September 12, October 24, and December 12, 2020
SAT: August 29, September 26, October 3, November 7, and December 5, 2020
Scotch Plains Fanwood High School will be offering the SAT test for the September 26 and November 7 administrations in 2020 only.
Please visit the SAT and ACT websites for registration deadlines and more information.
Many colleges and universities are choosing to be test-optional for the 2021 application cycle. The most updated list of schools to do so can be found here: List of colleges going test optional
This list does not include schools that have made SAT subject tests or submission of AP tests optional. Please check with individual school websites in order to find that information.
Due to Covid-19 and the unknowns with it, please continue to check SAT, ACT, and individual school websites for the latest information regarding testing. There is still tremendous unknown about what lies ahead, but keeping up with test preparation is always beneficial and registering for future tests will secure a spot in the event testing resumes as normal.
Virtual College Tours and College Admission Rep Visits
Although it is terribly disappointing that you can not visit college campuses at the moment, universities are doing everything they can to offer as close of an experience as possible. Interest tracking will still be recorded by some schools, not to mention you will want to gather as much information as possible before applying to any university. Scotch Plains Fanwood High School is still planning to continue college representative visits in the fall. If we can not conduct these visits in the building, we will offer an online experience. You can sign up for these visits through Naviance beginning in September.
Teacher or Counselor Recommendation Letters
Recommendations and the number of recommendations needed are specific to each school. Some schools do not require them. You must check the requirements for each specific school.
A one month, minimum, lead time must be given to counselors and teachers before your deadline date.
Your counselor will write a recommendation with your senior self-evaluation form and the parent input sheet for educational purposes form. Both forms can be found on our counseling webpage under grade specific information - Teacher recommendation forms can be found there as well.
To help the recommender write the best letter possible, give as much detailed information as you can. Anything you feel strongly about over the past 4 years both in and out of school. Provide additional information that you would like the admissions offices to know about you that they cannot see as part of your transcript.
Counselor letters will automatically be sent through Naviance to the colleges designated by each student with the initial transcript. Teacher letters will be submitted individually by the teacher.
For teacher recommendations, select two subject area teachers, preferably from junior year, although any teacher who you feel will best write a favorable letter is fine. Perhaps a teacher who knows you well or a subject area you may want to study in college would be a good way to choose. You can also choose a coach or an advisor within SPFHS for a recommendation. Please provide them with a resume and the student information for teacher recommendation form which can be found on our webpage and again, be detailed in your answers.
After asking teachers to write a letter, add their names on Naviance as recommenders. This is done in the fall of the senior year. Go to the college tab - apply to college - letters of recommendation and add them. This will allow the teacher to send your letter through Naviance. Keep the teacher and counselor informed if you add more schools later in the year.
Recommendations outside of SPFHS can be added to the common application. You must provide them with the common application portal to upload the information on your behalf. An alternate way to have them send in their recommendation would be to give them a self-addressed stamped envelope. This is not done by the counseling office.
Students/parents will not be able to read any recommendation letters. You will fill out the FERPA where you waive your right to read or see the recommendation. The letters are sent to the colleges that the student designates they are applying to on Naviance.
Recommendation letters for scholarships – The counseling office uses your counselor letter for each scholarship that requires one.
And remember - If a college requires a recommendation, they are considering it an essential piece of the application package.
Common Application/Coalition Application
The Common Application and the Coalition Application are two types of applications that many of the colleges and universities utilize in the United States. Listed below are the features of both applications:
Common Application (informally known as the Common App)-an advanced college application that is used to help prospective college students apply to multiple institutions at once. The Common Application opens up for the class of 2021 on August 1, 2020.
Coalition Application for Access, Affordability, and Success-a relatively new application option for college candidates. Its features are very similar to the Common Application. Certain colleges utilize this application as well. The list of participating institutions can be found at Coalition for College and reportedly opens up sometime in August 2020.
Both sites will list what colleges and universities accept their application as well as all of the deadlines. You will need to check with each college for which you are applying as to what types of deadlines they offer.
In regards to COVID 19-the Common Application has added a question about your experience during the pandemic. You can certainly use this section to add anything you feel for which is important for the Admissions Committee. At this time, the Coalition Application has not specified if they will be adding a question about COVID 19.
Application deadlines (EA, ED, RD, rolling, priority)
Colleges and universities offer different deadlines. Listed below are the types of deadlines:
- Early Decision (ED)- a binding agreement between you and a college in which you agree that you WILL attend that college should they offer you admission. You can only apply to 1 college early decision. If you're accepted, you have to withdraw all your other applications to other colleges.
- Early Action (EA)-Early action plans are non binding. Students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1. You can apply to as many schools that offer the early action deadline as you wish.
- Rolling Admission-refers to the idea that institutions accept and respond to applications continuously.
- Priority Admission- when a college sets a date by which applications given the most consideration must be received.
A transcript is a comprehensive grade report of all the classes, levels and final grades you’ve completed. This document is the cornerstone of the application process and with the GPA will be the first item colleges look at. However, most colleges are going deeper and will look at all the other important aspects you bring to the table, like extra-curriculars and letters of recommendation.
The transcript that is sent in the Fall also lists the courses you are enrolled in as a senior- but no senior grades. Senior grades are sent in February (after the first semester) with a revised GPA to all the colleges on your Naviance list.
How do I request transcripts? When listing your schools in Naviance under the “Colleges I’m Applying To” tab, you may request transcripts. Keep in mind, we need at least a 30 day notice in advance of the application due date for requests. A November 1st due date means the request should be in by 10/1. We will make sure the transcript is sent prior to the application due date. When requesting transcripts select “initial transcript” and no other choices.
Is my GPA and Transcript good enough? Well, there is always room for improvement and it is important to challenge yourself. Colleges will look at how you have done in the context of classes we offer. It is important that you try to present positive progression- this year is stronger that the last one. There are over 3000 colleges in the US and there are dozens that would be thrilled to have you on campus. Your job is to find the ones that thrill you too.
GPA- Grade Point Average
- There are two GPA’s listed on the transcript. The weighted (Academic GPA) is on a 4.8 scale and includes major academic and AP classes only. The unweighted (All Course GPA) is on a 4.3 scale and includes every course you’ve taken. Colleges will look at both but the primary is the weighted GPA. If asked on an application to report a GPA, unless otherwise stated they mean the weighted one.
- GPA’s are revised at the end of the junior year and this is what is on your transcript when they are sent in the Fall of the senior year. It is recalculated after the first semester of senior year when mid-year grade reports are sent and then one last time for your final transcript.
- SPFHS does not report your class rank to colleges. This is not uncommon nationwide . If asked on a college application about rank, choose “my school does not rank”.
- Your GPA can be found in Naviance under ‘About Me’/’My Account’. Again, it will be revised once junior year grades have been finalized.
- UCCTI (Vo-Tech) students: Tech final grades are listed on your SPF transcript and are calculated into the unweighted GPA.
Main Essay/Personal Statement/Supplemental Essay
The 2020-2021 Common Application Essay Prompts are as follows:
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Choose the essay topic that will paint the best picture of you as a prospective student. Self analysis is required, so pick a topic that allows you to discuss “why” and/or “how” and/or “so what” instead of “who” and “what.” Length is 650 words.
Begin writing the essay immediately. It would be great to have it done and edited before you have to begin the supplemental essays.
Colleges sometimes require supplemental essays. These essays are typically specific to the college or university. To answer them, do some research about the school. If it asks about what you are looking forward to, go onto the university’s website and research a class, find a professor who is doing interesting research, choose extracurricular activities or service activities. The purpose of supplemental essays is to show you have done some research about the college. It is very important to be specific when answering these essays.
Each college will set the number of supplemental essays required. Sometimes, a test optional college will ask for one in place of test scores. These colleges will specifically detail the necessary length of each response. Follow those directions.
Some colleges will allow you to see their supplemental questions online. Those will become available sometime in summer, usually after July 15.
The questions will be posted on the Common App under “writing section.”
For Coalition Application, to see a college-specific essay topic, you must start an application for that college. If you have written one or more personal essays, you can place them in your “locker,” as media files. From there, you can attach the item to your application when you get to that section.
Username/Password info: Your username is your school gmail. Your password is your student ID number. You may need to reset your password. Please attempt to do this on your own using the reset tool. If Naviance does not allow you to reset, please email your counselor to reset for you.
SPFHS Naviance Home is a software program that we use at the high school to help our students navigate the college and career process. You were assigned a username and password your freshman year at SPFHS. Through Naviance you can:
- Research colleges
- Explore careers
- Create a resume
- Request letters of recommendations
- Send transcripts
Naviance will help you stay organized with the application process. You can establish college deadlines (regular decision, early action, etc.) so you and your teachers can stay ahead of deadlines. You and your counselor will meet in September to review the deadlines you establish on Naviance so transcripts go out in a timely fashion.
As a junior, you should be adding colleges to your “Colleges I’m Thinking About” list on Naviance after completing your research for best fit. The summer before your senior year, you should start moving your favorite schools (6-9 schools is a nice number!) over to your “Colleges I’m Applying To” list on Naviance.
Colleges can not see any of your activity on Naviance. Naviance is a tool just for you and your parents!
Your SAT/ACT scores will be visible on Naviance to help you establish safety/target/ reach schools using the scattergram tool. After students take their SAT/ACT, the testing agency sends scores to the high school so we can update Naviance. Please be patient with score.
You will need to “match” your Naviance account with your CommonApp account. You will do this by signing your FERPA waiver on CommonApp and then following the “match accounts” prompt on Naviance.
Naviance has over 4,000 colleges in its database including international schools.