College Selection Process

A Primer on the College Selection and Preparation Process

A majority of Carlisle High School students continue their education after they graduate, and most of those students go on to a four-year college. No mater what type of school you plan to attend, your junior year is a time to start (or continue) looking forward to what happens after graduation.

By the time you begin your senior year you should have a fairly good idea of what lies ahead. No one ever said the college application process is an easy one, but with a plan, it is easier.

This webpage provides some simple steps you can follow as you research colleges, decide to which schools you would like to apply, and actually start the process of applying to those schools.

There are two main sections to this booklet. The first provides a time line of what to do and when to do it. The time line takes the form of a list of tasks that you should complete during you junior year, during the summer, and in your senior year.

One of the junior year tasks is to think about your ideal college. The task list gives some general criteria, however, the second section of the booklet gets more specific. Here you will find a series of in depth questions, the answers to which may be a big help in your decision making process. These were developed by graduate students at Shippensburg University, and are provided courtesy of the University’s Office of Admissions.



1. Do your best academic work for the remainder of this year
2. Select a rigorous academic program for your senior year
3. Make tentative career decisions 
4. Make tentative decision concerning your college program of study
5. Think about the nature of your "ideal" college
    A. Availability and strength of desired program
    B. Size of the school
    C. Location – how far from home?
    D. Size and nature of the community
    E. Religious affiliation
    F. Activities available
6. Take SAT I and/or ACT in April, May, and/or June
7. Research Colleges
    A. Counseling Center Resource Room
    B. Discover computer programs
    C. College guidebooks: Barrons, Lovejoys, etc.
    D. Misc. other resources – see your counselor
8. Campus Visits


1. Consider SAT/ACT preparation books, programs or courses
2. Continue research
3. Make additional campus visits
4. Narrow your choices – four to six schools
5. Call or write for applications


1. Start the year knowing the schools to which you plan to apply - four to six
2. Consider taking SAT I or ACT again - October
3. Take SAT II, if required - November
4. Complete applications with care
5. When required - write essays (ask your English teacher to review them with you)
6. When required - ask teachers for letters of recommendation (to be given to the Counseling Center Secretary for mailing with your applications)
7. Pick up and complete a Records Release form - available in the Counseling Center
8. Bring completed applications to Counseling Center - ALLOW 10 SCHOOL DAYS TO PROCESS! BE ALERT TO DEADLINES!
    A. Attach application fee
    B. Attach essays
    C. Turn in Records Release Form - one form will be adequate for all applications
    D. Counseling Center will:
        1) pay the postage up to $2.00
        2) add your transcript
        3) add letters of recommendation written by teachers and/or counselor
        4) complete forms as appropriate
        5) charge you $2.00

(Compliments of Shippensburg University)


1. Is the college public or private?
2. What is the size of the college?
3. Describe the Fall class.
    A. How many are freshmen?
    B. How many are transfers?
    C. What is the female to male ratio?
    D. How many live on campus?
    E. Where are their homes originally?
4. Where is the college located?
5. When was the college founded?


  1. Does the college offer my major program?
  2. If I am undeclared, what programs are offered and not offered?
  3. Is the college on a quarter or semester system?
  4. Does the college offer a program of remedial studies?
  5. Is there an internship and/or cooperative education program?
  6. When must a major be declared and what support services are available to help students choose a major?
  7. Does the college accept AP or CLEP credit?
  8. Describe the department of my major area of interest.
      A. How many faculty are there in the department?
      B. Are there figures on job placement and starting salaries?
      C. Describe any unique equipment or features.
  9. Do graduate students teach courses?
10. What is the student/faculty ratio and the average class size?
11. Are there tutorial services? In what areas?
12. Describe a typical class schedule for a freshman.
13. What is the placement record into graduate and professional schools?
14. Can a typical student graduate within four years?
15. Which agencies accredit the college?
16. What percentage of faculty holds doctorate or terminal degrees?
17. Describe the library and any special features.
18. What percent of freshmen are retained to the sophomore year?
19. What percent of the entering freshmen graduate within four years? - Within 5 years?
20. If the college is a two-year institution, where do the students continue their education? What are the acceptance rates? Do all credits transfer?
21. Is there an honors program?
22. Does the college offer a study abroad program?


  1. Is on-campus housing available? Is housing guaranteed?
      A. For how many years?
      B. What % students live on campus?
  2. What organizations/clubs are available for extracurricular activities?
  3. Describe the food services.
  4. Describe the health services that are available.
  5. May students bring a car to campus? Describe the parking situation.
  6. Describe the career placement program for graduates.
  7. Describe the residence hall facilities including regulations and special services.
  8. What are the statistics related to crime on campus? Is there a campus security force?
  9. What intercollegiate sports teams are available?
10. Are intramural sports available?
11. Describe the local community.
12. Does the college offer ROTC? What branches?
13. Is there an orientation program for new students?


1. What is the total cost per year for a boarding student including all required fees?
    A. What is the cost for a commuter?
    B. Does this include books?
2. What programs of financial aid are available?
    A. What percent of students receive aid?
    B. What is the average aid package?
    C. Describe the process of applying for aid.
    D. What forms are required?
3. What scholarships are available?
4. Is there non-resident tuition?
5. Is employment available for students?


1. Describe the application process.
    A. Is it rolling admissions?
    B. When are students notified?
2. What is the application fee? Can it be waived?
3. What is the application deadline?
4. What is the confirmation deadline?
    A. Is a deposit required?
    B. Are there extensions?
5. What credentials are required for admission as a freshman? As a transfer student?
6. Which standardized tests are required or accepted? How does the college use these?

From: Kevin McMullen founder and President of Collegewise, a private college counseling company

1. Remember that you aren't applying to college - your son/daughter is.
Some parents respond to the stresses of the college admissions process by taking it all on themselves.  But, this isn't happening to you.  You're not the one who's taking the SATs and trying to get through AP Chemistry and submitting applications so you can be judged by people you've never even met.  I know that good parents feel connected to what's happening in your kids' lives, but I promise you that freaking out with or for them is just going to make everything worse.  Take a breath and remember that this is happening to them, not you.  It will help you keep calm and be the supportive, encouraging parent your kids need.

2. Make it your job during this time to set an example for your kids.

The fact that your kids are going through this time is to set an example and show your kids how a responsible, healthy, sane adults handles what life throws at us.  Don't fly off the handle and go to battle with a Spanish teacher to get a grade changed.  Don't jump in and write your kid's college essays or fill out applications for him.  And never act like a rejection from any particular college is a life tragedy.  You have experience facing stressful situations, making big life transitions, and dealing with disappointment.  Now is the time to show your kids how it's done.  Be a supportive voice of reason, a willing listener and an enthusiastic cheerleader.  And remind them that no matter which colleges say yes, you're still going to love them (and your kids will still need to take out the trash when you ask them to!)

Navigating College Admissions Presentation, 2014