- Third Form
- Fourth Form
- Fifth Form
- Sixth Form Summer
- Information Needed to Complete Your Apps
- Completing Your Applications
- Supplemental Essays
- Submitting Your Applications
- SRAR (Self-Reported Academic Record)
- Teacher Recommendations
- International Students
- Testing: SAT/ACT/TOEFL
- Financial Aid
- College Rep Visits
- Demonstrated Interest/Communicating with Colleges/Interviews
- Portsmouth Abbey School Policy: Reporting Status Change and Discipline Issues
Welcome to the beginning of a wonderful, albeit challenging, four years. One of the biggest challenges coming your way will be applying to colleges. We are here to support you throughout the process.
We will meet with the entire Third Form class during the winter term to discuss how to make the most of your Abbey education. But in the meantime, please feel free to come by our office, located on the second floor of the Administration Building, if you have any questions or concerns. If you would like to schedule a meeting with one of us, email the College Counseling Coordinator, and be sure to let her know when you are free as you can’t miss class to meet with us.
We hope that you will enjoy your four years here. Work hard to keep your grades up, get involved in activities that reflect who you are and what you love, and enjoy the friendships that will start now and last a lifetime.
THIRD FORM CALENDAR
- Engage fully and completely in the Abbey experience. Invest yourself in your academics and do your very best work. Reach out to teachers to deepen your knowledge of subjects about which you are passionate and to get academic support. Remember: you are laying the foundation that you will build on through the rest of secondary school and into college and in your life beyond formal schooling. It is time to take ownership over your education.
- Explore co-curricular activities (music, theater, drama, athletics, community service, student government, leadership opportunities, etc.), and don’t be afraid to try something new.
- Read! Reading extensively and widely expands your knowledge and horizons, makes you a more interesting person, and, according to research done by the College Board, is the best way to improve your SAT EBRW score.
- Choose your Fourth Form classes and consider your academic program over the next three years. You should take classes that challenge you and interest you but in which you can be successful. Colleges pay attention to both your GPA and your course rigor in the admissions process. You are welcome to meet with a college counselor to discuss what courses you should be taking.
- Begin thinking about college. It is a little early to decide where you want to go, but you should be listening to friends, talking with your parents and teachers, and learning about a variety of schools that might interest you. Feel free to come by our office and use our resources.
- Take advantage of Spring Break to visit one or two college campuses. While it’s early to begin formal college visits, if you are traveling near schools that you think might interest you, by all means drive through the campus. If you think you like it, don’t hesitate to get out of the car and walk around the campus a bit. Students will be happy to answer questions, and in fact will probably be flattered that you are interested in their school.
- Consider summer programs or jobs. And just as there is no "magic bullet" activity that will "get you into" a college, there is no magic summer job or program that is "better" than any other. Get involved in something that really interests you, or get a job, or look after your baby sister so that your mom and dad can work. But also be sure to have a little fun. That’s what summer is for!
- Read some good books!
- Stay active through jobs, classes, or summer programs.
- If you are traveling with your family, take the time to stop by and visit one or two colleges in the area.
- If English is not your first language, you MUST read in English, not in translation. The more you read in English, the higher your SAT EBRW and TOEFL scores will be; the less you read in English, the lower they will be. Extensive reading in English now will mean you will be better prepared for the rigors of a strong US university program later.
During the winter term you will be assigned a college counselor. In the spring term, you will attend a form wide technology workshop to learn about Maia Learning--a comprehensive, web-based college counseling software, which augments and enhances services offered by the Portsmouth Abbey College Counseling Office. Maia Learning also acts as a vehicle for parents to stay involved and informed in the college search and application process.
Feel free to come by our office, located on the second floor of the Administration Building, if you have any questions or concerns. If you would like to schedule a meeting with your college counselor, email the College Counseling Coordinator and be sure to let her know when you are free as you can’t miss class to meet with us.
Work hard to keep your grades up, get involved in activities that reflect who you are and what you love, and enjoy the friendships that will start now and last a lifetime.
FOURTH FORM CALENDAR
- Continue to take rigorous courses in which you can do well. Remember that you are laying the academic foundation that you will build on through the rest of secondary school and into college, and you are creating the academic profile that will help determine what your college options will be.
- If your academic and study skills don’t seem to measure up to what is expected here, seek help from your classroom teachers, your advisor, and our Study Skills Specialist. Don’t let yourself fall behind.
- Continue to explore activities and clubs. There is still time to try something new, but don’t feel that you have to be involved in a huge number of activities. Choose activities that you are truly interested in and commit yourself to being a serious participant and leader. Not sure which activity will “look best on your resume?” There is no “magic bullet” activity that is going to impress colleges more than any other. Colleges just want to know that you are involved, productive, and a strong contributor to the life of your community.
- Take the PSAT: The Abbey Academic Office signs up students for the PSAT and then administers it to all Fourth Formers in October. This is a practice test and doesn’t “count,” but you should do your best so that you will have a better idea of what your standardized test profile will look like.
- Read! Reading extensively and widely expands your knowledge and horizons, makes you a more interesting person, and, according to research done by the College Board, is the best way to improve your SAT reading score.
- Receive and review PSAT scores: The best way to prepare for next year’s “official” PSAT is to understand what you missed on the practice test.
- Choose your Fifth Form classes; consider your academic program over the next three years. You should take classes that challenge you but in which you can be successful. You should expect to work hard. You are welcome to meet with your college counselor to discuss what courses you should take.
- Begin thinking about college. It is a little early to decide where you want to go, but you should be listening to friends, talking with your parents and teachers, and learning about a variety of schools that might interest you. Feel free to come by the College Counseling Office and use our resources.
- Take advantage of Spring Break to visit one or two campuses. While it’s early to begin formal college visits, if you are traveling near schools that you think might interest you, by all means drive through the campus. If you think you like it, don’t hesitate to get out of the car and walk around the campus a bit. Students will be happy to answer questions, and in fact will probably be flattered that you are interested in their school.
- You may also want to consider doing some prep for the SAT or ACT over the break.
- Review Maia Learning, the application research and management software, during the group technology workshops.
- Attend a small group meeting with your college counselor to ask any questions you might have.
- Consider summer programs or jobs. Get involved in something that really interests you, or get a job, or look after your baby sister so that your mom and dad can work. But also be sure to have a little fun. That’s what summer is for!
- Read some good books!
- Stay active through jobs, classes, or summer programs.
- If you are traveling with your family, take the time to stop by and visit one or two colleges in the area. There is an excellent check list on the Abbey college counseling website that will help you rate the schools you visit.
- If you don’t think you do well on standardized tests (your scores on the PSAT will give you a good indication of that), then you may want to consider taking a test prep class or doing some self-prep.
- READ! And if English is not your first language, you MUST read in English, not in translation. The more you read in English, the higher your SAT reading and TOEFL scores will be; the less you read in English, the lower they will be. And extensive reading in English now will mean you will be better prepared for the rigors of a strong US university program later.
Welcome to the beginning of the college search and, sooner than you think, the application process. We are well aware of the fact that this can be a very stressful time in the life of the student and of the entire family. We, too, want what is best for you, and we will work very hard to make the process as smooth, painless, and successful as possible.
We will begin to schedule appointments with you and your counselor after we return from winter vacation. The College Counseling Coordinator will email you at your Abbey email address, so be sure to check your emails regularly. These meetings are very important and attending them should be a priority. As a courtesy, please email your counselor or the Coordinator if you will be unable to attend a meeting. Missing a meeting without notifying the College Counseling Office results in a 1/2 class cut.
Keep in mind that Fifth Form grades are extremely important, especially if a student is considering applying to college as an early decision or early action candidate. You should also continue to maintain significant involvement in athletics and extra-curricular activities that interest you. You do not need to worry about adding a lot of random activities, but you should be establishing and maintaining a reputation for commitment, dependability, and leadership.
Continue to familiarize yourself with Maia Learning; explore all of the features available to you and if you haven’t already done so, begin to use the college search features.
Serious college counseling begins in the Winter Term. You will meet with your counselor a number of times, both individually and in small groups. Now is the time to start reflecting on what you want from a college. It’s not too early to start thinking about specific colleges, but it is too early to worry about creating your “college list.” That time will come! For now, most importantly, stay focused on your classes; your grades count, and so does the knowledge you gain by being fully engaged in your classes.
And finally, never hesitate to email or make an appointment with your college counselor; we’re here to help.
FIFTH FORM CALENDAR
- Your Fifth Form grades are very important; in fact, many colleges give them more weight than Third or Fourth Form. So, starting with Fall Term, make every effort to earn your highest grades yet.
- You will take the PSAT in October. The Abbey Academic Office will sign you up. Do your best on it. Colleges won’t see these scores, but this test, taken seriously, will give you a good look at what your SAT scores may be.
- While you probably haven’t yet created a list of schools you want to apply to, you can still start researching and even visiting school. Fall Term offers several opportunities for you to visit colleges without missing classes.
- You will take the SAT in December. You must sign up for the test on the College Board website. You will receive reminder emails about registering for the test.
- You could take an ACT in December--discuss this with your college counselor.
- You will begin one-on-one meetings with your college counselor (one before and one after spring break). At these meetings, you and your counselor will discuss in detail all aspects of the process, from researching colleges to completing applications. You are welcome to have more individual meetings- you simply need to email the College Counseling Coordinator and request a meeting with your counselor.
- The College Counseling Office will host a Fifth Form College Seminar for parents in January. We will be joined by speakers from several colleges who will help us give your parents an overview of how the process works and a peek at what to expect as you navigate the next eighteen months.
- Continue to research colleges and identify schools that you would like to visit during Winter Weekend, Spring Break and over the summer.
- Consider registering for and taking the April ACT (discuss with your counselor)
- Register to take the May SAT (if needed; discuss with your counselor).
- You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the time away from school to visit colleges; if you are traveling for a vacation, visit a few schools in the area even if you don’t think you will apply to them. The majority of colleges host prospective student visitation programs most of the year, and a March visit will give you a chance to see the school’s students and perhaps visit a class.
- If you are planning to take a prep class for the SAT or ACT, you should consider doing so over the break. Prep classes, tutoring, and self-prep (online or books) are much easier to handle – and may be more effective - if you are not also doing work for your classes and participating in an activity.
- Register for the April ACT
- Research summer programs, employment, internships, and volunteer opportunities that will ensure you are using your summer vacation in a positive way.
- Register to take the SAT in June (if needed). Meet with your college counselor to discuss which tests would be best for you to take.
- Formulate a list of colleges that you would like to explore at the College Fair.
- Take the ACT (if needed; discuss with your college counselor).
- Continue to research summer programs, employment, internships and volunteer opportunities that will ensure you are using your summer vacation productively. If taking an Advanced Placement course, work diligently so that you will do well on the Advanced Placement exam in May.
- Participate in the Fitch College Mock Admission program, led by representatives from a number of colleges popular among our students.
- Take the SAT and continue to meet with your college counselor to refine your list.
- Prepare for and do well on AP exams
- Prepare for your Spring Term exams and do (very) well on them! This is your last chance to strengthen your academic profile before you start applying to colleges.
- If you haven’t done so already, ask 2 of your current teachers for a recommendation. If the teacher agrees to write your letter, formalize that request through Maia Learning.
- Take the SAT (if needed)
- Take the ACT (if needed)
- Complete Maia Learning surveys before June 30
SIXTH FORM SUMMER CALENDAR
- If you haven’t yet done so, go into Maia Learning and complete the surveys.
- Create a resume of all activities, honors and awards, jobs, internships, etc. You can use the resume builder in Maia Learning.
- Research colleges: the internet is your best source- but be careful of “opinion” sites such as collegeconfidential.
- If needed, begin test prep; contact your counselor for suggestions.
- Organize/schedule/ go on college visits (see below for suggestions); arrange interviews if available. Use the College Visit Checklist to keep up with information and impressions for each school. You can download the checklist here.
- Begin to move schools from “colleges considering” to “colleges applying” in Maia Learning.
- Begin brainstorming/working on your essays; the CommonApp topics are listed below, so you can choose one now; send drafts to you counselor.
- The CommonApp will be available on August 1. For information and a preview, go to the CommonApp website.
- Speak with your parents about financial aid; will you need it and have they started researching options? They and you should make use of the “net price calculator” found on the web pages of your colleges.
- By now, you should have a few schools that you will definitely apply to.
- Move the schools that you will definitely apply to from “colleges considering” to “colleges applying” in Maia Learning.
- Visit colleges (see information above).
- Continue working on your essay; submit drafts to your college counselor for critique.
- Register for fall SATs and ACTs (if needed).
- If your scores don’t truly reflect your academic abilities, research “test optional” schools through www.fairtest.org. Discuss this with your counselor.
- Continue to prep for SAT/ACT.
- Research scholarships.
- Create an account on The Common Application website. See detailed instructions for completing the application in the next section of this Binder.
- Consider doing an early application. For more information, check with your counselor.
- By now you should have 5 or more colleges in your “colleges applying” list. Continue to adjust the list.
- As you add colleges, make use of the “Application Checklist” to record the requirements of all of your colleges; they are NOT all the same.
- If you haven’t done so, register for tests as needed, and continue to prep.
- Continue to work on your essay.
College counseling office contact information:
Ms. Diane Soboski
Director of College Counseling
Ms. Kate Smith
Associate Director of College Counseling
Mrs. Meghan Fonts
Interim Assistant Director of College Counseling
Ms. Deanna Lloyd
College Counseling Office Coordinator
The Portsmouth Abbey CEEB (school) code is 400130
The Portsmouth Abbey fax is 401-682-7088
There are 95 students in your class; 100% are expected to attend a 4-year college or university
We do NOT rank and we do NOT weight grades.
You should NOT put your cumulative GPA on the Common application; we send your complete transcript(s) to colleges.
You SHOULD NOT self-report your test scores on your individual applications, nor should you list any future tests. Please note: you must ALSO send your test scores direct to colleges from each testing agency.
You will be asked for your parents’ educational background (where they attended/dates attended/degrees earned).
You will be asked to list names, ages, schools attending/attended for your siblings.
You will graduate on May 26, 2024
You and your counselor are on the same team, working toward the same goal! Stay in touch with us via email and meet with us regularly. The College Counseling Coordinator will schedule at least two required meetings; you may schedule as many more as you need. If you cannot come to a required meeting, let your counselor or the Coordinator know. If you miss a meeting without prior notice to us, you will receive 1/2 class cut.FINALIZING YOUR LIST
- Be sure that you and your counselor have brainstormed schools that “fit” you: they are the size, location, environment (academic and social) that you will most feel comfortable in, and they have the majors and programs that you are looking for.
- Be sure that your list includes schools in the following categories: likely, probable, possible, reach, far reach.
- Again, be sure that every school on your list, including the “safeties” or “likelies” is a good fit for you.
WHAT CONSTITUTES AN APPLICATION?
Not all schools require all of the following, but generally a complete application is made up of all or most of the following: an application form, a transcript, official test scores, one or more essays and/or short answers, application fee (most schools accept online credit card payment), counselor and teacher recommendations, a secondary school report, and a school profile. If applicable, you might be required to submit an explanation of any disciplinary action, including verification by your counselor. Recruited athletes and students applying to visual or performing arts programs may need to send additional information.
WHAT DOES EACH SCHOOL REQUIRE?
Schools differ in their application requirements. It is extremely important that you go to each school’s website to determine that school’s requirements. Be sure to take advantage of the application checklist at the end of this Binder to keep up with the different requirements for each of your schools. Your counselor will go over this with you before you send your applications.
APPLICATION PLANS (ADAPTED FROM NACACNET.ORG)
- Regular Decision: you submit your application by the college’s deadline, and they let you know by a specified date.
- Rolling Admission: schools review applications as they’re submitted and make decisions throughout the admission cycle. It is usually wise to send your application as soon as possible since some colleges will fill their class by early winter.
- Early Action: you send your application by the early deadline and the college sends you its decision earlier. You do not have to commit to attend EA schools and have until May 1 to decide which school to attend.
- Restrictive Early Action: You apply to your school of choice and get a decision early, without a commitment to attend. Be aware, though, that some schools restrict applicants from applying to any other early plans at other schools. These early options can be confusing—some schools even have more than one of these options—so talk to your college counselor if there’s anything you don’t understand.
- Early Decision: ED is a contract between you and the college; you commit to going to that school if you are admitted. Because of this commitment, you can apply Early Decision to only one college. If you’re still comparing colleges and don’t want to limit your choices yet, Early Decision is not for you.
- Some schools have both an ED and an EDII plan. You can apply to the EDII if you are rejected or deferred at your ED school or if you just haven’t made up your mind before the ED deadline. ED and EDII “count” the same as far as giving you a bit of a boost in the process, but only if you are otherwise academically in the range of students who are admitted to that school.
- You should send at least one EA or rolling app (no later than Nov 1). At least one should be to a “likely” school. Be sure to let your counselor know at your first meeting which schools, if any, you are applying EA or rolling to, and if you are applying to a school ED.
- Students with financial need may not be good candidates for ED; talk with your counselor about this.
Note: No matter which plan you use, with the exception of ED or EDII, you will have until May 1 to decide which school to attend.
TIPS FOR COMPLETING APPS:
If a school is not a CommonApp school, the application will be on the school’s web site.
Every school you are applying to MUST be listed in Maia Learning (“schools I am applying to”) so that we can send all supporting material.
Every CommonApp school you are applying to must be in both the CommonApp list and Maia Learning.
Boarding Students should list their home address as their “permanent home address” and the Portsmouth Abbey address as their “current mailing address”: 285 Cory’s Lane, Portsmouth, RI, 02871.
Be sure your name is exactly the same on all documents (apps, test scores, transcripts).
Discuss with your counselor the wisdom of listing future test dates on your app.
Scores listed on an application are NOT considered official; YOU still must send scores through the testing agency.
For most schools, including CommonApp schools, you do NOT have to list a cumulative GPA on the application.
What you type is what they see. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization count!
Go to www.CommonApp.org to create an account.
Once you have created your CommonApp account, complete all of the “Education” section (note that, with the exception of “activities,” once you complete a section a green check appears next to it: see below).
Next, click on the “My Colleges” tab and add the name of one of the colleges you are planning to apply to. Then click on “Assign Recommenders” and sign the FERPA release authorization. We recommended that you do waive your right to see your recommendations. By school policy they are confidential, but colleges find it reassuring to know that you will not see what is written. Discuss with your counselor if you have concerns.
Now go to Maia Learning and complete the “CommonApp Account Matching” form.
You only have to do this step (including “assign recommenders”) once; you do not have to do it for each individual school.
Use ONLY the online CommonApp for Common App Schools; this is the only way to ensure that your material and our material will get to your schools together and on time. DO NOT use a “special app” a college might send you. If a school will waive an app fee or an essay requirement for a “special” app, they must also waive it for the CommonApp. Check with your counselor.
You can send a different version of your CommonApp to different colleges, but it is a little tricky and probably unnecessary. See your counselor for help if you think you might need to do this.
Each school has its own “questions” section and most have “writing supplements.”
When completing apps, you may not want to list future test dates. Discuss this with your counselor.
By default, the “activities” section has a green check next to it. Be sure you remember to complete it and that you list your activities IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE TO YOU.
It can take longer than you think to get all of the supplements and other little extras taken care of—so don’t wait until the last minute to finish and submit. Many colleges close their apps at EXACTLY midnight on the night of their deadline, so if you hit submit at 12:01, your app just won’t go!
Essays count! It is essential that you and your counselor discuss all drafts of your essays and short answers on a regular and ongoing basis. All of the Abbey College Counselors are English teachers and are happy to critique your essays. In addition, keep in mind the following:
Many colleges (including Common App colleges) will ask you to write additional short and long essays discussing specific passions and interests. They also often ask you to articulate “why this college”—this essay is heavily weighted during the decision process. (See supplemental essay tab for tips)
NON-COMMON APP COLLEGES
Colleges that do not use the Common App will have their own essay prompts. Consult the colleges’ websites for more information. A few schools do not require or accept essays.
"OPTIONAL" ESSAYS AREN'T!
Consider all essays mandatory. Think about it: who is more likely to get in? The student who did the extra essay or the one who couldn’t be bothered?
COMMON APPLICATION ESSAY IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The Common Application essay instructions and topics are below. The minimum limit is 250 words and the maximum is 650. These are “hard” limits; the application won’t accept an essay shorter than 250 words and will cut off anything beyond 650 words. And finally, be sure you answer the prompt:
The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)
- 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?
Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- 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.
Supplemental essays are a chance for applicants to provide more information to an admissions committee to show why they feel they are a good fit for a particular school.
Broadly speaking, there are a few main supplemental essay types that schools are likely to ask:
"WHY US?" or "WHY YOU?":
- These responses should focus on your interests, passions, and values, and how those align with what the school offers. Your goal should be to tell what you will get out of attending that school, or what you are going to contribute to that school.
- Although you may not know exactly what you want to do in the future, you can discuss your goals, passions, possible areas of study, what made you interested in these areas, etc.
- This is a great time to discuss activities/hobbies/jobs that are most important to you. How did becoming the captain of the softball team help you become a better leader? How did joining the drama club give you a stronger sense of the Portsmouth Abbey community? What did you learn from being a camp counselor last summer? What is something the admissions team should know about you that is not on your application?
- This is a question that wants to get behind whether you are the type of person who gets involved in your community, works well with others, wants to jump in and solve campus/societal issues, etc. They are determining your values- what you think is important. This is a great time to share how your experiences in the communities you belong to will contribute to your future in college.
TIPS FOR SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS:
- Determine which of your schools require supplements
- Read the prompts carefully: if a school is asking about a specific topic- stick to that topic
- Use these essays to share positive information about yourself that you weren’t able to share on your application
- Reveal something new about yourself with each essay
- If a school asks “why us?” use specific details from that school when answering the prompt. Visit their website, mention specific courses or offerings, use facts that were shared on your college tour, show interest in joining a specific club or sport, talk about stepping onto that campus for the first time, etc.
- Recycle essays in smart ways: If different schools ask similar questions, feel free to use similar stories! Do not be careless and click copy and paste- make sure to re-read and edit so certain details don’t go to the wrong school!
- There are no “optional” essays (even if the college says they are!) Think about it: do you think the admissions team is more likely to admit a student who couldn’t be bothered to do the work, or a student who took time to respond to those optional essays?
- Keep track of the essays you need to write: Create a Google Docs or a document in Outlook to keep track of all your essays in one place. Feel free to share the document with your college counselor!
- Let us help. Your college counselor is more than happy to offer advice or editing when writing supplemental essays. If you feel like you could use some guidance, reach out to your college counselor.
It is very important that you go over your final essays, short answers, and completed app with your counselor BEFORE you hit send!
WHAT YOU SEND:
- Your application, which may include essays, short answers, and supplements
- Test Scores: ACT/SA /TOEFL; you must pay for and send them yourself through the appropriate testing agency, College Board, ACT, or ETS (TOEFL)
- The application fee (most schools accept payment by credit card)
- Portfolio (if applicable)
- Athletic recruitment materials (if applicable)
- Performance materials (if applicable)
- Any follow up emails or communications to show demonstrated interest to college reps
- Any optional materials that require mailing
- Applications to colleges outside of the U.S. (if applicable)
- Disciplinary report (if applicable)
WHAT WE SEND:
- PAS transcript
- Previous school transcript (if applicable)
- College counselor letter of recommendation
- Teacher letter(s) of recommendation
- Secondary School Report
- PAS School Profile
- Mid-year (Fall Term) grades
- Confirmation of disciplinary report (if applicable)
Your counselor will assist you in contacting colleges that you might have questions for or application issues with. We will maintain contact with colleges over the entire process to make sure all goes smoothly.
SUBMITTING YOUR COMMON APP:
Submitting your Common Application is a multi-step process:
- Before you can submit any app through the CommonApp, you must complete the FERPA match with Maia Learning.
- You must complete the main application AND all parts of the individual college’s questions and supplements.
- Ask your counselor to review your app with you.
- Do the “Final PDF Review” to be sure your application looks the way you want it to.
- Pay the application fee.
- Sign the application.
- Now you are ready to submit.
Not all schools belong to the Common Application. Non-common app schools will have their applications on their website.
Important: submit your applications as soon as they are complete and your counselor has reviewed them. You do not have to wait for our materials and you do not have to wait until after you send your test scores! And don’t forget to send your test scores!Missing Materials: Once all material is submitted, you may receive a message from at least one of you schools saying that they are missing something. What to do? Follow the steps below:
- Give a couple of days. Colleges receive thousands of documents and it takes time to put everything into the system.
- If the materials still appear missing after one week, contact your counselor. Our software tracks material that is sent electronically; we can tell you when we sent it AND when it was received and downloaded by the college. We also track mailed materials by including a return postcard that colleges mail back indicating the date they receive the material.
- Call the college and let them know when we sent it and when they receive/downloaded. You should make that first call; schools tell us without exception that they respect a student who is taking care of business and NOT counting on mom or the counselor. We can get that contact information for you.
- If the school still says that something is missing, let your counselor know ASAP. We will call—and of course, we are happy to resend any material that a college cannot locate.
- The most common solution to this mystery is…”Oh—yes, we have it. It was just misfiled.”
SRAR is short for Self-Reported Academic Record.
This is an initiative to have students submit their high school record as part of the undergraduate application process, rather than having their college counselor send their transcript. Accuracy is critical- you should ask your college counselor for a copy of your high school transcript to have on hand when creating your SRAR.
TIPS FOR COMPLETING THE SRAR
- Check if the college you are applying to requires an SRAR
- For schools that require an SRAR, remember that it is part of the application process and must be completed by the deadline.
- Your SRAR can be completed directly on the SRAR website
- Enter your grades EXACTLY as they appear on your high school transcript
- Enter your final grades for all courses completed grades 9-11, and choose “in-progress” for courses which you do not yet have grades
- Enter courses from every high school you attended. If you need a copy of your previous school transcript, please reach out to your college counselor.
- Identify the grading scale (Portsmouth Abbey uses plusses and minuses)
- Do not apply weight to your grades
- Do not covert grades to another format
- Do not average your grades
- If you’ve taken a math or language course prior to 9th grade that is necessary to meet admission requirements, indicate that course on the middle school section of the SRAR
- Type course names exactly as it appears on your transcript
- Remember each college is different- so please visit the college’s SRAR or admissions tab on their website which will clearly lay out their process for this step. For most schools, this step will be accessible on the Applicant Portal, which you will be invited to after you submit your application.
- If you realize you made a mistake on your SRAR after submitting it, please reach out to your college counselor
Generally colleges want one or two recommendations from teachers who have taught you in Forms V or VI in an academic subject (English, Math, History, Language, Science). Check the requirements for each of your colleges. You should take care of this ASAP.Discuss your choices with your counselor. Reading the narrative comments that accompany your term grades can help you decide who has the best things to say about you. The Common Application blocks us from sending more recommendations than a college will accept.
- You MUST ask your teacher in person. Inform your teacher of your application deadline AND send him/her a thank you note.
- You should request letters as early as possible, at least one before summer break. Remember that you are not the only person asking for recommendation letters! If you need a second letter, that request should be made no later than Oct 1 of Sixth Form year.
- Teachers may ask for additional information from you (resume, major, colleges of interest).
ENTERING IN Maia Learning
- Once the teacher agrees, enter the teacher’s name in Maia Learning.
- Send each teacher a short “thank you” email and include your earliest deadline.
How do recommendations get to your colleges? We (College Counseling Office) send the recommendation letters. But again, we cannot send them unless you have entered the teacher’s name in Maia Learning.
What you need to know:
- We do NOT publish a cumulative GPA; the GPAs on your transcript are year-long for each year.
- Your year GPA is NOT weighted.
- We grade on a 4.0 scale.
- We do NOT rank.
- Your GPA in Maia Learning is for internal use only. It is meant to help you craft a balanced college list using the scattergrams in Maia Learning.
- With each application, we send a school profile which puts your transcript in context and explains, in detail, academics at PAS.
- If you attended a different high school before attending PAS, you have a “previous school transcript” on file in our office. We will send both your “previous schools transcript” and your PAS transcript to prospective colleges. We do NOT include other schools’ grades on the PAS transcript.
- We send an “initial” transcript that includes year-end grades through the end of Fifth Form year (and your previous school’s transcript if applicable). We then follow up, generally in the first week of December, with a “mid-year” transcript that includes your first term Sixth Form grades.
- If the college has a deadline, there is NO advantage to the transcript getting there early. As long as it is there by the deadline, you are safe.
- After graduation, we send the “final” transcript with your year-end grades to the (one) school you will be attending. Please note: if you are admitted and enroll in a “wait list” school, you must notify your counselor so that we send you transcript to the correct school
- As members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), we adhere to the “best practices” requirement that we not support multiple deposits by sending final transcripts to more than one school.
WHO IS INTERNATIONAL?
“International” may mean different things at different colleges; be sure to read the international section on each college’s website.
- Proof of English Proficiency: Most schools will require proof of English proficiency. All schools will accept the TOEFL and some require it. Some schools will also accept:
- Studying in an English medium school for a particular number of years (usually 3 or more)
- SAT critical reading scores of 600 or higher
- A letter from your Portsmouth Abbey School English teacher
- An ‘A’ in your Portsmouth Abbey School English class
BOTTOM LINE: YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER SHOULD CAREFULLY CHECK EACH SCHOOL’S WEBSITE FOR ITS REQUIREMENTS AND DISCUSS WITH YOUR COUNSELOR!
Financial Certification: In order for your son or daughter’s visa to be transferred to the college he or she will be attending, you will have to provide proof that you have sufficient funds available to pay all expenses related to attending that university. This proof will be in the form of a “financial certification,” which can be an original letter from your bank verifying availability of funds, a form filled out and signed by you and a bank official, copies of one or more bank statements, or a combination of THE ABOVE. Consult individual college websites about their requirements. Some schools will require certification as part of your son or daughter’s application; others will only require it at matriculation. Some schools have their own forms; most schools will accept the College Board’s form.
Visa and I20 Info: Many schools will require a photocopy of your passport, I20 and visa during the application process. Consult individual college websites about this requirement. PLEASE NOTE: Mrs. Caplin in the Academic Office is the person you will need to coordinate with to transfer your visa to your college next spring. To avoid problems and delays (and a possible cancellation of your I20!), be sure that you follow her instructions and complete all forms before you leave school after graduation.
What address to use? It is best to list your home address as your “permanent address” and your Portsmouth Abbey address (285 Cory’s Lane, Portsmouth, RI 02871) as your “current address.”
Transcripts: You MUST have an OFFICIAL English translation of your transcript from any secondary school you attended prior to enrolling at Portsmouth Abbey School.
Need-Based Financial Aid for International Students:
- Because international students are not eligible for the federal aid that United States citizens receive, very few US schools offer need-based aid for international students, and the competition for that aid is fierce! Your counselor can help you determine which schools do offer aid; but please understand that if you can’t afford the price of a school and that school doesn’t offer aid, it shouldn’t be on your list! Almost all US schools are “need aware” (they won’t admit you if you need financial aid) for international students.
- Schools that do offer need-based aid will have their own forms for you to fill out, available on that school’s web site.
- You might also have your son or daughter check with their counselor or about any merit-based scholarships that might be available to international students.
Different schools have different requirements. Check test requirements (SAT, ACT, TOEFL) on each college’s website (use your checklist to keep up with different requirements).
You must send your scores to each (non-test optional) college you are applying to well before the app deadlines. Only you can request and pay for this process through the appropriate testing agency: College Board, ACT, or ETS (TOEFL)
- It can take several weeks for scores to get to colleges.
- Generally you do NOT need to pay the extra fee to “rush” send your scores, and in fact, some schools won’t accept rush scores.
- Log in to your College Board/ACT/TOEFL account (the same account you used when you registered) and follow the directions for sending scores to schools.
Pay close attention to each of your schools’ “score choice” information on the College Board (SAT) website. A few schools do not allow you to choose which scores to send.
Most schools will “super score” your SAT scores, meaning that even if they receive all of your scores, they will only “count” your highest score from each section. Many schools also do this for the ACT. That information should be available on each school’s web site.
“Test optional” doesn’t always mean no tests. Pay close attention to the test optional information at fairtest.org., and check each college’s website for the most current information.
If you list your SAT/ACT scores on your CommonApp, your test optional schools may see them but will not use them. If you aren’t sure what to do, discuss it with your counselor.
FUTURE TEST DATES
When completing apps, you may not want to list future test dates. Discuss this with your counselor.
First of all, talk with your parents about paying for college.
TERMS AND FORMS YOU WILL NEED TO BE FAMILIAR WITH:
- FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid, available for completion in December. It is important to submit it as soon after it becomes live in December as possible as most colleges' financial aid deadlines are early February. *Some may even have earlier priority deadlines.
- CSS Profile: College Service Scholarship Profile: required by SOME private colleges for financial aid. Consult colleges’ websites for deadlines
- Net Price Calculator: By federal mandate, each college is required to have a calculator on its website. This is a good tool for estimating what type of package you might receive. To fill this out, you will need your parent’s tax returns and financial information as well as some basic academic information. If a college asks for identifying info (name, address, email, phone #), you do not have to supply it to use the calculator.
- Scholarships: There are many links to scholarships (money that you don’t have to repay) in Maia Learning and Canvas. Please note: you might need to supply rec letters and transcripts for scholarships, so request information in a timely fashion. Many scholarship applications require an essay; in most cases, you can use a version of your college essay. Please let your counselor know about all scholarships you are applying for.
- Ms. Lloyd: You can email or set up a meeting with Ms. Lloyd to discuss outside scholarships if you have any questions or need help navigating the scholarship process
- Maia Learning: there are many financial aid links and outside scholarships posted
- Canvas: Resources regarding athletic recruiting, service academies, and visual and performing arts
- Going Merry: A reputable resource
- Most states have an official or quasi-official agency that can assist families in the process.
- fafsa.ed.gov: The government website
- finaid.org: Good research tool
- fastweb.com: Good research tool
- www.consumerfinance.gov/payingforcollege estimates loan payments post graduation
Note: You should NEVER pay for financial aid help or advice.
Beginning the second week of school, well over 100 college reps will be visiting Portsmouth Abbey. Check the schedule in Maia Learning regularly as schools often don’t notify us until a few days ahead.
WHO CAN ATTEND?
Any Sixth-former who has a genuine interest in a school should plan to attend the rep’s visit. However: You MUST get permission from your teacher at least two days before the meeting, and you may NOT miss a test, presentation or other academic obligation to attend a college rep visit.
If you will not be able to attend a meeting with a college you are interested in, sign up for the meeting and then email your counselor to let her know you will miss and why. She will let the rep know. (The rep will be favorably impressed if you missed because of an academic obligation.)
SIGNING UP TO ATTEND
- You must sign up in Maia Learning.
- When attending a visit, report to the College Counseling Office to sign in.
- Again, be sure you have been given permission from your teacher at least two days before the meeting.
WHAT WILL THE MEETING BE LIKE?
The rep will give you an overview of his or her college and then ask you a few questions (what are you interested in? Why do want to come to my school? What will you bring to our campus? and then ask if you have any questions.
You should be prepared to ask meaningful questions (do not ask questions that can be easily answered by going to the school’s website).Your goals are to find out what it is about that school that would be a good fit for you and to make a favorable impression on that rep.
Remember, meeting with the rep who is visiting our campus is a very important way to demonstrate interest and a very good way to find out if that school really is a good fit for you. And the rep who visits is usually the first reader of your application and will be advocating (or not!) for you as decisions are made.
It is very important that you pay attention to all correspondence from your colleges. Many of your colleges correspond with you ONLY via email or their web site; it is vitally important that you check your email several times a day and that you follow instructions from colleges about how to access and track your application through a web portal. If you don’t respond after a college emails you several times or posts on the portal asking for information or a form, they will consider your application incomplete and won’t evaluate it. Use your Abbey email for all college correspondence.
Many colleges track and count Demonstrated Interest (DI) when making admission decisions. You should take every opportunity to connect with the college’s admission office in a meaningful way. Your counselor can help you determine which of your schools count DI. Appropriate and effective ways to show sincere Interest include the following:
- Applying Early Decision is the ultimate demonstration of interest.
- Give special care to answering the supplemental essay question: “Why do you want to attend (fill in the blank) college?” Often, your answer is one of the most important aspects of your application.
- Meet with college reps when they visit the PAS campus.
- Visit college campuses during vacations and breaks. Be sure to introduce yourself to someone in the admissions office and complete any forms or questionnaires that they may ask for.
- Follow up campus meetings and rep visits by sending a thank you note.
- Email reps with meaningful questions (“meaningful” = questions that relate to how a particular college will help you fulfill your goals; do not ask questions that can easily be answered via google). You can access contact information for most of them on Maia Learning.
- Ask the college’s rep about possible contacts who align with your interests (community service, areas of study, etc.).
- Optional essays are not optional if you even remotely want to go to that school.
WHY YOU SHOULD INTERVIEW AND HOW YOU SHOULD SET IT UP?
If any of your schools offer interviews, schedule one. Interviews are an excellent way to demonstrate interest, learn more about the school, and give the school an opportunity to learn more about you.
- Not all schools require interviews, and some don’t even offer them.
- Check each school’s website for information about their policies. Schools may offer interviews via Skype, alumni, or on-campus interviews with student interviewers or admission officers. Some schools expect you to arrange the interview; others will contact you if they want to interview you.
WHAT WILL THE INTERVIEW BE LIKE AND HOW SHOULD YOU CONDUCT YOURSELF?
College interviews are meant to give schools a chance to get to know you better. There is no set “format” for the interviews; questions from the interviewer will range from the very broad “Tell me more about yourself and why you want to attend my school” to the rather ridiculous “So if you were trapped on a desert island, …”
- Be sure that you have researched the school thoroughly before the interview so that you can ask meaningful, thoughtful, and insightful questions.
- It is very important that you are able to articulate to your interviewer why you are interested in that particular school.
- Remember that how you present yourself can be as important as what you say. Wear school day dress, don’t chew gum, be mindful of your posture, shake hands when you introduce yourself, and be sure to look the interviewer in the eyes when speaking to her/him.
- Don’t hesitate to mention some of your accomplishments!
- Some interviewers will ask you to meet them somewhere. This is okay as long as it is a public place: coffee shop, hotel lobby, etc. Most will be happy to meet with you at the Abbey. If you schedule an interview here, be sure to let Ms. Lloyd know in advance so she can reserve a space for you.
- Send the interviewer a thank you note after your interview!
In accordance with the Guide to Ethical Practices outlined by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, Portsmouth Abbey will report any change in status for a student that occurs during the Sixth Form year. A change in status includes withdrawal or extended leave of absence. Students are urged to write to all colleges to which they have applied explaining their change in status before the College Counseling office contacts college admission offices. Withdrawal is noted on the student’s transcript, but suspensions and leaves of absence are not.
Additionally, students are expected to answer truthfully any disciplinary questions (probation, suspension, dismissal) asked by a college in the application process. While colleges are very likely to forgive a mistake, they are very unlikely to forgive lying about one. If you have ever been suspended or placed on disciplinary probation at Portsmouth Abbey, or at a previous high school, you must address this with your college counselor.
The following procedures for reporting discipline violations are in place:
- When a college or university asks on the admission application about a student’s disciplinary history during his/her high schools career (grades 9-12/PG), the student must answer the questions honestly in a written statement to the admission office.
- The student needs to submit a copy of the statement to the college counseling office prior to sending it to colleges. His or her counselor will go over the report with the student, offer guidance as to how the infraction should be reported, and will, if asked about discipline, state that she has read the student’s explanation, confirm that it is accurate, and reaffirm the school’s support of that student.
- If the infraction occurs after the application has been submitted, the same expectation for notification applies. Students should initiate contact with their colleges within 10 days of the disciplinary decision; the student’s college counselor will subsequently follow up with the appropriate colleges/universities, no later than 14 days after the disciplinary decision.
- If a student withdraws or is dismissed, the school will notify all of the student’s colleges of the date of departure within 14 days of the final decision. Prior to the notification from Portsmouth Abbey, the student should inform the colleges of the reason for the departure.
What's The Binder?
This is your guide from the moment you start thinking about college during Third Form year, through the application process, to the moment you deposit at the college of your choice at the end of Sixth Form. While it is not a substitute for the College Counseling Office, The Binder is a wonderful supplement to our programing, meant to help you stay on track and calm.