College Planning

The Catholic High School of Baltimore is committed to helping each student gain admission into the colleges of her choice. Our college counseling services begin when we discuss and analyze with students their PSAT test scores and identify strategies that will prepare them for admission into, and success during, college. In both personal counseling sessions and additional class meetings, we continue these discussions each year until students become seniors. We also hold parallel meetings with parents of each class, discussing these issues and also ideas pertinent to college financial planning.

Parents and students may make appointments to discuss their academic progress and college plans at any time. We think that it is never too early to think about college and to plan for it.

For parents and students who are interested, the links on the College Counseling website are divided into key areas of the college admissions process. On these pages, you can acquaint yourself with many of the areas that you and your daughter will deal with when she applies to college. As always, if you have any questions, or if any of the information presented is unclear, please do not hesitate to call a member of the Guidance Department for clarification.

Researching Colleges

With the vast resources of the Internet and the increasing availability of college fairs, open houses, school visits, and the like, students and parents are more likely to suffer from an overload of data rather than from a lack of it. Here is a process that will help you make sense of it all:

1. Have a family discussion about the college characteristics that are most important to you and your family. Size and location are very important to many students, but availability of major, selectivity, reputation, availability of financial aid, and personal fit are critical factors as well. Narrow down your college possibilities according to the one or two criteria that are essential to you. If you can't settle on the characteristics you're looking for, try visiting a couple of local colleges, and ask yourself afterward what you liked and what you didn't. This may help you define those college characteristics that are most significant to you.

2. Use a search engine such as Collegeboard.org or Princetonreview.com (see "Helpful College Websites"). By typing in one or two preferences, these websites will provide a list of colleges that meet your major criteria. Put these colleges on your "search list" and concentrate your research on these, but be open to other possibilities as you refine your search.

3. Begin researching the colleges on your search list. Along with the actual process of applying, this will consume most of your time. The good news is that there are many resources available to help you with this. Here are a few:

  • College websites. Although you'll see a lot of information about the school on the admissions link, you'll find out even more by accessing web pages on student life, academics, and financial aid. Browse and take notes!
  • College Fairs and Open Houses. College fairs give students direct access to college admission representatives. Students are able to interact directly with the college rep to ask questions and learn more about the college. College fairs are usually held during the fall and students can expect to meet with many college representatives who are visiting from across the country.

    Open Houses provide families with the opportunity to tour a college campus, meet students and faculty and to hear about admissions and financial aid. Visiting the college campus is one of the best ways to determine whether the college is the right fit for you. Colleges post open house dates on their web-sites.

  • The guidance counselor. Students are encouraged to meet with their guidance counselors regularly regarding the college search and application process. The counselors are knowledgeable in the college search and application process and can be valuable resources. Our counselors are also in communication with many college representatives and often visit college campuses for a tour or seminar.
  • Naviance. Naviance is a college and career readiness platform that connects students to college and scholarship information. Students will set up their Naviance account in their junior year and will have access to a variety of college and scholarship resources. In the senior year, students will utilize the site to create their college lists, request transcripts, and more.
  • Guidebooks such as those from Peterson, Barrons, or Princeton Review. You can obtain these in almost any book store, in the guidance office, or at the school library.
  • Visits from College Representatives. Admissions counselors from various colleges and universities visit Catholic High throughout the fall and winter. They are knowledgeable about their schools and can answer most of your questions. Listen for announcements and check the Naviance website to see which colleges are visiting when.

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Visiting Colleges

Buying a car is a huge expense, and you know enough not to buy one without taking it out for a test drive. Most likely, your investment in college will be much greater than that of any car you will buy, so committing to a school without doing extensive research just doesn't make sense. A major part of that research is the campus visit- a college "test drive," of sorts.

Most college visits take place during an open house. Even though these are scripted events designed to show off the school in the best possible light, they are a critical part of your college search process and will provide you with very useful information. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of the experience.

1. Come prepared with questions. You can ask some of these in the large-group presentations that are part of most of these events. Others you can address to your tour guides, usually a student who knows the school from an undergraduate's perspective.

2. Take notes. You may think you'll remember what you heard, but after visiting four or five colleges it will all begin to run together inside your head.

3. Always go on the tour. This is usually a part of every college open house, and you'll get a good feel for the campus and the facilities, usually from student guides who will show you the "lay of the land."

4. The student guides will generally tell you what a "wonderful school this is," and how the "teachers are all friendly and there to help you" and so on. Remember that colleges do not recruit embittered and unsatisfied undergrads for these events, so guides are going to focus on what's good and what they like about their college. But you can get a deeper picture by asking them what they don't like about the school or what they would change about it if they could. Young people are usually honest about these things, and you'll benefit by getting these added perspectives.

5. When the official events of open house are over, linger and walk around on your own. Check out the bookstore, the college library, the campus quad, and any typical student hang-outs. Try to gauge the atmosphere of the campus and your comfort level with what you're seeing and experiencing.

6. Stop a couple of students and talk to them. You may catch them off guard at first, but most will be flattered that you want to speak to them about their school. Find out how big their classes are, what the most popular majors are, what the teachers are like, the safety of the campus, and so on.

7. Peruse a copy of the campus paper, which you can usually find in- or outside the school bookstore. College newspapers are not censored as high school publications are, so you can get an unvarnished sense of students' feelings and perspectives about some of the leading issues on campus.

The last suggestion is: Enjoy the day! Think of it as a family outing. Walk around, take in the sights, and cap it off with dinner out. Talk to each other about what you liked and didn't like over a good meal and some pleasant conversation.

Happy searching!


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College Financial Aid

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Although they are a form of financial aid, most scholarships are based primarily or solely on merit, while financial aid, in the sense that most people think about it, is based primarily on need.

Scholarships

Scholarships are available from a wide range of organizations including private and philanthropic associations, special interest groups, businesses, governmental entities, and the colleges themselves. These are almost universally based on some notion of "merit" or on a desired quality, personal interest, or characteristic of the student. There may also be a need component.

The process of applying for scholarships is nearly as varied as the scholarships themselves. The primary task is finding a source of scholarship money and then researching its procedures and requirements.

Scholarship Sources

Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities make a variety of scholarships available to its students. These scholarships may be based on any or a combination of the following: academic performance (GPA, rank in class, etc.), leadership and extracurricular involvement, community service, and athletics.

With the exception of those given for athletics, most college and university scholarships are awarded based on information contained in the admissions application and accompanying materials. For these, no additional steps need to be taken other than applying to the college before the scholarship deadline. A limited number of scholarships, however, may have specific and unique requirements, including a specialized application process, additional recommendations, essays, special deadlines, etc. You should check with the school regarding the requirements for its scholarships.

Private Organizations and Businesses

Literally thousands of organizations across the country offer scholarships for various reasons and to various constituencies. There are so many, in fact, that it may be impossible to apply to all the scholarships for which one is eligible. Being eligible for a scholarship, however, does not mean that one has a great chance of winning it. A certain amount of judgment needs to be exercised in knowing for how many and to which scholarships one has the time and energy to apply.

The best way to research private scholarships is to establish a Fastweb account (www.fastweb.com). Fastweb maintains what is probably the largest scholarship data base in the country, and access to its information is free. Establishing an account requires answering some biographical questions and creating a user name and password. Fastweb uses the information you provide in order to identify those scholarships for which you might be eligible or interested. As the application periods for these scholarships arrive, Fastweb will alert you by email and then post the information to your Fastweb mailbox.

Additionally, you should check in the Guidance Department and on the Naviance website for information about scholarships to which you can apply. The Guidance Department adds to its list of scholarships as information arrives in its office.

State of Maryland Scholarships

The State of Maryland also provides scholarship opportunities for its residents. Information about these can be found by linking to the Maryland Higher Education Commission at www.mhec.state.md.us. Although there are rare circumstances that allow otherwise, scholarships from the State of Maryland must be used at a college or university located within the state.

Financial Aid

Applying for financial aid begins with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Since much of the financial aid that colleges disburse comes from the federal government, submitting this form is required. Information about the FAFSA, including procedures and deadlines, can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.

The FAFSA must be filed as soon as possible after October 1 of senior year. Each organization or school that uses the FAFSA for the purpose of awarding aid has its own unique deadline. You should file the FAFSA prior to the earliest deadline of the organizations from which you are seeking aid, but in no case prior to October 1.

Because schools may also supplement financial aid with money from their own endowments, some have additional forms that you are required to fill out. The CSS Profile (http://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile) is one such form, but some colleges have their own unique forms. You should check with every school to which you apply in order to find out which forms each requires, and when they are due.

Catholic High holds a College Financial Aid Seminar for seniors and their parents, typically in December or January. Please check the school calendar for the date and time.


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Helpful Websites

You may find the following websites useful in your college search or for other information related to college admissions:

https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search -- This link on the college board website allows you to enter your college preferences and produces a list of colleges that match those preferences.

www.princetonreview.com - Provides information on many facets of college life, admissions, and academics. There is also a search engine that allows you to search for schools based on a number of criteria.

www.petersons.com - A useful website for college searches.

www.commonapp.org - This website gives you access to the Common Application, where you can fill out one* form that will be accepted by a wide range of colleges and universities. (*There may be a required supplement for your college(s).)

http://www.collegemajors101.com/ -- This resource can clarify and expand your understanding of particular majors, including a list of accredited colleges offering the major and careers aspects for graduates.

www.fastweb.com - The biggest and best-known on-line scholarship resource. If you want to search for scholarships, this is the website.

www.finaid.org - This site provides information on many areas of financial aid.

www.fafsa.ed.gov - You will have to go to this website to apply for federal financial aid to any and all colleges on your list.

http://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile -- Provided by the College Board, the Profile form is required by some colleges in addition to the FAFSA.

http://www.imfirst.org/ -- An online community celebrating first-generation college students and supporting those who will be.

http://www.schoolsoup.com/scholarship-directory/ -- a very large data base of scholarship opportunities sorted by category.

http://www.goodcall.com/scholarships/search - GoodCall Scholarship Engine requires no personal information and is free to use.

http://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/scholarships-and-resources-for-women/ - This website reviews and provides resources for some of the unique challenges women face when it comes to student loan debt and finding adequate financial aid resources for college.


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College Acceptances

The Class of 2019 was offered $10,111,614 in college scholarships, grants, and awards, and gained acceptance into the following colleges and universities:

  • Americorp
  • Anne Arundel Community College, MD
  • Arcadia University, PA
  • Bethany College, WV
  • Binghamton University, NY
  • Bluefield College, VA
  • Boston College, MA
  • Bowie State University, MD
  • Bridgewater College, VA
  • Bucknell University, PA
  • Carthage College, WI
  • Case Western Reserve University, OH
  • Cedar Crest College, PA
  • Chestnut Hill College, PA
  • Christendom College, VA
  • Clark Atlantic University, GA
  • Clemson University, SC
  • Community College of Baltimore County, MD
  • Delaware State University, DE
  • Delaware Valley University, PA
  • Eastern Kentucky University, KY
  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, PA
  • Elizabethtown College, PA
  • Elon University, NC
  • Emerson College, MA
  • Florida Institute of Technology, FL
  • Fordham University, NY
  • Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH
  • Frostburg State University, MD
  • George Mason University, VA
  • Hampton University, VA
  • Hood College, MD
  • Howard University, D.C.
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PA
  • Ithaca College, NY
  • James Madison University, VA
  • Juniata College, PA
  • Keiser University Flagship Campus, FL
  • Kettering University, MI
  • Lincoln University, PA
  • Louisiana State University, LA
  • Loyola University Chicago, IL
  • Loyola University Maryland, MD
  • Lynn University, FL
  • Marymount Manhattan College, NY
  • McDaniel College, MD
  • Millersville University of Pennsylvania, PA
  • Morgan State University, MD
  • Mount St. Mary's University, MD
  • Neumann University, PA
  • Notre Dame of Maryland University, MD
  • Ohio University, OH
  • Oklahoma Baptist University, OK
  • Pennsylvania State University, PA
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY
  • Roanoke College, VA
  • Robert Morris University, PA
  • Rochester Institute of Technology, NY
  • Saint Michael's College, VT
  • Salisbury University, MD
  • Savannah College of Art and Design, GA
  • Seton Hall University, NJ
  • Shenandoah University, VA
  • Simmons University, MA
  • Spelman College, GA
  • St. John's University, NY
  • St. Mary's College of Maryland, MD
  • Stevenson University, MD
  • Susquehanna University, PA
  • Temple University, PA
  • Thiel College, PA
  • The Catholic University of America, DC
  • The Ohio State University, OH
  • The University of Akron, OH
  • The University of Alabama, AL
  • Towson University, MD
  • Trine University, IN
  • University of Bridgeport, CT
  • University of Delaware, DE
  • University of Lynchburg, VA
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County, MD
  • University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  • University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, MD
  • University of Mary Washington, VA
  • University of Nebraska at Lincoln, NE 
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC
  • University of Pittsburg, PA
  • University of Rochester, NY
  • University of Saint Joseph, CT
  • Washington Adventist University, MD
  • Washington College, MD
  • Wesleyan University, CT
  • West Virginia University, WV
  • Widener University, PA
  • Xavier University, OH
  • Xavier University of Louisiana, LA
  • York College of Pennsylvania, PA

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