FAQ about Preparing for College

Question MarkWhile the following questions and answers will provide general information, it is best to contact inpidual colleges and testing agencies directly for detailed answers and the most up-to-date information.


Passes & Notes
  • If I miss school for a college visit do I need to get a note from the college?
    Yes. Students will get an excused absence if they bring in a note signed by an official such as an Admissions Counselor from the college visited.

  • Do I need an appointment to see my counselor?
    Usually yes, unless an emergency arises. Students should not assume that they will be able to see their counselor immediately if they just walk in without an appointment.

  • Do I need a hall pass to visit my counselor?
    Yes. Forms are available in the Guidance Office to request an appointment with a counselor. Counselor will send a pass to student's homebase. If a student needs to see a counselor without an appointment, request a pass from the classroom or HAP teacher.
Academic Units - Explanation and Listing

Your post-high school plans will determine to a great extent which courses you will take in high school. Students who are planning to go to a four-year college should accrue a minimum of sixteen academic units before graduation. An academic unit is earned for completion of study in a year-long college-preparatory course. Students will want to present as strong an academic record as possible to prospective colleges. To help in planning, the courses which are generally accepted by colleges as academic units are listed here. Please refer to footnotes for clarification. NOTE: Semester courses do not earn academic unit status.

All Tech Prep Classes (1) Adv. Pre Calculus Honors College Physics
Business and Criminal Law (1) Trig & Algebraic Functions A.P. Physics C
International Business (1) Calculus A.P. Physics B
A.P. Economics (1) A.P. Calculus - AB, BC Sci. Appl. of Multi-Variable Calc.
English I, II, III, IV - all levels A.P. Statistics
Ancient Greek I & II Music Theory I (1) Analysis
Latin I, II, III, IV, V - all levels A.P. Music Theory (1) Global Studies - all levels
Spanish, IIA,IIIA (2) A.P. Art History (1) Holocaust & Genocide
Spanish I, II, III, IV, V A.P. European History Govt. & Economics - all levels
Honors / AP Spanish V Physical & Earth Science IPLE I & II (1)
Spanish for Native Speakers I, II (1) Biology I Psychology
French I, II, III, IV, V - all levels Biology II A.P. Psychology
Algebra I/Elements of Alg. I/Adv. Alg. I A.P. Biology Military History and Strategy
Geom./Elem. of Geom./Adv. Geom. Human Anatomy and Physiology U.S. History - all levels
Alg.II/Adv. Alg. II Field Ecology & Animal Behavior The Vietnam Era (1)
Hon. Alg. II./Elem. of Alg. II A.P. Environmental Science Race, Class & Gender in America (1)
Computer Prog./ Comp. Science II Chemistry I-T/ Chemistry I-CC Simulations in World Trade (1)
A.P. Computer Science A Honors Chemistry I Asian Studies (1)
Discrete Math A.P. Chemistry A.P. U.S. Govt. & Politics
Introduction to Statistics Physics I-T/Physics I-A A.P. Comp. Govt. & Politics
Preparation for College Math Science & Society (1) American Justice (1)

(1) Accepted as an academic unit by some colleges, but is not universally accepted.
(2) Completion of these two course sequence yields one academic unit.

NCAA Information
College-bound athletes need to be sure that they meet NCAA eligibility requirements by enrolling in the required number of authorized core courses. Although most of the courses listed as academic units qualify as eligible core courses, students should check with their counselors for NCAA information or go to NCAAClearinghouse.net to see which of our courses are authorized core courses. In addition, perspective athletes must meet GPA and SAT/ACT score requirements. The NCAA uses a sliding scale in regard to GPA and SAT scores. You can consult NCAAClearinghouse.net for further details.

Chalk BoardCollege Preparation Process
  • Coursework:
    • Do courses taken as freshman affect acceptance to some colleges? For instance, if a student is in Elements Math or English I, does that mean they shouldn't bother to apply to certain schools?
      All courses taken at SBHS will be included on the student's transcript. Many colleges give students the opportunity to include a written explanation regarding some of the courses they took. Students taking standard or elements-level classes throughout high school should select colleges that they would be academically prepared for. However, students can move up from standard to academic or from academic to honors courses if they meet prerequisites. Students should work with their counselors regarding college planning.

    • Should students take more electives in their field of interest or should they explore other electives to become more well-rounded?
      Students should work with their counselors regarding college planning. In general, students should take electives that interest them, whether they relate to their intended career or college major or not.

  • Naviance
    • What is Naviance and its features?
      Naviance is a tool provided to SBHS students for college and career planning.
      • Counselors send grade level or inpidual e-mails to students as needed
      • "My Personality Type" assessment questionnaire
      • "Career Interest Profiler" questionnaire
      • "My Resume"
      • "My Game Plan" questionnaire
      • A variety of college search options

  • batter Clerk Trumpet

  • Extracurricular Activities:
    • What type of extra-curricular activities should
      students participate in? Get involved in activities that interest you either in school or out (clubs, music, sports, community service, and employment). Keep track of your activities including the year you were involved, the duration, and contact information (name, phone number, business address, e-mail) of supervisors from employment or community service since you may need the information for National Honor Society, resumes or college application recommendation letters. Information can be added to "My Resume" on Naviance.

    • How many activities should students participate in?
      Most colleges prefer to see a long term commitment to a few activities which demonstrates commitment rather than a long list of activities.

    • Is community service required?
      SBHS does not require community service as a graduation requirement. However, community service is required as one component for admission to National Honor Society. In addition, many colleges like to see some community service on the activity resume. Students should keep track of their community service hours.

  • Guidance
    • What information or forms do we need to give to our guidance counselors when applying to college?
      Counselors need Recommendation Forms and Transcript Request forms as part of the College Application process which begins early in the senior year.

    • Can parents contact Guidance Counselors with questions regarding the college process?
      Yes, however, parents should first review the new checklists and other documents on the SBHS Guidance website to see if you can find the answers to your questions

  • Library Laptops

  • Researching Colleges
    • What is the CollegeBoard?
      The CollegeBoard administers the PSAT, SAT, and SAT Subject Tests as well as the CSS Profile required by some selective colleges for determining financial or merit aid. They also provide online information for college planning, college search, applications, test preparation and paying for college. Refer to www.collegeboard.com for additional information.

    • How do I begin to decide what type of colleges I may be interested in?
      A "College Planning Checklist for Grades 9 - 12" is provided on the SBHS Guidance website as well as a list of college preparation books and websites. In addition, log onto Naviance which provides a great deal of information and questionnaires to assist you with the process.

    • What is the difference between Liberal Arts, Pre-Professional and Technical colleges?
      Liberal Arts colleges are usually smaller schools which emphasize undergraduate studies in the liberal arts. Pre-Professional colleges and universities generally offer a significant number of courses and majors in business, technology, and engineering, as well as graduate degrees in fields such as medicine, law, pharmacy, business, engineering, etc. Technical colleges primarily offer majors in technical fields such as Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics or other sciences. They generally offer relatively few majors in the liberal arts.

    • What are Research I & II Universities?
      Research I and II universities receive significant federal funding to conduct research and have a commitment to offering doctoral programs.

    • What is the difference between an Honors Program/College and departmental honors?
      Honors Programs or Colleges are offered by some schools to provide a greater academic challenge to selected students. Honors programs may include smaller class sizes, honors housing, a senior capstone project or thesis, or special elective courses. Some colleges require an additional application to the Honors Program while others consider students automatically. Departmental honors may be offered by inpidual departments to students within that major who achieve a minimum required GPA.

    • Should I visit every college I am considering before applying?
      The number of college visits is a personal decision based on time, interest and financial considerations. Some students wait to visit schools (especially those far away) until after they are admitted. However, the best way to see if a school a^?oefeels righta^?? to you is to visit. Some colleges keep track of the number of times you contact them or visit.


signing College Application Process
  • Financial Aid, Merit Aid & Scholarships
    • What is a FAFSA?
      The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is administered by the federal government to determine the Effective Family Contribution for need-based financial aid. Both students and parents fill out the form as the first step in the financial aid process. Most colleges require that the FAFSA be submitted to determine financial need. Some colleges require the FAFSA for merit aid as well. The application process is free of charge. Refer to www.fafsa.ed.gov for more information.

    • What is a CSS Profile form?
      Administered by the CollegeBoard, the CSS Profile is used by about 600 colleges in addition to the FAFSA to determine eligibility for non-federal student aid funds, including merit aid. There is a fee to fill out the application, as well as a fee for each school a report is sent to. Refer to www.collegeboard.com for more information.

    • What is Merit Aid?
      Some public and private colleges offer grants or scholarships to students with strong academics or other talents such as music or athletics without regard to financial need.

    • What are the New Jersey Stars and New Jersey Stars II programs?
      This scholarship program provides students who fall within a required percentage of the top of their graduating class the opportunity to attend a New Jersey community college, tuition free. The New Jersey Stars II program allows students who graduate from the New Jersey Stars program with an Associates Degree and the required minimum GPA to attend a New Jersey four-year public college to earn a bachelors degree, tuition free. See www.njstars.net for more information.

    • What is a Bloustein Award?
      The Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar Award is a scholarship given to New Jersey high school students who rank in the top 10% of their graduating class and meet a minimum required score on the SAT. Scholarships are provided only if the student enrolls as a full time student at a New Jersey college. Annual renewals are permitted based on grades and available funding.

  • Application Choices
    • What is Early Decision?
      Early Decision should only be considered by students who are committed to attending a specific college. The student applies early (usually by the end of November) and commits to attending the college if accepted. Although students can only apply to one college for Early Decision, they may apply to other colleges through the regular admissions process. If accepted for Early Decision, all other college applications must be withdrawn.

    • What is Early Action?
      Early Action allows students to apply early (usually by the end of November) but if the student is accepted they are not required to attend. Often the student can wait until May 1 to accept or decline the offer of admission.

    • What is Single Choice Early Action?
      Similar to Early Action, but students can not apply Early Action or Early Decision to any other school. Students can apply to other schools and are not required to accept or decline the offer until the regular decision deadline (usually May 1).

    • What is Rolling Admissions?
      Usually schools that use Rolling Admissions begin to accept applications in August or September and will let students know whether they have been accepted or denied very quickly (often within a few weeks). Once all of the spots in their freshman class have been filled, additional applicants will be denied or added to the waiting list. Students should consider applying to Rolling Admissions schools as quickly as possible.

    • What is Regular Decision?
      Generally Regular Decision applications are due in early January. All applications are read after that due date. Students who are accepted must accept or decline the offer by May 1.

    • Is there a Fee Waiver available for college applications?
      Each college sets the fee they require to submit a college application. Based on your financial situation the college may waive the fee. Check with the inpidual schools on your list. In addition, refer to the CollegeBoard website for colleges that will automatically waive their college application fee for students who are already eligible for a fee waiver for SAT college entrance exams.

    • What are the Common Application and Supplemental Applications?
      Approximately 350 colleges use one application which is available either online or in print. Many of these colleges require a college-specific Supplemental Application which may require additional essays or short answer questions.

  • Special Needs Considerations
    • Are there grants, scholarships, merit aid, or other financial aid for special needs or special education students?
      Yes, please refer to the list of books and scholarship websites listed on the SBHS Guidance website as well as scholarships on Naviance.

    • What are the requirements for a special needs student to get into a special program at a college?
      Students should work with their guidance counselor and case manager for college planning.
College Admissions Testing
  • A list of FAQ's and information about college admission testing and test dates are available on the SBHS Guidance website.

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