UPDATE - Schools closed for students through May 1.  School will resume virtually for students on Tuesday, March 31. Please visit our new coronavirus website for additional information.

Career Specialist

Becky Black, M.A. Counselor Education

 

What does the Career Specialist do?

 Hello, I would like to introduce myself, my name is Becky Black and I am pleased to serve Sunlake High School’s students. I have worked in Pasco County for 20 years as a teacher, guidance counselor and now as the Career Specialist (since 2012). I assist students with their transition from high school to whatever path they choose to take beyond graduation. I serve all high school students, however, most of the students who take advantage of my services are Seniors and Juniors. I pride myself on having an “open door” policy and I try very hard to meet the needs of every student.

I am here to help!

Sunlake High School’s College Advisor, Mrs. Black, is available throughout the year to guide students through career exploration, the college search, and the college application process. They are available for students during the school day and during lunch periods. Students should not miss class to meet with their College Advisor unless they receive a pass from their teacher. The College Advisor is also available by appointment for students and parents, please email: rlblack@pasco.k12.fl.us

College Planning Calendar- Freshman Year

  • Establish good habits early.
  • Take challenging classes in core academic courses. If you are successful in your classes, consider moving to the next level in 10th grade.
  • Work with your school counselor to create a yearly schedule for meeting graduation requirements.
  • Research school activities, sports and/or community service that you ENJOY and will stay involved in throughout high school. See our lists of clubs on the school website.
  • Take the PSAT at Sunlake in October, payments are made in the guidance office.
  • Keep a running list of accomplishments, awards, recognitions and community service hours, so that you can use them in preparing a resume and college applications.
  • Consider meaningful summer activities – summer school, community service, work, a college summer program.

College Planning Calendar- Sophomore Year

  • Push yourself academically and stay focused.
  • Take the PSAT at Sunlake in October, this will be free of charge for all sophomores.
  • Continue to follow your passions and stay involved in extracurricular activities and community service.
  • Stay focused on moving to the next level in your academic courses as you will begin registering for your 11th grade courses in the spring.
  • Keep a running list of accomplishments, awards, recognitions and community service hours, so that you can use them in preparing a resume and completing college applications.
  • Begin to take some of the career assessments we provide to you through www.floridashines.org
  • Consider meaningful summer activities – summer school, community service, work, a college summer program.

College Planning Calendar- Junior Year

SEMESTER I

  • Keep your grades up! If you have not worked to your full potential academically, this is your year to turn things around!
  • Begin to discuss your college options with your parents.
  • Begin to develop a list of colleges
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT in October. There will be a fee for Juniors. Students can make their purchase in the guidance office. You will get your results in December.
  • Look at dates to take the SAT and ACT. Late fall is a good time to begin if you are in Pre-Calculus or beyond. If not, spring is a better time to begin.
  • Be involved! In school clubs, sports, at your religious institution, or in the community. You do not have to be involved in a lot. Remember, committed involvement in a few clubs indicates your level of responsibility.

SEMESTER II

  • Review PSAT scores distributed in December to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Plan to take SAT and ACT at least once each.
  • Think about SAT/ACT test prep if needed, www.khanacademy.org is a great resource.
  • If you are taking any Advanced Placement courses, consider taking the comparable SAT Subject Test in June.
  • Create a resume.
  • If you haven’t already, begin to develop a list of colleges.
  • Check the websites of colleges to learn admissions information and applications.
  • Have an appropriate email address to use during the college admissions process. Your first and last name are generally the most professional (ex. John.Smith@gmail.com).
  • Make sure any social media accounts are appropriate and set to your intended privacy settings.
  • Attend Sunlake High School’s Junior College Night in the spring.
  • Begin communication with the college representative or admissions office of any college you are remotely interested in.
  • Begin to think about college essays.
  • Complete your Senior Questionnaire. (Do I keep this for my website?)
  • Visit colleges throughout the spring, if possible.
  • Ask parents to write the Parent Statement. (Do I keep this for my website?)
  • Set up a “College Folder” on your computer desktop to store all college documents in one place.
  • Personally ask two teachers to write a letter of recommendation (ONLY if applicable). Supply the teachers with your resume.
  • Create a Common Application account and a Coalition Application if any of your prospective colleges use these applications. See “College Application Guide” for more information on these.
  • Keep your grades up! This is the most important semester!

SUMMER

  • Review SAT/ACT Scores and work on your weaknesses.
  • Think about SAT/ACT test prep if needed.
  • Visit colleges.
  • Continue to update list of possible colleges.
  • Begin working on college applications.
  • Be involved during the summer: volunteer work, job, sports.
  • Research scholarship and Financial Aid opportunities.
  • Attend a Summer Program at a college, if possible.
  • Have Florida public university applications ready the 1st week of school.

College Planning Calendar- Senior Year

SEMESTER I

  • Finalize a list of colleges for the application process.
  • Continue to complete applications.
  • Follow up on your letters of recommendation or personally ask two teachers, ONLY if required.
  • Attend college representative presentations at Sunlake.
  • Attend Sunlake High School’s College Fair and the West Side College Fair held at PHSC in New Port Richey.  These are usually held within days of each other the 2nd Wednesday in September.
  • If necessary, meet with your career specialist to discuss college choices.
  • Retake SAT/ACT in August, September, October, November, or December if necessary.
  • Apply to public universities as early as possible.
  • Take SAT Subject Tests– if the college requires them.
  • Apply for the Florida Financial Aid Application after October 1st. This is the only application which qualifies your for Bright Futures.
  • Complete all applications by their deadlines; however, the earlier the better!
  • Visit colleges, if possible.
  • Attend the Financial Aid Night at Sunlake. (Parents)
  • Research scholarships and Financial Aid. Apply for Financial Aid after October 1st.
  • If you are interested in the performing arts, read each college website closely to be sure that you register for auditions on time.
  • As always, READ and KEEP all materials provided by the counselors and the colleges!
  • Keep a copy or record of all colleges to which you have applied.
  • After you have applied to colleges, check your online status, which EACH university or call admissions to be sure that they have received everything they need.
  • Keep your grades up!

SEMESTER II

  • Keep up your grades! All college acceptances are contingent on your final senior grades.
  • Complete any applications with later deadlines.
  • Read the financial aid website for each college to be sure you are completing everything necessary.
  • As you receive decision letters from colleges, continue to investigate them, to help with your decision of where to enroll. Visit if you haven’t already, or visit again if you are trying to decide where to attend.
  • Send any new information (test scores, awards, accomplishments) to any college to which you have been deferred or waitlisted.
  • Update your Career Specialist of all college decisions.
  • Keep a record of all scholarship offers, this will be required to be reported at the end of the school year.
  • Meet May 1st Candidate Reply Date for notifying colleges of your decision to attend.
  • Contact all colleges to which you have been accepted to let them know if you do not plan to attend.
  • Write thank you notes to teachers who wrote letters of recommendation for you, and to anyone else who helped you with your college application process.
  • Watch your email or mail for college orientation programs and any other important information from the college you plan to attend.

Preparing for College- Activities

Colleges are interested in what you do in addition to studying and going to class — they would like to know that you’ll have a life outside the books as well. Being involved in extracurricular activities lets colleges know that you can handle multiple responsibilities at once and still be successful. It’s also a way for them to get a sneak peek into the kind of person you are. What are your hobbies and talents? What interests you? Are you a leader, a performer, an athlete? Do you work or help with family responsibilities? All of these things help colleges get a better idea of who you are and what you will bring to the campus community.

  • Volunteer in your community. Some scholarships are based entirely upon community service. There are a wide variety of ways you can get involved in community service. Talk to your school counselor, community center, or local religious organization to find them.
  • Seek out activities and clubs that interest you. Choose activities that are meaningful and important to you. There is no one perfect activity that everyone should do — it depends on the individual. If you love a good argument, join the debate team; if you love the theater, try out for the school play or help out behind the scenes. The most important thing is to find activities that interest you and allow you to learn new skills. Don’t neglect your own individualism — continue to nurture your own special talents and interests. These things may set you apart from others when it comes down to an admissions decision!
  • It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. Don’t try to join every club under the sun. Pick a few activities you really enjoy and focus on those. In almost all situations, being committed and taking on responsibility in a few select activities is more important than the being a member of 50 clubs.
  • Take on leadership roles. Whether you run for president of student council or volunteer to be the school dance chairman, challenge yourself to take on a leadership role in your activities. Not only does this demonstrate your responsibility, it can be a great learning experience.
  • Organize your activities. Keep a record of your involvements beginning your freshman year of high school. Be sure to note leadership roles, the number of hours spent on each community service activity, jobs you have held, etc. All of these things will be important when it comes time to apply for college and scholarships!

It is a good idea to keep descriptions of each of your activities along with the amount of time you dedicated to each one. This will help you stay organized before completing college applications, so that you can tweak them, and put your best foot forward for the college.

Keep a copy of ALL community service forms you submit to guidance for your records.

 

Preparing for College- Resume

When you apply to college, some colleges give you an opportunity to submit a Resume with your application, as well as listing your Activities on the application, and some colleges give you an opportunity to submit a Resume in lieu of listing activities on the application. It is helpful for you to prepare a resume for college applications, or for scholarship applications, employment, etc.

 

See sample resumes below in the “Applying to College” section.

College Information

College Fair and Local Visits

Each year in September, Sunlake High School offers a college fair for Juniors and Seniors. This special fair is not open to the public, but only to students at SLHS. Make it a priority to attend! Approximately 50+ college representatives will be there to answer questions.

If you cannot attend Sunlake’s College Fair there are other fairs available. The west side of the county hosts a college fair in the evening at PHSC.  It is usually held on the same day as Sunlake’s.  South Florida National College Fair is another opportunity. This fair is in October and February and it is open to the public. Although this is a much larger fair, you can still meet with college representatives from hundreds of colleges and universities.

Pre-College Summer Programs

Thinking about what to do this summer? Would you like to learn what it is like living on a college campus and taking a college course? This is a great way to learn about college life, and possibly receive college credits. If you do take a course for credit, make sure you make an A, because that credit will carry over when you start college. However, unless the summer program is competitive, or offers a scholarship for admission, attending a college summer program will not give you any advantage in the undergraduate admissions process. Some schools which offer programs are: Duke, Harvard, George Washington, Brown, Stanford, University of Chicago, New York University.

 College Visits at Sunlake

Sunlake may host many colleges and universities on campus throughout the school year. These visits are open to juniors and seniors only. Visits from the large Florida public state universities will have limited space and are only open to seniors.

Students are required to get a pass from Mrs. Black.  All students are responsible for making up missed work and teachers will have the final decision on a student’s attendance.

**All visits subject to change

Questions to Ask College Representatives

*This is a link to a printable pdf for students (see desktop “Questions to Ask College Representatives”)

Athletic Recruitment

Student Athletes need to be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center to compete at an NCAA Division I or II school.

To request your high school transcript to be sent to NCAA, students will need to visit guidance and complete a Transcript Request Form from the school’s registrar.

“Individual schools award athletics scholarships. Divisions I and II schools provide $2.7 billion in athletics scholarships annually to more than 150,000 student-athletes. Division III schools, with more than 180,000 student-athletes, do not offer athletically related financial aid, but most student-athletes receive some form of academic grant or need-based scholarship.” -NCAA Eligibility Center

NCAA Eligibility Center Information

NCAA Eligibility Center Portal

NCAA Members by Division

For more information regarding athletic recruitment, please contact the athletic director, Coach Reesa Pledge at rhendrix@pasco.k12.fl.us

Searching for colleges, what should I consider?

There are thousands of colleges in the United States, so when you begin to put together a college list, it is helpful to narrow the search with the components below.

Admissions Requirements

Colleges range from extremely selective (the hardest to be admitted to) to open enrollment (everyone who applies is admitted). As you begin the college search it is helpful to look at your GPA and any test scores you have, and compare them to the students who are admitted to colleges. There are college search websites to help with this. Most colleges give a mid-range of test scores, this is the middle 50% of students who have been accepted. If your test scores are in this range, any our chances of admission are good.

FL SUS Matrix

 

Location

Think about where you would like to go to college – any geographic areas you love, or aren’t interested in? This can begin with a family discussion – how far away are parents comfortable with? Many students attend colleges in their home state, for reasons of cost, proximity to home, or just preference for one of our great state universities.

Enrollment

There are colleges with as few as 300 students, and colleges with over 50,000 students, and there are pros and cons to both. Do you like smaller classes with discussions? This will happen more at a smaller college, and there will be more large lecture classes at a very large institution. There can be a variety of opportunities, both in and out of the classroom, at both. To get an idea which you prefer visit different size campuses – this can begin with ones which are local.

Majors Offered

If you have an idea what you’d like to study in college, you will want to research colleges with this major. If not, you will want to look at colleges which offer a wide range of majors. Many colleges have a lot of choices, especially the larger colleges. However, some majors, such as Engineering, Nursing, Sports Medicine, and even Business, are not offered at every college, so research colleges carefully.

Florida Colleges & Universities
Costs

College costs can greatly vary, from attending a public university locally and living at home to attending the most expensive private university in the country. It is important to have a family discussion to be realistic about paying for college. There is a lot of financial aid available consisting of need-based aid and merit-based scholarships – however, it is good to have some less expensive options when applying to college in case you do not receive all the financial aid you need to cover the costs.

Student Body

Are you studious, artsy, or want big rah rah sports, interested in study abroad, internships, fraternities/sororities, drama or debate? Would you be more comfortable on a friendly, accepting campus, or are excited by a very competitive academic environment? These are all things to consider when looking at colleges. If interested, research Visual & Performing Arts Colleges or Military Academies.

Visiting Colleges & College Tours

This is the best way to learn about a college. It is never too early to visit. If travel is difficult, begin with local campuses – we have a lot in Central Florida. Visits can help you determine if you are more interested in a large or smaller campus, urban or suburban, observe what the student body is like, visit sports facilities, visit specific buildings on campus, dorms, and more. Be sure to register online for an orientation session and campus tour for any campus visit, if possible. ALWAYS let the college admissions office know you are visiting campus. You can also experience virtual college tours online at Youvisit.

Questions to Ask College Representatives

College Visit Checklist

Campus Visit Score Card

Standardized Testing

A major component of a college application is a student’s standardized test scores. Most schools will accept the ACT and/or SAT. Students will have the opportunity to take the SAT practice test (PSAT) starting in your freshman year. Junior year is the most common time that students will take their first real ACT and/or SAT test. Click on the tests below to read more about each one. 

Are you eligible for Free/Reduced lunch?  If so, you are eligible for 2 ACTs and 2 SATs for FREE to be used during your Junior and/or Senior year.  You can also apply to many colleges and universities using a fee waiver.  For more information or to receive your testing waivers, please stop by Mrs. Black’s office during your lunch period.

 

PSAT

The PSAT/NMSQT-Preliminary SAT/SAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

All Freshmen, Sophomore and Junior Students will sit for the PSAT/NMSQT Test at STA. The PSAT test will be in October.

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It’s a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT®. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools.

What does the PSAT/NMSQT measure? The PSAT/NMSQT® measures reading, writing and language, and math skills developed over many years, both in and out of school. You will not be asked to recall facts from literature, history, or science, or to complete math formulas, because this test measures your reasoning and critical thinking skills.

The assessments clearly and transparently focus on key concepts and require the analytic, interpretive skills practiced in the best K–12 coursework today. The assessment redesign centers on these key changes:

›› Words in context. Students engage in close reading to interpret the meanings of relevant vocabulary words.

›› Command of evidence. Students are asked to interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources; support their chosen answers; and integrate information from passages and informational graphics.

›› Math that matters most. Students encounter questions that focus on Problem solving and Data Analysis, mastery of linear equations (Heart of Algebra), and familiarity with more complex equations.

SAT Subject Tests

A very small number (approximately fifteen this year) of colleges still require this test, formerly called the SAT II. Additionally, some colleges which require the SAT Subject Tests will accept the ACT Test in lieu of the SAT Subject Tests. If you are in AP courses in 9th or 10th grade, you may decide to take the corresponding SAT Subject Test in June of that year. Otherwise, the June test date of your junior year is the optimal time to take these tests if you need to. They are on the same day as the SAT Test are an hour each, and you can take up to three tests on one test date.

SAT & ACT

The SAT & ACT both began in the 1920’s. The SAT was mainly administered on the east coast and west coast. The ACT was mainly in the middle of the country. As years have gone by the tests have grown to both being administered all over the US, and both exams accepted by 99% of the colleges in the U.S. The tests have become more similar in recent years. The SAT Test is comprised of a Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and a Math section with a top score of 800 for each section. The ACT is comprised of four subject areas – English, Mathematics, Reading and Science Reasoning, with a top score of 36 in each area. These four scores are averaged to create a Composite Score. The essays are optional now on both test, so check college websites to determine if it is a requirement. We recommend that students take each test at least once to determine which test they do better on. Student test scores must be sent from the test company to each college. It is recommended to begin taking tests in the spring of junior year, and continue to test throughout the spring, and possibly the fall of senior year. Most colleges will take the highest scores from multiple test dates of the SAT (superscoring) and some college superscore the ACT. You can find more information, as well as test registration, on these websites below for each test. Be sure

AP Exams

Sunlake offers its students 22 different AP courses, culminating in exams, which allow students to earn college credit, placement, or both. On college websites you can check to see how many college credits you will be awarded for AP test scores of 3 or higher. AP courses prepare students for the rigor of college courses, and also demonstrate to colleges that students are willing to pursue the most rigorous high school curriculum available. AP test scores are only sent to the college which the student will attend, they are not sent to colleges during the application process. However, some applications do allow you to report your AP scores. If so, DEFINITELY report them. If you don’t the college will assume you had a very low score.

Applying to College

Congratulations! You are a senior and will be soon be off to college! Before you get there, you must apply early and make sure you have applied correctly. Please use this guide to help you with your applications. There are many components to a college application and the college/university you are applying to will need ALL components for your application to be considered complete. Here are the most common components of a complete application:

  • Complete Application
  • Transcript
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Essay- ONLY if required
  • Recommendation Letter(s)- ONLY if Required
  • Application Fee
Admission Plans, Deadlines and Common Terms Used in the Application Process

APPLICATION OPTIONS/DEADLINES

Colleges and universities have varying admission practices and deadlines. Find some of the more frequently mentioned practices below.

  • ROLLING ADMISSION: As colleges receive applications, they read them and send out decisions. Some of our state universities use Rolling Admissions. It is great, as you may receive your decision very early.
  • EARLY ACTION or PRIORITY: Many colleges offer this option, with deadlines in October or November. This is a great option because you receive your decision in December or January and are not committed to attend.
  • SINGLE CHOICE or RESTRICTIVE EARLY ACTION: – A few colleges have this choice. If so, you can only apply to one college Restrictive Early Action or Single Choice. This option is non-binding and you will receive an admission decision in December or January.
  • EARLY DECISION: This is a binding option. If you apply and are accepted, you are committed to attending this college. If you are 100% sure you will be happy attending a college, and do not need to compare financial aid offers, this is good option. Otherwise, DO NOT consider Early Decision.
  • EARLY DECISION II: Some colleges offer a second Early Decision deadline, for students who have not yet made up their minds by the first Early Decision deadline. It is the same as Early Decision – if you apply and are accepted, you are committed to attending this college. If you are 100% sure you will be happy attending a college, and do not need to compare financial aid offers, this is good option. Otherwise, DO NOT consider Early Decision.
  • REGULAR DECISION: Most colleges have a Regular Decision deadline. A lot of Regular Decision deadlines are January 1st or 15th, and you receive a decision in mid to late March.

APPLICATION DECISIONS

Colleges will notify you with one of the following decisions

  • ACCEPT: Great, you have this college as an option!
  • DENY: If you have been denied, move on to focus on other colleges. Most colleges do not reconsider students after denials.
  • DEFER: This is also great; you are still being considered. Email the college and let them know you are very interested, and send any additional information which will help your application such as new test scores, any awards, honors.
  • WAITLIST: Colleges need to have a number of extra students in case some do not commit to attend so they place students on a Waitlist. There is no guarantee that you will be taken off the Waitlist, so you must commit to another college. However, if this is a top college choice of yours, be sure to contact the college and let them know you are very interested and would like to stay on the Waitlist.
  • SPRING ADMIT: Some colleges are offering students admission for spring term in January, even if you have applied for fall. If it is your top choice college, you may choose this option. Options of how to spend your fall include community college courses, work, or community service.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO COMMIT TO ANY COLLEGE UNTIL MAY 1ST – UNLESS YOU HAVE APPLIED EARLY DECISION, ARE A COMMITTED ATHLETE, OR ARE COMMITTED IN ANY OTHER WAY.

Some colleges may encourage you to send a deposit before May 1st, but you do not need to.

Deadlines

College transcript/scholarship applications should be submitted at least TWO WEEKS prior to an application deadline. Check your schools for the appropriate deadline. Some examples are:

College Application Deadline

Transcript Request Deadline

October 15th

October 1st

November 1st

October 20th

December 1st

November 12th

January 1st and 15th

December 1st

All applications with deadlines between December 15 through January 15 must be submitted by December 1.

Transcript requests are not accepted on the last day before Christmas break as we will not have adequate time to process late requests.

Transcript requests must be made to the school’s registrar’s office by the student.

**It is HIGHLY recommended students submit applications by November 1.  Please keep in mind, there are several colleges you can continue to apply for after the November suggested deadline.

College Application Guide

Apply to each of your colleges via their application process. If you are applying via the Common Application or Coalition application, please refer to our Coalition and Common Application Guides at the end of these steps for helpful instructions. Remember, each college will require different components. You must refer to each individual college application to determine what materials are required.

When completing the Common App or Coalition, it is required you include Mrs. Black’s (rlblack@pasco.k12.fl.us)  contact info as your counselor.  If you submit your counselor’s information, this will delay your application.

Carefully read the entire admissions website for each college so that you don’t miss any important items, i.e. deadlines or additional documents required for honors programs, scholarships and more.

o send your SAT scores, go to www.CollegeBoard.com. Four score reports can be sent for free when you register for an SAT. You will need to pay a fee for each additional report. To send your ACT scores, go to www.ACTstudent.org. Four ACT score reports can be sent for free when you register for an ACT. You will need to pay a fee for each additional report. Your scores must be sent officially and directly from College Board or ACT.

Request your Official OR Unofficial high school transcript, in person, from the registrar’s office, located in guidance.

Your UNOFFICIAL transcript will be printed for students so they can correctly complete the SSAR.

ALL private schools and ALL Out of State schools require a transcript from the registrar’s office.  There are SOME Florida public universities that still request Sunlake to send transcripts.  Please look at the SSAR tab above to see if your college is listed.

 

The SSAR is a self-reported student academic record that lists all courses and associated grades that have been attempted, or will be attempted, for high school and/or college credit. UF, FSU, FAU, FGCU, NCF, UNF and FLPOLY currently require that students complete the SSAR INSTEAD of sending your high school transcript. However, since accuracy is critical, you must have a copy of your high school transcript available to use as a reference when you create your SSAR. This will need to be requested through the school’s registrar’s office, located in guidance. Be sure to indicate any courses taken through an online school.

The SSAR is created at the Self-reported Student Academic Record website. Each college has individual methods for linking the SSAR to your application, so read guidelines on each college website.

Coalition Application

You will only need to refer to this guide if you are applying to a college or university using the Coalition Application.

  • Create a Coalition Application account if you have not already done so. Create your account at www.mycoalition.org and start your profile.
  • Build Your College List. Add any schools you are applying to via the Coalition Application. Complete the Profile Section of the Coalition Application.
  • Apply! Begin applying to each of your Coalition Application schools by selecting Start Application then select I’m a Freshman. Complete each section of the application. Do NOT request recommenders through Coalition Application. Once you have submitted your application(s) via Coalition Application, refer to the remaining steps to complete your application.
Coalition Application Essay Prompts
  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  • Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  • Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  • What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Common App

You will only need to refer to this guide if you are applying to a college or university using the Common Application.

  • Create a Common Application account if you have not already done so. Create your account at www.CommonApp.org and locate Sunlake High School by the CEEB code: 102124. Add any schools using the Common Application to your Common Application account.
  • Sign the FERPA Waiver. Click on the first college in your list and click on Recommenders & FERPA. Follow in the instructions to complete your FERPA waiver. It is your choice whether or not to waive your right to view your recommendations however; we strongly recommend waiving your right, as colleges/universities will place more weight on your recommendations when you waive your right to view them. When completing the section for counselors and/or recommenders, please be sure to use Mrs. Black’s contact and email: rlblack@pasco.k12.fl.us
  • Apply! Once you have submitted your application(s) via Common Application, refer to the remaining steps to complete your application.
Common Application Essay Prompts
  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. 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? (New)
  7. 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. (New)

Tips for Responding to Frequently Appearing Essay Topics

Written by Bryan Rutledge

Make friends with the essay style. The essay style is a distinct kind of writing: intelligent but not intellectual, light but not lightheaded. The essay is not a five-paragraph analysis of the symbolism of Baby Pearl in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The essay is not a vehicle for you to roll out a succession of five-dollar words that no one uses in conversation. The essay is a very short story, no longer than one page single-spaced, with a point, a logically flowing narrative that your gentle reader should not have to struggle to understand. The essay is your friend.

Resume

When you apply to college, some colleges give you an opportunity to submit a Resume with your application, as well as listing your Activities on the application, and some colleges give you an opportunity to submit a Resume in lieu of listing Activities on the application. It is helpful for you to prepare a Resume for college applications, or for scholarship applications, employment, etc. Click on the links below to download different resume templates.

Activities for Applications & Resumes

Colleges want to know that you can do more than just study and go to class — they want to know that you’ll have a life outside the books as well. Being involved in extracurricular activities lets colleges know that you can handle multiple responsibilities at once and still be successful. It’s also a way for them to get a sneak peek into the kind of person you are. What are your hobbies and talents? What interests you? Are you a leader, a performer, an athlete? Do you work or help with family responsibilities? All of these things help colleges get a better idea of who you are and what you will bring to the campus community.

  • Volunteer in your community. Some scholarships are based entirely upon community service. There are a wide variety of ways you can get involved in community service. Talk to your school counselor, community center, or local religious organization to find them.
  • Seek out activities and clubs that interest you. Choose activities that are meaningful and important to you. There is no one perfect activity that everyone should do — it depends on the individual. If you love a good argument, join the debate team; if you love the theater, try out for the school play or help out behind the scenes. The most important thing is to find activities that interest you and allow you to learn new skills. Don’t neglect your own individualism — continue to nurture your own special talents and interests. These things may set you apart from others when it comes down to an admissions decision!
  • It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. Don’t try to join every club under the sun. Pick a few activities you really enjoy and focus on those. In almost all situations, being committed and taking on responsibility in a few select activities is more important than the being a member of 50 clubs.
  • Take on leadership roles. Whether you run for president of student council or volunteer to be the school dance chairman, challenge yourself to take on a leadership role in your activities. Not only does this demonstrate your responsibility, it can be a great learning experience.
  • Organize your activities. Keep a record of your involvements beginning your freshman year of high school. Be sure to note leadership roles, the number of hours spent on each community service activity, jobs you have held, etc. All of these things will be important when it comes time to apply for college and scholarships!

It is a good idea to keep descriptions of each of your activities along with the amount of time you dedicated to each one. This will help you stay organized before completing college applications, so that you can tweak them, and put your best foot forward for the college.

Common Application Activities Instructions

The Common Application allows you to list 10 activities on your application. This is a very important section of the application, so you want to present your activities in the most comprehensive way. Some colleges will allow you to submit an additional resume. This is helpful to the college only if you have more than 10 activities to let the college know about.

The layout of each Common Application Activity is as follows:

 

Activity Type (This will be a dropdown menu of activities)

Activity type (this has a dropdown menu of activities)
Position/Leadership description and organization name, if applicable
You can use 50 characters in this box. Be sure to do a very complete description.

Sample #1: Captain(12) Member(9-11) St. Thomas Debate Team
Sample #2 – Volunteer(9-12) St. Sebastian Parish Soup Kitchen

Please describe this activity, including what you accomplished and any recognition you received, etc.
You are allowed 150 characters for this topic, some complete as completely as possible.

Sample #1: Active participant in Lincoln Douglas Debate on the national level, competition winner state level and local level, help raise over $5,000 for team.
Sample #2: Assist with food donations, food preparation, serving meals and cleanup to feed over 150 homeless families each month.

Participation Grades
List all grades in which you have participated in this activity.

Timing of Participation
During school year, during school break, or all year.

Hours spent per week/Weeks spent per year
It may be difficult to complete these, as some activities are not every week; however, you must fill in the blanks indicated above, so estimate the hours you spend on each activity and divide between these two blanks.

I intend to participate in a similar activity in college
Yes or No

Coalition Application Activities Instruction

The Coalition Application allows you to list 7 activities on your application. If you have more than seven activities, you may be able to add more on the individual college page on the Coalition Application. 

Individual College Activities

Activity Name: 64 character limit

Category
Dropdown menu with categories:
Arts, Club/Organization
Sports
Volunteer Work
Work
Other

When did you participate in this activity?
Dropdown menu with:
9th
10th
11th
12th

How many weeks per year did you participate in this activity?
Range: 0-52

Hours per week on the high end (optional):
Range: 0-100

Hours per week on the low end (optional):
Range: 0-100

Please give us one brief sentence describing the primary function of this activity (optional): 255 character limit
Be sure to give a detailed description of the activity and your involvement here

List any positions/honors/awards received in this activity, if any (optional): 255 character limit
Be sure to list your position and what you do, as well as any honors and awards you may have received

If you hold a leadership position, do you share it with anyone else? If so, how many?
Dropdown menu with several options

Honor and Distinctions

You are allowed to list a maximum of 5 Honors/Distinctions. Don’t worry that you won’t be able to include ALL your honors/distinctions. We are most interested in those that are most meaningful to you so please be selective and choose the 5 honors/distinctions that are most important to YOU. Each Honor/Distinction has the following boxes to complete:

Honors & Distinction to be completed:

Honor/Distinction: 64 character limit

Level – Dropdown menu with:
High School/Local
District
Regional/State
National
International

Grade – Dropdown menu with:
9th
10th
11th
12th

Individual College Activities

 Once you complete the Profile on your Coalition Application you can Import your Profile to each college on the Coalition Application. On each individual college section of the application they require different data. For example, University of Florida asks the following:

Community Service – List and describe your community services activities. Please include your role in the activity and level of responsibility. 950 character limit

Employment – List and describe each job you’ve had, including dates of employment, job titles and hours worked each week. 950 character limit

Letters of Recommendation

Some colleges MAY ask for one or two academic teacher recommendations. Think hard about which teachers to ask. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a class in which you got an “A”, but could be a class in which you greatly improved. Some colleges also allow you to submit “Other Recommenders” which may be a coach, boss, etc. Read each college admissions website to determine how many letters of recommendation each college requires/allows. The Common Application also has very clear guidelines for each college. Many public universities, including the majority of our Florida public state universities do not look at letters of recommendation. This is clarified on each college admissions website.

Students should select only two teachers to write recommendations or complete application materials on their behalf. Like transcript requests, teacher recommendations also require a MINIMUM of THREE WEEKS notice prior to the deadline. The student must ask the recommender if he/she is requesting an online recommendation and/or form. You must ask your teachers in person and provide them with a copy of your resume prior to requesting.

Showing gratitude goes a long way. Please write a thank you letter to the teachers who have provided you letters of recommendations.

Here are two resources you could use in addition to providing an Academic Resume when requesting letters of recommendations. Only select one from the following.

Senior Information Form

Senior Questionnaire

 

College Interviews

Some colleges conduct student interviews, either on campus or by local alumni. Read the college admissions website carefully regarding interviews – some are only offered if you apply by a certain date. You cannot prepare for every question that might be asked in an interview, but you can anticipate a few and have an idea of how you might answer. However, be careful; an overly rehearsed answer will come across as disingenuous and insincere. Be sure to be aware of current events in case you are asked. Some of the questions to prepare for include the following:

  • What do you think is our most pressing social issue in the Unites States right now?
  • Why do you want to go to this college? What do you know about this college? How did you come to include us among your choices?
  • What have you read recently?
  • Tell me about your school, your high school experience.
  • What activities are you involved in at school, out of school?
  • Describe your family, your background.
  • What was the last cultural event you attended, or what have you done or seen lately?
  • Who and/or what has influenced you the most? Any heroes?
  • What are your academic goals, your career goals?
  • Are there any significant events or challenges you have had to overcome? What significant accomplishments or rewards have you received? What accomplishment are you most proud?
  • Describe your favorite subject/teacher? What makes a good teacher?

 

Be sure to have a couple of your own questions about the college prepared in case they ask you if you have any. Here are a few samples:

  • I noticed that (a program you’re interested in) has these (benefits, criteria, rewards, etc.) for students. Can you tell me more about it?
  • What does the college do to assist students with career planning, internships, and future job placement?
  • Why should I choose your college?
  • What advice would you give me as an incoming freshman?

At the end of your interview look the interviewer in the eyes, smile and thank them. Send them a thank you note or email after the interview. Mention something specific you discussed in the interview and reiterate your interest while thanking them for meeting with you.

Yes, college is more expensive than ever before; however, there is a lot of aid available. Be sure to apply for aid, and apply early, and there may be more money available for you than you think!!! Read the Financial Aid page of each college website to be sure you are submitting any necessary forms to be eligible for financial aid at each college.

Most scholarships are merit-based, based upon something the student does well, such as academics, sports or talent. Most are not need-based, your income does not come into the picture.

College Scholarships These can be the most money, sometimes covering the whole cost of college. Check with each college to see what is available, and be sure to apply in time.

  Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program These are lottery-funded scholarships which are rewarded to Florida high school graduates for high academic achievement. Every eligible student receives the scholarship to which they meet the qualifications. Students are only eligible to apply for Bright Futures on or after OCTOBER 1st of a student’s SENIOR year. 

How do I apply?

Students MUST complete the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA)– There is NOT a separate application.

Students MUST turn in community service hours PRIOR to high school graduation.  

Students can continue to test to meet eligibility requirements into Summer AFTER graduation but BEFORE June 30.

Want to know requirements?  Click here for eligibility chart for the Class of 2021 and Beyond.

Want to learn details and how exactly how Bright Futures works?  Check out this video from Mrs. Black on YouTube.

More answers to questions can be found on the Office of Student Financial Assistance homepage.

Do you want to see what the application looks like and want to be walked through the steps?  Here is a quick video tutorial on applying using the FFAA.

 

College financial aid offices will look at your family income, assets, the size of your family, the number of children in college, and the age of the parents in determining your family contribution. Calculate your estimated family contribution.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) If you are interested in need-based aid, every college requires that you complete this form. You can begin completing it on October 1 of the student’s senior year (it is based on parents’ income from the “prior prior” year). This form is free, as the name implies, and can be accessed at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to simplify the process. Be careful, there are some scams out there that ask for money to help complete the form.

Application for FAFSA homepage.

Want to write it down before completing the online form?  Click here 

I created an overview of FAFSA and frequently asked questions.  Here is a link to my YouTube video.

Here is a Financial Aid Toolkit Resource which provides FAQs, Power Points, Worksheets and explanations on how to interpret your Student Aid Report.  Click here to take your to the online Toolkit.

 

CSS PROFILE Some select colleges require that you complete this form if you are interested in need-based aid. There is a fee assessed for processing PROFILE, so check with each college to be sure they require that you complete PROFILE before paying the fee. You can find this information on the Financial Aid section of each college website. You can begin submitting your PROFILE application in the fall of your senior year. Be sure that your CSS Profile accurately matches your FAFSA information. Colleges have different deadlines for when you must submit this information – watch these closely and don’t be late! Money is given out first come-first serve.

Gates Millennium Scholarship                                                                         www.gmsp.org

Wendy’s Heisman High School Heisman                                                       www.wendyshighschoolheisman.com

Florida Next Magazine                                                                                      www.floridanext.org            

Lady DeSantis Hispanic Heritage Monthly Essay                                         www.floridahispanicheritage.com

National Educational Service Centers                                                            www.inesc.org

Salvadoran American Leadership & Sallie Mae                                            www.thesalliemaefund.org

UNCF Scholarship Program                                                                             https://scholarships.gmsp.org/

Scholarships for Hispanics                                                                              www.scholarshipsforhispanics.org

United Negro College Fund                                                                             www.uncf.org

Coca Cola College Scholarships                                                                      www.coca-colascholars.org

Scholarship Mentor                                                                                          www.scholarshipmentor.com/content/current-scholarships

Best Colleges                                                                                                     www.bestcolleges.com

Imagine America Trade Schools Scholarships                                             www.imagine-america.org

WACE National Co-op Scholarship Program                                                www.waceinc.org

LULAC National Educational Service Ctr                                                       https://www.lnesc.org/

ROTC Scholarship                                                                                             https://www.goarmy.com/rotc/scholarships.html

Sports Scholarships and Internships                                                            https://www.ncaa.org

Contact Me

 

rlblack@pasco.k12.fl.us

813-346-1019

Room 3-162A

M-F: 8am-5pm, S-S: Closed

If you have questions regarding your graduation requirements or schedule, stop by Guidance and request to speak with your grade level counselor. We look forward to working with our Sunlake families.