Preparing for the SAT/ACT
- The SAT and ACT are very similar.
- The SAT gives you more time per question and only covers math and writing. It is a better test if you don’t do well under time pressure or you don’t feel as confident with science.
- The ACT is more speed-based. If you do well with time limits, this is a good test to take. It is also good if you have lots of science facts.
- The best resource to study for the SAT is Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org. It offers:
- Questions aimed at your level based on your work so far, and videos to explain the answers.
- Four full practice tests you can print and take. You can score them by taking a photo with the Khan Academy app!
- BEAM will have books containing past SATs and ACTs, and we can help you study in office hours.
Making your college list
- Big Future: bigfuture.org
- Good summary information about colleges, majors, academic profile
- Can search by what you want in a college
- College Scorecard: collegescorecard.ed.gov
- Summary of information on size, financial aid, majors, lots more
- Links to Cost Estimator so you can figure out what financial aid will be like
- College Navigator: nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Lots of detailed data (but harder to read)
- College Greenlight: https://www.collegegreenlight.com/
- Specific mission of connecting first generation and underrepresented students to colleges, scholarships, and mentors.
- HEOP: www.heopworks.com
- HEOP is a scholarship and support program at private New York State colleges for New York State residents. You apply through the colleges, and must not be eligible for admission normally (i.e. lower SAT scores or lower grades or not sufficiently advanced coursework) but show potential to succeed.
- College Guidebooks: Get from library or borrow from BEAM
- “Behind the scenes” information on the college gathered from interviews with students
- Can be biased or incorrect because they can’t talk to every student
- Friends and connections: Talk to people you know, BEAM counselors, or ask BEAM
- Can give you a real behind-the-scenes look, you can ask them questions.
- Can’t find people for every college
- College visits: Schedule with Admissions Office
- Can get a tour and information session, but those are biased
- Can sometimes arrange overnight stay with a student to get a real view of college life
The College Essay
- General Tip Sheet on what to go for in a college essay: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/tip-sheet-essay/?_r=0
- Some advice on how to write well in a college essay: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/how-to-write-a-college-essay
- A collection of “Essays that worked” for Johns Hopkins: https://apply.jhu.edu/apply/essays-that-worked/
- See our list of recommendations
- If you want to check whether a particular school has a fly-in program, you can check here: http://blog.collegegreenlight.com/blog/college-fly-diversity-programs-2016-2017/
- FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the main financial aid form. You file it using your parents’ taxes from the previous year (so if you are going to college in 2017, you use your parents’ 2015 tax returns). The FAFSA gets you federal Pell grants and loans, and is what colleges use to decide how much financial aid to give you.
- The CSS Profile is another financial aid form used by some private colleges. It is long and annoying, and uses more recent taxes requiring your parents to file sooner, but it is required by many colleges.
- TAP is a short form you do right after the FAFSA. It is for New York State residents going to college in New York State; the state will give you additional grants to help you pay for college.
If you land one of these, they will pay for almost all of your expenses in college – and they’re super prestigious.
- Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) includes a summer program, scholarship, AND help applying to college. You apply in September of your 11th grade year. www.ledascholars.org.
- Questbridge Quest for Excellence NYC or College Prep Scholars is a program run by Questbridge (see below) that provides preparation for college admissions. They also connect you with summer programs. Getting into Quest for Excellence improves your chances of admission to Questbridge. Apply around January of your 11th grade year. www.questbridge.org
- The Posse Foundation is a college admissions and scholarship program. If you are accepted, you will be in a “posse” of ten students who are all pre-admitted to a particular school. You will prepare to go together and then support each other when you are there. All Posse students get full-tuition scholarships. You must be nominated by another organization, such as your school or BEAM. Ask us if you are interested. Nominations happen around May or June at the end of your 11th grade year. www.possefoundation.org.
- Questbridge is a program that helps with both scholarships and college admissions. Many colleges have special tracks just for Questbridge students where they provide additional financial support. Apply around June before your 12th grade year. www.questbridge.org
- The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholars Program (www.jkcf.org) is one of the most generous college scholarships in the country. They will cover all of your major expenses and provide mentoring and support, up to $40,000/year for four years. This is very selective; you should generally have a GPA above 3.5 and SAT scores above 1200 in addition to significant financial need. Apply in October of 12th grade.
- The Ron Brown Scholar Program (www.ronbrown.org), a scholarship program that provides mentoring as well as $10,000 per year for four years. Must be Black/African American, a US Citizen or Permanent Resident, and demonstrate some financial need. There is a “Guided Pathway Support” program that you can apply to in 11th grade. The scholarship deadline is October of 12th grade; they will forward your application to other scholarships as well.
- The Generation Google Scholarship is for computer science majors. You must attend a summer program between high school and college. Due in January of 12th grade.
- The Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship is due by February 15th of your 12th grade year. It is open to “minority high school students showing leadership potential and demonstrating financial need”, and provides up to $28,000/year.
- Scholarship Plus provides support throughout college to low-income NYC students who have demonstrated exceptional potential. It also provides a scholarship of $8,000/year for four years. www.scholarshiplus.org.
- The Ascend Educational Funds scholarship goes to an immigrant or child of immigrants (regardless of immigration status) graduating from a NYC high school, up to $5,000/year. Because it is NYC-specific and relatively limited in scope, this is a good target. Applications due by the end of January. ascendfundny.org/scholarship/.
- The Coca-Cola Scholars Program offers a $20,000 scholarship to be split up between your college years however you want. They select 150 students per year for this scholarship. They look for well-rounded students who are actively involved in their school. www.coca-colascholarsfoundation.org.
You can find many of these by Googling. Here are some that may be of interest:
- The Hispanic Scholarship Fund, www.hsf.net. Most deadlines start around January of 12th grade
- The Poise Foundation (includes scholarships from the NAACP), www.poisefoundation.org. Most deadlines start around January of 12th grade.
- The United Negro College Fund (www.uncf.org) provides many different smaller scholarships. Apply throughout 12th grade.
- There are many scholarships listed at www.scholarships.com.
- You can also search for scholarships at www.unigo.com, which allows you to filter by almost anything.