Students can apply to as many colleges as they like, but we recommend doing your research and narrowing your choices down to a more manageable list of three to six colleges, including:
- At least one "safety" school
This is your back-up or plan B school, one to which you would certainly be admitted. This could be an institution with "open door" admission criteria or just one in which your qualifications are much stronger than the majority of students admitted.
- At least one "target" school
This is a school in which you fit the academic profile for the middle 50% of students admitted. You are reasonably confident about getting in because you have the qualifications of the average student admitted here.
- At least one "reach" school
This is your "long-shot" school. Your academic qualifications fall below the range of the average student admitted. However, it should still be in the realm of possibility (i.e. you probably should pass on applying to MIT if you have a 2.0 GPA, but it may be worth a shot if you have a 4.0).
- At least one "financial safety" school
This a school you and your family can still afford if something were to happen to your finances during the college application process (i.e. losing a job, death of a parent, etc.). It should also be a school that you and your family can afford even if your financial aid package isn't great. Hopefully, you will not need your financial safety but it is always good to have "in case."
Components of the Application:
The Application Form
- The Common App - The Common App is currently accepted by over 500 public and private colleges and universities. If two or more of a student's college application choices accept the Common App, it is a good idea to complete it since it provides the time-saving benefit of submitting one application to multiple schools. Some institutions require a Common App supplement in addition to the Common App, so it is important to be aware of all application requirements and procedures for each school to which a student chooses to apply. Click here to visit the Common App Login page.
- Institution-Specific Applications - Some colleges do not accept the Common App and require students to complete the institution's own application. Most are available online and students are encouraged to complete them online, due to a much faster processing time and easier tracking.
The transcript is an important component of the application,as it contains a listing of all high school coursework, grades and credits received, the grade point average (GPA), testing information and other components of a student's high school career.
Both a student's weighted and unweighted GPA will show on the transcript. However, most colleges will recalculate the GPA using their own formula since there is little uniformity among high schools in the way they calculate GPAs. The class rank does not show on PLP transcripts since we do not rank. However, Pine Lake can give colleges a general idea of where a student ranks in their class by providing information as to whether the student is in the top 10%, 15%,25%, etc., of the class.
To add a student's transcript to the application package at a particular university, the student must log in to Naviance and request it. Emailed, written and verbal requests for transcripts will not be honored. Naviance ensures that the student and PLP are able to track the request, sending of and receipt of the transcript.School Profile
The school profile is sent by your school to each college admissions office that is reviewing an application of a PLP student. It contains contact info for Pine Lake, our curriculum, course names,levels of courses offered, graduation requirements, accreditation info and past college acceptances. The school profile helps admissions officers put students into the context of their high school environment. Click here to view Pine Lake's school profile
Most colleges require a standardized test score (either the SAT or ACT). Click here for more information on testing.
Recommendation Letter Essays, Personal Statements, Short Answers and Writing Samples
Many colleges, although not all, require letters of recommendation. Students should choose individuals that know them well and can write thoughtfully and favorably about their abilities,personality, character and values. PLP students must request their recommendation letters through Naviance at least two weeks in advance of the deadline. Students must also provide the recommender with an updated copy of their resume so that they can see the "whole picture"and will be in a position to write a much more comprehensive letter. If the recommendation is not electronic, the student must also provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
The majority of colleges give their applicants a chance to provide personal voice in the application, often through writing. Some colleges require students to respond to essay prompts, others want 25-wordshort answers to key questions. Still others request a general personal statement or just a sample of your writing from an English class.
No matter the type of writing, these are important components of the application because they allow applicants to provide personality to an otherwise bland or generic academic profile. Be sure to leave plenty of time to draft and finalize these components. Have at least two people review them, including an English teacher. Your essay or personal statement is a great opportunity to introduce your personality and passions, discuss barriers that you've had to overcome, or explain extenuating circumstances that may be relevant. Do NOT write a generic essay; remember that the main point of an essay is to make yourself stand out in a positive way.
These components are less common but may be required for admission to specialized programs or schools.