Counseling Center

Brandy Cenci – Students A-K

Christopher Labattaglia– Students L-Z



Choosing A College

In your initial investigation, you will find that there are an incredible number of colleges and programs from which to choose. Keep in mind that there is no single college or university that is absolutely right for you. There are probably many colleges that will meet your academic and personal needs. Therefore, it is all about research and finding the best fit for you!

The College process can be very overwhelming and produce a lot of anxiety for both you and your parents. So many questions! What is the right college for you? Will you get into the college of your choice? Will you be able to afford it? Starting the research process early will help you feel confident that you made the best choice. Your chances of being admitted into a particular college will depend on the selectivity of the college and your qualifications.

Don’t fear Mr. DiLello and Mrs. Cenci are here to help you explore your options and assist you in helping you the right fit for you!


Process of Applying to College

Selecting a college for you is very personal. It must begin with self reflection. You must consider things about your yourself: your goals, strengths, weaknesses, and reasons for going to college; then consider these questions when researching colleges.

  1. What type of school or college would you attend? Two or four year?
  2. What is your tentative choice of major? Do not worry if you are unsure about a major buyt give it some serious thought. You may apply undecided.
  3. What geographical area of the county do you want for your ideal college? In state or out of state?
  4. Do you want to attend a small college or large university?
  5. In what environment do you want your college urban, suburban, or rural area?
  6. Will you need financial aid in order to meet the costs? How much money are you and your family able to afford for college?

You should consider your academic profile with your school counselor regarding the possible college choice that you have made. Your academic profile consists of grades, course levels, rank in class, GPA, SAT/ACT test scores and activities. Does this match your college and major choice?

You choose a college, and then the college chooses you. The match has to be a  good one. Remember not to take it easy your senior year! Consider filling your day and not leaving early. Don’t look to take the easy courses or the minimal caseload. When colleges check your transcript, they’re also looking to review course that are in progress for grade 12.


The Next Step

During the summer between your 11th and 12th grade or in early fall of your senior year, you should plan to visit colleges in which you are interested. There is nothing better than being able to visit a college campus to determine whether or not it would be the best fit for you!

If this is not an option most colleges offer virtual tours through their website. Be aware of application deadlines! Many college applications can be accepted through their website. You may also use the common application or SUNY application depending upon the school.

Keep in contact with your school counselor and let us know which schools you are applying to se we can send transcripts and letters of recommendations. Depending upon the timetable and policy of the college, applications may be notified of the admission decision at various times.


The College Visit

You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first! You will be investing two or four years of your life and thousands of dollars into your college career. Therefore, the process needs careful examination. Only you the student can evaluate how comfortable you are on the college campus. Contact your potential colleges to arrange a tour through the admissions department.

  • Read the college catalog or tour the college website. Get the facts, such as size of the institution, majors, admission requirements and extracurricular activities available.
  • Save time and consider visiting other colleges located in the same area, and plan to spend a few hours at each.
  • Bring an unofficial transcript with your from your school counselor. Make arrangements to have an interview on campus with an admissions counselor, if possible.
  • Check with your school counselor before your visit to learn in any Rensselaer Alumni are in attendance at the prospective college. You may want to meet with them and get their impressions and experiences of the college.


College Tour- Visit Questions to ask

  • What are the typical college cost for one year of study?
  • What are the specific requirements for your major?
  • How many students are in your major?
  • What placement services are available for graduates?
  • What percentage of students are accepted into professional schools (i.e law, medical, dental)?
  • What financial aid opportunities exist?
  • How large are classes? Faculty to student ratio?
  • Who teaches freshman? Professors or graduate assistants?
  • What special services are available (i.e counseling tutorial assistance)
  • What clubs and extracurricular activities are available?
  • What special measures are in place to keep students safe on campus?


Questions Frequently Asked by College Interviewers

  • Why are you considering this college?
  • How did you come to include us among your choices
  • What makes you think this college and you are the right fit for each other?
  • What do you hope to major in and why?
  • What are your plans for the future? What do expect to be doing ten years from now?
  • What would you like to tell us about yourself?
  • What extracurricular activities have you found most satisfying?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is the most significant contribution you’ve made to your school and community?
  • What do you want to get out of your college experience?


The College Interview

  • Be prompt!
  • Be neat. A jacket and a tie or a dress is still an important means of impressing an interviewer.
  • Be well prepared. Know the college well and what it has to offer you.
  • Have questions based on what you have read and know about the college ahead of time.
  • Answer the questions to the best of your ability. Don’t be afraid to say if you do not know something.
  • Be ready to volunteer information. Know your scores, rank in class, latest grades and what courses you carry.
  • Above all relax! Interviews are meant to be informative to both parties. Try to get as much out of an interview as you provide for it.


How Colleges Select You

The most important factor in a college selection committee’s review are your grades and the quality of your program of study. The primary areas of review by a college are the:

  • Grades and program of study in grades 9-12
  • Grade point average
  • Rank in class
  • Test scores SAT & ACT
  • Extracurricular activities and special talents
  • Recommendations from counselors/teachers
  • Personal interview
  • College Essay


A Timetable for College Admissions

Junior Year:

  • Study college admissions requirements
  • Discuss plans with parents
  • Meet with your school counselor
  • Attend college fairs and open house
  • Register for and take eh Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)
  • Set up a calendar for taking test and completing college applications
  • Examine financial aid resources and review plans for financial aid
  • Consider people to ask for recommendations: teachers, employers, clergy
  • Visit college campuses; talk to graduates and students at the school being considered
  • Register for and take the SAT or ACT

Summer: (July, August)

  • Request information from your potential list of colleges
  • Visit College campuses; talk to graduates and student at the school being considered
  • Record progress in fulfilling application requirements
  • Start your college essay

Senior Year:

  • Schedule your senior annual review
  • Maintain or improve your grades your senior year
  • See your school counselor when you have questions or need help
  • Attend Career/College fairs
  • Set up a job shadow experience
  • Register and take SAT or ACT
  • Meet with the college reps that come to visit at RJSHS, see calendar for upcoming visits

November, December

  • All completed applications should be mailed to the colleges by Thanksgiving and not later than Christmas unless a college says otherwise.

January, February

  • Attend “Financial Aid Night” here at RJSHS. A director of financial aid from a local college will speak about the financial aid process and answer questions and concerns.
  • File the appropriate Federal Financial Aid Forms (FAFSA, TAP and or PROFILE)
  • Schedule for college financial aid “Jump Start Night” here at RJSHS. At this time your family can receive support free of cost to complete the FAFSA forms. Financial Aid representatives will be available to assist families with any questions and or concerns.

April, May, June

  • Keep track of decisions form colleges and financial aid awards. Many colleges wait until April 1st to advise students of their decision.
  • Bring copies of acceptance letters to your school counselor
  • Reply promptly to colleges notifying them of your decisions.
  • Relax graduation is on it’s way!!!!


College Admission Tests- PSAT/SAT/ACT

There are two separate testing agencies that provide standardized examinations used by colleges and universities for admission and placement purposes. The first, and probably the most widely used is the College Board Educational Testing Services of Princeton, New Jersey. The College Board produces the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the subject test along with a variety of other examinations i.e PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test). The second testing agency is the American College Testing Program (ACT) which is based in Iowa City, Iowa.

You must register on College Board to take the SAT. Visit the College Board Website link to view test dates. If you are a student that receives free or reduced lunch you may be eligible for a fee waiver. Please see your school counselor if you are eligible. We have limited fee waivers available, first come, first serve. Be careful not to miss the closing dates for registration.

A brief explanation of college admissions tests follows:


Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test: the PSAT was designed to provide a practice test for juniors in October of grade 11 as a warm up or preparation for the SAT. The scores from the PSAT are used in the annual selection of National Merit Scholarship winners. A student’s NMSQT selection index is determined by adding the verbal score, the math score and the writing score. The PSAT scores are reported in the range of 20 (low) to 80 (high).


Scholastic Aptitude Test is a test of verbal, writing, skills and mathematical reasoning. The exam provides a standard measure of ability for college admission officers in comparing students from different high schools across the country. The scores on this multiple-choice exam range from a low 200 to a high of 800 for each of the three sections. This exam is not an intelligence test. Before you take the SAT, you should read and study the guidebook from College Board. Visit College board and use your information from your PSAT to better prepare you to take the SAT.

SAT Subject Test

Subject Tests- These tests are one hour exams given in different specific areas such as Biology, English Composition, Mathematics Level 1 or 2 , Chemistry, American History, European History, French, German, Spanish and other subject areas. Scores on these exams range from 200-800 (similar to SAT) A student may take one, two, or three tests. (maximum of three test per exam date).

Note- Not all all students applying to college need to take the Subject Tests. However, many selective colleges, i.e (RPI, MIT, Boston University, Cornell University, Dartmouth ect.) do require certain achievement tests. Be sure to check with the individual’s college’s admissions office to be certain if achievement exams are required and if so, which ones.


The American College Testing program is a three hour achievement battery designed to measure performance in four broadly based subject areas English usage, Math, Social Studies, Reading and Natural Sciences Reading. Score results are reported for each of the four areas tested, ranging from 1-36, plus a composite score for the overall performance. A writing component is also now available


College Essay

The College Essay is an important piece of your application allowing you an opportunity to show an admission committee what makes YOU stand out. The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2011 State of College Admissions report found that while grades, strength of curriculum and admission test scores are the top factor in the college admission decision, a majority of of colleges and universities believe the essay to be of considerable or moderate importance in determining which academically qualified students they would choose. The college admission office look at your essay for evidence that a student can write well and support ideas with logical arguments.

We have books located in the PPS office if you would like to borrow them in order to assist you in writing your essay. Please also work with your English teacher and asked them to proof read your essay.

Financial Aid

The financial aid process can be daunting and overwhelming, especially if you are the first child to attend college. The financial aid process is ever-changing and complex. Therefore, we will be hosting two events this winter and will be inviting in financial aid experts from local colleges to make the process less complicated.  We will be hosting our first event late fall to discuss the financial process in general. Then again in February we will be inviting financial aid representatives from HVCC to assist families in completing the FAFSA form. We will be sending home more information this fall. Stay tuned for more details.

You may also view the FAFSA/TAP website to learn more information regarding the process on our web page.