Applying to College

Applying to college is exciting, stressful, and time-consuming. Here are a few tips to help students and families.

The Sharon Academy CEEB code: 460411.

This is TSA’s school code. Anywhere you are asked for TSA’s 6-digit number, this is it.

    • Be sure to check each school’s application instructions! There are sometimes extra elements that are not easily categorized on the Common Application or Naviance website.
    • Give yourself plenty of time to complete the applications. A good application is not completed in a day or a weekend.
    • Apply to at least three schools that you believe are realistic, considering their requirements and your qualifications.
    • Have at least one proofreader.
    • Request recommendation letters from your teachers in person and in Naviance several months ahead of time.
    • Ask for help from Ellen Bagnato, the Director of College and Career Advising and any TSA staff. That’s why we’re here!
    • Parents: Unless you have gone through the application process in the past few years, this process is different from what you remember.

Get Organized

It would be very helpful for you to keep all of your information in one place. Make a file. We suggest you keep the following in it:

      • YOUR NAME. This may seem like a silly item, but many students have wound up applying for college under slightly different names, and the colleges have thought they were a couple of different students. This happens most frequently if you are commonly known by a nickname or by your middle name. Make sure you put the same full name on everything and that your teachers who are writing letters of recommendation know what your full name is.
      • YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (SSN). If you are using your SSN as your identifier in applications, make sure you copy it correctly everywhere. Similar problems occur here as with your name when you reverse numbers or mistype them. If you do not use your SSN and a college assigns you a number, make a note of it and don’t lose it. You MUST provide your social security number to schools if you are requesting financial aid or needs-based scholarships.
      • DEADLINES. Keep a chart or calendar with the deadlines of your applications, financial aid, supplements, test registrations, and other requirements. Make sure you note whether the deadlines are “DUE BY” or “POSTMARKED BY”!  You might also put major dates on a calendar that you and/or your family refer to regularly. (Examples: your assignment notebook or your family’s calendar of events.) If you are applying electronically, be careful not to leave it until the last minute. The application servers tend to be rather slow on the major deadline dates (such as January 1).
      • ONLINE ACCOUNT LOGINS. You will have to create login information for the Common Application, Naviance, College Board, ACT, and many individual colleges. Write them down and keep them in a safe place! Some families find it helpful if both the student and parents have a copy of this information. If you are using the common application online, you may save it and return to it later, but you will need to have your login and password. Beware of creating multiple accounts on these sites. (This happens most commonly on the standardized test sites.)
      • COLLEGE-SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS. Determine what college-specific forms or other important information you will need. Many colleges have supplemental forms that you need to complete, and some have several.
      • CONTACTS. Keep business cards or notes about the college representatives for our area, particularly if you have met or spoken with them. It can be very helpful for you to refer to previous conversations. Also, there may be times that you would like a representative from TSA to contact the schools on your behalf.
      • THANK YOU CARDS. You can buy these or make them yourself. Either way, use them whenever you have a significant contact with a college. These thank you notes can help set you apart from the crowd and indicate your high level of interest. Be prompt! (And yes, if necessary, you could email your thanks instead.)

Application Information

You will need the following information for your applications:

      • Most of you intend to be degree-seeking students in your first year. This means that you intend to get a degree from the school, and will not just be taking classes.
      • Our GPA is on a 4.0 scale and is not weighted.
      • We do not rank our students.
      • The counselor contact for TSA is: Ellen Bagnato, Director of Career and College Advising. Phone: 802-763-2500 ext 116. Fax: 802-763-2502. Email:
      • Our year-long courses are one credit. A quarter-long class is 1/4 credit.

On what do colleges base their decisions?

Admissions officers look at a variety of factors, and every college weighs these items somewhat differently. Some do not rely heavily on test scores. Many smaller liberal arts schools will spend more time looking at your application and give more weight to factors other than grades or test scores. Your application essay is the only variable you have control over during the application process, and is becoming increasingly important with the common application. The following is roughly the ranking of the factors that colleges consider:

      1. Grade point average/difficulty of curriculum (Have you taken four years of classes in all content areas.)
      2. Standardized test scores
      3. Class rank (Not applicable at TSA)
      4. Application essays
      5. Extracurricular activities
      6. Letters of recommendation
      7. Interviews
      8. Intangibles, such as family legacy (your grandparents or parents went there), strength of interest on the part of the candidate, etc.

Communicating with Colleges

If you are interested in a college, let them know.

      1. Even before you apply, call them up and ask them thoughtful questions about the school or the application process. Write down the name of the person to whom you spoke and send a thank you card or note. (Note that some colleges have different mailing address for their application materials than for other communication.)
      2. Visit the college…and send a thank you.
      3. Set up an interview. Don’t forget the thank you!
      4. For many colleges, every significant check-in counts. Schools keep track of how often and when you contact them. Thank everyone who gave you significant help or information for their time and assistance. This is one of those intangibles mentioned above. Make yourself known to the decision-maker.

Early Action / Early Decisions

Should you apply regular decision, early action or early decision, and what is the difference?

  • These can be very valuable tools if students have thoroughly explored their college options and are confident in where they want to go.
  • Early Decision, is a binding agreement. If a student applies to a school early decision and is accepted, he/she must attend.
  • Early Action is a non-binding agreement. Students receive an early response to their application but do not have to decide until May.

For many students, applying early action to several schools makes a lot of sense, provided you have all of your applications together.