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College Planning FAQ

Q: What is an academic course?

A: An academic core course at Christian Heritage School belongs to one of the five major academic disciplines: English, mathematics, social science, natural science, and foreign language.

Q: What courses should I take?

A: While there will be some variations with electives from year to year, when possible at a minimum your course load should include five academic core courses each year. Be aware that selective colleges pay close attention to the level of difficulty of your course load. Do not settle for the path of least resistance. Play to your strengths. Take the most challenging courses you can manage in each discipline. Students who make the most of course offerings at the high school level will appeal to college admission committees. Colleges are academic institutions first and foremost; they want to admit the most intellectually capable and accomplished applicants. In all but a few cases, your academic record – the courses you take and your performance in those courses – will be the single most important factor in an admission decision.

Q: How do I judge if I am prepared for an AP course?

A: Students should have a conversation with their teacher in the respective subject for which they want to take an AP course. Students who have consistently earned good grades have shown personal motivation, and who have good time management skills are prime candidates for AP courses. Admission professionals routinely state that they want students to challenge themselves with classes that suit their talents and abilities. Students who are willing to enhance their curriculum with an Advanced Placement course, even though the grade may not be certain, will capture the attention of admission counselors. The PSAT also has a new AP indicator feature which students will learn about in Advisory Periods.

Q: Which courses factor into my cumulative grade point average (GPA)?

A: All graded courses taken at Christian Heritage School are factored into a student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA).

Q: What is the PSAT and why is it important?

A: Christian Heritage School offers the PSAT each year in October for students in grades nine, ten, and eleven. The PSAT is a preliminary SAT and is used for practice before taking the SAT I. Since students receive detailed information concerning their performance on the PSAT, it becomes an important study guide for the SAT I. PSAT scores are private and confidential. They are not sent to colleges. It is important to note that PSAT scores do NOT impact your chances of being admitted to a college or university. Taking the PSAT in the junior year qualifies a student to be considered for National Merit and National Achievement Scholarships and Awards.

Q: What standardized tests are required for admission to college? When are they offered?

A: The great majority of colleges and universities require scores from one or more of the following tests: the SAT I Reasoning Test; SAT II Subject Tests, or the ACT. These tests are offered at specific times each school year. Christian Heritage students are encouraged to follow the timeline below to meet all college deadlines:

9th Grade: October – PSAT (Preliminary SAT)

10th Grade: October – PSAT (Preliminary SAT); February – PLAN (Preliminary ACT)

11th Grade: October – PSAT (for National Merit/National Achievement Scholarship competition)
Winter/Spring – SAT I**, SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT** – We encourage students to take the SAT I twice and ACT at least once before the end of the junior year.
** Three opportunities in the spring of the junior year enable a student to take the SAT I and ACT at least once prior to the senior year.

12th Grade: Early Fall – SAT I**, SAT Subject Tests, ACT** (for improvement of scores or if not previously taken)
** Three opportunities exist in the first semester of the senior year to take the SAT and ACT.

For additional information regarding standardized testing, please refer to the Standardized Testing page.

Q: What are SAT II Subject Tests?

A: The College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) has developed standardized tests in several school subjects to measure the level of knowledge which students have acquired. Each SAT II – Subject Test is one hour in length and consists of a series of multiple-choice questions. You may take up to three SAT II – Subject Tests on a single administration date. Not all colleges require SAT Subject Tests. Check the individual web site for the college(s) you are considering for specific testing requirements.

Q: Do I need to take the ACT? If so, when should I schedule it?

A: Christian Heritage counselors recommend taking both the SAT I and ACT at least one time in preparation for the college admission process. Taking both tests will allow the student to determine which test is more appropriate for him/her. Six test dates for the ACT occur each school year. We recommend that one ACT be taken in the spring of the junior year. If needed, another test date can be scheduled during the fall of the senior year. The ACT is an achievement test and better reflects knowledge of a secondary school curriculum. Register for the ACT at www.actstudent.org.

Q: How do colleges use standardized test results?

A: Standardized tests are rarely the most important factor in an admission decision, but the scores do provide one method by which colleges can evaluate students across the country. Standardized test scores, then, form a piece of the total picture of an applicant. Every college uses test scores differently. To get an idea of the range of scores colleges consider for admission, consult the college’s website or the guidebooks in Mrs. Poag’s office. Be aware that published ranges are not cut-offs; institutions sometimes deny students with very good scores and admit others with average or below average test results. Scores are merely one aspect of a student’s application.

Q: Am I able to choose which scores to send to colleges?

A: Yes. The College Board maintains a cumulative file of all SAT I and SAT Subject Test scores for an individual student. The ACT does the same for all ACT tests that an individual student has taken. Students may request which scores they would like to have sent to a college. However, most colleges prefer that you send all scores for all admission tests taken. Most colleges and universities will look for the highest scores from each of the tests and compile a “super score” for the applicant. Students are encouraged to check with individual colleges or universities for their specific policy.

Q: What can I do to get ready for standardized tests?

A: Work diligently in a challenging course load. Never miss an opportunity to build your vocabulary. Make sure you have mastered algebraic and geometric formulae and equations. Some students have benefited from outside assistance such as printed test prep guides, private individual tutoring, and/or group tutoring by an outside company.

Above all read, read, read. And when you are done with reading, read some more.

Q: How do I register for the SAT or ACT?

A: The College Counseling Center recommends that students register on-line for the SAT and/or ACT. Students can register for the SAT by visitinghttp://www.collegeboard.org/. The ACT website is www.actstudent.org.

You will be asked to enter Christian Heritage School’s CEEB code. Christian Heritage’s CEEB code is 110982.

NOTE: Christian Heritage School is not an official test center. Visit the registration web sites to find a testing center near you.

Q: How and when should I start the college search?

A: Investigating the thousands of colleges that are available can be a daunting task if you are not aware of the many resources that exist to help you begin to navigate the college search.

The best place to start is with your college counselor who can share this information and direct you toward the types of schools that best suit your interests and abilities. Students should explore their personality, wants, and needs to determine if the characteristics of a college are a good match. Christian Heritage College counseling program can direct you to personality assessments and interest inventories that provide some insight. They can also direct you to a number of resources that are helpful in beginning the college search. Please see the links on the college counseling web site for more information.

Students can begin learning about colleges on their own as early as 9thor 10th grade. Christian Heritage will begin formal college search conversations with students in 11th grade.

Q: When should I visit colleges?

A: The traditional times for visiting colleges are spring and summer of junior year and fall of senior year. At those times, armed with college lists and a growing sense of who you are and what you want, you can be very directed with your time on college campuses.

However, a number of students have found it valuable to visit college campuses on a more informal basis during their eighth, ninth, and tenth grade years, sometimes on vacation, sometimes when they are tagging along while an older sibling conducts his/her search. Keep an open mind. Take special note of what you like and what you do not like about a campus. Use these informal visits as an opportunity to begin piecing together your picture of the ideal college.

Q: What do colleges consider when evaluating students?

A: In considering the admissibility of students each institution establishes a set of criteria by which to evaluate students. These criteria include the nature and type of courses taken, the secondary school grade point average, the record of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, performance on the SAT and/or ACT, application essay, and sometimes recommendations and an interview. Colleges also consider the campus community needs when selecting students for admission. Perhaps they need students in their learning community that will add geographic, socioeconomic, gender, or ethnic diversity. Perhaps they need students who are interested in a particular major or who offer an academic, athletic, or artistic talent. These needs can change from year to year. It is wise to research the importance each college assigns to each of these criteria in preparing the individual application for admission.

Q: How do colleges evaluate extracurricular activities?

A: Quality, not quantity, is the key. Colleges look for talent, dedication, motivation, and accomplishment. A student who spends a great deal of time and energy on one activity is usually more appealing than a student who joins dozens of clubs just to build a resume. It’s not necessarily what you pursue as an extracurricular activity, but why you pursue an activity that colleges are interested in knowing more about. Colleges do not expect students to be Superman or Wonder Woman, but they do want interesting, devoted dynamic people.

Extracurricular activities need not be confined to school. In fact, colleges are often quite impressed with students who take the initiative to do something not readily offered them, such as meaningful community service, employment, or creative writing. Identify your talents and interests and pursue them intensely and thoughtfully.

Q: What is a selective college?

A: A selective college is one that accepts less than 50% of its applicants. To choose students, a selective college may use a mathematical formula consisting of course selection, grades, and standardized test scores. Or it may consider all of those factors plus more subjective factors like essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities. The decision-making process is difficult for colleges; many face the task of selecting from hordes of seemingly similar students. In the end, though they may be able to fill their freshman class three times over with qualified candidates, the admission committees admit those students who will be good for their schools, who represent the best “fit” or “match” for that college’s learning community.

A few words of caution: It is unfair to equate a school’s selectivity with its quality. Selectivity is often the result of popularity. What is a popular choice for one student, may not be the right fit for another student.

What is a popular choice for one student, may not be the right fit for another student.

Q: What if I do not get accepted into a highly selective college or university?

A: The myth holds that the key to future success is gaining admission to and attending a prestigious institution, after which life will flow naturally to fame and fortune. It isn’t that simple. Most students thrive best in academic environments where the demands are consistent with the student’s ability. We strongly believe that “fit,” finding the most appropriate “match” for a student, is paramount. We want Christian Heritage School graduates to do well in college, to be happy there and, yes, to succeed when they complete their formal education. We think the best road to that goal is paved with reality and careful selection. Oftentimes it is not where you went to college; it is what you did and how you used the resources at the college that determine future success.

Q: Will attending a college’s summer program enhance my chances of gaining admission to a particular institution?

A: Many colleges offer academic summer programs for high school students. These programs usually offer something approaching the full college experience – college level classes, dormitory living, etc. – so they can be an excellent means of gaining perspective about college life. We recommend these programs to those who are interested because they are enriching and they are a clear indication of a student’s academic motivation. That being said, the advantage gained by a college summer program is not necessarily greater than that gained by having a summer job, spending your summer shooting an original film, completing a significant summer service project or doing any other activity that would show you leading a full dynamic life.

Two additional points of caution regarding college summer programs: 1) each program will have a different philosophy about monitoring its students, some quite strict, some surprisingly lax. Make sure to ask about supervision on campus when you research college summer programs; 2) Acceptance to a college’s summer program does not in any way guarantee you admission to the college’s undergraduate program nor does it give you an edge except in the more general way discussed above. Attend a summer program because you find it intrinsically interesting or significant, not because you have hopes of gaining admission to one of the school’s undergraduate programs.

Q: What is the FAFSA?

A: FAFSA is the acronym for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The income, asset, and demographic information you provide on the FAFSA serves as the basis for determining a student’s eligibility for the federal student aid programs and, in many cases, institutional, state, and private sources of aid. The FAFSA is the most widely accepted financial aid application by colleges and universities. There is no charge to students for completing the FAFSA. We recommend that families attend the FAFSA night at CHS and complete the on-line version of the FAFSA by visiting www.fafsa.ed.gov anytime after January 1st of the student’s senior year of high school. Check each college web site for the priority deadline for the FAFSA. Typically it is in March, but it can be earlier.

Q: What is the CSS PROFILE?

A: The Profile is a form and service offered by the College Board and used by some colleges, universities, and private scholarship programs to award their own private financial aid funds. Students pay a fee to register for CSS PROFILE and send reports to institutions and scholarship programs that use it. Students can register with CSS PROFILE by calling a toll-free telephone service or by connecting to College Board online at www.collegeboard.com. Please note the CSS PROFILE is not a federal form and may not be used to apply for federal student aid. Some colleges will require that a student complete BOTH the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE. Check each college’s web site to determine if the institution requires the CSS PROFILE. Read carefully for the priority deadline. It can be as early as October.

Q: How do I search for colleges that offer the sport I am interested in playing while in college?

A: Click on the following link to search for colleges that offer your sport:www.ncaa.org/sponsorships.

Q: What is the NCAA Initial Eligibility Center?

A: An organization that works with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to determine a student’s eligibility for athletics participation in his or her first year of college enrollment. Students who want to participate in college sports during their first year of enrollment in college must register with the Eligibility Center.

Q: Who should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center?

A: Any student who plans to attend an NCAA Division I or II institution AND who wishes to participate in intercollegiate athletics needs to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Visit the NCAA Eligibility Center website at www.eligibilitycenter.org.

Q: How soon should I register with the NCAA Eligibility Center?

A: You should apply for certification after your junior year in high school if you plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics as a freshman at a Division I or II institution. The Eligibility Center will not process a transcript with fewer than six semesters shown on the transcript. If you fail to submit all required documents, your incomplete file will be discarded after three years, requiring you to pay a new fee if certification is requested after that time.

Q: How do I register with the NCAA Eligibility Center?


  • Students should register on-line at www.eligibilitycenter.org.
  • Register, set up a PIN, and pay the registration fee ($65)
  • Let your Mrs. Poag know that you have registered with the Eligibility Center. Request a transcript to be sent to the Eligibility Center through your GaCollege411 account.
  • The Registrar will send an official transcript to the Eligibility Center showing grades from 9th – 11th (six semesters)* by June 15 at the end of the junior year. If you need a transcript sent to the Eligibility Center before this date, contact your college counselor. * Students who have earned high school credit at a school other than Christian Heritage School must also request that a transcript be sent from their previous school.
  • Student should request that standardized test scores be sent to the Eligibility Center.
  • There are two ways to report SAT/ACT test scores to the Eligibility Center:
    • When you register for the SAT and/or ACT, write in code 9999 to send your scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center.
    • Contact SAT/ACT and request that scores be sent to the Eligibility Center.
    • NOTE: Test scores must be sent directly from the testing agency. Test scores can NOT be reported with the official high school transcript.
  • After graduation, the Registrar will mail the final transcript showing all grades earned from 9th – 12th grades, and proof of graduation.

Q: What is a National Letter of Intent (NLI)?

A: By signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI), a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletic financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution. To read the text of a National Letter of Intent or to learn more about the NLI, please visit the NLI website at www.national-letter.org.