Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How and when should I apply to college?
A. Carefully read and follow the Procedures for Applying to College on our home page. Generally students may begin applying to college as soon as they have completed their junior year of high school. A good rule of thumb to help make sure that you meet deadlines is to apply by Halloween. Each university/college has its own application and scholarship deadlines, so always check with the college directly to know what is due and when. Hoover’s College Handbook also includes a detailed calendar and checklist to help you plan and organize.
Q. Do I need to decide on my major and career before I apply to college?
A. No. The average college student changes his or her major three times. If you are sure about a career field, it can help you narrow down your college choices. (A good place to start is a career assessment such as Careerkey.org.) Otherwise, find a school where you will comfortable and which offers a wide range of majors and programs.
Q. When should I begin planning for college?
A. While there is no set date when college planning and preparation must begin, earlier is generally better. College admissions staff base their decisions on a student's coursework, grades, and extracurricular activities during high school, so that's where the main emphasis in preparing for college should occur. However, the courses students take in middle school often determines what they take in high school, so you can see how starting the planning earlier can be helpful.(You may read more about early awareness for helping elementary and middle school students and families begin gearing up for college.) Additionally, with the rising cost of college, getting a jump on financial planning is also a good idea.
However, it is never too late to begin planning or to go to college! Start by browsing through this web site, then you may wish to make an appointment with the college counselor or college specialist at your school and/or with an admissions representative at the college(s) of your choice.
Q. If I don't "ace" the SATs or ACTs, am I doomed?
A. No! The strength of your curriculum, your grades, and your commitment to activities or special talents are all more important than your test scores . Test scores do count, but they are only one part of the application process.
Q. Should I apply only to "prestigious" colleges?
A. Prestige is a difficult factor to measure. The reputation and prestige of schools changes over time due to any number of factors. Sometimes prestige is derived from a winning football or basketball team, for example, rather than the quality of the education at an institution. Go to a college that fits you best academically and socially. (A Self Assessment may be a good place to begin.) You are likely to be happy and successful there!
Q. Should I apply only to colleges that I know I can afford?
A. Do not be misled by the "sticker price" of college! Sometimes the most expensive colleges are able to provide the most financial aid! The best way to find out how much a certain college will cost is to contact that school's financial aid office and request help estimating your costs. We will also host a Financial Aid Night for seniors and their parents in late January or early February. You can learn more information from the College Access Center’s web site about Cost of College, Need-Based Aid, and Merit Scholarships.
Q. Should I invest in a prediction service to learn for certain whether or not my child will be admitted to a certain college?
A. No! Because the nature of selective college admissions is subjective, it is impossible to predict with certainty the outcome of your application at any college. Most college admissions experts, including Hoover City Schools College & Career staff, consider prediction services to be one of the many scams that students and families should avoid.
Q. I have been accepted by one of the colleges where I applied! When do I need to make a decision about whether or not I will attend?
A. Most colleges in this country adhere to the candidate's reply deadline of May 1, and all colleges that are members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) are required to abide by this May 1 deadline. If a college has requested that you reply earlier, and you feel that you need more time to make up your mind, you should write a letter requesting an extension until May 1. Download NACAC's Statement of Students' Rights and Responsibilities in the College Admission Process (94K).
Have a question that's not covered here?
Contact a college & career staff member at Hoover or Spain Park, depending on which school you or your child attends. Ask a good question, and we may add it and the answer to this FAQs page.