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College Counseling

Our College Counseling Office provides an informative and nurturing environment for the transition from high school to college. In addition to helping Altamont seniors identify and research potential colleges, our college counselor also directs academic advising and course selection beginning in the spring of eighth grade.

College Counseling Process

Timeline: College Planning

8th Grade
Transition to Upper School meeting

9th Grade
+ Get involved in school & community activities
+ PreACT practice test

10th Grade
October
+ PSAT practice test
November
+ PreACT practice test
+ Continue pursuing school & community activities
+ Consider summer job or meaningful summer activity
Spring Semester
+ College Counseling student meeting to register with Scoir


11th Grade
Summer before

+ Continue pursuing paid/volunteer work or meaningful summer activities
+ Determine which ACT and SAT testing dates work best with your extra-curricular schedule. If you have not done so, register for standardized testing collegeboard.com and ACT.org.

August
+ Take the SAT or ACT if you have not already done so. Every student needs to have taken the test at least once before January of 11th grade year.

September
+ Meetings with students and parents.
+ Parents are encouraged to begin filling out Net Price Calculators available on every college webpage.
+ Class meetings with the college counseling office: an informal introduction to some of the components of the admission process and an overview of the college trip.
+ Visiting College Representatives: Juniors are encouraged to attend information sessions held on campus with college representatives throughout the fall. These sessions provide an excellent opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the admission process and particular institutions.
+ Attend Birmingham Area NACAC College Fair: BJCC
+ Take the SAT or ACT if you have not already done so. Every student needs to have taken the test at least once before January of 11th grade year.

October
+ Project Week: College Trip
+ Register for Advanced Placement Exams
+ PSAT: Juniors are automatically registered to take the PSAT. All students will take it. The PSAT is, in part, a practice round for the SAT I and also serves to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship competition.
+ Take the SAT or ACT if you have not already done so. Every student needs to have taken the test at least once before January of 11th grade year

November
+Take the SAT or ACT if you have not already done so. Every student needs to have taken the test at least once before January of 11th grade year.

December

+Take the SAT or ACT if you have not already done so. Every student needs to have taken the test at least once before January of 11th grade year

January
+Individual student meetings with the College Counseling Office

February
+Individual family meetings with the College Counseling Office.

+Begin to formulate a preliminary list of schools that interest you. The spring and summer of the junior year is an ideal time to research different types of schools, focusing on size, location, selectivity, and academic offerings.
+If possible, arrange to visit colleges during spring break.

March
+Individual family meetings with the College Counseling Office
+College Visits during spring break
+Talk with College Counseling Office about whether taking SAT Subject tests is right for you.

April
+Individual family meetings with the College Counseling Office.
+Speak with teachers who will write letters of recommendation for you in the fall. Fill out and give them “Teacher Student Response Form.”

May
+Student Athletes should register with the NCAA Clearinghouse; applies only to Division I and Division II
+Advanced Placement Exams
+Speak with teachers who will write letters of recommendation for you in the fall. Fill out and give them “Teacher Student Response Form.”

June
+SAT II Subject Tests: test is in early June
+Campus Visits: The summer is a good time to arrange official college visits. Contact admissions offices to learn about their visitation programs. Student athletes should attempt to arrange meetings with coaches. Plan ahead, and honor the appointments that you make.

July – August
+Summer activities
+Register for any last standardized tests you may need to take testing collegeboard.com and ACT.org.

12th Grade
August

+College application workshop
+College Planning Meetings as needed
+Turn in College Counselor Student Response Form
+Turn in Parent Response Forms

September
+Update college list

+Complete college applications: Pay attention to application deadlines, especially ED and EA
+Visiting College Representatives: Seniors are encouraged to attend information sessions held on campus by visiting college representatives. These sessions provide an excellent opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the admissions process and particular institutions.
+Attend Birmingham Area NACAC College Fair
+Official campus visits; Overnight if possible for those students applying ED I or II.
+Visit the College Counseling Office regularly!

October
+Complete college applications: Pay attention to application deadlines, especially ED and EA
+Students applying for financial aid should file the FAFSA and the College Scholarship Service Profile ®
+Retake the SAT I, SAT Subject Tests, and/or the ACT if needed
+Visiting College Representatives: Seniors are encouraged to attend information sessions held on campus by visiting college representatives. These sessions provide an excellent opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the admissions process and various institutions.
+Official campus visits; overnight if possible for those students applying ED I or II.
+Visit the College Counseling Office regularly!

November
+Complete college applications: Pay attention to application deadlines, especially ED and EA
+Visit the College Counseling Office regularly!

December
+Complete college applications: Pay attention to application deadlines +Wait for Early Action and Early Decision letters
+FAFSA should be completed by January 1.
+Exams! Your grades still matter!

January – March
+Complete college applications: Pay attention to application deadlines
+Your grades and attendance still matter!

April
+Regular Decision announcements, on or around April 1.
+Please read carefully: Mail only one deposit to a school. We do not allow students to double deposit.


We love hearing from our graduates! Please stay in touch.

College Search Process

Selecting your choices for college out of more than 2,200 accredited four-year institutions can be a daunting task. For the best chances for success, the College Counseling Office recommends that you approach the admission process intelligently, efficiently, and honestly.

First of all, you should approach the search intelligently. Use the resources that are available to you: the College Counseling Office, internet, campus visits, college admission rep visits to Altamont.

It’s also important to undertake the process efficiently. Learning to manage your time is a science that can be acquired – and should be considered a priority. The admission process is not something that happens to you; nor will someone else make it happen for you – it is a cumulative process. The best advice we can offer is this: Be intentional! The admission process can be a frenetic, chaotic experience, or it can be an exciting, sequential process. Let’s make it the latter!

Finally, see the process through honestly. Begin the admission process with an open mind. Remember, your needs may be different from those of your parents and peers. Your objective is to find a school where you will thrive and that is a good fit: academically, socially and financially.

Three steps to researching a school:

  • Read: learn everything there is to know about college before you visit.
  • Visit: ask relevant questions during your official visit. If possible interview, spend the night, and sit in on a class.
  • Assess: determine whether or not the college is a good fit.

Beginning preparation early

The college search program at Altamont is a specialized process designed to fill each student's individual needs. Preparation for college starts as soon as the student enters Altamont.

While group meetings begin in the 8th grade, the College Counseling Office has an open door policy, and we are always happy to meet with any family at any time to discuss individual questions.

Standardized Testing is a necessity for most applications, so we offer opportunities for students to become familiar with the ACT and the SAT formats. In 9th and 10th grades, students take a test which is similar to the ACT. In the sophomore and junior years, we offer the PSAT, which is similar to the SAT.

Certainly, one of the highlights of Altamont's college search program is the annual College Tour for juniors. Every year in October, these students tour around twelve colleges and universities. Regardless of the area of the country, we see all types of schools: urban, rural, private, public, big, medium, and small. Our goal is to expose the students to a wide variety so they can begin to see what type of campus fits best for them.

Seniors are encouraged to take an Independent College Trip with their families for Project Week. Unlike the junior school trip, which is focused on viewing many types of schools, this senior trip is to visit schools where you plan to apply. Spend the night if possible. Sit in on a class. Interview.

College Admissions Glossary

Regular Decision: Deadlines usually begin Dec. 15. Students are notified by April 15. and must respond to the college by May 1. We encourage you to complete your application as soon as possible and not wait until the postmark deadline.

Rolling Admissions
: Applications are read as they are received. Although candidates may receive acceptance within one month, they maintain the right to wait until May 1 to accept the offer of admission. The earlier you apply the better. You may be the most qualified applicant, but they may not have a space for you in April.

Early Decision I: This is a contractual agreement between the college and the student. The agreement is that if accepted, the student will attend. Notification is given usually by Dec. 15. You may submit only one ED application. If accepted, you must withdraw any other applications.

Early Decision II: This works the same as EDI, but has a later due date to allow students more time to make an informed decision.

Early Action: This is a non-binding application with early deadlines for the student and the college. You may apply to other schools and have until May 1 to accept an offer of admission.

Early Action - Single Choice (also called REA): This is a non-binding early admission option for those students who have completed a thorough and thoughtful college search. It allows students to learn of their admission decision in December without requiring a response until May 1 or obligating them to enroll at that school. REA and SCEA have specific rules that can impact other applications. Understanding these rules is imperative, please check with College Counseling if you are pursuing this option.

ACT Assessment: Group of tests administered by American College Testing and required or recommended by many colleges as part of the admissions process; tests measure development in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning.

SAT: Test verbal and mathematical abilities; given by the College Entrance Examination Board at specified test centers throughout the year; required or recommended by colleges as part of the admissions process.

SAT Subject Tests: One-hour course specific tests. See College Counseling with questions regarding whether or not you should take or not.

Advanced Placement: Granting of credit and/or assignment to an advanced course on the basis of evidence that the student has mastered the equivalent of an introductory course.

Aid Package: Combination of aid (scholarship, grant, loan, and work) determined by the financial aid office.

Cooperative work-study education: Program in which the student alternates between full-time college study and full-time paid employment related to the area of study.

Financial Aid Need Estimator: Service from American College Testing that helps students and parents plan for financing education after high school; it indicates the likelihood of qualifying for need-based federal financial aid, identifies major sources of aid, and helps project estimated educational expenses and sources of funds over a calendar year.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The application for federal student financial aid, processed at no cost to the applicant; used to determine a student's eligibility for federal grant, loan, and work funds.

Net Price Calculator: This calculator should allow students to calculate an estimated net price of attendance at an institution (defined as cost (price) of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid) based on what similar students paid in a previous year. The net price calculator is required for all Title IV institutions that enroll full-time, first-time degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate students.

Grants: Awards based on financial need that do not require repayment; available through the federal government, state agencies, and educational agencies.

Honors Programs: Any program offering opportunity for superior students to enrich their educational experience through independent, advanced, or accelerated study.

Independent Study: An arrangement which allows the student to earn college credit through individual study, usually planned with and supervised by a faculty advisor.

Major: The subject of study in which the student chooses to specialize; a series of related courses, taken primarily in the junior and senior years.

Scholarships: Non-repayable awards to students based on merit or merit plus need.

Transcript: Official record of high school or college courses and grades generally required as part of the college application.

Parent Response Form

Please click here to access the parent response form.

Contact Us


Cameron Gaede '84

Director of College Counseling
cgaede@altamontschool.org
205-445-1209

College Counseling News