Deer Lakes

School District

College Information & Helpful Tips


If you have been accepted to a college, university, trade/tech school or into the military, please give a copy of your acceptance letter to Mrs. Gacci in the School Counseling Office, or e-mail it to her @ [email protected]  as soon as possible.    If you have applied to and been accepted to more than one school, please make sure you let Mrs. Gacci know which school you decide to commit to and give her a copy of that acknowledgement from the college/univ./tech. school, which will come from that school AFTER you have paid your deposit and officially enrolled there.


NACAC’s favorite perennial resource, the Guide to the College Admission Process, has been updated to reflect current trends, tasks, and additions to the college search and application experience. This guide offers sound advice on every step of the process, from getting in the right mindset, to researching universities, to completing application materials. This is a fantastic go-to source for students, families, and counselors!   NACAC GUIDE TO THE COLLEGE ADMISSION PROCESS.pdf

Please read this informational and very helpful college planning guide that York College of PA has put together.    It applies to ALL students, no matter what college/univ. they may be interested in, and is NOT specific to York College.      → College Planning Guide for Students & Families.pdf


Making decisions about colleges and careers can seem overwhelming, especially when you are young. If you are feeling unprepared, know that you are not alone. We're here to help.

The College Tour is a new Show that shows tours of a specific college each episode.

The College Tour is a new TV series brought to you by Emmy-nominated and multi-award-winning producers.  The series tells the story of colleges and universities around the world.
Each episode of The College Tour will focus on a single college or university.  Here is a list and links to Colleges that have been featured so far:

From campus life, academics, housing, sports, activities, and much more… each student driven segment will give young people an inside look at what it’s truly like being a student at the featured college or university.

The Pennsylvania Transfer & Articulation Center (PA TRAC) is an interactive website that helps students plan their postsecondary education.    As a high school student, PA TRAC can help you:
  • Learn about ways you can earn college credit while enrolled in high school
  • Find out how college courses you've taken, or plan to take, transfer to a  PA TRAC college
  • Explore your post secondary options

For more information:  

A Guide to Choosing Your College Major

Choosing a college major that fits with your interest and life goals can be a real challenge. This guide is designed to help you make that choice and eventually pursue a career that is in line with your personality, skills, and goals.   written by Sasha Blakeley
If you are soon to be attending college, you have probably already asked yourself, ''What should I major in?'' Choosing the right major is one of the biggest decisions that you will make when it comes to your college career. It is important, then, that you make an informed decision based on your interests and career goals. This guide is designed to help you figure out how to choose a major by exploring the available options from several different perspectives.   


Research Possible Colleges

There are many sites that allow you to search for colleges based on the factors you determined are most important.  Start by checking out, and

Contact the College

Found a college that might be a match?  Go to their website and complete a request for information form or e-mail the Admissions Office with specific questions.

College Fairs

College Fairs are held at schools, in the community, and online.  They provide the opportunity to speak with an Admissions Counselor and pick up materials from many different schools.  Check out and attend as many college fairs as possible.


Visiting the college, virtually or in person, provides opportunities for students and their families to speak directly with Admissions Counselors, Financial Aid Officers and current students.  Many colleges also off summer programs for high school students that may be tied to an academic interest or leadership program.  Some programs allow students to stay overnight on campus to help students get a feel for the college.

Paper Application vs. Online Applications

If applying on a paper application, make sure that it is the current and correct application.  Many colldges will not accept an old application.   New applications will typically be available in late summer before the senior year of high school begins.

To apply online, visit the college websites.  You can also visit the Common Application,, which allows you to submit one application to many member colleges.  When applying online, make sure to upload or send in any additional materials and submit a Transcript Request/Release form to the high school, School Counseling Office so your official high school transcript is sent to each college you apply to.   Most colleges will not consider your application complete without these additional materials.

Application Fee or Waivers

College application fees are usually non-refundable and can range from $0 - $100, and sometimes more.   Not all colleges charge an application fee and there are a few ways that application fees can be waived:
  • SAT Fee Waivers:  If you qualified for an SAT Fee Waiver, you can send in an application fee waiver with your application.  You can get the application fee waiver from your School Counselor.
  • NACAC Fee Waivers:  A form is available from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling.  The form can be downloaded from their website and must be signed by your School Counselor.
  • Alumni Vouchers:  Some colleges offer alumni and college employees the chance to send in a voucher to waive the application fee or an interested student.  Contact the college for details.
  • Campus Visits:  Some colleges waive the application fee if you have visited the college.  Ask the College Admissions Office for details.
  • As the College directly for a fee waiver.  They may be able to work with you!

Official Transcripts

Colleges/Universities will only accept transcripts that are "official".   Official transcripts should be sent directly from your high school to the college/university by either being electronically transferred or signed, embossed with school seal and mailed in a sealed envelope directly to the college/university .  Transcripts in envelopes that have been opened by anyone other than the college/university are no longer considered "official" and will not be accepted by colleges/universities for your application.  

Standardized Tests

Some colleges and universities require standardized test scores (SAT or ACT)* as part of the application package.  However, some schools are test optional, meaning a test score is not always required for acceptance.  Check with the college's Admissions Office to determine whether or not a test score is required.  

Test scores can be automatically sent to colleges you are applying for by filling out the School Code (a 4-digit code unique to each College/University) in the appropriate box on the test.  School codes are entered at the end of each test.  If your college of choice is unknown, scores can be sent after testing, but additional fees may apply.

*Test fee waivers are available for eligible students for both the SAT and ACT.  All test fee waivers are available through your School Counselor.  They do not, however, cover late registration fees so be proactive....ask for the waiver and sign up for the test early!

Test Optional

Some colleges provide an application pathway that does not require a standardized test score.  In this case, submitting a standardized test score, like the SAT or ACT, is optional.  Without a test score though, supporting documentation becomes very important.  You'll want to check with the college's Admissions Office to determine what additional materials may be required in lieu of a test score.

Character Statement

The character statement is the student's promise that there is no false information on the application.  Make sure it is signed and know that colleges with character statements look at lying on your application like teachers look at plagiarism.  Honesty is important.

High School Counselor Recommendation

This informs colleges of the high school's grading scale, the student's class rank and lets the Admission staff know the applicant is in good standing and intends to graduate on time.  Many colleges require materials in addition to the application.  Each college has different requirements so make sure to send exactly what that college requests.

Teacher Recommendations

Many colleges ask for 1 - 2 teacher recommendations.  These recommendations should be from 11th or 12th grade teachers who taught an academic core subject.  When asking a teacher to write a recommendation, ask them early in the fall semester of your senior year so they have time to write a thoughtful letter and are not swamped with other requests.  You want the teacher to be able to shine the best possible light on your application.  You may also want to request a recommendation from your School Counselor if they know you well.

Essay/Personal Statement

An Essay is a writing example on a specified topic.  When writing an essay on an assigned topic, make sure that you answer the question that is asked.   

A Personal Statement is usually on any topic chosen by the applicant.  When choosing a topic for a Personal Statement, don't write about information you already listed in the application (such as a list of activities you're involved in).  Colleges already have a handle on your day-to-day activities from the application.  Instead, write about something that they wouldn't know about you by just reading the application.   Describe the impact you made by performing a service in your community.  Why do you want to attend this college or major in a certain field?  What is an interesting fact about you or an experience that you've had that the Admissions Office would find interesting or unique?


Some colleges require an interview with either an Admissions Counselor or alumni as part of the application review process.  If required, schedule this interview as soon as possible because interview time slots can fill up quickly.  You can do this online or by calling the College Admissions Office.


If you are applying for an arts, theatre, or music program, some colleges require a portfolio or audition submission at the time of application.  Contact the college to inquire about setting up an audition time or for specifics on portfolio submissions.

Make sure you know the date the college is notifying students of their decisions.  Some have strict deadlines, while others are rolling, which means they review applicants as they become complete on a rolling basis.

  • Accepted:  The student has met the requirements and is accepted for admission.
  • Accepted for Spring Semester:  The student has been accepted to the college, not for the fall semester, but beginning in the spring.  Some larger universities do this instead of a waitlist.
  • Waitlist:  The student has been placed on the "Waitlist", which means the student will be accepted if space in the incoming class becomes available after May or June.  It is important to understand that a space in the incoming class is not guaranteed so applicants should consider other colleges in the event the space does not become available.    If you were accepted to your 2nd choice college but wait until after May 1 to send them a deposit, you may lose your spot with them.   The truth is that very few students come off the waitlist so seek alternatives.  If a college puts you on their Waitlist, you were not their first choice.
  • Deferred:  The college needs additional materials to evaluate the submitted application (usually new SAT scores, final grades, or an additional teacher recommendation).
  • Denied:  The college is unable to offer admission to the applicant at this time.    
  • Early Decision:  When applying as Early Decision, the applicant may receive a letter that says admissions cannot accept the applicant as Early Decision, but will re-evaluate the application for Regular Decision.  This means a second decision letter will be sent at the Regular Decision notification date.
  • May 1:  For students who applied Regular Decision, May 1 is the preferred reply date for accepted students.  Students are encouraged to submit a deposit to their college of choice by May 1 to secure a spot.     IMPORTANT!   Don't send a deposit in to more than one college!   Deposits may not be refundable!

To see a list of more College Admission Terms, click USEFUL COLLEGE ADMISSION TERMS.pdf

College Application Types:   What’s the difference?

How are you applying to the schools on your college list…..early decision, early action, early decision II, rolling admission or regular admission?







When are Applications due?

Early to mid-November

Early to mid-November

Mid-December to mid-January

Varies by school

Applications can be accepted as early as July & as late as April

Mid-December to mid-January

When do you learn admission status


January or February


Varies by school

Typically 2 to 6 weeks after receipt of application

March or April

Is admission binding






Are acceptance rates higher with this method




The earlier the application is received, the higher the acceptance rate


When do you need to accept admittance


Typically by May 1


Typically by May 1

Typically by May 1


Once you confirm you are going to attend a college/university, you should also inform the other colleges/universities that you were accepted to, that you will not be attending there.  This can be done by letter, phone or e-mail and should be done as soon as you make your final decision.

Understanding the different types of college application processes: 
 from the website:
The college application process can be confusing. The most difficult step is choosing the right fit colleges where you will apply. After you have selected your list of colleges, it's time to work on your applications! Let's talk about the different applications you may need to complete:
The Common App was created in 1975 as an undergraduate college admissions application allowing students to complete one application and send multiple copies to any member school of the Common App. Now there are almost 900 schools across the country that accept the Common App. The Common App promotes a holistic application review by requiring several components, including a personal essay, recommendation letters, an extracurricular activities list, optional supplemental questions, standardized test scores, and the high school transcript. The Common App now uses a fully online application format that allows students to edit their application before submitting it to multiple colleges. 
The Universal Application was created in 2007 and is similar to the Common App but only has 9 current participating colleges. Same as the Common App, students only need to fill out this application one time and then the same application can be submitted to all participating colleges on the student's list. Many colleges that accept the Universal App will also accept the Common App.
Some colleges still offer a separate application that only applies to their institution. Most colleges who offer their own application will also accept the Common Application. These colleges typically do not have a preference which application a student chooses to submit, though I recommend contacting each college individually to ask if the admissions office has a preference of application type. If no preference, then the Common App would be just fine.
The Coalition Application is a new application created to begin use in fall 2016 as a centralized "toolkit" platform that allows students to build and organize a portfolio of their work across all four years of high school. The philosophy behind the creation of this application is to allow students to start thinking about their college process early on and to help students who may not have access to college guidance by removing some of the obstacles these students can face. There are currently 90 member institutions that accept the Coalition Application. This is the only application that requires member institutions to meet a set of characteristic in order to join. All member institutions must have a graduation rate of 70% or more in six years, and they must offer need-based financial aid.
Some state school systems share a general application that can be submitted to all colleges in the state system. An example of this is the State University of New York (SUNY) system of universities. The SUNY Application allows students to apply to multiple SUNY schools with one application. However, SUNY schools also accept the Common App. If a student is only applying to SUNY schools, the SUNY Application would be a suitable choice. If a student is applying to SUNY schools as well as schools outside of the SUNY system, then the Common App would be a better choice.
Some colleges may accept all of these forms of applications and some schools may only accept one form. However, the Common Application is generally the best choice, as this application is most widely used across the country. If you are applying to a college with multiple application choices, it is best to contact that school and find out if they have a preference. If there is no preference, you can feel confident using the Common App.