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Your college application

The College Counseling Department has a wealth of experience in managing the college application process for international and for US students. We will help you with the process of choosing colleges, completing applications, and meeting deadlines. It is the counselors’ priority to help you present the best version of yourself to all universities and colleges.  

The college search process

With more than 3,500 colleges and universities in the US, filtering that number and then applying can be a daunting and confusing process. The College Counseling team help you find colleges that fit your academic, financial, and social needs. We work with you to identify universities to research and ensure that your final list is manageable

College admissions officers’ visits to CATS Academy

The College Counseling Office hosts more than 100 college and university representatives every year on campus. Those admissions officers will answer any questions you may have, such as academic programs, social life on campus, clubs, housing, financial aid and requirements for specific programs of study. These visits are a fantastic way to learn about the subtle differences among American and international higher education offerings.

What is in a college application?

In addition to the application itself, the application process includes:


College admissions committees will review the classes that you have taken and the grades you have earned. To be considered for admission to selective schools, you should be taking the most rigorous classes that you are offered and you should be doing well in those classes.  It is very important that you challenge yourself across the curriculum.

The College Essay

The College Essay is your opportunity to showcase your individuality to a college admissions committee. First and foremost the college essay should be personal. The essay gives the admissions committee the only opportunity to hear directly from you.

Your essay will be judged on two criteria: content and quality. You want the essay to tell your story and make your application stand out. You want the admissions committee to understand who you are, and what makes you different from other applicants to their college. The essay also needs to be well-written. Do not wait until the deadlines are creeping in on you to write your essay. Do not rush your essay. Have your counselor proofread your essay. Have your English teacher proofread your essay. In the end, make sure that the essay sounds like you.

Letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation are also very important to your college application. College admission committees ask for them because they seek a glimpse into our curriculum – what your teachers are asking you to learn and how you have responded. Choosing the teacher to write a letter is something you should discuss with your counselor. It is not always the teacher of a class where you earned an A grade. Sometimes overcoming a difficult lesson and persevering after a setback can give the teacher the chance to make your application stand out. In addition to two teachers, your college counselor also writes a letter of recommendation for you. Meeting often with your college counselor will allow us to get to know you. The counselor recommendation will be about you, your life as a student, your activities, and that letter will support your personal story.   

Extracurricular activities

In college, you will spend a great deal more time outside of the classroom than you have in high school. When college admissions committees are reviewing your application they are looking for individuals who regularly contribute to the campus life at their school through participation in extracurricular activities. What you do outside of the classroom in high school has a direct correlation to what they hope you will do outside of the classroom in college.  Whether you are an artist, an athlete or care about the environment, colleges want to admit students who are actively engaged in their community so that their campus will be enhanced by your presence.

Standardized test scores

Most colleges require students to take one or more standardized tests as part of the application. Each college has different requirements, so it is important to know which tests are required by the colleges on your list.

The standardized tests you need to take may include:

  • SAT or ACT — Plan to take the SAT or ACT at least twice, one as a junior, once as a senior.
  • TOEFL or IELTS — We recommend the TOEFL because CATS Academy offers a TOEFL prep course and it’s easier to sign up for and is offered more often.

If English is not your first language, you will be required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score unless you have been in an English-language high school for four years without ESL support. Colleges have a minimum TOEFL/IELTS score that you must reach for your full application to be reviewed. For the most competitive colleges, the minimum TOEFL score is 90–100.

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