St. Agnes Academy - Houston, Texas
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   Frequently Asked Questions

  College Counseling 
  How do I request a transcript?
The counseling department has two transcript request forms. The first form that many students will use is called the “yellow” transcript request form. This form is used when the college, university or special program does not need any supporting letters of recommendation as part of the request. The standard time for preparation and release of this transcript is 72 hours. This transcript will be sent electronically, sent by mail or will be prepared for pick up by the student. The student will indicate how delivery of this transcript will be arranged. The second type of transcript request is made by using the “green” transcript request form. The standard time for preparation and release of this transcript is 30 days This alerts the counseling office to the fact that supporting documentation such as letters of recommendation will be necessary for completion of the request. Delivery of this transcript will usually be determined by a set deadline. We will send these transcripts and supporting documentation electronically or by mail. Occasionally, students will pick up the transcript with supporting documentation and mail themselves.
  How do I request an off campus visit to a college or university?
As stated in the student handbook, you are required to bring a handwritten note from home with the following information: your name, the date of the visit and the name of the college or university you will be visiting. We ask that you bring this note to Mrs. Maher at least one week before the visit and that you do so either at lunch or before or after school. She will give you the Anticipated Absence for a College Visitation Form which will be attached to your note. You are then required to take the form to your teachers and have them sign off on your visit request. Once this has been completed, you return the form to Ms. Hale. When you are on the campus of the college or university, it is your responsibility to obtain an acknowledgment form from the admissions office. You will bring that form back to St. Agnes and give it to Ms. Hale. This acknowledgment form is necessary for you to make sure that the days you have missed are not counted against you in attendance. Seniors are allowed 4 college visit days and juniors are allowed 2 college visit days. Be sure to check the handbook for other restrictions regarding college visit days.
  How do I request a visit with a college representative who is visiting St. Agnes or Strake Jesuit?
The majority of college visits will occur during lunch in Fleming Room B. All college visits scheduled at St. Agnes Academy are listed in Naviance. Visits occurring during the lunch hour will have the option to “sign up” posted next to the school name in Naviance. Please register to attend that visit so that we can share your contact information with the representative when they leave. Some visits will still occur during a class period, those are listed in Naviance as “event is full”. You will need to download the “college visit permission slip” from the documents folder in Naviance. You will fill out the permission slip then take the slip to the teacher whose class you will miss for the rep visit and request a signature. Teachers MUST approve your absence from their class. We ask that you take care of this at least 24 hours in advance of the visit. Any student not obtaining permission a day in advance must ask the teacher for permission the day of the visit. Visits are posted in Naviance, on the St. Agnes website and in the guidance office. Additionally, they are sent to you each week via e-mail by Ms. Maher. Juniors are limited to ten college visit meetings in the fall. If, for some reason, you must cancel your appointment with the college rep, you must send an email to Ms. Maher or notify her in person by 8:00am the morning of the college rep visit. Joint visits hosted by Strake Jesuit will be in their counseling suite located on the second floor of Moran Hall.
  How can I determine if I am eligible for a fee waiver for the SAT, ACT, and college application fees?
Standards regarding family income and eligibility for fee waivers are set and re-set periodically to ensure that students have equal access to testing and to the college process. The total family income used to determine eligibility is different for the two testing agencies. Fee waiver forms for the SAT, ACT and the college application process are housed in the guidance office. Counselors may ask students for a copy of the family financial records prior to releasing a fee waiver form to that student. Students who qualify are only allowed two fee waivers.
  I think that I might want to continue athletic participation in college. What is required of me by the NCAA?
Several years ago, the NCAA established a clearinghouse. Prospective student-athletes must maintain a minimum GPA during high school as well as score a minimum total on the ACT and/or the SAT. Students are required to submit a transcript and release test scores to the clearinghouse. In turn the clearinghouse is used by colleges and universities to determine the eligibility of prospective student-athletes. If you think you might participate in athletics at the collegiate level, you must be cleared. For more information about the clearinghouse, go to and click on the link called Prospective Student-athletes Eligibility Center and follow the link to create an account and register your information. Students must also see their counselor to request a transcript. When taking the SAT and/or ACT; use the code 9999 to send your score to the clearinghouse. Only one set of scores are required by the clearinghouse.
  What is the difference between all of the different admissions decision plans given by colleges and universities?
There are 4 types of admissions decision plans used by colleges and universities. Many schools will use more than one type of decision plan during an admissions season.

a) Rolling decision - schools that use this type of decision plan will make a decision on an applicant as soon as all the materials necessary have been submitted. This usually includes a transcript of all 9th, 10th and 11th grade semester grades and the courses in progress for the 12th grade. A set of test scores sent by the testing agency and a complete application are the other requirements. As soon as the file is complete, the college or university will make a decision about admissibility and will notify the student of that decision.

b) Early action (EA)- many private colleges and universities offer early action. This set deadline usually falls in early November and the student must have all materials submitted by the deadline date. In turn, the college guarantees that they will make a decision by a certain date, usually before Christmas. A student is not bound by this decision; although applying early action infers a genuine interest in the school. There are a few schools that have two rounds of early action and there are even a few highly selective schools that have early action: single choice. Early action is non-binding.

c) Early decision (ED) - some schools allow student to apply for early decision. This means that the student is so confident in their choice that they do not and will not apply to any other school. At some schools, this is advantageous as it shows a true commitment to the university and the percentage of students admitted might be higher than during any other round of decision. However, since you are only applying to one school, families are never able to compare financial aid packages. Early decision is binding and students and the counselor must sign a form which indicates the student is not applying ED to any other school. This decision is a binding decision.

d) Regular decision (RD) - all private universities have regular decision. The deadline is anywhere from 2-5 months later than the early action round. This round of decisions is good for students who are interested in the school but might be waiting to have their fall grades available or might still be testing in the late fall. Schools promise that they will make their decision and notify students no later than April 1st so that students have a full month to decide about their final destination.

For more details about specific deadlines and rounds of decisions, it is wise to consult the individual website or your college counselor.

  I have been wait-listed. Now what?
As decisions begin coming in many students are confused, concerned, and unsure of what to do with an offer of the wait list.  It is important to remember not to be discouraged by this option.  Students offered the wait list are often students that were competitive in the admissions pool but due to space limitations at the time the college or university were not able to accept them.  If a student decides to accept the wait list offer she should also update her admissions file with a few items:
•    Send an updated résumé with any new honors and/or awards
•    Send new letters of recommendation
•    Include a short written statement about why you would want to attend the college or university

Students should make sure that this is a top 1st or 2nd choice school so they can honestly convey their desire to attend.  Also, keep in touch with the college or university admissions representative responsible for St. Agnes students via email so they are aware of your desire to attend their school. 

  How do I go about getting a teacher letter of recommendation?
Following senior group guidance each year, seniors are encouraged to sign up for individual appointments with their counselors. During that initial meeting, you and your counselor will discuss teacher letters of recommendation. You will not need a letter unless the school specifically states that it is a necessary part of your application. If it is, you and your counselor will determine which teacher is best suited to write that letter for you. Regardless of the number of schools you apply to, we will use the same teacher letter for all applications. You will be given a (lavender) form from your counselor with a series of questions that you will answer about the class you took with the letter-writing teacher. Teachers will not write for students without the answers to the questions. You are also required to give the teacher 30 days advanced notice so that they have sufficient time to write your letter before your first deadline. In a few situations, you might need two teachers to write for you. You would once again answer the questions posed on the lavender form and ask the second teacher to write for you as well.
  Should I prepare for the ACT and SAT?
Traditionally, students that are performing well in their classes should do well on an ACT because the ACT is a curriculum based test. We do not see the necessity for an ACT preparation course. We do however; encourage students to become familiar with the format of the test prior to taking it. You can accomplish this in various ways; downloading practice tests from the ACT website (, purchasing an ACT book at the local bookstore, or even reviewing your PLAN test booklet and score results. The SAT tests your critical thinking and problem solving skills and so there are preparation options for an SAT. Students can enroll in test preparation courses through many test preparation companies. The Guidance Department does not prefer one company over another and we have many resources available to help you determine the best option for you. Students can also use private tutors, websites, or books and CD-roms. These test preparation options vary in cost depending on the type. Due to the time and monetary commitment, we consider test preparation for the SAT to be a family decision. If a family decides that test preparation is necessary, we recommend students begin preparation in January or February of their junior year. It is better to prepare closer to the time they will take their first test and test preparation courses can be as long as 6 week sessions.
  What should I know about the ACT?
The ACT is one of the two college entrance tests used by colleges and universities as part of the admissions decisions. Unlike the SAT, the ACT is an achievement test. The four sections of the ACT measure curricular learning in English, Mathematics, Science and Reading. There is an optional Writing section to the ACT that we require of our students since most all colleges and universities require it of students applying to their institution. Students register to take the ACT at Since it is an achievement test, we consider the April and June test dates to be the best test dates for our juniors. It is wise to consider two things when registering to take the test. First – register early. Student have a much better chance of getting their first choice test site if they register at least one month before the actual registration deadline. Secondly, because many schools will super score, it is a good idea to release the spring junior test scores to the 4 schools that are at the top of the list in the spring of the junior year. As part of the registration fee, students are allowed to send the scores to 4 schools for no additional cost. Not only will a family save money but we have found that many of our students take 2 ACT tests and if a school super scores; they will take the best sub scores from each test and create their own composite score. The process of super scoring can work to a student’s advantage if a school has a record of all of their ACT scores and they take the best sub scores.
  What should I know about the SAT?
The SAT is one of the two college entrance tests used by colleges and universities as part of the admission decision. The SAT tests the subject matter learned by students in high school and how well they apply that knowledge—the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college. The SAT consists of three sections: critical reading, mathematics, and writing. Students register to take the SAT at Because the SAT assesses subject matter learned in high school and problem solving skills we consider the March test date to be the best option for juniors to begin testing. Overall, there are three test dates in the spring semester that juniors can choose to test. It is wise to consider two things when registering to take the test. First – register early. Students have a much better chance of getting their first choice test site if they register at least one month before the actual registration deadline. Secondly, because many schools will super score, it is a good idea to release the spring junior test scores to the 4 schools that are at the top of the list in the spring of the junior year. As part of the registration fee, students are allowed to send the scores to 4 schools for no additional cost. Not only will a family save money but we have found that many of our students take 2 SAT tests and if a school super scores, they will take the best score in each section from each individual testing date and create the best overall score. The process of super scoring can work to a student’s advantage if a school has a record of all of their SAT scores.
  What should I know about the SAT Subject Tests?
SAT Subject Tests are the only national admission tests that measure students' knowledge and skills in particular subject areas, and their ability to apply that knowledge. They are closely linked to the high school curriculum. The SAT Subject Tests give students an additional opportunity to distinguish themselves and showcase their skills in a particular subject area. Traditionally, not all colleges and universities require subject tests as part of their admissions application; more often the schools that will require these additional tests will be highly selective schools such as Rice, Vanderbilt, and the Ivy League schools. It is important that students look at each college and university’s website to determine if these tests are necessary. Students register to take the SAT subject tests at Because these tests measure students’ knowledge in particular subjects, we encourage students to consider choosing subject tests based on any honors/AP courses they may be taking. We also recommend that students register to take these tests in May or June of their junior year (or sophomore year if they are in AP World History) since they will be studying for their AP exams at the same time and they will be able to prepare for both. It is wise to consider two things when registering to take the test. First – register early. Students have a much better chance of getting their first choice test site if they register at least one month before the actual registration deadline. Secondly, although many schools that require subject tests only require 2 subjects, we encourage students to take three subject tests to give them variety and options. Students can choose to send a cumulative test score report that will send their SAT test scores along with their SAT subject tests.
  Why haven't my ACT/SAT scores been uploaded to Naviance?
After taking a standardized test, such as the ACT or SAT, scores are usually available to students within about 2 weeks. If a student has entered the St. Agnes CEEB code (443420) with their registration information, then St. Agnes will receive the test scores. It usually takes 10 days after the student receives their results for the counseling department to get a “paper” copy. Ten days after that, we usually receive a “disk” with results that we can upload into Naviance. It can take over 30 days from when a student actually tests to when results can be posted in Naviance.
  What is Naviance?
Naviance is a web-based college counseling tool that allows St. Agnes Academy to organize the application process for its students. The site also stores historical data regarding the success SAA students have had applying to individual colleges, providing current students with perspectives on realistic college options. Naviance is a central site to organize the research necessary for a successful college process, offering information about each school and direct links to pertinent websites.
  How can I, as a student, access Naviance?
In your freshman year, you received a registration code from your counselor to access Naviance. Once you have registered, you will only need your school email address and password that you created to enter Naviance. You can log on to Naviance’s Family Connection from the St. Agnes Academy website. If you have forgotten your password, click on “forgot your password?” and an email will be sent to your SAA account with the necessary information. If you are still having difficulty logging in to your account, email your counselor so she can reset the account for you.
  Why can’t parents directly access their daughter’s Naviance account?
Your daughter has received the log in and password information with the expectation that she is to be responsible for her college process. Parents may view Naviance as a guest and still access scholarship and scattergram information. You may email your daughter’s counselor for the guest password. If you wish to view your daughter’s individual Naviance account, you will need to ask her to allow you access.
  What is a scattergram?
A scattergram is a diagram that shows and tracks admission information of St. Agnes students to various colleges and universities. Students cannot access this information until junior year. It is a fairly accurate way of measuring your chances at schools around the country. Keep in mind that the scattergrams only capture two data records: GPA and test scores (ACT and/or SAT). This information does not include the rigor of a student’s curriculum, the quality of writing demonstrated in essays, or extracurricular information, other important factors in the college admission process.
  Where do the data points on the scattergrams come from?
Each data point on a scattergram represents a student from St. Agnes Academy who applied to that particular college within the last four years. Offering recent SAA results in graphical form offers the most accurate insight to our current students on their own chances for acceptance at a particular institution.
  What does the box on the scattergram represent?
The box represents the average accepted SAT and GPA for that particular college. (Note the SAT is still using only a 1600 scale – gathered from the critical reading and math sections only.)
  What if the scattergram shows random acceptances deep inside the box?
Outliers often represent students who offered a significant “hook” to a certain college. When using a scattergram to analyze your chances at a particular school, it is important to ignore the outliers and make appropriate comparisons with the majority of the data points.
  What if a college does not have a scattergram?
That means that St. Agnes has not had enough applicants in the last four years to warrant a scattergram. A scattergram will appear only if a student has applied to that school in the last four years.

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