Guidance Dept. - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?
What is the difference in the actual ACT and SAT tests?
What about guessing on the ACT or SAT?
What about the SAT and ACT at Mt. Vernon?
How important is the FAFSA?
How difficult is it to fill out the FAFSA?
What about GPA and Class Rank at MVHS?
How is it determined who speaks at graduation?
What about college applications and college visits?
What about tutoring at the high school?
Can a student leave school 1/2 days for work?
What about leaving school at mid-term?
What about scholarships?
Who participates in the Senior Honors Night?
What about scholarship search services which charge a fee?
What about proprietary schools such as ITT and Indiana Business College?
I�m a varsity athlete. Should I apply to the NCAA Clearinghouse?
What is the difference between state and private colleges?
What about the drop/add policy at Mt. Vernon High School?
Which SAT test should I take: Reasoning or Subject?

Questions & Answers

Q.1
What is the difference between the SAT and ACT? Back to Top
A
The SAT, based in New Jersey, has been around longer and is more familiar to residents of Indiana. The ACT, based in Iowa, is the test necessary to attend college in Kentucky or Illinois. Since MVHS students have in-state tuition possibilities at the Eastern Illinois Community Colleges, Murray State, and Western Kentucky we have a higher percentage than most of the rest of Indiana taking the ACT. Either the ACT or SAT is fine for admission to an Indiana college.
Q.2
What is the difference in the actual ACT and SAT tests? Back to Top
A
SAT requires writing; with the ACT writing is optional. ACT has a science analysis, problem solving portion while SAT does not. ACT math accounts for 1/4 of the total score in Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. SAT math is 1/3 of the total score with Basic Geometry and Algebra II. ACT is scored 1-36 for each test with a 1-12 for the essay. SAT maximum is 2400, 3 scores of 200-800 each section and 20-80 for writing multiple choice and 0-12 for the essay.
Q.3
What about guessing on the ACT or SAT? Back to Top
A
You have no penalty for a wrong answer on the ACT. On the SAT you get 1/4 point penalty for the wrong answer (except on math grid questions)
Q.4
What about the SAT and ACT at Mt. Vernon? Back to Top
A
MVHS offers both the SAT and ACT twice a year at our school. We generally give the ACT in October and February with the SAT in December and May. The dates vary as we try not to give the tests during a vacation weekend or when we have a major conflict. The high school code for Mt. Vernon High School is 152460. ACT test center code is 164330. SAT is 15580. We have a capacity of 250 so it is unlikely we will ever be full. Make sure you register before the deadline. Evansville students and students from Posey Co and Illinois often use our test site. Testing always begins at 8:00 a.m. and you enter by the doors next to the front office, follow the signs. Make sure also you are not in a position of having to change test centers. Both testing companies charge a fee for this.
Q.5
How important is the FAFSA? Back to Top
A
The FAFSA is very important if you need money to attend college. To earn a Pell Grant you must meet income criteria but the FAFSA is important for other reasons. Most students take out loans and the FAFSA sets up your availability to low interest fixed Stafford Loans. Other grants and work study programs are only accessed through the FAFSA. If you are a 21st Century Scholar you must make a FAFSA application. The window to complete the FAFSA is January 1st to March 10th.
Q.6
How difficult is it to fill out the FAFSA? Back to Top
A
Not difficult but you need accurate information. You will need your income information. If you do not complete your taxes usually until the last minute you can still complete the FAFSA by March 10th using your W2 forms. Mt. Vernon High School always has a financial aide night for parents in January on how to fill out the FAFSA and to answer specific questions. Ivy Tech always has a Sunday program in February as well to help with completing the FAFSA. They really prefer online submission of the FAFSA. Find a pin number you can remember to complete the FAFSA online or you will need to mail the signature page.
Q.7
What about GPA and Class Rank at MVHS? Back to Top
A
GPA is on a 4.0 scale. An A is worth 4 pts, B is worth 3 pts, C is worth 2 pts, D is worth 1 pt, and a U is 0 pts. Add the point values of each semester grade, divide by the number of classes attempted and you have your GPA. GPA's are cumulative, meaning they begin with the 9th grade semester grades. Only semester grades count and the pluses and minus grades do not count toward GPA. Rank is simply the highest GPA in a particular class (9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th) of students. We do not have weighted grades. Ranking students based on non weighted GPA causes many students to tie for a ranking number.
Q.8
How is it determined who speaks at graduation? Back to Top
A
All seniors with a 3.9 and above GPA are invited to audition to deliver a commencement address. Seniors are given parameters of the address, a few weeks of preparation, and a chance to sign up and give their speech before a selection committee. A maximum of three commencement addresses are chosen by committee.
Q.9
What about college applications and college visits? Back to Top
A
It is always best, if possible, to make an application to a college or university in the fall of the senior year. Some schools and programs like Purdue Engineering have specific dates an application must be submitted. We have many paper applications but some universities, like IU, do not send paper applications anymore. They want you to apply online then give the counselor the "counselor page" to complete and mail along with the official transcript. Universities want our institution (Mt. Vernon High School) to send the official transcript to their institution (university admissions office). The counseling office will send the official transcript along with the application and check, unless the student is paying for the admission fee by credit card online. College visits are very important. Mt. Vernon High School encourages seniors to visit college campuses during the college selection process. Most colleges, trade and technical schools, and other education programs conduct organized visitation days for high school students on Saturdays and Sundays. Students are encouraged to attend college visitation programs on weekends whenever possible. Prior to May 1, Seniors are allowed two(2) college visitation days; Juniors are allowed one(1) college visitation day during second semester. These absences will not count against the Renaissance Perfect Attendance and the 7/14 day Attendance policies. These days will count as absences on the student’s official attendance record. The student must complete a College Visit form and return it to school prior to the absence. The College Visit form further explains the procedure.
Q.10
What about tutoring at the high school? Back to Top
A
We have tutoring available after school, daily, for anyone who wants it. Absolutely free!! All you have to do is sign the clipboard in the counseling office. We have hired students who are really good in math and science. If you can't make it after school Rose Hulman has a terrific (but underutilized) tutoring program. Just call 1-877-275-7673. They have a copy of your high school textbook.
Q.11
Can a student leave school 1/2 days for work? Back to Top
A
We have the Career Internship program whereby a student can get credit and be excused for work if the work is career oriented and the student is accepted into the School to Work Program. We have applications in the counseling office for this. Not every job is acceptable, it must be career oriented.
Q.12
What about leaving school at mid-term? Back to Top
A
We have a program where students can meet credit requirements 1st semester of their senior year and not return 2nd semester. A conference needs to be held with the student, their parent, and their counselor by August 1 prior to their senior year. An application has to be completed outlining the reasons for wanting to not attend school second semester. After the conference, the application is then sent to the building principal for consideration. If a student is approved they must have Government, English, and two senior level English classes first semester (unless they have taken these previously) of the senior year. They will still be allowed to participate in graduation.
Q.13
What about scholarships? Back to Top
A
Numerous state and national scholarships are available throughout the year. The Counseling Newsletter (distributed in English classes) lists the scholarships which come into the counseling office and some free scholarship search sites. Posey County Community scholarship (including the Lilly) applications are generally available about November 15th and usually due the last week of January to the counseling office. The local scholarship (which we have thirty different categories and have MVHS senior winners) applications are usually available February 1st and due to the counseling office the Monday after spring break. We will also advertise scholarships on the morning announcements. The Posey Co Community Scholarships are traditionally completed through a process on-line. The local scholarships have paper applications (and descriptions) available in the counseling office beginning February 1st.
Q.14
Who participates in the Senior Honors Night? Back to Top
A
This is a cap/gown evening occurring a Monday evening in May. If a student is receiving either an Academic Cord (3.5 gpa and above) or a scholarship they will be notified by mail encouraging their attendance. Academic Honors Diploma candidates will also be honored with a special medallion. Students are not told what scholarships they are receiving in the letter just that an honor will be presented to them. Many of the honors given from specific classes will be awarded in the daytime honors programs. All seniors can come to the Senior Honors Night but only the students receiving an award that evening will be mailed a letter.
Q.15
What about scholarship search services which charge a fee? Back to Top
A
Look out for these!!!! So many free scholarship search services are available (see the counseling newsletter) you do not have to pay for a scholarship search service. You could be paying for something which is free already.
Q.16
What about proprietary schools such as ITT and Indiana Business College? Back to Top
A
Sometimes state schools such as Ivy Tech, Vincennes, or the community colleges in neighboring Illinois and Henderson, Ky have the same programs at far, far less expense. These programs are for profit and their financial aide programs are set up differently. They can also cause considerable debt. My advice always is to look around and see if a state supported program has the same thing unless money/debt is not an object. Make an informed decision by shopping around a bit.
Q.17
I�m a varsity athlete. Should I apply to the NCAA Clearinghouse? Back to Top
A
To play Division I and Division II athletics you must be determined eligible after you graduate from high school with the NCAA Clearinghouse. This is based on a combination of grades in core courses (English, Math, World Language, Science, Social Studies) and SAT/ACT scores. The cost is $50 and this must be completed before you graduate. Remember not everyone is good enough to play scholarship athletics at a Division I or Division II program.
Q.18
What is the difference between state and private colleges? Back to Top
A
State schools are generally much larger and much less expensive. Our state college system in Indiana includes University of Southern Indiana, Ball State, Indiana State, Indiana University, Purdue University, IUPUI, Ivy Tech, and Vincennes. Private schools are like U of Evansville, Rose Hulman, Hanover, Oakland City, Notre Dame (check the newsletter for websites and toll free numbers). Private colleges are smaller and often have specialties. Rose Hulman, for instance, is one of the finest engineering schools in the United States. Notre Dame has an international academic reputation. The costs of attending private schools are much, much greater than state colleges. Private colleges often have excellent scholarship programs to help equalize the cost. Sometimes the smaller size of the private school is worth the added debt but you need to make an informed decision. Visit the school and talk frankly and honestly to financial aide departments. Murray State, Western Kentucky, and Southern Illinois are all state universities that give (near) in-state tuition rates to Posey County residents who qualify academically.  The community colleges of eastern Illinois also have some excellent programs at in-state costs.
Q.19
What about the drop/add policy at Mt. Vernon High School? Back to Top
A
A student can drop a class and take another class up to the third meeting of the class. You can drop a class and add a study hall 1 week after the mailing date of the first 9 week referrals (about six weeks from the beginning of school). After this date you stay in the class until the end of the semester. We will pass out second semester schedules before Thanksgiving and students will have a window before Christmas to drop a class for another class we have available semester II. The number of classes available semester II are limited.
Q.19 Which SAT test should I take: Reasoning or Subject? Back to Top
A
A. Students should sign up for the SAT Reasoning Test (sometimes also called the SAT I test).  This is the test that covers Critical Reading, Math, and Writing, and is used for admission to colleges and universities.  The SAT Subject Tests (sometimes called SAT II) are exams that cover specific subjects (e.g., Biology, foreign language, etc.).  Only a select few schools require subject tests, while the overwhelming majority do not.  Be sure to choose carefully when you register!  CollegeBoard will not refund your money or allow you to change if you register for the wrong test.  Check with your counselor if you have questions.