Burke Life
College Planning


List of 12 frequently asked questions.

  • When should high school students begin the college process?

    Every student should begin the college process as soon as they enter high school by focusing on maximizing their academic performance, getting involved in the life of the school and pursuing their individual interests. At Burke we make every effort to ensure that our students are preparing for the transition to college as soon as they arrive in the high school. 

    Students are encouraged by their teachers and academic advisors to successfully challenge themselves in the classroom. With a large number of options for clubs and other school activities Burke students are expected to get involved or start their own club.

    Our 11th grade students and parents meet with the college counselor in January to formally begin the college selection process.
  • How can I help my student identify the best match for college?

    The first step is to talk with your student and help them to identify their interests, likes and dislikes, and long term goals. Students should visit colleges and speak with the college counselor and teachers about the college experience to gain more insight. 

    Finally, we believe that the most important step in the college process is the campus visit. Our students are encouraged to make an extended visit and to reach out to faculty and students as well as admissions officials. They are also strongly advised to spend time off campus and take in the surrounding locality. 

    The goal is the ensure that students have a comprehensive view of the college and its setting before making a commitment.
  • What are the most important factors for a college in making an admissions decision?

    There are many factors that colleges consider in the selection process but the high school transcript is arguably the most critical factor. Other important factors are the student's extra-curricular activities, test scores, college essay and recommendations.

    Colleges also look to determine interest based on the number of campus visits, telephone calls and email exchanges. This is another reason why the campus visit is important, and getting your application in early.

    Finally, colleges want to know a students interests and passions which should be highlighted in their course work, academic performance as well as extra-curricular activities in and outside of school.
  • Does Burke rank its students for colleges?

    We do not rank students at Burke but we will provide an estimate based on GPA with our school profile. The traditional practice of ranking students is slowing declining in the local area and nationwide. 
  • What are the steps required to receive financial aid?

    Contact your school of interest to determine their financial aid policy and apply early!

    There are two types of financial aid, merit and need-based. Some colleges automatically screen admitted students for aid but there are some individual scholarships like the Emory Scholars or Jefferson Scholars program that require a separate application and process. Most schools screen admitted applicants for merit based aid but families should not make assumptions when it comes to scholarships and grants... ask the people in the financial aid office as well as academic departments. 

    Students looking to receive need-based aid must complete and submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in January of the senior year.  In addition, some schools require the CSS Profile and other financial aid forms.  The CSS Profile is available in October.  Colleges award need based aid after reviewing the appropriate forms to determine the family's expected family contribution (efc). 

    Again ask the financial officials at your school and apply early!
  • Please explain the early admissions program for college?

    Some of the more competitive colleges and universities offer students an early admission option. The two options available are Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED).

    The EA option allows a student who has applied early to receive an early notification of the admissions decision. Under the ED deadline students also receive an early notification, however there is a binding agreement between the student and college that stipulates the admitted student must enroll in that school and rescind all other applications. 

    Students and families should strongly weigh the advantages and disadvantages of applying ED before signing the agreement.
  • When should a student begin visiting colleges?

    In our opinion, it's never too early to begin introducing high school students to college. We encourage our families and students to visit a local college to attend an activity of interest such as a lecture, art exhibit or sporting event, and combine that with a walk/tour around campus. 

    This is a fun and informal way to initiate your student to a college campus. For many students these informal visits will serve to peak their curiosity and motivate them to want to see and do more on campus. 

    Most students will begin their formal college visits in the spring of their junior year.
  • Which teachers should write a letter of recommendation for college and how many do you need?

    Students should request recommendation letters from 2 academic teachers who they are familiar with, and who can positively comment on their academic ability, performance, and assess their likelihood for success in college. Most colleges require two letters, however there are a few institutions that require only one. Students should review the college application to determine the correct number and type of recommendation.
  • Do colleges prefer students to apply online or fill out a hard copy application?

    Most colleges will accept either a paper copy or electronic version if available. The trend with many schools is going towards the on-line version, which minimizes human error and expedites the application process. Schools familiar with Burke report that they receive approximately 95% of their applications on-line or electronically.
  • What are good topics for a college essay and when should students begin their preparation?

    The best essay topic is one that speaks about the student. A good college essay tells the reader something about the student that is not reflected in the official school documents or application. The ideal time to begin the college essay process is the summer leading into their senior year. We encourage our students to solicit the support of at least two individuals to review their college essay. An English teacher should always be one of the reviewers.
  • What colleges are most popular with Burke students?

    Our students are successfully enrolling in schools throughout the country concentrating on mostly small to medium sized liberal arts colleges in the northeast and Midwest. Recently more Burke students have been looking to public schools primarily because of the cost in comparison with a private institution.

    The most popular schools for Burke students have been Earlham College, Kenyon College, Northeastern University, Pitzer College, St. Mary's College of Maryland and the Universities of Maryland, Michigan, Pittsburgh and Vermont.
  • What is the role of the college counselor?

    The college counselors have two primary functions. First they are responsible for partnering with families and students to help create a plan of action for college. This plan will include goals and deadlines to enable the student to make the best choice for college. 

    Secondly, they act as liaisons and advocate for students with colleges. They represent the high school to colleges and work to support students seeking admission to their schools of choice.
Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.