College Update HeaderVol. 6                                                 November 2016                                                             No. 3                            


The fall continues to be busy as we meet with seniors and college admissions representatives. We continue to hear loud and clear from the colleges that grades in college preparatory classes and the rigor of a student’s courses are two of the biggest factors a college considers when analyzing a student’s application. As we head towards the end of the fall term, it is crucial that all students put forth their best effort, especially on final exams.

This month we started our monthly college counseling class with the juniors. Below you can find more detailed information about the classes. 

Finally as seniors start to send out applications it is important to remember that students are responsible for sending applications, test scores, supplements, application fees, and any Early Decision agreement forms. If you have any questions, contact us.

This month's articles:

  • For Senior Parents: Application Reminder, The Final List; Be Kind to Seniors Month; Applying for Aid; College Funding Kit
  • For Junior Parents: College Counselor Assignments; Introduction to the College Counseling Curriculum; December College Counseling Class: What to Expect; Standardized Testing Information
  • For All Parents: Peter Van Buskirk Visit

We hope your family has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and as always please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Best wishes,

Sean Sheehan

Director of College Counseling

Peter Van Buskirk Event - Required for the Class of 2018 & 2019

This is another reminder that we will host, The Admission Game, an interactive presentation on the college admission process on Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m. in the Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center. The presenter, Peter Van Buskirk, returns to LA for the third year to give families insight as to what happens to an application behind closed doors. You will become a member of an admissions committee as you review four candidates’ credentials. You will debate their strengths and weaknesses and vote to determine who gets in. The event is open to all parents and is a required event for students in the Class of 2018 and Class of 2019.

Peter is an author, motivational speaker and a former Dean of Admission. A twenty-five year veteran of the selective college admissions process, Peter is dedicated to helping families find student-centered solutions in college planning. He has written books on applying to college and his articles have appeared in the The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Family Circle. We hope you can make it to this special event.

Senior Parents: Application Reminder

The following message was sent out to all seniors from the College Office:


A FINAL REMINDER: You are responsible for sending applications, test scores, supplements, application fees, and any Early Decision agreement forms.


As you start to send in your applications it is important that you are vigilant about checking your email for messages from the colleges where you have applied. They should be sending you an email confirming that they have received your application and they will also notify you if you are missing any application materials. If you receive an email saying you are missing a piece of your application let your counselor know so he or she can follow up immediately to insure the college has all of your application materials. Please note, it can often take one to two weeks for a college to update the status of materials they have received from us. 


Also please know that a college can’t access our materials until you have submitted your Common Application. Therefore, if you have a December 1 deadline, it would probably be in your best interest to try to submit the application before the deadline, so the colleges can pull our materials and notify you if they are missing anything. Please feel free to speak to any of us if you have any questions.

Parents of Seniors: College Funding Kit

This year we have partnered with the Smart Track College Funding Kit to help parents as they consider how best to pay for college. During Parents' Weekend Ron Foisy from the College Funding Kit met individually with families to discuss the financial aid process. The parents of juniors and seniors have been registered with the Smart Track College Funding Kit at no charge. The junior and senior parents should have received an email from the Smart Track College Funding Kit explaining how to access the many useful tools they have to offer. If you did not receive the email or are having trouble registering, you can email them at or call them at 1-800-863-9440 and ask for Emily. You can also use the link below to get started.

Smart Track College Funding Kit

Parents of Seniors: Applying for Aid

The dates are rapidly approaching when you need to apply for financial aid for your son or daughter. The two most common forms that you must complete are the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service). Both are used to determine the amount of money a family is expected to contribute to the price of attending a postsecondary institution. The results of the FAFSA are used in determining Federal Pell Grants, work study and loan amounts. The FAFSA is required of every applicant.

The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is a fee-based application distributed by the College Board. It is designed to give private member institutions of the College Board a closer look into the finances of a student and family, and is therefore more detailed than the FAFSA. The CSS PROFILE is required by many private colleges and universities to determine your eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as the institution's own grants, loans and scholarships.

The biggest differences between the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA are:

  • Submission dates: The CSS PROFILE can be submitted in the fall; FAFSA has been available since October 1.
  • Specific questions: The CSS PROFILE contains questions specific to the school or program you're applying to; FAFSA contains the same questions for everyone.
  • Different methodology: The CSS PROFILE determines your financial need differently than the FAFSA, taking into account such factors as home equity. In general, the CSS PROFILE asks for more detailed information than the FAFSA.
  • Minimum student contribution: The CSS PROFILE requires this; the FAFSA doesn't.
  • Greater reliance on professional judgment: The CSS PROFILE gives financial aid counselors greater freedom to grant aid based on a student's particular circumstances.
  • Cost: CSS PROFILE costs $5 plus $18 for each school or scholarship program selected; the FAFSA, as the name implies, is free.
Parents of Seniors: The Final List

We will be mailing home a final college list for seniors during the week of December 12. A letter containing important information about the list and the applications will be included. The time between now and winter break should be used to help finalize your student's college list. Students should speak with their counselor before they leave for winter break to insure that their list is complete and that they are fully aware of deadlines. It is worth repeating again that students are responsible for sending all applications and supplements as well as their test scores directly from the testing agency to the colleges.

Parents of Seniors: It's Be Kind to Seniors Month - Dealing with Stress

November is one of those months in the life of a senior when the world can suddenly seem far too busy and confusing, and stress levels mount. Deadlines loom, essays are only half-finished, the Common Application website keeps quitting just as vital information is being put in, and people, real or imagined, are nagging from all sides to “get it in!” It’s meltdown time.

The seniors need support from all of us at this point. It comes in different forms: Sometimes supporting your children through the preparation of applications means sitting down and checking every line with them; for others, it’s a time to lay back and let the student work at his or her own pace, just handing over the credit card to pay the fees when the time comes. Take your cue from your child, and try to resist the temptation to nag unless you’re quite sure he or she is falling behind. If that happens, please call your child’s college counselor, and we’ll help take care of the problem as best we can. If we think things are on track, we’ll tell you. On the other hand, we have no problem saying, “Mom and Dad are right—get it done if you want a place to go next year!”

Information for Junior Parents

College Counselor Assignments

Juniors began small group college meetings during the week of October 31. In this meeting juniors registered for Naviance and completed a counselor preference sheet asking them to list their top two choices for a counselor. We do our best to ensure that students are assigned to one of their choices; they will be notified who their counselor is before they head home for vacation in December pending their completion of a Student College Questionnaire in Naviance that we assigned during this meeting. We will be holding the second small group meeting with the Class of 2018 in December to give an overview of the college process and to review PSAT scores. They will start to meet individually with their counselor in January.

Information for Junior Parents

College Counseling Curriculum

Starting this month, we launched our curriculum plan for our juniors. We believe that our students benefit from specific instruction on various topics related to applying to college. With more students applying either Early Action or Early Decision, we see the need to do more to help juniors get ready to complete application forms properly. Juniors will attend one college counseling class a month, which will be scheduled during a free block or an M/X block. The classes are mandatory commitments.

These class meetings, which will also provide time for students to work on their essays and applications with support from us, will continue through the end of their senior year. We welcome any feedback you have on the classes.

Here is a tentative list of topics that will be covered each month:

  • November: Register for Naviance; Personality Survey; begin Student College Questionnaire; Importance of registering for the SAT and ACT (student must register on his or her own for the SAT and ACT); Practice ACT on December 5
  • December: Student College Questionnaire due; overview of the college process; review PSAT scores; complete the College Interest Survey
  • January: Full introduction to Naviance
  • February: What to do on a college visit; interview tips; writing your own college recommendation
  • April: Starting your college essay
  • May: Finishing a first draft of the college essay; begin the Common Application
  • September: Common Application workshop
  • October: Common Application; essay and supplement work day


Information for Junior Parents

What to expect from the December College Counseling Meeting

In December we will have our second round of small group meetings with juniors in the college office. The curriculum began in November and continues on a monthly basis through their senior year (See “College Counseling Curriculum”). Here is what your students can expect from their meeting in December.

1) Overview of the College Process: Learning, Defining, Exploring, and Creating

  • Learning: About yourself, colleges, search tools, and how to effectively use academic skills in this process (reading, writing, critical thinking, speaking, and organization)
  • Defining: Campus culture, academic culture, location, opportunities, prestige, selectivity, and fit
  • Exploring: Naviance, books, search engines, campus visits, college fairs, and meetings with your counselor
  • Creating: Priorities, college lists, testing plan, self-recommendation, and essays

2) Review of their PSAT scores, and review the importance of taking the SAT and ACT during junior year.

3) Overview of the College Counseling Curriculum

College Counseling Handbook

Please remember, if you want more detailed information about the college application process, the College Counseling Handbook, our comprehensive college handbook, is always available on our web page on the Lawrence Academy website. The book describes in detail our approach to applying to college. The information in the handbook is organized to take you through all of the steps of the college application process. You can select specific chapters or download a PDF of the entire book. Please click on the following link to access it: College Counseling Handbook

Information for Junior Parents

Standardized Testing Information

Please register your LA student as soon as possible for the Lawrence Academy testing site if he or she wishes to take the SAT and ACT at LA. Our site is very desirable and seats fill up fast.

Hopefully at this point, your student is already registered for the December 3 SAT. The late registration deadline is November 22. 

The ACT on February 11, 2017 will likely fill all seats by the end of November 2016. Please register now if your student would like to take it at LA! 

Refer to (SAT registration) and (ACT registrtaion) for registration information. Please note: Standby ticket holders are NOT guaranteed a seat.

As we have mentioned in previous communications, if you believe your child qualifies for extended time you should contact Cindy Blood, Interim Director of Academic Support, to discuss the process of applying for extended time. This process can take at least 7 weeks so families must reach out to Cindy in a timely manner.

Dates To Remember


  • Nov 18 late registration for Dec 10 ACT
  • Nov 22 late registration for Dec 3 SAT
  • Dec 3 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
  • Dec 6 Peter Van Buskirk (required for students in Classes 2018 & 2019)
  • Dec 10 ACT
  • Dec 21 regular registration deadline for Jan 21 SAT
  • Jan 6 regular registration deadline for Feb 11 ACT
  • Jan 10 late registration for Jan 21 SAT
  • Jan 20 late registration for Feb ACT
  • Jan 21 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
  • Feb 10 regular registration deadline for March 11 SAT
  • March 11 SAT not offered @LA
  • Feb 11 ACT @LA
  • Feb 28 late registration deadline for March 11 SAT
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