Vol. 6 January 2017 No. 5
We hope your family had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season. We are entering a busy time in our office as we are helping the seniors finish their college applications and we are starting to meet individually with juniors. We also will continue our monthly college counseling classes with the juniors. This month we will talk about the idea of 'Defining' the various aspects of the college search process such as campus and academic culture, opportunities, prestige, selectivity, and fit. We will also show them the many features of Naviance, the web based software we use to manage the college process. You can find a more detailed description of Naviance below.
Parents of seniors should have received an email with a link to a brief evaluative survey. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey as we value your input and feedback regarding the college counseling program and use your responses to shape the work that we do with students.
We want to remind the parents of juniors that our annual Junior Class College Counseling Day will take place on Saturday, February 4. A formal invitation was mailed home this month. We hope to see as many of you as possible on that day.
As always please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions about the college process. It continues to be a pleasure to work with you.
This month's articles:
- For Senior Parents: Early Decision Results; FINANCIAL AID APPLICATIONS!; Senior Grades
- For Junior Parents: Junior College Counseling Day; Role of the Parent; Overview of Junior Meetings; All about Naviance; SAT and ACT Reminder
- For All Parents: Summer Opportunities Fair; College Counseling Handbook
Director of College Counseling
Students who applied to a school Early Decision I have received a decision on their application, or will be shortly. Students who applied to a school Early Decision II should receive a decision in January or February. It is important for students and parents to understand their obligations as they relate to Early Decision. One of three decisions is possible: Accept, Defer, or Deny.
An accepted student is ethically committed to attending the college and must withdraw any other active applications. Students should immediately send their deposit to the school and respond that they will be attending. Next, they need to contact the colleges where they have sent other applications and inform the colleges that they no longer wish to be considered for admission to that school.
Students who are deferred are simply put back in the pile and looked at again with the regular pool of applicants. If deferred, they are no longer committed to attending the college should they be accepted later in the year.
Some colleges have a policy of denying Early Decision applicants they deem not competitive in their applicant pool. While an outright denial can hurt, it does relieve the anxiety of having to wait another four or five months for a decision. Obviously, a student may submit only one Early Decision application at a time.
If you are a parent of a senior and you are applying for financial aid, remember that the FAFSA has been available since October 1. You can find the FAFSA application at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. In addition, some schools also require the CSS profile, which may be completed at any time. You can find the CSS Profile application at https://profileonline.collegeboard.org/prf/index.jsp. It is the student and family's responsibility to understand all financial aid application requirements as well as to submit the needed materials.
Another great resource for Massachusetts residents is the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) at www.mefacounselor.org. Other states are likely to have similar resources if you contact your state’s Department of Education.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We would remind you, too, that Chapter 8: Paying for College in 'The College Counseling Handbook' has some excellent information about financial aid.
Many colleges will ask for a mid-year school report. We have sent in a mid-year report form for every student. If winter mid-trimester grades are particularly good, students may request that we send those grades to their colleges. Colleges will be told that these are not grades of record, however, and that these grades will be superseded by second trimester grades at the beginning of March. Second trimester grade reports for seniors will be sent to all colleges to which they have applied and colleges may receive these grades before they have made final decisions about students’ applications. Please encourage and remind your seniors to continue to do well in their classes. Final year grades are sent in June to whichever college the student has decided to attend, as required by all colleges.
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.
Save Saturday, February 4, 2017, when we look forward to welcoming you to our Junior Class College Counseling Day. You should have received an invitation to this event. On that Saturday, there will be several opportunities for you and your student to get much helpful information about the college application process. The first part of the day is for both you and your son or daughter, as we begin with a panel of college admissions counselors who will answer questions from you and our students. This year we will be hosting representatives from Babson College, Colby College, High Point University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute; we are excited that we will be able to hear different perspectives from admissions counselors at such a wide-ranging group of schools.
The students will leave after the panel discussion, but we will continue with the program by introducing you to the Naviance Family Connection, our internet-based system for managing the college application process. Your registration with Naviance will allow you to research college data as well as compare recent results of applications by Lawrence Academy students to particular colleges. After that, we hope you will stay for a Question & Answer session with the college counselors. Lunch will be available in the dining hall following the college counselor Q & A session.
Event Schedule for Saturday, February 4, 2017:
Location: Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center (Registration in the Conant Gallery)
- 8:30 a.m. Registration and Refreshments
- 9:00 a.m. Conversation with college admission officers (Note: Students in the Class of 2018 are required to attend.)
- 10:30 a.m. Break
- 11:00 a.m. Introduction to Naviance Family Connection
- 11:30 a.m. Q & A with the College Counselors
Lunch will be available in the dining hall following the College Counselor Q & A
We are often asked the question, what role should parents play in the college application process? This is often a difficult question to answer as there is no easy answer. A few years ago, at our Junior College Counselor Day an admissions representative offered the sage advice to, “Let your child drive the bus when it comes to the college application process.” This answer scares many parents who fear their child is not ready to drive the bus. While we agree with the advice to let your child “drive the bus,” we certainly want you to grab the wheel if the bus is headed for a tree. You should be part of your child’s college process in a supportive role.
You can help your child with your support, encouragement and guidance. In our college handbook, The College Counseling Handbook, we clearly outline the responsibilities for parents in the college application process. Please take the time to read them below and to remember the suggestions as you embark on this exciting journey with your child.
- Be open with your child. Discuss college plans, including the financial picture and any restrictions, openly and honestly with your child early in the process. Share these thoughts with the college counselor either by phone, in writing, or in person.
- Support and communicate with your child and his or her counselor.
- Complete the Parent Questionnaire. This form, which is available on Naviance (www.connection.naviance.com/lawrence), should be completed by the end of the junior year. This form adds greatly to our understanding of your child, which in turn enables us to write a better, more comprehensive school statement.
- Be aware of deadlines and other commitments.
- Help your child send out test scores to colleges. The student, not the college office, is responsible for sending test scores to the colleges that require them.
- Help to plan visits. Assist your child in visiting colleges if possible.
- Fill out and file financial aid forms, if applying for financial aid in a timely manner.
- Keep talking with your child. Check with your son or daughter periodically about the progress of his/her college application process, testing, and information distributed at school. But please remember, too, that your child should own the college admission process. Help your child to recognize and celebrate strengths. A weekly college check-in between parents and students is a good way to balance the need to stay on top of the process with the goal of encouraging students to take responsibility for the process.
- Be familiar with the policies and recommendations in The College Counseling Handbook.
- Communicate with the College Counseling Office. We are here to support and help you too.
As a final note, we are always available to talk with you about your child and their college plans. We look forward to working in partnership with you as we support your child through the college application process.
All about Naviance
Many of you have probably heard someone connected with our office mention Naviance: “Just look it up on Naviance.” “Do a search on Naviance.” “Is it in Naviance yet?” Your students may also be talking about Naviance as they registered and began using their Naviance accounts in our November college counseling group meetings. In our January group meetings we will walk students through the process of searching and researching schools as well as adding schools to a 'prospective college list'. Since you, the parents of the Class of 2018, will soon receive a password to your “section” of Naviance, the 'Family Connection', we thought this would be a good time to explain the system, what it does, and how we use it. We will do an additional “walk-through introduction” as part of the Junior Parents’ College Day on February 4.
“Naviance” is actually the name of a software company affiliated with Hobson, a major publisher of educational reference works. Lawrence’s college office, like those in many other secondary schools, uses Naviance’s two major components, Success and the Family Connection, web-based applications which are completely integrated with each other. Together, they comprise a group of sophisticated relational databases which allow both families and the college office staff to do college searches, keep detailed records of decisions, compare a student’s “numbers” with recently-accepted students at a particular college, and a great deal more.
Also associated with the Common Application, Naviance allows our office to store and send student records to colleges electronically: transcripts, teacher recommendations, counselor statements, school profiles and more. Over 90% of our students’ college applications are sent this way today. As parents, you will be able to log on to the Family Connection and keep track of your students’ applications: when they are sent, what is sent, what decisions are made, etc.
As in many other schools, the college counseling program at Lawrence depends on Naviance, and it has served us extremely well for over ten years. We hope you will find it as useful as we do.
Overview of Junior Meetings
We are starting individual meetings with juniors in January. By the end of the trimester in March, each junior will have met with his or her counselor at least one or two times.
Mainly exploratory in nature, these early meetings tend to focus on helping the students begin to understand their own wants, needs and priorities and on building, mainly at their initiative, a very preliminary list of schools that might be worth exploring. The list may be long or short at this point, and although we do pay attention to a student’s academic credentials, we are primarily concerned with helping juniors to find institutions that are potentially a good “fit” for them academically, socially, athletically, extracurricularly, and in any other ways that matter to an individual. While we will sometimes suggest specific schools, we want this initial list to come from the student as much as possible. We make sure to acquaint each junior with our college-search resources, both paper and electronic, and we show them in detail how to search for appropriate colleges.
As you will hear from us more than once, we strongly urge all juniors to visit a college campus or two over spring break. Like our early meetings, these visits should be purely exploratory: visit two or three different types of institutions—big university, small liberal arts college, business or technical school—to compare and contrast them and, perhaps, to help a student begin to define what kind of environment might be the best match. Just go on a scheduled tour at each college at this point; this is not the time to interview or to visit only “dream” schools. On other hand, don’t just drive through a campus; a college is far more than its buildings!
Individual conferences resume in April, with each junior meeting his or her counselor ideally once a month, but often times more than that, depending on the individual’s wants and needs. Over the course of the spring, each student will produce, with our guidance, a list of colleges of serious interest, at least some of which will be visited over the summer. Summer visits should include interviews when possible. We’ll write more on the summer later in the year.
SAT and ACT Reminder
Please register your LA student as soon as possible for the Lawrence Academy testing site if they wish to test at LA for the May 6 SAT. Our site is very desirable and seats fill up fast.
The deadline has passed to sign up for the February 11 ACT. Your student will need to sign up for an alternate testing location for either the April 8 or June 10 ACT. Refer to collegeboard.org (SAT) and actstudent.org (ACT) for registration information.
REMINDER: Summit Educational Group will run an additional SAT prep course on the LA campus to prepare students for the May 6, 2017 SAT. 6 class meetings will run between February 12, 2017 - April 30, 2017 (no classes will meet during Winterim or March break). Please contact Jenn Prince (JPrince@mytutor.com) at Summit Educational Group if you have questions or would like to sign up for the course. SUMMIT TEST PREP FLYER
An additional reminder about students who seek accommodations or extended-time testing for the SAT or ACT: You will need to begin this process by contacting Cindy Blood, Interim Director of Academic Support, at least seven weeks prior to the given test date. You can read more about this process in Chapter 3: Testing for College Admission in our College Counseling Handbook.
Please note: Standby ticket holders are NOT guaranteed a seat.
AP EXAM INFORMATION
Students are able to take AP exams on campus this spring. The dates offered by CollegeBoard are May 1, 2017 – May 5, 2017 and May 8, 2017 – May 12, 2017. Students should talk to Rachel Culley in the Studies Office if they would like more information about taking these exams. Materials are located in the Studies Office if you would like to understand more or you can visit www.collegeboard.org/apstudents.
Summer Opportunities Fair
On Sunday, January 22, 2017, Phillips Academy Andover is hosting a Summer Opportunities Fair which will also include information about Gap Year Programs. The Fair will draw representatives from over 100 local, national and international summer and gap year programs. The event is open to the public and is an excellent opportunity to learn about various summer enrichment programs. Please see the website below for more information:
Summer Opportunities Fair
College Counseling Handbook
Please remember, if you want more detailed information about the college application process, that 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.
- 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
- Jan 22 Summer Opportunities Fair @Phillips Academy Andover
- Feb 10 regular registration deadline for March 11 SAT (not offered at LA)
- Feb 11 ACT @LA
- Feb 28 late registration deadline for March 11 SAT (not offered at LA)
- March 3 regular registration for April 8 ACT (not offered at LA)
- March 11 SAT & Subject Tests (not offered at LA)
- March 17 late registration for April 8 ACT (not offered at LA)
- April 7 regular registration for May 6 SAT @LA
- April 8 ACT (not offered at LA)
- April 25 late registration for May 6 SAT @LA
- May 1-12: AP Exams on campus
- May 5 regular registration for June 10 ACT (not offered at LA)
- May 6 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- May 9 regular registration for June 3 SAT @LA
- May 19 late registration for June 10 ACT (not offered at LA)
- May 24 late registration for June 3 SAT @LA
- June 3 SAT & Subject Test @LA
- June 10 ACT (not offered at LA)