Vol. 6 February 2017 No. 6
The month has been a busy one in the College Counseling Office. We have helped seniors complete their applications and have discussed with them any admissions decisions they may have received. We have been meeting individually with juniors as well. Every junior should have met with their counselor at least once by now. We held our fourth college class with the juniors in which we discussed the college list and college visits. We met with the sophomores on February 14 to discuss SAT Subject Tests. We also remind them of the importance of grades and being an involved member of the Lawrence Academy community. We also met with the seniors February 14 to remind them of the importance of our school rules throughout the remainder of the year, especially as they head into Winterim. See our article for senior parents below for more information about this particular meeting.
It was great to see many of the junior parents on February 4. We hope you found the day helpful, and we welcome you to share your feedback on the program with us.
Hopefully most of the juniors took the ACT with writing on February 11. Along with our work with the students, we continue to reach out to colleges.
This month's articles:
- For Senior Parents: Timely Information for Seniors; Winterim & Disciplinary Policies
- For Junior Parents: Junior College Day Admissions Panel & Presentation; Developing a Preliminary College List; College Visits; Pursuing the Arts in College; SAT and ACT Reminder
- For Sophomore Parents: Sophomores and Subject Tests
- For All Parents: The College Counseling Handbook
Best wishes and as always please free to contact us at any time.
Director of College Counseling
Seniors need to be reminded that second-term (March) grades are sent automatically to all colleges that have not yet made an admission decision on a student. We do not send them to schools that have already accepted a candidate, though they will go to the school the student attends as part of the final transcript.
The message in both these cases is clear: Seniors need to keep working hard through the winter term! Good winter grades can have a positive effect on admission decisions, while a decline may well do the opposite.
Finally, please remind your seniors to share all their admission decisions with the College Office; it is essential that we keep accurate and up-to-date records. It is very important, too, that seniors who have already enrolled in a college notify all the other institutions to which they have applied, either to withdraw an application (if there is no decision yet) or to decline an offer of admission. Also, if your child is awarded a merit scholarship, as many are, we like to keep track of those as well, for the benefit of future generations of Lawrence seniors.
Early warning on deposits: Every senior must send a deposit, usually of several hundred dollars, to the school he or she will attend. The official Candidates’ Reply Date is May 1, so deposits must be sent before that. No senior may send more than one deposit! It is wrong and unethical to do so, and we are obligated to inform the colleges when double-depositing has taken place. Furthermore, the College Counseling Office will send only one final transcript to college for each senior.
There is one possible exception to the double-deposit interdiction. If a student is accepted off a college’s waiting list after May 1, but has already deposited at another institution, a deposit must also be sent to the wait-list college if he or she decides to matriculate there. In such cases, which are fairly infrequent, the student must notify the first college in writing that he or she has been accepted elsewhere off the waiting list and will not be attending their institution. Please note that enrollment deposits are not refundable, so families will forfeit the first deposit.
It is worth noting again, that once a student has been accepted in the Early Decision I or II pool, he or she must withdraw all other applications and may not submit any new applications. If you are seeking financial aid, you need not withdraw other applications until a financial aid award has been received. The student, parent, and college counselor have all signed an agreement that abides by this practice. Please view the attached Common Application Early Decision Agreement if you would like to review the verbiage and feel free to reach out to your student's college counselor if you have questions.
On Wednesday, February 14, our office and the Dean of Students, Andrew Healy, met with the seniors to talk about Winterim. We reminded them that during Winterim they are subject to the rules of Lawrence Academy, which are outlined in the Omnibus Lucet. If a student commits an infraction that is a Level IV infraction during Winterim (or at any point in their remaining time as a Lawrence Academy student), they are obligated to notify the schools to which they have applied. If they have already been accepted at a school and will be attending that school they must let that school know. Additionally, Lawrence Academy will notify the affected colleges two weeks after the student is placed on a contract. We want to be sure that the students are absolutely clear on the policy before they head off for Winterim.
Developing a Preliminary College List
As students start to ponder college, the first step is for students to think about themselves and do a sincere self-evaluation. We bring up to them questions like: “What has worked for you in your schooling so far? How do you learn best? What are your favorite subjects? What do you like to do in your free time? What are the values that are most important to you?” Honestly answering these and other questions like them will help establish parameters and priorities for what they want to find in a college. As we began working with the juniors in November, we started them on the way to this self-study by having all students complete a personality inventory, fill out a questionnaire about their background and interests, and write a self-recommendation letter. Since then each student has met with his or her college counselor in one-on-one sessions to continue this discussion and talk about different types of colleges and universities.
The next step is to plan some visits to a range of institutions – big, small, specialized, generalized, etc. - taking a tour and sitting in on an information session. Even if students already have an idea of which size and type of college is of interest, it is important to test out this interest by being able to see and assess the similarities and contrasts among different kinds, sizes, and settings of schools. Those students who are unable to visit colleges during the spring vacation time should take that time to do research on colleges and take virtual tours with an eye to educating themselves so they can focus their search down more closely, and work toward establishing the parameters that might suit them.
Once these contrastive visits have been accomplished, it is time to put ideas into practice and develop a list of schools for investigation that have the characteristics that the student has determined to be top priorities. They can find out about colleges to put on this list by going down several paths and gathering suggestions from multiple sources. They can do a college search on Naviance or at other internet sites. They can talk to parents and relatives who know them well about the things they have decided are important to them and ask for their suggestions. They can seek input from older students who have already been through the process. They can seek suggestions from their college counselors. There are resources available online and in the college counseling office where they can find out about colleges that offer specific majors, if applicable, or certain types of programs that they value, or opportunities that tie in to other specific interests they may have. Along with colleges with which they already have familiarity, they should be open to colleges they may not have heard of before as these colleges can turn out to have attractive characteristics as well.
At this point, their college list is dynamic. They will add and remove colleges as they find out more about each college, and as they refine their ideas about what they are seeking. As they learn about certain colleges, some others may come to their attention that will then become part of their research list. They should not underestimate the value of this research in helping them solidify their ideas and aspirations. Even research spent on a college that is ultimately not a choice is valuable because it will tell the student more about what he or she is seeking, what is of most value, or even about something that he or she doesn’t want to find at a college. Being open-minded, flexible, and willing to consider options that are not as familiar are all ways to ensure that the student ends up with a useful list that reflects the serious and productive thought he or she has put into it. Further exploration throughout the spring and summer will help them refine their lists into their actual list for application.
On Saturday, February 4 our Junior College Counseling event commenced with an outstanding and informative panel made up of four college admissions representatives: Courtney Minden from Babson College, Andrew Palumbo from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Karen Gerrior-Mariani from High Point University, and Diva Shrestha from Colby College. In an open question and answer format, parents and students posed a diverse selection of inquiries to the four gatekeepers of college admission. Kudos to our students and parents for the thoughtful and constructive questions and we are grateful to our four college visitors for their knowledge and time. We have summarized the questions and answers from the panel session in the attached document: Panel Q & A
Following the panel, Courtney Cronin, Kimberly Bohlin Healy, and Chris Margraf spoke to parents about useful resources and commonly asked questions for parents in the college process. We also spoke about Naviance Family Connection, the web based software that we use to manage the college application process. Every parent is registered for Naviance and should have received an access code via email. Please contact Lauren Chenevert in the College Office if you have any trouble with your Naviance login information: email@example.com. In addition, Lauren e-mailed parents with follow-up information from the event. The College Office has created two screencasts to help instruct you on how to take advantage of Naviance and its resources. If you have any issues with or questions about registering for Naviance please reach out to your student's college counselor.
One final housekeeping note that we mentioned during event - if your son or daughter attended another high school prior to entering Lawrence Academy, please check with Lauren Chenevert (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the College Office to make sure that we have a final transcript from that school.
A good way for juniors to get started toward defining what they are looking for in a college is to arrange visits to a variety of types and sizes of colleges and universities. Our February college counseling class for juniors covered these visits.
Spring vacation is a good time for juniors to do these exploratory visits. At this time, they may not be visiting colleges in which they have a specific interest, but they are trying on different sizes and types of colleges to see which ones feel right to them. Even if a student thinks that his or her interest lies in a certain type of school, a small liberal arts college, for example, he or she should nevertheless visit a big university as well so that ideas about which type of college are better tested and refined. Likewise, it would be good to visit a college with a particular focus, for example a college with a business or engineering focus (if one of those areas is appealing), in contrast to a liberal arts college. If families will be away during the spring vacation times, students could arrange to visit some different colleges that are located in that vicinity even if they ultimately don’t plan to go to college there. The hope is that these visits will help students decide on the general characteristics of the colleges and universities they want to explore further and include on their lists for the specific research which they will do in the spring and summer.
Visits can easily be arranged online or by telephone. Usually students can navigate to the colleges’ websites and register on their calendar for information sessions and campus tours. It is a bit early for a junior to interview at this time (for colleges that conduct interviews), but those could be arranged if students have gone far afield and are not likely to get back to that region again. If this is the case, information and suggestions about interviews can be found in Chapter 4: College Visits of our College Counseling Handbook, on the Lawrence Academy website. It is best to limit visits to two colleges per day so that there is ample time for traveling between campuses. Three to four colleges total is a good number for these exploratory visits since they are not intended to encompass an entire list of colleges. Students should always take notes immediately after visiting a college (the journal feature of the Naviance Family Connection website is well-suited for this purpose) because, should they eventually decide to apply there, it will help them to answer the all-important and commonly-asked “why do you want to attend” question for a particular college.
Pursuing the Arts in College
In February 2013, Sarah Lovely, Director of College Counseling at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Mass., spoke with Lawrence Academy students and faculty about pursuing the arts in college. We thought this would be a good time to recap her visit for our current junior families.
Mrs. Lovely previously worked in admissions at both the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and The Juilliard School. At Walnut Hill, the majority of her students apply to schools known for programs in visual arts, dance, music and drama. Mrs. Lovely has a great deal of experience working with students through these unique application processes at colleges and universities. We were thrilled to have her impart some of the trends she is seeing in admissions.
The following messages, addressed to the student, came through clearly from Mrs. Lovely during her visit:
- Academics are always the most important piece of an application. Regardless of your talent, academics will be considered first and foremost. In many cases the admission process is two-part: you must be admitted to the school (academics), as well as admitted to your program (audition, portfolio, experience, etc.).
- The interview can weigh in heavily as schools consider your application. Schools want to get to know you as a person, not just a musician or dancer. Are you able to speak about your interests outside of your artistic medium?
- Every school (and program) is different. It is important to pay particular attention to application requirements and deadlines.
- Many programs will require additional essays, a portfolio, an audition and even additional fees for processing materials. Program websites include detailed instructions as to what they expect from an applicant. You do not want to spend hours rehearsing for an audition only to show up with the wrong material prepared. PAY ATTENTION TO REQUIREMENTS.
- Deadlines are often earlier than the regular college application deadline. For example, the regular decision deadline at Boston University is January 1, however, flute, violin and voice applicants to the School of Music in BU’s College of Fine Arts have a December 1 prescreening recording submission deadline. PAY ATTENTION TO DEADLINES.
- Apply to a range of schools. These programs are extremely competitive and many have limited openings.
- Summer programs are a great way to experience your discipline at an intensified level. They can help in building a portfolio and are a great way to get on campus at a school of your interest. These programs can prove costly, however, many offer scholarship opportunities.
Chapter 11: The Artist’s Application and Chapter 12: The Musician’s Application in the online College Counseling Handbook include more detailed information about pursuing the arts in college. We have handouts specific to music, dance, visual arts and acting, and musical theater admission. Each handout outlines an overview of the discipline at the college/university level; things to consider when applying to a program; information about the audition/application/portfolio; and a list of schools known for programs in each discipline.
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.
If your student is planning to take the ACT, remember to sign up for an alternate testing location for either the April 8 or June 10.
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.
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.
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.
Sophomores and Subject Tests
If your son or daughter is a sophomore taking Math 3 or Honors Math 3, and who is a strong mathematical thinker, he or she should consider taking the Math Level I Subject test on June 3. While Lawrence Academy does not require students to take Subject Tests, we suggest taking the Math Level I at the end of Math 3, because much of the Math Level 1 subject test is based on the content covered in Math 3. In addition, if your son or daughter is in Honors Chemistry and sees engineering as a potential path in the future, he or she may want to consider taking the Chemistry Subject Test. This test covers a broader scope of material than is covered in our year-long Honors Chemistry course, so we always encourage students to do some additional studying on their own if they plan to take the Chemistry Subject Test. The SAT Subject tests will be offered at Lawrence Academy on June 4. You can sign up for the test at collegeboard.org. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us.
- 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)