Vol. 6 March 2017 No. 7
We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of the College Counseling Update. In this edition we have some helpful advice for seniors and a recap of the advice we gave the sophomore class during a class meeting on February 14. Last month we gave advice to students who may want to pursue the arts in colleges, and this month we offer advice to students who may want to pursue athletics at the collegiate level.
Many seniors will be receiving decisions from colleges over the next month. Our office is open during Winterim, and a counselor will be available over most days during the vacation. If you have any immediate questions please feel free to call me at 978-877-8063.
Our office continues to travel around the country to visit college campuses and meet with our admissions representatives. This winter we visited: Drew University, Fordham University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Lynn University, Muhlenburg College, Franklin and Marshall College, Lafayette College, High Point University, and UMass-Lowell.
Hopefully, junior parents received our letter about the various college fairs happening in the area during the spring term. Please make every effort to attend at least one of these. We will be taking a bus from Lawrence Academy to the BISCCA fair at Merrimack University on April 23.
During the month of April we will start working with the juniors on writing essays. Our goal is for juniors to have a draft of an essay written before they go home for the summer.
This month's articles:
- For Senior Parents: Advice for Spring Term
- For Junior Parents: Looking Ahead to the Summer; Greater Boston Area College Fairs; SAT and ACT Reminder; College Application Bootcamp
- For Sophomore Parents: Sophomore Meeting with the College Office
- For All Parents: The Student Athlete; College Counseling Handbook; Dates to Remember
We hope everyone has an enjoyable March break, and we look forward to seeing the students in April.
Director of College Counseling
Keeping seniors on track and engaged through the end of the year is always a challenge for the adults in their lives, both those at school and those at home. Colleges expect that they are keeping up with their coursework and a severe drop in senior spring grades could have an effect on a college acceptance.
On another note, we often have seniors looking to drop courses in the spring. We remind them, and you should too, that colleges expect them to finish the senior year carrying the same courses in the spring term that were listed on the transcript sent with applications. In other words, no dropping the last term of math or language; no dropping an extra elective if the student signed up for it earlier in the year. The student’s college counselor has to sign off on any course changes, and in the situations just described, we typically will not. Our veto can occasionally be overridden, but if a student takes that path (which is infrequent), we will issue the appropriate warnings to everyone concerned and require the student to call the colleges and inform them.
Spring is Final Decision time, too. As we mentioned last month, May 1 is the Candidates’ Reply Date. Don’t try to extend this, and, to repeat last month’s warning, never deposit at more than one college. We must inform colleges when this happens; in any case, we will send only one final transcript. The counselors are always available to help your seniors and you with the decision. It is important, too, that students keep us informed of all decisions, both happy and not so happy.
This spring several college fairs will take place in the Greater Boston area. We encourage families to attend at least one college fair, and urge students to attend the BISCCA (Boston Independent School College Counselors' Association) college fair on April 23 at Merrimack University. It is designed for independent school students and will host over 100 colleges from outside New England that our students commonly apply to. We will provide bus transportation from Lawrence Academy to the BISCCA College Fair.
We have sent home an in-depth mailing highlighting various fairs as well as a tip sheet for navigating the college fair. We will go through all of this information with juniors in their April group meetings with the College Counseling Office.
Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about the upcoming spring college fairs.
For the second summer in a row we are offering a program for our rising seniors (Class of 2018) to help them complete their college applications. Our Summer Application Boot Camp will take place on July 31 – August 3 from 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM at Lawrence Academy. The enrollment will be limited to the first sixteen students that sign up. As of March 15, about half of the class has filled.
The four-day course is being taught by Sean Sheehan, Director of College Counseling, and Kimberly Bohlin Healy, Associate Director of College Counseling. The hands-on student centered program will cover topics including: how colleges make admissions decisions, crafting the college essay, writing supplementary essays, the common application, creating a resume, and participating in mock interviews. On the final day we will have a representative from a local college admissions office review the students’ essays and conduct practice interviews with them.
There is no charge for the program and each participant will be given a workbook that will include materials used throughout the course. If your student is interested in signing up for the Summer Application Boot Camp, please email Kimberly Bohlin Healy by April 28 to reserve a spot. If you have any questions, please feel to contact Kimberly Bohlin Healy or Sean Sheehan.
Looking Ahead to the Summer
Juniors: What should I do this summer? We hear this question a lot in the college counseling office. Students should find something productive to do, focusing on what they really need to do and on what they want to do, while also making sure that they have some time for relaxation and regeneration. Summer jobs can be wonderful experiences from which students can learn much. Students and parents often think that taking part in summer programs offered on college campuses by either the college itself or outside organizations like the National Youth Leadership Forum and others might make the students into better candidates for college. While there are very good programs that can benefit students in many ways, colleges usually don't put as much stock in those experiences as the advertising often suggests. Generally, schools try not to give an advantage to students who are more able to afford to do such programs, while other students cannot.
It is worth noting, however, that a few colleges have programs that are actually part of their regular curriculum; these can help a student prove him or herself to that institution. In short, if a student would like to do a program in an area of interest, or a community service project to which he or she feels especially committed, or hone language skills and cultural understanding through experiences abroad, these can all contribute well to a student's growth and learning— but don’t count on them to help the student get accepted to college. We post a good deal of information about summer programs in the college counseling office for interested students.
Rising seniors need to get as much done on college planning and applications as possible, so that they are just putting on finishing touches when they return in the fall and no longer need to focus too much time on completing applications or making decisions on where to apply. They will leave school this June with some things already done and with a checklist of what they should accomplish during the summer. Summer is also a good time to do test preparation in addition to whatever else the student might undertake, because they will have the time to do it right. Prep courses taken during the school year can get short shrift because students must first devote their time to regular classes.
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.
Additional reminder for 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.
The Student Athlete
If you are potentially a college-level athlete, the whole college application process may be quite different from your peers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin to think about athletics in college:
Playing sports at Lawrence Academy does not guarantee that you will be recruited at any level. Talk to your coach at Lawrence Academy or your club coach if you play for a team outside of school to help determine where you may fall in terms of playing your sport(s) at the collegiate level. Research done by the N.C.A.A. provides a snapshot of the percentage of students who will go on to play collegiate level athletics at a N.C.A.A. member school: High School to College Athletics
If a college coach comes to look at you, and if the coach decides that you are a strong candidate for a college team, only then can you assume that athletic talent may be a significant factor in getting into college.
The Lawrence Academy coaches can usually find out your standing on a coach’s recruiting list by asking how serious the college is and what your chances of playing are, but there are no guarantees. This is also a question that you, as a prospective college athlete, should ask during the recruiting process.
Athletics at the college level is a business! Coaches are hired and fired because of winning and losing records. No college coach can guarantee a student’s acceptance to college or playing time once enrolled. A coach’s influence varies at each college for each sport.
Colleges have clear academic standards for athletes; there are limits to how far they will “bend.” No college will accept a student on athletic ability alone if it does not think the applicant can do the work.
If you are not recruited, athletic ability will play no more nor less important a role in the admission decision than any other seriously pursued extracurricular activity.
Who recruits? Division I, II, and III all recruit, but some guidelines and requirements can vary based on the level. Athletes looking to play at a Division I or II school must register with the N.C.A.A. Eligibility Center. Please visit the N.C.A.A. website if you have are thinking about college athletics: www.ncaa.org. If you need help with the registration process or have questions please see your college counselor.
What about athletic scholarships? Scholarship money can be awarded at the Division I and II levels, regardless of financial need. It is important to note that not ALL Division I and II schools offer athletic scholarships. For example, though Division I, the Ivy League does not have athletic scholarships, but financial aid may be awarded based on need. Division III colleges offer no athletic scholarships. Financial aid at this athletic level is awarded based on need only.
If you work closely with the College Office and seek the advice of your coaches, you can find the college that is right both academically and athletically. More information about college level athletics and the admissions process can be found in our College Counseling Handbook in Chapter 10: The Student Athlete.
College Counseling Handbook
Please remember, if you want more detailed information about the college application process, the College Counseling Handbook, our comprehensive online handbook, is always available on our College Counseling 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.
Sophomore Meeting with the College Office
On February 14 we had our second meeting this year with the sophomore class to offer them some advice as it relates to the college process. We also informed the class that they would start to work with our office in a formal way in November of their junior year. We included much of this information in the Class of 2019 Update Letter that we recently sent home to you. Here is a summary of the advice we gave them:
- Grades: We emphasized the importance of earning the best grades possible in all of their classes. When a college evaluates a potential applicant grades are the most important factor.
- Course Selection: Students need to take a challenging course load that is manageable. They need to go beyond Lawrence Academy’s graduation requirements. If students are recommended for an honors class next year, they should take it. Likewise, if they are recommended, they should continue with their foreign language.
- Get Involved: It is time for students to remain (or become) involved in activities. Students should look for leadership opportunities, of which Lawrence Academy has many. Colleges want students who are strong in the classroom, but also active in the community.
- 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.
- 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 23 BISCCA College Fair
- 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)
- July 31-Aug 3 College Application Bootcamp (Class of 2018)