Vol. 6 May 2017 No. 9
You know the school year is coming to a close when the May 1 deadline passes for seniors to deposit at a college. We are proud of the hard work they put into the college application process. We ask that if any seniors’ plans change between now and the start of the fall they notify us so that we can keep accurate records. The parents of seniors will receive an email from their son or daughter’s counselor providing a final update on the student’s work in the college process.
The juniors continue to meet in small groups and individually with us. Below you will find a detailed description of what was covered in our college counseling class this month. This month’s class will be our last class for this year, but we will continue to run the classes in the fall for the Class of 2018. At the beginning of June, all parents will receive a detailed letter from their child's counselor with a thorough update of the work done throughout the spring and what is expected this summer.
We are busy planning our travel schedule for the summer as we continue our outreach to the colleges. As always, please feel free to contact us with any suggestions or questions.
This month's articles:
- For Senior Parents: Advice for Seniors
- For Junior Parents: Parent College Questionnaire; May College Counseling Class; Summer Application Bootcamp; Trends: Early Decision; Trends: Demonstrated Interest; SAT & ACT Reminder
- For Sophomore Parents: Timely Updates & Information
- For Sophomore and Freshmen Parents: Thoughts for the Summer
- For All Parents: College Counseling Handbook; Dates to Remember
Director of College Counseling
We published this article in last year’s May Parent Update. Because the author’s advice to new college students is basically timeless, we thought it worth reprinting. —Ed.
Malcolm Gauld, a 1976 graduate of Bowdoin, has written an excellent little book called “College Success Guaranteed: 5 Rules to Make It Happen,” which should be required reading for every matriculating college freshman. (It’s available through Amazon, both in paper and electronically.) His rules are simple and worth discussing with your soon-to-be-a-college-freshman child. First, he says, go to class–all the time. Second, study for three hours, five nights a week, no matter what. Also, commit to something; get involved and stay involved, whether it be with a team, a newspaper, a singing group or a club. Fourth, find a mentor, who might be your faculty advisor, but it could be any adult: someone to talk to and to whom you can turn for guidance. And finally, Mr. Gauld warns, “Procrastination kills!” Do that assignment today, even if it’s not due for two weeks.
The book is entertaining, well-written, full of real-life examples and quotes from college students, graduates and faculty. It’s well worth the read, for both your senior and you.
We would add a few of our own nuggets to Mr. Gauld’s collection. First, do everything in your power to help your senior understand that college is not Lawrence Academy! Arriving on campus with the expectation that everything will be new and different—faculty, food, teaching methods, social life, you name it—can be a great help both in adjusting initially and in getting the most out of the new environment once the “honeymoon” is over.
Second, students must realize that no choice we make in life will be perfect. It is inevitable that a freshman starting out at his first-choice school will discover things that aren’t the way he imagined they would be. Maybe the party scene is too intense (or not intense enough); maybe the kids are “too preppy” or “too cliquey.” To the new students we say, roll with it. Throw yourself into the college both in and out of the classroom; look for things to like. Things usually work out!
Third, a corollary to the above: A student matriculating at an institution that was not near the top of her list should never, ever start her college career with the idea that she’s going to transfer after a year! The worst thing she can possibly do is to sit in her room for a year and wallow in self-pity, waiting for the year to be over. Tell her to proceed as above: get involved and give the place a chance. It might turn out to be great. If it’s clearly not great by the spring, then applying to transfer is fine. (We are always here to help with that process, by the way.)
Finally, and perhaps most important, impress upon your new college students that to the greatest extent they have yet experienced, their time is their own, and they must learn—early on—to manage it well. (Gauld’s book is good on this point.) You may not be aware that under FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), college students’ grades are their property, and parents do not have the right to see them unless their child gives permission. One way for you as parents to have some idea of how well your collegian is managing time is to make sure that he or she signs the appropriate form to allow you to receive report cards!
We encourage you to complete this questionnaire which can be found when you sign in to Naviance's Family Connection in the 'About Me' section. (If you have forgotten your username and/or password, please email Kim Bohlin Healy at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she can reset them for you.) You can also access the PARENT QUESTIONNAIRE in the PDF form and email it to your child's college counselor. Your answers help us get a sense of your thoughts and concerns about the college admission process, but most importantly it provides you with the opportunity to share your thoughts about your child with us. Your candor is important and valued.
We have just had our sixth college counseling class with the juniors. We opened the class by discussing a “Summer To-Do List” which included a checklist of college planning tasks for the summer. Every studet registered for their Common Application account and then received a tip sheet which should help them as they continue to fill it out over the summer.
This is the second year that Common Application will rollover accounts from one year to the next. After the 2017-2018 Common App launches on August 1, students will be able to sign in using the same credentials from the account they created in our May College Counseling Class. Upon that first sign in, Common App will ask if the student would like to roll over their account. Students should answer 'yes', and Common App will take them through a few quick steps to confirm their information. We have made it very clear to students that Common App will only preserve answers provided to the questions that appear in the six sections of the “Common App” tab: Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities, and Writing. No college-specific information entered for a supplement under the “My Colleges” tab will be preserved from one year to the next.
The remainder of the May college counseling class provided students with the opportunity to fill out questionnaires to go to their teachers who will write college recommendations. Every junior has asked two teachers from this year to write a recommendation which will be sent with their college applications. The teachers appreciate having direct feedback from the students about the work they have done in their class this year. These questionnaires enable teachers to write even more insightful letters of recommendation.
Parents will receive a copy of the summer checklist, the Common Application tip sheet as well as a preliminary college list in our end of the year mailing. Perhaps you can nudge your student to move forward in completing these tasks during the summer. The more that can be taken care of during the summer, when students do not have the competing pressures of their classroom work, the better off they will be as they go through the coming fall trimester.
Juniors continue to meet regularly one-on-one with their counselors as they work to develop and refine the list of colleges that they will plan to visit and research during the summer.
Trends: Early Decision
Colleges, especially smaller, highly selective schools, are filling a substantial percentage of their classes through the Early Decision process. Those that offer Early Decision are populating between thirty-five and fifty-five percent of their classes with Early Decision applicants, which then makes the competition for an offer of admission very competitive during the regular decision cycle. Colleges like to know that a student they admit will enroll at their college; applying Early Decision can often improve a student’s chance of acceptance. However, it is still important to remember that students should only apply Early Decision to a school if they have already visited several colleges and are absolutely sure it is their first choice. It is important to know that Early Decision applicants forfeit the ability to compare financial aid and merit scholarship opportunities.
It is wise for students to get started on their exploration early so that they will have time to consider whether Early Decision is a good option for them. We encourage you and your child to speak to your counselor about colleges that interest them and offer Early Decision. We want to stress that Early Decision should not be used merely as a strategy to gain admission to a school, but rather as an opportunity for students who have found a school that is an excellent fit.
Summer Application Bootcamp: July 31 - August 3
This summer we are offering the 2nd annual application bootcamp for our rising seniors to help them complete their college applications. Our Summer Application Boot Camp will take place from 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 May 20, three-quarters of the class has been 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 as soon as possible to reserve a spot. If you have any questions, please feel to contact Kimberly Bohlin Healy or Sean Sheehan.
SAT and ACT Reminder
June 3 (SAT) and June 10 (ACT) are the final test dates for the 2016-2017 testing cycle. Registration for 2017-2018 tests will open over the summer (around July 1). Please check the websites over the summer (SAT: www.collegeboard.org; ACT: www.actstudent.org) for registration deadlines. It is important to note that SAT is offering a new testing date on August 26.
Students are responsible for registering for tests and sending official test scores to college when they apply. Students are also responsible for understanding the test requirements at each school to which they will apply (Subject Test requirements, SAT with essay, ACT with writing, etc.).
Trends: Demonstrated Interest
We often hear from college admissions offices that they want to admit students who have shown “demonstrated interest.” As the number of applications has increased, it has become more difficult for colleges to gauge genuine interest in their institutions, and many are becoming reluctant to offer admission to a student whom they do not know. Colleges want to admit students who, along with strong grades, test scores and extracurricular activities, have shown serious interest in their school. (Please note that the interest that colleges seek is that of the applicant, not the parent!)
How do schools know if a candidate is truly interested in them? Here are some ways your student can demonstrate interest in a school:
- Campus Visits: This is probably the best way to show interest. Be sure your child signs up for a tour and information session so the school knows they were there.
- Interviews: If a college offers interviews, be sure your student takes advantage of the chance to meet one on one with a member of the admissions staff. If your child cannot make it to the campus for interview, inquire about alumni or off-campus interviews in your area.
- Fairs: Fairs like the BISCCA fair are a great way to show interest in colleges. Be sure your child greets the admissions representative working the event.
- College Representatives Visiting LA: Each fall over 100 admission representatives visit the Lawrence Academy campus to meet with interested seniors (not parents). We post all visit dates on Naviance and Naviance generates a reminder email if the school is on their Naviance list. Students should make every effort to meet with schools that interest them. (If they are to miss a class for a college visit, they must obtain the teacher’s prior permission.)
- Thank-you Notes: Each time students meet with an admission representative, they should write a thank-you note, which should include a sentence or two about why they like that particular school.
- Use of Social Networking: Engaging college representatives through the use of Facebook, Twitter and blogs professionally affiliated with the institution is another way colleges are starting to gauge interest.
- Open Emails: There are some schools that will keep track of who opens their emails. If it is a school your son or daughter is interested in, make sure they are staying on top of emails and correspondance.
- Supplemental Essays: More applications now ask students to write a short essay explaining specifically why they applying to a particular school. We therefore strongly encourage students to take notes during their campus visits so that they can write such an essay, if a school requires it.
Finally, while showing interest is important, students should not go overboard by constantly sending emails and making phone calls to admission offices. Demonstrated interest must be genuine!
College Counseling Handbook
Please remember, if you want more detailed information about the college application process, that 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.
Thoughts for the Summer
In recent times, the application review process has become much more than the quantitative analysis of an applicant’s academic achievement and standardized test scores. Colleges and universities look each year to bring in a group of students who will have an impact on their communities both inside and outside of the classroom. Their hope is that each entering class contains enough students to fill different niches around campus. Although academic accomplishments are usually most important, many schools are looking to understand students as people, what interests and skills they might bring to the community, and how they might distinguish themselves from other academically excellent applicants. The summer is a perfect time to pursue interests and hobbies, summer programs or work.
There is no secret formula for what high school students “should” do in their free time. There is no “right” answer, so students are generally advised to join clubs or participate in activities only if they have a genuine interest in them. Admission officers are experienced enough to distinguish between a “padded” résumé and a genuine one.
Some students may be viewed as “specialists” by admission committees. A student interested in environmental studies, for example, takes Environmental Science as a senior, she has participated in an environmentally-focused Winterim, spends time campaigning for environmental issues, serves on the student-run environmentalism or recycling group, writes her college essay on a significant camping experience—in sum, she is showing a clear commitment and direction and has created a theme to her application. She will be attractive to some schools because of this clear, distinct passion.
Other students may be viewed by admissions officers as “generalists.” For example: a student who is undecided about his major but thinks it might be in the sciences, is on the varsity tennis team, but is much more passionate about student government, has chosen advanced writing courses and has a small collection of poems he has written, has a leadership role in the Animé club and has worked at a local golf club every summer for the past three years. This student has many interests and may be seen as desirable for his breadth of interests.
As long as their interests are genuine, both applicants will demonstrate compelling extra-curricular interests to admission officers.
Timely Updates & Information
- Sophomore Parent Meeting Recap: On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 sophomore parents were invited to a meeting on campus with the College Office for an overview of the College Counseling Process. Attached is a POWERPOINT of the information that was covered in the presentation. Please feel free to reach out at Sean Sheehan or Kim Bohlin Healy with any questions.
- Class of 2019 Standardized Testing Letter: You will receive an email which includes a detailed letter about the Standardized Testing process as it applies to the Class of 2019. The letter is attached HERE as well.
- Test Preparation & Summit Education Group:Lawrence Academy has contracted with Summit Education Group to offer test preparation services on the Lawrence Academy campus for both the SAT and the ACT. One-on-one in-home tutoring is also available through Summit.
- June 3 SAT & Subject Tests at LA
- June 10 ACT (not offered at LA)
- July 31-Aug 3 College Application Bootcamp (Class of 2018)
- July 28 Registration deadline for August 26 SAT
- August 4 Registration deadline for Sept 9 ACT
- August 26 SAT & Subject Tests (not offered at LA)
- September 9 ACT at LA