Vol. 7 November 2017 No. 3
The fall was busy as we met 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 into the winter term, it is crucial that all students put forth their best effort, especially as these are the last set of grades a college could potentially see.
This month we start our monthly college counseling class with the juniors. Below you can find more detailed information about the classes.
Finally as seniors continue 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
We hope your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and as always please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Director of College Counseling
We will be mailing home a final college list for seniors during the week of December 11. 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.
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.
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. 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!”
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.
This year we have again 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.
It is important to note that it is never too early to start thinking about financial aid. With the recent change to the FAFSA filing date (January 1 to October 1) colleges now use the prior-prior year tax returns of parents to determine financial aid awards. For example seniors applying for aid this year, colleges will use the 2015 tax return to determine eligibility for financial aid. We have attached an article which provides helpful information about financial aid and when parents should start to plan for applying for it.
To Maximize College Financial Aid, Timing is Key
If you would like to begin a conversation with Ron Foisy please use the following link to access Smart Track College Funding Kit.
November College Class and College Counselor Assignments
Juniors will begin small group college meetings during the week of November 27. In this meeting juniors will register for Naviance and complete 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 hold the second small group meeting with the juniors during the week of December 11 to give an overview of the college process and to review PSAT scores. They will start to meet individually with their counselor in January.
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)
- December: Student College Questionnaire due; overview of the college process; review PSAT scores; complete the College Interest Survey
- January: Full introduction to Naviance, the web-based software we use to manage the college process
- 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 supplemental essay work day
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
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
Standardized Testing Information
Please register your LA student as soon as possible for the Lawrence Academy testing site if they wish to take the SAT and ACT at LA. Our site is very desirable and seats fill up fast.
Most juniors will take the December 2 SAT. The ACT on February 10, 2018 will likely fill all seats by the end of November/beginning of December 2017. Please register now if your student would like to take it at LA!
Refer to collegeboard.org (SAT registration) and actstudent.org (ACT registration) 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.
- Dec 2 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- Dec 9 ACT
- Jan 12 regular registration deadline for Feb 10 ACT
- Jan 19 late registration for Feb 10 ACT
- Feb 9 regular registration deadline for March 10 SAT
- Feb 10 ACT @LA
- Feb 28 late registration deadline for March 10 SAT
- March 10 SAT not offered @LA
- April 14 ACT not offered @LA
- May 5 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- June 2 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- June 9 ACT not offered @LA