Vol. 8 January 2019 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.
Parents of seniors will receive 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, January 26. A formal invitation was mailed home in December. 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. It is the student and family's responsibility to understand all financial aid application requirements as well as to submit the needed materials. You can find the FAFSA and CSS Profile applications using the links below:
Another great resource for Massachusetts residents is the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) at https://www.mefa.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, January 26, 2019, 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 receive helpful information about the college application process. The first part of the day is for both you and your child, 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 Northeastern University, Dickinson College, University of Massachusetts - Lowell, and College of the Holy Cross. 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 (college office and parents) will continue with the program by introducing you to 'Naviance Student', our web-based system for managing the college application process. Students and parents will all have access to a Naviance account which 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.
Event Schedule for Saturday, January 26, 2019:
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 2020 are required to attend.)
- 10:30 a.m. Break (students may leave)
- 11:00 a.m. Introduction to Naviance Student
- 11:30 a.m. Q & A with the College Counselors
We are often asked the question, "What role should parents play in the college application process?" This can be 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 is available to fill out online in Naviance once you receive your registration login at the end of this month (https://student.naviance.com/lawrence) or it may be printed and mailed to us. Ideally, the Parent Questionnaire should be completed by the end of your student's 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.
- Help to plan visits. Assist your child in visiting colleges if possible.
- 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.
- 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.
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 December group meetings we walked students through the process of searching and researching schools. We will continue to work with them on Naviance in our January and February classes as they begin to create a prospective college list. Since you, the parents of the Class of 2020, will soon receive a password to Naviance, 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 Class College Day on January 26.
“Naviance” is actually the name of a software company affiliated with Hobson, a major publisher of educational reference works. Lawrence Academy's college office, like those in many other secondary schools, uses 'Naviance Success' and 'Naviance Student', both 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 materials 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 Naviance 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, every junior will have met with their counselor at least two or three 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 the student. 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 meetings resume in April, with every junior meeting their 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 student for the February 9 ACT. January 18 is the last day students may register for the February ACT. Lawrence Academy will likely fill all seats within the next week. If LA has filled all of its testing seats, your student will need to sign up for an alternate testing location for either the February 9, April 13, June 8 or July 13 ACT. Unfortunately, we are not able to guarantee that we can drive boarding students to an alternate test site.
Please register your LA student for the Lawrence Academy testing site if they wish to test at LA for the May 4 or June 1 SAT or Subject Tests. Our site is very desirable and seats fill up fast.
SAT REGISTRATION: collegeboard.org
ACT REGISTRATION: actstudent.org
Please note: Standby ticket holders are NOT guaranteed a seat.
AP EXAM INFORMATION
Students are able to take AP exams on campus this spring. 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 & Gap-Year Opportunities Fair
The 29th annual Summer Opportunities Fair will take place on Sunday, January 27, 2019, from noon to 3 p.m. in the Smith Center, on the Phillips Academy campus located off Route 28 near the intersection of Dwight Street on the Phillips Academy campus in Andover, Massachusetts.
Representatives from approximately 100 local, national and international summer opportunities programs will be available to talk with interested students and their families. This unique fair offers a wide range of programs that focus on academic enrichment, language study, community service, camps, sports, arts, research, internships, outdoor adventure, international travel & gap year opportunities, and more for middle school and high school students.
The Fair will be open to the public, and you do not need to register to attend. Admission is free and the facility is wheelchair-accessible. This event is sponsored by the Parents of Students of Phillips Academy (PSPA).
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 18 late registration for Feb 9 ACT
- Jan 26 Junior Class College Day
- Jan 27 Summer Opportunities Fair & Gap Year Fair
- Feb 8 regular registration for March 9 SAT*
- Feb 9 ACT @LA
- Feb 22 late registration deadline for March 9 SAT*
- March 9 SAT* not offered @LA
- April 13 ACT not offered @LA
- May 4 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- June 1 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- June 8 ACT not offered @LA
- July 13 ACT not offered @LA
* March 9 SAT is not offered at LA