Vol. 8 March 2019 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. 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 have been receiving decisions from colleges over the past couple weeks and this will continue through April 1. I 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: Tulane, Loyola New Orleans, Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans, and Brandeis University. In addition, at the beginning of March Kim Healy and I attended a half-day program with 28 NEARR (New England Area Regional Representatives) admissions representatives from schools outside of New England. We were able to hear from all 28 schools and then meet with our representatives individually.
Junior parents will receive our letter about the various college fairs happening in the area during the spring term (they are also attached in the 'College Fair' article below). 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 Sunday, April 28.
On Saturday, April 6, 2019 the college office along with the English Department will run a required essay workshop from 9:00am-11:00am for the entire junior class. Our goal is for juniors to have a draft of an essay written this spring in order to get feedback from their college counselor, enabling them to fine tune the essay over the summer.
This month's articles:
- For Senior Parents: Advice for Spring Term; The Wait List
- For Junior Parents: Summer Application Bootcamp; March Mailing & Greater Boston Area College Fairs; Looking Ahead to the Summer; SAT and ACT Reminder
- For Sophomore Parents: Invitation to The Admissions Game; Information for Sophomores
- For All Parents: Invitation to The Admissions Game; 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.
Finally, The Atlantic recently published an article which we believes gives some great advice and perspective on the college process, especially as admissions decisions are released and students are thinking about the college they will attend for the next four years. It is worth a read: The Atlantic Article
The following letter regarding the wait list will go out to all seniors when they return on April 2. We wanted parents to see this as we head towards the end of March, and we will include it again in our April update for reference.
The wait list can often be a confusing “limbo” as it is neither a deny nor an admit. As college application pools continue to grow in size, the admissions environment becomes even more selective, and with a limited number of freshman spaces, schools are not able to admit all the students who presented strong academic credentials. The wait list is a form of insurance policy used by many colleges as a hedge against the possibility of unfilled places in an entering class. There is no way to predict a student’s chances of admission from the wait list, as circumstances and conditions vary each year. In almost all cases, wait lists are not ranked and all wait-list students are reevaluated shortly after May 1 (the national reply deadline). The number of wait list candidates offered acceptance depends upon the number of places still to be filled. You should choose to remain on a college’s wait list only if you are seriously interested in attending that institution. If interest is not strong, you should remove your name from the waiting list to give a place to someone else.
We can suggest some specific strategies that may help your chances of admission. Below are a few steps that you should take if you want to improve your chances of getting off the wait list. Demonstrated interest on your part becomes very important if a college decides to use their wait list.
- Write to the college and let them know that you would like to remain on the wait list. If the wait list college is your first choice, make sure the college knows that you are ready and willing to accept an offer of admission.
- Be sure that you have provided evidence of any connections or hooks.
- Continue to earn the best grades possible, as a strong report at mid-term could enhance your candidacy if a school goes to the waitlist.
- Provide new grades, a letter of recommendation from a senior year teacher or evidence of recent accomplishments that might not have appeared on your initial application. Check in with your college counselor as we can work with you to send in new materials.
- Be persistent in showing your interest in the college, but do not be a pest. An e-mail or update every two to three weeks to the wait list college is appropriate.
- Meet with your college counselor to discuss your communication with your wait list college. We are happy to help review follow-up letters, e-mails or any other forms of outreach.
In the meantime, you must commit to one college by May 1 by sending in the required deposit. If you are admitted from a wait list and choose to attend, you will forfeit the other school’s enrollment fee. This is the only case where a “double deposit” is acceptable. Realistically, most students are not offered fall admission from a wait list and if they are, financial aid is typically limited or not available. For that reason, we encourage you to focus on moving forward and to get excited about your current acceptances. Christophe Guttentag, Duke University’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, placed nice perspective on the matter when he recently stated, “I think we forget sometimes that there are hundreds and hundreds and thousands of good colleges, and the students who approach the school with the right attitude and energy and a desire to learn and an interest in growing will have an outstanding experience.”
For the fourth summer in a row we are offering a program for our rising seniors (Class of 2020) to help them complete their college applications. Our Summer Application Boot Camp will take place August 5 - 8, 2019 from 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM at Lawrence Academy. The enrollment will be limited to the first sixteen students that sign up.
The four-day course is being taught by Sean Sheehan, Director of College Counseling, Kimberly Bohlin Healy, Associate Director of College Counseling, and Mia Ritter, Assistant 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 all course materials will be available through Schoology. If your student is interested in signing up for the Summer Application Boot Camp, please email Kimberly Bohlin Healy by May 3 to reserve a spot. We realize that there is no perfect time or date to hold a summer Bootcamp. If you have a student who is unable to attend the Bootcamp, but would like help with applications, essay's or interviews, we are happy to meet individually with students over the summer. If you have any questions, please feel to contact Kim, Sean, or Mia with questions.
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 28 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.
We are proud to announce that we will start using College Kickstart with our juniors in April. College Kickstart is a powerful tool that is designed to complement Naviance Student. It will help students craft a college plan around a list of colleges that students have in mind in conjunction with their academic profile.
Drawing on admissions data from over 500 popular U.S. institutions, College Kickstart helps students answer three important questions: Is their college list balanced and set up for success? How can students best capitalize on early admission? How do they minimize the number of applications along the way? College Kickstart automatically updates each time students’ lists or profiles change and makes it easy to take corrective action, gather application requirements and consider affordability as part of their plan.
With the help of their college counselor, students will activate their account in April. Counselors will help students enter their list of schools and academic credentials, and then students can start using College Kickstart on their own.
College Kickstart bridges the gap between “Colleges I am Thinking About” and “Colleges I Am Applying To” in Naviance Student. We feel this tool will allow our students to take greater control of their college lists and receive data driven feedback on how well their college lists are balanced. Our hope is that College Kickstart will remove some of the uncertainty in the college process and alleviate some of the stress associated with creating a sensible, balanced list of colleges. Please let us know if you have any questions about College Kickstart and how we intend to use it.
It is important to note that College Kickstart only offers accounts for students. Therefore, parents will have to ask their children to gain access to their College Kickstart account. Here is link to a short video that introduces College Kickstart.
COLLEGE KICKSTART INTRODUCTION VIDEO
We are pleased to host for the sixth year, The Admissions Game, an interactive presentation on the college admission process on Saturday, April 6 at 9:00 a.m. in the Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center. The presenter for the event is Peter Van Buskirk, an author, motivational speaker and a former Dean of Admission. A twenty-five year veteran of the selective college admissions process, Peter is dedicated to helping families find student-centered solutions in college planning. He has written books on applying to college and his articles have appeared in the The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Family Circle.
During the presentation you will learn what happens to an application behind closed doors. You will become a member of an admissions committee as you review four candidates’ credentials. You will debate their strengths and weaknesses and vote to determine who gets in. The event is open to all parents and is a required event for students in the Class of 2021 (sophomores). We hope you can make it to this special event.
The attached invitation will be mailed home to all sophomore parents: Peter Van Buskirk Invitation
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 4 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 13, June 8 or July 13.
Refer to collegeboard.org (SAT) and actstudent.org (ACT) for registration information.
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, Assistant Dean of Academics for 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 6 – May 10, 2019 and May 13 – May 17, 2019. Students should talk to Rachel Culley in the Studies Office if they would like more information about registering and taking these exams. Materials are located in the Studies & College offices 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.
MX: Majors, Minors and Miscellanea
This spring the College Office will host a series of meetings we are calling “MX: Majors, Minors and Miscellanea”. Starting in April each week during MX blocks on Monday's and Friday's we will present on different specialized topics that are related to the college process. The topics we will cover this spring are: engineering, nursing, business, the liberal arts, summer programs, scholarships, arts and the college process, athletic recruiting and gap year. The meetings are open to all students at Lawrence Academy. We are hopeful that these informal meetings will help to educate our students about the college admissions process.
Information for Sophomores
At the end of January we met 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 went through some of this information in the February update, but thought another summary would be helpful as sophomores begin to think about junior class course selection as well as summer plans. Please see the summary below.
On Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. the College Office will give a presentation for the Class of 2021 parents that will outline the college process for students at Lawrence Academy. In addition, a representative from Summit Education will speak about standardized testing and test preparation. We hope you are able to join us for this event which will take place in the Media Conference Center.
Summary of our January meeting with the Sophomore Class:
- 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 child is a sophomore taking Honors Math 3 and is a strong mathematical thinker, they should consider taking the Math Level I Subject test on June 1. While Lawrence Academy does not require students to take Subject Tests, we suggest taking the Math Level I at the end of Honors Math 3, because much of the Math Level 1 subject test is based on the content covered in Honors Math 3. In addition, if your child is in Honors Chemistry and sees engineering as a potential path in the future, they 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 1. You can sign up for the test at collegeboard.org. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us.
- Feb 8 regular registration for March 9 SAT
- Feb 9 ACT @LA
- Feb 22 late registration deadline for March 9 SAT
- March 8 regular registration for April 13 ACT
- March 9 SAT not offered @LA
- March 22 late registration for April 13 ACT
- April 4-5 NACAC National College Fair in Boston
- April 5 regular registration for May 4 SAT
- April 13 ACT not offered @LA
- April 16 Sophomore Parent College Presentation @LA
- April 19 late registration for May 4 SAT
- April 28 BISCCA College Fair @Merrimack College
- May 3 regular registration for June 1 SAT & June 8 ACT
- May 4 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- May 6-10 AP Exams offered @LA
- May 13-17 AP Exams offered @LA
- May 17 late registration for June 1 SAT & June 8 ACT
- May 18 CTCL National College Fair in Boston
- June 1 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
- June 8 ACT not offered @LA
- June 14 regular registration for July 13 ACT
- June 21 late registration for July 13 ACT
- July 13 ACT not offered @LA