Vol. 8 April 2019 No. 8
It has been a busy start to the term as we continue to meet with juniors and discuss with seniors the admissions decisions they have received.
Seniors must make a deposit at one college by May 1. It is important to note, as we have reminded you before, that seniors may only deposit at one college. If students are waitlisted at a school and they want to stay on the waitlist, they must notify the college in writing. Also they should earn the best grades possible, as a strong report at midterm could enhance their candidacy if a school goes to the waitlist. Feel free to contact any of the college counselors if you have any questions about any aspect of making a final college decision. Please remind your seniors to inform their college counselor of ALL admissions decisions in order for our office to keep accurate records.
We continue to meet with juniors individually and in small groups. We have started to create college lists and discuss plans for the remainder of the school year and the summer. In addition, all juniors will start working with a new software program this spring, College Kickstart, to complement the work we do in Naviance. College Kickstart help students create a balanced list of schools and an application plan. We have included an article below which goes into more detail about College Kickstart. In our essay workshop and small group meetings we have started to work on the college application essay. You will find more information below about what we cover in our April meetings.
This is an additional reminder for all junior parents that we encourage you to complete the Parent Questionnaire. You received a copy in your parent packet during our Junior Class College Day in February. In addition, it can be found when you sign in to Naviance Student in the 'About Me' section. You can also access a copy of the Parent Questionnaire in the PDF form. 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.
This month's articles:
- For Senior Parents: The Wait List; Senior Class Meetings & Grades Still Matter!
- For Junior Parents: Parent College Questionnaire; A Recap of Standardized Testing...and what about Subject Tests; Juniors Participate in College Essay Workshop; Summer Application Bootcamp; College Kickstart; SAT and ACT Reminder
- For Sophomore and Freshmen Parents: Sophomore Parent Presentation; Laying the Groundwork
- For All Parents: Practice SAT & ACT @LA; College Counseling Handbook; Dates to Remember
We hope you enjoy this month’s College Counseling Update!
Director of College Counseling
We have passed the information below on to all seniors. We highly encourage any senior who would like to pursue the waitlist at a school to see their college counselor as soon as possible.
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.”
Final grades are sent to the colleges at which seniors will have enrolled, and all acceptances are based upon “successful completion of the senior year.” This means grades must be maintained where they have been all year and spring-term course selection must remain as it was described on the transcript initially sent to colleges. A spring-term drop in grades or a perceived weakening of a senior’s course load can have unpleasant consequences, ranging from a sharply-worded letter, to requiring the student to enter college on academic probation, or even to the withdrawal of an acceptance, an action which we have actually seen once or twice. Brennan Barnard, a frequent contributor to Forbes Magazine about college admissions, wrote a great article last year about "Senioritis" and some of the pitfalls we hope our seniors can avoid. Senioritis: College Acceptances in Jeopardy.
Seniors must make the decision about where they will attend and send the required enrollment deposit to ONE COLLEGE ONLY by MAY 1. With the exception of a very few financial aid cases, colleges will not extend that deadline. Students should not send a deposit to more than one college. We are obligated to tell both colleges if a student double-deposits, and the student could end up with no options.The only exception to the double deposit is if a student is removed from a wait list after May 1 and would like to enroll.
On a lighter note, we have truly enjoyed our work with the Class of 2019. This group has been conscientious, thoughtful and mature throughout the entire process. As always, we strive to make the college process a meaningful learning experience for everyone and always welcome student and parent input to help shape our program.
Because more and more colleges are urging students to apply Early Decision or Early Action, juniors and seniors are under ever-increasing pressure to “get the paperwork done” by early fall of the senior year. Few of us on the counseling side particularly like this trend, but it’s here to stay, at least for a while, and we need to help our students cope with it.
In past years we have used our April and May small-group college classes to begin work on the essay. What we have found is that the short stints of time during the academic week did not allow students to truly engage in a thoughtful start to this process. Last year, in an effort to give students the time and space to begin their work on the essay, we held our first ever 2-hour essay writing workshop in conjunction with the English Department. Despite the fact that we infringed on a Saturday morning of sleeping in, we received strong feedback from the juniors that they felt the time spent was worthwhile so we held a similar essay workshop on Saturday, April 6 for the Class of 2020.
We will give juniors additional time to continue working on their essay in our April and May College Counseling small-group classes (held during Omnibus), and we have asked juniors to turn in an essay draft by May 20. Workshops like these are part of our ongoing efforts to improve Lawrence’s college counseling program. Please feel free to reach out if you have personal feedback or feedback from your student that you would like to share with our office.
Over the past several years, Common Application has made some notable changes to the essay prompts and guidelines. Luckily, the prompts have remained consistent from last year to this year. Please see the guidelines and essay prompts for the Class of 2020 below:
... [W]rite an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words [and will also cut off any responses longer than 650 words]).
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
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. At this time, we have filled over half of the class for the upcoming summer.
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. Please feel to contact Kim, Sean, or Mia with questions.
We are proud to announce that we have started using College Kickstart with our juniors this spring. 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: INTRODUCTION TO COLLEGE KICKSTART
A Recap of Standardized Testing...and what about Subject Tests?
Although we have explored standardized testing in previous newsletters, it seems a good time to put forward a summary of our suggestions, since these tests will be a part of most students’ college application process.
To recap, we strongly recommend students take both the ACT (American College Test) and the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test).
Students for whom English is a second language also need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). It is given once at LA in the spring; students should contact Ms. Jennifer O’Connor, director of the international program, to register. They can also take the TOEFL for a second time in their home countries during the summer. Students should plan on taking it several times until their scores reach a level that will be appropriate for colleges to which they will be applying. Further information about the TOEFL is available at www.ets.org.
SAT Subject Tests are not required by very many colleges, but juniors should consider taking two this June so that they will have them in case they decide to apply to an institution where they are a requirement. We suggest that our juniors register for Math Level 1 and Literature. Students in Math 4 or higher should ask their teachers whether Math Level 2 is appropriate for them. All should go to www.collegeboard.org and check out the sample subject tests so that they can familiarize themselves with the format and material covered. Students can ultimately choose whether or not to submit each of their subject test scores to colleges, depending on an individual college’s test requirements.
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 or June SAT or Subject Tests. Our site is very desirable and seats fill up fast. The ACT in April and June are not offered at Lawrence Academy, but students may take them at an alternate testing site. Refer to collegeboard.org and actstudent.org 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, 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.
Sophomore Parent Presentation
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. If you have questions please feel free to contact Sean Sheehan.
Laying the Groundwork
While we in the college counseling office won’t work “officially” with your children until about November of the junior year, we would like to offer you some thoughts on what constitutes good college preparation. Lawrence is, after all, a college preparatory school, and this preparation begins the moment a new student steps onto our campus.
We don’t want ninth- and tenth-graders worrying about where they are going to college, but they do need to be aware that they will most likely go some day. Colleges look at all four years of an applicant’s high school career, so how your child spends his or her time at Lawrence will have a direct bearing on which college he or she will attend. Some of our guidelines may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often they are ignored, with unhappy consequences! Here they are. We have addressed these thoughts to the student, since we hope you will discuss them with your sons and daughters.
- Always take the most rigorous course load you can reasonably handle! If you are recommended for an Honors class, take it, even if you might get a slightly lower grade in the Honors section than in the regular one. Colleges look more favorably upon a student who has challenged him- or herself with hard courses than they do upon the one who has taken easier classes to raise the grade average.
- On the other hand, you usually should not push to get into an Honors class if you were not recommended for it. These recommendations, based on your past performance and a careful estimate of your potential, are made each spring with a great deal of care; trying to get moved up so it will “look good” on your transcript is almost never in your best interest.
- As you move through Lawrence Academy, plan to study beyond our diploma requirements in all, or almost all, the academic disciplines. Taking French 3 as a junior more than satisfies our requirement, but the most selective colleges will expect you to continue with French 4 in your senior year, assuming you’ve done fairly well in language. If you do drop one discipline, make up for it in other areas with challenging classes.
- Get involved in school life, but do so in an honest and committed way. Find an activity or two that you think you could get to love, and put your energy into it. Quality is more important than quantity here: colleges are more impressed by a student who is deeply committed to one or two activities than by one who amasses a long “brag sheet” of memberships and involvements without a lot of substance behind them.
SAT & ACT Practice Tests Offered at LA
This spring we are pleased to collaborate with Summit Education Group to offer a free proctored practice ACT and SAT. The practice ACT will take place on Sunday, April 28 from 1:00–5:00pm in the Ansin Academic Building. The practice SAT will take place on Sunday, May 12 from 1:00–5:00pm in the Ansin Academic Building. For both practice tests, students need to arrive at 12:30pm so they can register.
A proctored official practice test gives students experience taking the test under realistic conditions so they get exposure to the test format and the types of questions asked on the tests. If a student takes both practice tests, they will gain a better understanding of which test is a better fit, which will reduce the number of official standardized tests they take. This will give students the opportunity to focus on preparing for one test. After the tests are scored, students will receive a complimentary detailed score report analyzing the results.
We have attached flyers for both practice tests. Please feel free to contact the College Counseling Office if you have any questions.
The College Counseling Handbook
Please remember, if you want more detailed information about the college application process, that The College Counseling 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.
- 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 Practice ACT @LA
- 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 12 Practice SAT @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
- August 5-8 Application Bootcamp