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College Update HeaderVol. 9                                                 January 2020                                                             No. 5                             

Welcome!

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 during Omnibus. 

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 25. An invitation has gone out via e-mail. 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 Class College Day; Role of the Parent; Overview of Junior Meetings; All about SCOIR; SAT and ACT Reminder
  • For All Parents: Summer Opportunities Fair; College Counseling Handbook

Stay warm!

Sean

Director of College Counseling

Parents of Seniors: Early Decision Results

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.

Parents of Seniors: FINANCIAL AID APPLICATIONS!

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.

Parents of Seniors: Senior Grades

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.

Parents of Juniors: Junior Class College Counseling Day

Save Saturday, January 25, 2020, 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 student 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 Boston College, Connecticut College, Fairfield University, and Syracuse University. 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 counseling office and parents) will continue with the program for an introduction to SCOIR, our web-based college platform and a Q & A with the LA college counselors. 

Event Schedule for Saturday, January 25, 2020:

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 junior class  are required to attend.)
  • 10:30 a.m.       Break (students may leave)
  • 10:45 a.m.       Introduction to SCOIR College Platform; Q & A with the Lawrence Academy College Counselors 
Information for Junior Parents: Role of the Parent

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. 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.

Information for Junior Parents: All About SCOIR

As we mentioned in October during our presentation after the Junior Parent Dinner, our office is now using SCOIR to manage the college process. SCOIR is a web based software program that offers many useful tools that help students, parents and counselors navigate the college admissions process. Previously, we had used Naviance, but after doing much research, we decided that SCOIR would better aid our students during the college process.

All members of the Class of 2021 registered their accounts with SCOIR in November. In our December group meetings, we walked students through the process of searching and researching schools on SCOIR. We will continue to work with them on SCOIR in our January and February classes as they begin to create a prospective college list. Since the parents of the Class of 2021 will receive registration information to SCOIR on January 24, 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 25.

Lawrence Academy's college office, like many other secondary schools, uses SCOIR’s web-based applications to help students navigate the college process. SCOIR 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 a parent, you will be able to view their profiles, see their college list, conduct your own college searches, and suggest colleges for your student to consider. SCOIR also provides parents with financial tools so that you can get a better sense of the cost of attendance at various colleges during the selection process.

Again, we will answer any questions about SCOIR at our Junior Class College Day on Saturday, January 25. We are also happy to meet with families individually after January 25 to provide further guidance on how to use SCOIR. We are excited to be able to provide SCOIR to our students and families, and we feel confident that you will find it helpful and easy to use.

Information for Junior Parents

Overview of Junior Meetings

We started individual meetings with juniors in January when we returned from winter break. By the end of the trimester in March, every junior should have at least two meetings with their counselor.

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 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.

Information for Junior Parents


SAT and ACT Reminder

We hope that any junior who is planning to take the ACT is signed up for the February 8 ACT. January 17 is the last day students may register for the February ACT. Lawrence Academy has filled all of its testing seat which means any new registrations will need to take place at an alternate testing location for either the February 8, April 4, June 13 or July 18 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 2 or June 6 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.

Information For All Parents

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.

Information for All Parents

Summer & Gap-Year Opportunities Fair

The 30th annual Summer Opportunities Fair will take place on Sunday, January 26, 2020, from 12 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).

Dates To Remember

 

  • Jan 17 late registration for Feb 8 ACT
  • Jan 25 Junior Class College Day
  • Jan 26 Summer Opportunities Fair @Phillips Andover
  • Feb 8 ACT @LA
  • Feb 13 regular registration for March 14 SAT 
  • March 3 late registration deadline for March 14 SAT
  • March 14 SAT (not offered @LA)   
  • April 4 ACT (not offered @LA)
  • May 2 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
  • June 6 SAT & Subject Tests @LA
  • June 13 ACT (not offered @LA)
  • July 18 ACT (not offered @LA)
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