An update and reflection on solidarity by SLUH's College Counselors
Building a community that empowers everyone to attain their full potential through each of us respecting each other's dignity, rights and responsibilities makes the world a better place to live.
- Pope John Paul II
We are now in the fourth year of the new college counseling team and working with juniors who have only known having a Student Support Services department with separate Learning Consultants, School Counselors and College Counselors. These juniors have also been provided resources through their classrooms and school day that were created to prepare them for applying to college.
Following this year’s theme of solidarity, we share an overview of programming that has been put in place with the intention of reaching all students at the appropriate moment of need for students and their families.
Anatomy of a Transcript: College counselors show freshmen what a final transcript from SLUH looks like and the importance of each semester.
GPA Game (pictured): An interactive game facilitated by the college counselors and college admissions representatives, the game starts with ‘admissions candidates’ in front of the room lined up from highest GPA to lowest. As other factors of their applications are assessed by the admission committee, the applicants move up and down in the pool. The objective of the game is to demonstrate how selective colleges view the different qualities of their applicants beyond just GPA and test scores.
In addition to individual family meetings conducted with the college counselors, group programming is also in place.
College Timeline: Students are presented with expectations over the next two years of the college process. The timeline includes SLUH programs, ACT/SAT testing dates, resources available at SLUH, and outside resources such as college fairs and summer programs.
Researching Colleges: College counselors discuss with students the difference between building a college list and researching the colleges. Students are presented with curated online and print reference tools and shown how to use them. Then small groups are assigned a college to research along with a summary sheet for various factors students use when researching colleges.
College Map: All SLUH families are provided a map of the United States interstate system with nearby colleges and universities noted. The intent of the map is to aid families in planning college visits as well as brainstorming additional possibilities they may not have considered. (The GoogleMaps generation also gets to learn how to fold an old-school map!)
Essay Unit: Partnering with the English department, college counselors first show the admissions essay in context with a full mock college application, reader sheet and school profile. Then English teachers discuss the writing tools students have already been taught and how they can be utilized to craft an effective admissions essay. Essay drafts are shared with college counselors.
Official ACT testing during the school day: Technically called “District Testing,” all juniors take an official ACT during the school day in April. Last year, five students scored a perfect score on this day. Being in a familiar environment and testing on a Tuesday, instead of Saturday, morning are factors influencing top performance in students. This test also opens the possibility of taking two official April ACT tests.
College Research Canvas Course: This online reference helps juniors understand different types of colleges, use resources for research, build a college list, and make the most of campus tours, college fairs and in-school representative meetings.
August (before school starts)
College Application & Scholarships Online Learning Course: Delivered to all seniors through SLUH’s online learning platform Canvas, the course walks seniors through each component of college applications and supporting materials required.
Open Applications Work Week: In the first week of MSHSAA sports practices, seniors are invited to work on their applications in the library. The college counselors are on hand with snacks and knowledge! This is not a 30-hour “boot camp” but is self-directed and peer-supported hands-on “classroom time” for the college application process that our students have found invaluable.
FAFSA Completion Workshop: Designed for parents and students, this evening program steps families through each section of the FAFSA. A university financial aid expert is on hand to answer questions.
Open Access to All Grade Levels
College Admissions Representatives: During activity period and lunch, more than 185 college representatives visit SLUH each year (up from 120 before our new program initiation).
Selective Sunday: For students and parents of all grade levels, this program is delivered by representatives from highly selective universities to give insights into the criteria and assessment for selecting students and how students can position themselves to be competitive applicants.
Tips from the Pros: This program is an opportunity for students during the early phases of college research to hear direct comparisons on student experiences and academic expectations from large state institutions, liberal arts colleges and high selective universities.
Financial Aid 101 & Financial Aid 201: Financial Aid 101 provides early awareness of the true costs of colleges to students and their parents so that they can plan appropriately and adjust financial planning if needed. Financial Aid 201 explains how to understand specific college’s policy and procedures, specific cost of attendance based on family income and student academic ability (Net Price Calculator).
On the Horizon
Existing counseling targeted for expansion include:
- NCAA Eligibility for Athletes
- Military Academy and ROTC Advising
- First Generation Programming
- Engineering and Computing Portfolios for Admissions
- Honors Colleges at State Schools
- Career Exploration
- Formation of Student, Parent & Alumni Advisory Boards
We look forward to the future of College Counseling at SLUH. The J. Anthony '57 and Donna M. Dill Center for Academic Success will inspire collaboration, student engagement, teamwork and effective use of technology as we work to fulfill Imagining 18’s challenge to create a world-class College Counseling department.
First Guest Lecture in the Innovation Lab
More than 50 students interested in competitive engineering and science admissions recently heard from Ken Haggerty, MIT Class of 2011, on the importance of creating a portfolio.
Haggerty (pictured) encouraged the Jr. Bills to keep a journal or log book about the projects they create, including taking photos during the interim steps. He also advised them to include in their final portfolios information about what they made, what was challenging about it, why they made it, and what the project means to them. The session was a joint effort of the Science and College Counseling departments.
Did you know?
More than 25% of accepted MIT students submitted project portfolios as part of their applications.