4 Years of Prep Overview
Preparation for college begins the moment a student walks in the door in her freshman year. Each girl is assigned to a faculty advisor, a sponsor, and a class dean, all of whom become her guides and mentors as she engages with our community and begins to establish herself in her classes, sports and extracurricular activities on campus. We encourage girls to try new things, stretch themselves, and find and pursue passions. In the third trimester, freshmen will engage in course planning for the following year and goal setting for continued growth and exploration.
Sophomores have their first taste of college admission testing in October by taking the PSAT. This “practice” SAT provides students with a low-stakes opportunity to become familiar with college admissions testing, and individual feedback her relative strengths and areas of focus. In the spring, students work closely with advisors and/or the college counselor to evaluate their academic record and extracurricular engagement to look ahead to planning for junior and senior years.
Juniors take the PSAT again in October of 11th grade, and have their first individual meeting with the College Counselor when those results are available. The College Counselor presents at class meetings and hosts small group meetings in January during health class to help orient the girls to the college process, answer general questions, and introduce them to the tools they will be using to help manage their search. Also in January, the College Counseling Office holds a Junior Parent Orientation which includes an overview of the planning calendar and an introduction to Naviance, the web-based college planning tool that SEM makes available to parents and students.
The College Counselor will also help Juniors to:
- Devise a standardized testing plan, register for spring standardized tests and begin test prep.
- Complete “My Ideal College” questionnaire and begin to research colleges and make an initial college list.
- Plan February weekend and/or spring break college visits.
- Plan summer activities.
- Think about whom they would like to ask to write their teacher recommendations (2) and ask them in person by the end of the year.
- Review senior year course options and discuss your senior year schedule with their advisor, parents, and college counselor.
By senior year, the college counseling process becomes highly individualized, as each girl’s search becomes as unique as she is. The first four rotations of senior health are used to review Naviance, the Common Application, essays, and other topics. College representatives from over 75 colleges and universities visit SEM throughout the fall, and girls are strongly encouraged to meet with the visitors from any schools they are considering for small group and often one-on-one connections. Students and counselors meet regularly as we approach early deadlines and finalize a college applications list that represents the student’s interests and a range of schools to which she has an opportunity to be admitted.
A College Case Study Night is scheduled in the fall of senior year. Facilitated by guest admissions directors from regional colleges, parents and seniors form mock admissions committees to read, analyze and assess actual applications. Through this exercise, each girl and her parents gain a better understanding of the college admissions process.
In the early winter, SEM offers a Financial Aid Workshop, led by seasoned financial aid professionals, to help students and families understand this critical component of the college decision process.
Students who are applying for financial aid must work closely with their parents to assure that all required financial aid forms are submitted by each school’s published deadlines.
College admissions decisions come throughout the winter with a final notification date of April 1. Students have until May 1, the national reply date, to select and enroll.
Some of the public resources incorporated in the planning process at SEM include: