EPS College Counseling Program

Students are paired with their Process Coach in the Winter of their sophomore year.
The advisor provides support for students as they take classes, navigate the EPS program, and work their way generally through the high school years. The college counselor helps the student frame and reflect on her/his experience and achievement in the Upper School program, then apply that thought to the college search and application process.
The student and their parents will have the opportunity to meet with their Process Coach and Bart Gummere three times, beginning in January of their junior year. In the first meeting the goals of both students and parents will be explored and an initial frame for the college search and application process will be set. The second meeting, in May of the junior year, will be student led and will focus on the college list and search, the resume, testing updates, as well as summer plans. In the final meeting, early in the Senior fall, the college list will be finalized and the application plan will be discussed. Of course the counselors will be available outside of the family meetings as well to both students and parents.
Families are welcome to talk with counselors as often as desired about financial planning and financial aid.
In short, no. The EPS College Counselors provide the support and advice any outside counselor would, with the very real benefit of knowing your student and the EPS academic program. In addition, with our expanded college counseling program, your student will have a Process Coach was well as a Writing Coach. Bart Gummere will assist all students in the construction of their College Lists. In the case when families do hire outside assistance, EPS asks that families share this information and connect the outside resource to the counseling team here.

 Standardized Testing

This should be a family decision. Students who decide to do test prep often wait to get diagnostic results back on a first test, using those results to focus their test prep near the time of their second test. It is most effective to do test prep immediately prior to a test-taking date. EPS hosts test prep classes for both the ACT and the SAT through University Tutoring. The intention of offering their classes is not to recommend one service over others, but to provide a convenience to EPS families. These classes are targeted to a specific test date and are for EPS students only. Please see the “Test Prep @ EPS” page for more information.
We recommend that students take a standardized test (ACT and/or SAT) at least two times: once between January and June in their junior year and once in the senior fall. Some students may be served well by a third testing, but this is the exception. Research shows that only 15% of students perform markedly better on one exam than the other. Students generally decide on a preferred exam based on previous results and their comfort with each test’s format/content.
Here is one summation found at  http://www.princetonreview.com/college/sat-act

  1. ACT questions tend to be more straightforward.
    ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you’re being asked before you can start solving the problem. For example, here are sample questions from the SAT essay and the ACT writing test (their name for the essay):
    SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value?
    ACT: In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating?
  2. The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary.
    If you’re an ardent wordsmith, you’ll love the SAT. If words aren’t your thing, you may do better on the ACT.
  3. The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not.
    You don’t need to know anything about amoebas or chemical reactions for the ACT Science section. It is meant to test your reading and reasoning skills based upon a given set of facts. But if you’re a true science-phobe, the SAT might be a better fit.
  4. The ACT tests more advanced math concepts.
    In addition to basic arithmetic, algebra I and II, and geometry, the ACT tests your knowledge of trigonometry, too. That said, the ACT Math section is not necessarily harder, since many students find the questions to be more straightforward than those on the SAT.
  5. The ACT Writing Test is optional on test day, but required by many schools.
    The 25-minute SAT essay is required and is factored into your writing score. The 40-minute ACT writing test is optional. If you choose to take it, it is not included in your composite score — schools will see it listed separately. Many colleges require the writing section of the ACT, so be sure to check with the schools where you are applying before opting out.
  6. The SAT is broken up into more sections.
    On the ACT, you tackle each content area (English, Math, Reading and Science) in one big chunk, with the optional writing test at the end. On the SAT, the content areas (Critical Reading, Math and Writing) are broken up into 10 sections, with the required essay at the beginning. You do a little math, a little writing, a little critical reading, a little more math, etc. When choosing between the SAT and ACT, ask yourself if moving back and forth between content areas confuse you or keep you energized?
  7. The ACT is more of a “big picture” exam.
    College admissions officers care about how you did on each section of the SAT. On the ACT, they’re most concerned with your composite score. So if you’re weak in one content area but strong in others, you could still end up with a very good ACT score and thus make a strong impression with the admissions committee.
Not usually. Almost all schools will accept either the SAT or the ACT and some schools will require the ‘Writing’ section that accompanies both tests. Click the HERE to see the Standardized Testing requirements from  50 highly selective colleges and universities.
A small number of schools require students to submit scores for one or two of these tests in their application. Different than the more general nature of the SAT and ACT, these tests focus on content and thinking skills from specific academic subjects (i.e. Math and Biology). Information on these exams can be found at https://sat.collegeboard.org/about-tests/sat-subject-tests. Each student’s counselor can help with the decision of which tests to take based on what courses a student has completed. Students in 9th and 10th grades will be provided information on these tests; at times testing in those grades is advantageous for timing.
The redesigned SAT was implemented in the Spring of 2016. Students applying during the 2016-2017 school-year can submit either the old or new test. Later classes will only be able to submit the new version of the SAT. Information about the redesigned exam can be found at the following link: https://www.collegeboard.org/delivering-opportunity/sat/redesign
A student’s application is considered in the context of the EPS academic program. EPS does not offer AP courses, (a common trait among independent schools all over the country) so the lack of AP designation generally does not negatively impact the strength of a student’s program. Colleges know our curriculum and understand the high level of academic work required.

Although we do not teach AP courses, we do facilitate many AP Exams each May on campus. EPS students often elect to take one or more exam. EPS teachers can advise students about the degree to which our classes cover content for specific AP exams, and how much a student may need to study independently to prepare for an Exam.

The College Search

Students will receive their registration codes in a class meeting in the spring of their sophomore year.
Parents will receive their registration codes at the Information Night in September of their student’s junior year.
Go to http://connection.naviance.com/eps
On the right side under ‘Are you new here?’ click: ‘I need to register’
Enter your registration code and complete registration

Please contact Elizabeth Andersen if you need any further assistance.

Students can begin filling their “Colleges I’m Thinking About” list on Naviance as soon as they wish after receiving access to Naviance. In the fall of junior year, all EPS students will have the opportunity to attend a college fair open only to 8 area independent schools. Counselor will work with each junior to identify colleges and universities of interest. Students will often place these institutions into their Naviance list. In January, students will complete a detailed questionnaire, designed in part to help them and their counselor think further about possible schools of interest. By the close of the junior year the expectation is that students have 15-20 schools on the “Colleges I’m Thinking About” list.
There is no correct number. On average, EPS students apply to between 6-8 schools. For a variety of reasons, some students are well served by a slightly longer list. In almost all cases we recommend against lists exceeding 10-12.
We recommend that students visit enough college campuses by the start of their senior year, that they develop a strong general picture of what is desired and works best for them.  Some students visit several campuses before submitting applications; others visit only a few and then wait for admission decisions from colleges. Each student’s counselor will help guide the process of visits according to family preferences, schedule, etc.


About 80% of the schools to which our students apply accept the Common Application. The number of schools using the Common Application grows every year. Schools that do not accept the Common App have their own online application systems or, in a few cases, demand paper submissions. Generally, these are larger state colleges and universities.
The Coalition Application is a new alternative to the Common App rolling out for the 2016-2017 application season. It was created and is used by over 80 colleges and universities who felt that the Common App did not provide enough/ideal information about the applicants. Through the Coalition App, applicants will have the opportunity to create a profile and portfolio as early as ninth grade. They are able to update and add to their portfolio throughout their high school career. More information is available at their website: http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/
The Common Application allows a maximum of 650 words. Each year the Common App includes 5-6 general essay prompts to which students can respond.

The Coalition Application recommends that students keep the essay within 300-400 words. They have released 4 prompts with a fifth option to submit an essay on a topic of individual choice.

Beyond the personal statement, many schools require supplemental responses to questions that are more specific to that institution.
Early decision applications are binding,  with the student is committing to attend  if accepted.

Early action applications are non-binding, giving the student opportunity to express strong interest and the school to fill its freshman class earlier.  In most cases, students may apply to multiple schools using Early Action, but there are important exceptions.  It is always the student’s responsibility to read and know the policies of any school to which she/he is applying.

This varies between institutions.  Some schools require a counselor recommendation and two teacher recs.  In other cases, fewer are required and in some cases, students are asked specifically not to submit any recommendations.  EPS students will ask two teachers to write and the college counseling team will prepare a personalized recommendation for each senior.  These will be submitted by the counselors in accordance with requirements at each college or university. Two teacher recommendations and a counselor recommendation are sent electronically by the college counselor to each school a student applies to.  Students are asked to request one teacher recommendation in June of the junior year and to request a second by October 1 of the senior year.
Colleges do not accept test score reports from EPS. Students need to arrange with ACT or The College Board (SAT) to have their scores sent to each college to which they are applying.