During the eleventh-grade year you begin thinking in more specific ways about the college application and search process. In the fall, you’ll attend college counseling prep sessions during the school day and evening with the college counseling team. During this term students are encouraged to attend the SAIS College Fair, where 150 colleges are present to meet with students from Seattle-area independent schools. In the winter, you will be assigned to and start meeting with your individual college counselor, individually and later with your family. .You also will be given guidance about standardized testing and introduced to Naviance, the online system we use for the search and application process. Here, you will initiate your “colleges I’m interested in list” and, during the junior year, at least one campus visit is highly recommended – just getting onto a college campus, regardless of whether it is a school of interest, is invaluable in beginning to get a feel for likes and dislikes. (Testing during this year is discussed in a later section.)
SEPTEMBER – JANUARY:
Attend College Counseling-sponsored class meetings and events. Watch your email and look for meeting requests. You will receive important information and guidance in these meetings on beginning your college search and decision process, including: information about college visits to the EPS campus, testing, and online resources. Naviance is our online college counseling and application tool; it has a powerful search engine and is also your personal site for information and documents related to your college search and application process. Eventually, the documents that support your application – transcript, recommendation letters, etc. – will be sent to your colleges via Naviance.
Attend the SAIS College Fair. Each fall, EPS along with six other member schools (Bush, Lakeside, Northwest, Overlake, Seattle Academy and University Prep) sponsor a college fair. 100-120 colleges and universities nationwide send admission officers to this event. It provides an excellent opportunity for juniors to gain introductory information to a wide variety of schools.
Meet with college representatives on our campus. In addition to the fair, numerous college admission officers take the time to visit EPS. They like to learn more about the school and to meet interested students. There is no better way to help yourselves in this process than to spend 30-45 minutes speaking with an admission officer in this setting. It is not too early to do this as a junior, but make sure that you have permission from your teachers if you want to attend these sessions during class times
Register on the Naviance “Family Connection” website and use it to fill out the Junior Questionnaire. In January, we will host a “work party” (pizza and time to work!) to get you started on this questionnaire. This lengthy questionnaire is designed to spark your thought process and is a critical tool for us to use in both approaching your college search and eventually writing your school letter of recommendation. Thus, it is important for you to complete it honestly, carefully, and thoroughly.
Make an appointment to see your counselor (meeting should occur before March 1st). This first meeting will be a time for both counselor and student to begin to know each other better. Because the best college “matches” reflect more than just admission numbers and desired fields of study, these meetings last a full period. They are not intended to answer all questions and are only the starting point for a longer process. Being ready and willing to share your honest thoughts with your counselor helps make this meeting most productive.
Make initial contacts with any college of interest at this date. It is important that you contact each prospective college for information even if we have brochures available in the College Counseling Room. Getting on a school’s mailing list insures you receive other information throughout the process. In addition, many colleges now track all contacts with prospective students. Early correspondence is an indication of one’s organization and interest. Feel free to contact admission offices via the college’s website, or by email or phone.
FEBRUARY – MARCH:
Complete your first meeting with your college counselor! You may certainly meet more than once during this time with your counselor, but it is important that you meet at least once. This meeting officially kicks off the individual counseling process. During the meeting, your counselor will ask you questions to begin to build a picture of the kind of school that appeals to you. You will likely discuss other matters as well. For example, your standardized testing plan, and any campus visits you might be planning. Of course, your counselor will also address anything else on your mind during this meeting. The important thing to know is that you don’t need to “know” specific things about college or colleges you’re interested in – this meeting is simply the beginning of a conversation that will help guide you in your college search and choices.
Make plans for your full schedule of standardized testing. This should be done with the help of your counselor, but each student is responsible for all registration deadlines. Do not wait until the deadlines to register. Some test sites are known to fill up before the deadline. As a general rule, all students should take at least one administration each of the SAT or ACT, and if necessary, SAT Subject Tests by the end of the junior year.
Consider when best to begin making college visits. Even before you know exactly which colleges you plan to visit, it is wise to schedule time in your family’s calendar to make these visits. Waiting until the fall of senior year is seldom a good idea. That period is often the busiest in your high school career. Also, if the visits change your mind about what you desire in a college, there is little time then to adjust your search. Our breaks in February and April offer potential times for lengthier college trips. In addition, we have a number of Program Development Days when EPS faculty are in meetings, but students are free. These days provide a good chance to visit one or more of the many colleges within a few hours of Seattle, or even a longer trip further afield. See section below about visiting colleges during the summer.
MARCH – MAY:
Family meeting with your counselor. At some point between March 1 and the end of May, you and your family will meet with your counselor. While each student is in charge of his or her path, keeping everyone informed and giving a forum for all thoughts to be heard is important. Please plan on one meeting of this nature sometime before the summer break. While the first meeting is committed to exploring your general goals, subsequent meetings will focus more on specific prospective choices. It is important to come to this meeting both prepared with your ideas and open to new suggestions. Remember that it is not unusual to apply to six or more colleges. To get to this point one should investigate at least three times this number.
Begin to plan/schedule summer visits to colleges. Most students and/or families find they do not have sufficient time during the school year to see all of the schools under consideration. Summer visits do not provide an ideal evaluation of student life on campus, but they do help immensely in understanding the area, the programs, and the campus. Also, admission offices are best set up to host students and their families at this time. They will provide a great deal of insight to the college through group information sessions, tours, and sometimes individual interviews. For students trying to narrow their choices, this information is often sufficient. Indeed, colleges receive more visits by prospective students over the summer than during the whole rest of the year. (Most students will make return visits to their top choices eventually before making a final decision on where to attend.)
JUNE – AUGUST:
Visits. Don’t find one college you like and quit there. With further research, other colleges may prove preferable. Also, the one in which you are most interested may not work out. The more colleges you see the more educated your choices regarding applications will be in the fall. Do everything possible to make each visit productive. If an individual interview is available, sign up. If you have a particular interest in theater, try to speak with a member of the faculty in that department. If competing in athletics is a focus, see the coach while on campus. Go on campus tours and listen carefully to any group presentations. The more information you gather the better. Also, remember that what seems clear in July may be tough to recall by November. Take good notes, recording your impressions, the name and title of anyone with whom you speak, etc. At the time of visits information seems clear that you will be able to remember it. Over time, without notes details from college visits will fade. Notes are essential.
Continue to research schools. Continue to explore schools – search on Naviance, begin to read school websites and other materials more deeply (course descriptions, student life, etc.). Contact your counselor if you’d like to meet, following visits to schools or for any other reason. We are always happy to meet with you.