READING ROOM REFLECTIONS A College Counseling Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 2
Winter 2013 -2014
WINTER COLLEGE COUNSELING CALENDAR Sixth formers finish applications and complete any necessary financial aid forms. Dec. – Jan. Fourth formers receive college counselor assignment. PSAT results are sent home. Dec. SAT (at Woodberry) Dec. 7 ACT (off campus) Dec. 14 Fifth formers have initial individual meetings. Jan. – Feb. SAT (at Woodberry; register by Dec. 27). Jan. 25 Long Winter Weekend is a great opportunity to visit college campuses. Jan. 31 – Feb. 4 ACT (off campus; register by January 10). Feb. 8 SAT (during Spring Break; register by Feb. 7) Mar. 8
OUR OFFICE Director Hunt Heffner Associate Director Indira Cope Testing Coordinator Renee Sullivan
T 540-672-6050 F 540-661-4150 www.woodberry.org
Underformers: Looking Ahead to Summer What a student does during his summer break can distinguish him from other applicants of similar academic caliber. Whether your son plans to finish his community service project, get a job or internship, take a summer course, or go to a camp, now is the time to start the planning or application process. As a parent, you know best what is possible in your area, and you are likely to be the primary resource for facilitating these opportunities. The summer programs offered throughout the U.S. and around the world are numerous and cover a diverse range of student interests. Some programs have an application process, and most have registration deadlines that fall between January and March. In recent years, Woodberry students have participated in a range of activities, including Governor’s School, Research Summer Institute at MIT, Interlochen Arts Academy, Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference, Exeter academic summer program, NOLS, state government page programs, Sail Caribbean, and various part-time jobs, camp counselor positions, and volunteer efforts. Woodberry can be a resource for summer activities, too. For students who have the travel bug, the school offers study-abroad options in Spain, Nicaragua, England,
and Scotland for students seeking an intensive outdoor experience, our Outdoor Education Program offers a limited number of scholarships for Moondance and Outward Bound. The Class of 2008 Community Service Program aids students who want to develop their own community service projects. Last summer, two students used funds from this program to work in coordination with local organizations to build new hiking trails in Lexington, Virginia. A highly motivated student interested in an internship may find support through our Development Office, which can connect students with alumni in their fields of interest. Students who hope to play athletics in college will find that participating in summer camps, tournaments, and leagues may help them receive attention from recruiters. Coaches at Woodberry can help them seek out appropriate programs. Summer is an excellent time for students to explore interests or activities that may not be readily available to them during the academic year. No option is inherently better than another; colleges are mainly interested in seeing students use their free time in a meaningful way.
Volume 1, Issue 2
The Importance of Senior-Year Grades The transcript is the single most important document colleges use to assess your son’s academic preparation. Along with recommendation letters and essays, the transcript tells your son’s high school academic story. While colleges will appropriately emphasize your son’s junior-year performance, they are equally interested in his full four-year experience, including the senior year. When evaluating your son’s application, admissions officers will consider the courses in which he enrolls as well as the grades he earns. We are required to submit your son’s mid-year grades to all colleges to which he applies. “Mid-year” means first-trimester grades for most universities, but some require first- and second-trimester results. Our office automatically submits mid-year grades within the first two weeks of December for any
student who had his transcript submitted before December. All transcripts submitted after the beginning of December will include first-trimester grades. Colleges want to see that a student has been consistent or has improved his performance. Some colleges with Early Action or Early Decision deadlines in October or November may not consider mid-year grades in making their initial decision. In these cases, mid-year grades will play a role only if your son’s application is deferred. We only send your son’s grades from later marking periods when we are asked to do so by your son or by a specific college. We will send a final transcript to the college where your son has decided to matriculate. Final transcripts are used to verify that an admitted student has “satisfactorily completed” his senior year. In very rare cases, a college will rescind an offer of admission if a student’s performance has dropped very significantly. Final grades can also be important for students who remain on a wait list or who decide to apply for transfer admission to a different college. For these reasons, we will encourage your son to work hard throughout his senior year.
What Do Admissions Decisions Mean? One of the most difficult parts of the college admissions process is waiting patiently once your son has submitted his applications. While we wish that every college would accept every Woodberry student who applies, we feel confident that most colleges make rational and understandable decisions within the context of their overall pool of candidates. There are four decisions an applicant can receive — admit, defer, wait list, and deny. Obviously, your son applies to a college hoping to be admitted. If he receives an offer of admission through a binding Early Decision program, he is committed to attend that university and he needs to withdraw any applications he may have submitted to other colleges. An offer of admission during the regular decision period or through a non-binding early application program, such as Early Action or rolling admission, does not need to be immediately accepted. Students have until the national candidate reply date of May 1 to make their final decision. Being turned down by a college is always difficult, but it is especially disappointing during an early-application period. An early denial can provide an opportunity for your son to regroup and tweak his application list as necessary. Students who are denied early do not reapply for consideration during the regular-decision period.
The other possible admission decisions, “defer” and “wait list,” are less straightforward than “admit” or “deny.” When a student is deferred during an early-application period, the college wants more time or information to make a final decision. They may want to make the decision within the context of their overall applicant pool for the year, or they may want to see more information from the student. This could mean they want to evaluate additional grades, consider any awards your son earns during his senior year, or provide a student with low standardized test scores the opportunity to sit for the SAT or ACT again. Your son could be wait listed during the regular decision process if the college admissions office cannot make him an offer of admission outright but considers him too strong to deny. Colleges rarely know how many, if any, students they will be able to admit from their wait list; this is when your son’s “demonstrated interest” in the college can become important. Offers of admission from wait lists typically come between May and July. Whatever decisions your son receives, we are best able to guide him when he notifies us of all decisions and communicates with us about the schools to which he has applied. We are here to support you and your son through the decision-making process.
Understanding Your Son’s PSAT Results We mailed a copy of your fourth or fifth former’s PSAT test booklet and results to your home address in early December. The PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Competition for juniors, and it gives you and the College Counseling office an idea of how well your son might be expected to perform on the SAT Reasoning Test. You can multiply PSAT scores by ten to get an idea of what your son’s comparable SAT Reasoning Test scores could be. While PSAT scores do not affect college decisions, they can help your son better prepare for future SAT tests by understanding his
potential strengths and weaknesses. We encourage you to take advantage of the College Board’s My College QuickstartTM program, which gives your son individual feedback on his PSAT and test preparation for the SAT. The PSAT score report provides information on accessing this account. As we mentioned in the fall newsletter, interested students can also find online test preparation through Naviance and the College Board and ACT websites.
Did You Know?
Financial Aid 101: A Quick Overview Oct 15-Dec 15 Deadlines for applying for financial aid for Early Decision applicants Jan 1 FAFSA is available online Jan 15-Mar 1 Deadlines for applying for financial aid (vary by college) for regular decision applicants Apr 1 Colleges make their financial aid offers May 1 Deadline for accepting a college’s offer of admission and financial aid package Most colleges offer need-based financial aid programs that can help qualifying families make the cost of attending college more affordable. It is very important to submit the required financial aid documents by a college’s deadline. Given the nature of the information needed to complete these forms, there is little the College Counseling staff can do to help with submitting these applications. If you have general questions, feel free to be in touch; otherwise, you should contact individual college websites and financial aid offices for specific guidance.
Every student who applies for financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA can be obtained and completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov beginning January 1. Deadlines vary by school, so we recommend completing the FAFSA as soon after the January 1 as possible. Some colleges also require the CSS/Profile form, which can be accessed through the College Board website, or their own institutional form. These forms contain questions concerning student and parent income and assets.
Final thoughts: • It’s best to use official 2013 tax information, but you may use estimated numbers to fill out your financial aid forms if your current-year taxes have not yet been prepared. • Net Price Calculators available on every college’s website provide a rough estimate of your future financial aid award. • Please be aware that Woodberry uses a different methodology than colleges to calculate financial aid. Families who receive financial aid at Woodberry will find that the amount colleges expect their family to contribute to their son’s college education is higher. Loans can make up a significant portion of a college financial aid package. • Familiarize yourself with financial aid language — need-based versus need-sensitive or needaware, demonstrated need, and differences between loans, grants, and work study. • The financial aid process is different for international students; some colleges do not extend aid to non-U.S. citizens/permanent residents. Colleges have specific information on their websites for international students and their families.
Students who wish to be considered for extended time or other accommodations on the SAT or ACT must have received a disability diagnosis and should have had accommodations in place at Woodberry for at least four months.
Office of College Counseling Woodberry Forest School 148 Woodberry Station Woodberry Forest, VA 22989
Happy Holidays from the College Counseling Office! Winter is an exciting time of the year as families enjoy time together over the holidays. It’s also one of the most active times for College Counseling, as we work with boys in all forms. In January, we help sixth formers finalize their regulardecision applications. We also start individual meetings with fifth formers and small-group meetings with fourth formers, and we continue to talk to third formers about getting the most out of their Woodberry experience.
We look forward to working with all of you in the coming months, and we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.
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