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College Seminars Advantage Juniors

by Lauren Boucher, Associate Director of College Counseling
 
Tabor’s faculty recently received an email from the director of college counseling, Tim Cheney, outlining what the remainder of the year holds in store for juniors. The list includes, among other things, a testing tips & strategies session, an essay writing workshop, optional mock interview sessions with college admissions deans, SAT and ACT test dates, and teacher recommendation contracts, which need to be agreed on and signed. That’s a lot, so how do juniors keep it all straight? First of all, each junior is working with a college counselor whose job it is to help keep juniors informed and moving in the right direction -- one step at a time. On top of this, each junior has already participated in two seminar sessions taught by members of the college counseling team. The third session will be held in April. The seminars are chock full of information and allow juniors time to complete key tasks and ask questions along the way.
 
Seminar one focused on conducting productive college research; students were given time during the session to research a college on their list, asking for guidance as needed. Students were also encouraged to use Naviance, collegeboard.org, the Fiske Guide to Colleges, and other reliable resources. Organization and time management were discussed, and the importance of reading and managing email was emphasized. The session also included a myth busters quiz wherein students were asked to choose answers to questions. For example, of six universities listed (MIT, Reed, Swarthmore, Rice, Carleton, University of Virginia), which three produce the highest number of PhDs in all disciplines? Juniors in the seminar took a few minutes to chat amongst themselves and then they offered up their conclusions. The correct answers include Reed College (Portland, OR), Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA), and Carleton College (Northfield, MN).
 
Seminar two provided insight into the importance of demonstrating interest to colleges. An obvious example is touring campuses and attending information sessions, but there are other ways to demonstrate interest, too: visit with college reps at Tabor’s fall college fairs; if offered, interview with college reps either in person or via Skype; and send well-written emails to college reps if you have a specific question or as follow-up to meeting that person at a college fair. Juniors also watched a Tabor-produced video wherein admitted-to-college seniors discussed the importance of college visits and shared their own takeaways.
 
Seminar three, beginning April 15, will allow college counselors to impress upon juniors the importance of completing the Junior Brag Sheet. This survey, embedded in Naviance, asks juniors to brag about their accomplishments -- academic, co-curricular, work-related, and personal. The details they share give counselors what they need to write the best possible Counselor Statement, a letter written by counselors and sent to colleges on behalf of their counselees. Also, in seminar three, students will create an account with The Common Application, an online application students can use at more than 750 colleges. Since only one application needs to be filled out, it saves students time when applying to college. The goal in seminar three is to create a Common App account and to complete several sections, giving students a jump start as they finish the year and head into summer. The last goal for seminar three is to review summer plans. While we expect that students will work and/or volunteer, we also share a list of summer reminders, such as registering for standardized tests, demonstrating interest at schools to which students are interested in applying, and completing drafts of application supplements, to name a few.
 
The goal of these seminars is to encourage students to be thoughtful and productive early in the college process. Fall of senior year is a busy time, but it shouldn’t cause undue stress. Being organized and informed, and knowing what to do when might even make the journey enjoyable.
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