We believe that the college process belongs to the student, and she should be in charge of her search, her applications, and, to a great extent, the decision about where she will enroll. The college counselors and student discuss such topics as: determining what type of college may be the best fit; conducting an effective college search; managing the reality of the college admissions landscape; having an effective campus visit; writing strong application essays; and choosing among her college options.
In January of the sophomore year, each student is randomly assigned a primary counselor who will be her main point of contact. The Director and the Associate Director effectively share the class and know all of the girls well, and families may reach out to either counselor at any time with questions or concerns.
Beginning in Ninth Grade, counselors visit the Health and Wellness classes to introduce themselves and provide an overview of the college process. Students have an opportunity to ask as many questions as they wish, and are invited to meet individually with a college counselor at any time, should they want to. This continues in Tenth Grade Health and Wellness, where more detail about the process is provided.
Juniors meet with the college counselors in the second semester for a College Workshop class. Also, each junior meets individually with her primary counselor in January or February, prior to the family college meeting that happens in February, March or April.
Seniors meet with the counselors in the Senior College Workshop class during the first semester. They also meet individually - as often as daily -- to review applications, ask questions and seek advice. The counselors also will meet periodically with seniors in the second semester to address topics relevant to that period in the application and admission process.
Parents may request a meeting with a college counselor at any point. If the student has not yet been assigned a primary counselor, either one of the counselors will schedule the meeting. Parent College Night Programs for each grade level are held throughout the year.
The student’s college list is generated in the family’s Winter meeting in her junior year. If parents are planning college visits prior to that time, one of the counselors would be happy to make a very preliminary list to help guide visits. For earlier visits, we recommend visiting a range of types of schools in potentially different locations.
We recommend that Juniors plan to take the SAT for the first time in October, November or December; those opting for the ACT should take it for the first time in September, October or December. Most students take one or the other test at least twice, and often three times. Prospective recruited athletes should take one test or the other no later than September of the junior year.
SAT Subject Tests are one-hour exams that correspond to academic coursework. Some colleges/universities recommend these tests, and a few schools still require them (Cal Tech, MIT, Cornell Division of Arts and Sciences, Carnegie-Mellon, Harvey Mudd College and Georgetown). Students should talk with their college counselor about which tests to take and the best time to do so.
This is a family decision. Test prep courses and individual tutors can be expensive, but, if carefully chosen, can also be quite effective in improving test scores. There are excellent free SAT prep resources online through Kahn Academy (kahnacademy.org), and through Magoosh (magoosh.com) for the ACT. Laurel also offers test prep for juniors at various times before and after school, and on weekends.
The most important factor in the recruiting process is for your daughter to make academic achievement her highest priority, as stronger grades will provide a wider range of opportunities. While the athletic recruiting process varies according to whether a student is NCAA Division I, II or III, her first step should be to talk with her coach and our Athletic Director - preferably early in her sophomore year - about the level of play that would be suitable for her. At the same time, she should also talk with her coach and Athletic Director about the proper steps to take to increase her chances of being recruited (e.g. camps, tournaments, showcases). Many students prepare a letter and resume to send to the coaches at schools of interest as a way to make initial contact. Once your daughter has a better sense of her appropriate level of college play, she should meet with the college counselors to begin discussions about schools and programs that fit her academic and athletic abilities. Prospective athletes should take at least one standardized test (ACT or SAT) no later than September of the junior year.
We recommend that students use their summers wisely, to pursue and deepen existing interests or explore new ones. While summer activities need not be academic in nature, some students will find opportunities that support an academic interest; i.e., working with children if interested in pursuing education, or interning in an engineering firm if interested in studying engineering. Paid jobs are also worthwhile, as they afford students the opportunity to gain some real world experience (and earn some money!). In general, it’s important for students to do something meaningful, and also important that they have some down time and family time.
We recommend summer pre-college programs if the student is genuinely interested in what she will be studying while she is enrolled. These programs allow students to experience a small slice of college life, and to open their minds to new people and ideas. However, pre-college programs do not give students an advantage in college admission.