Academic Preparation and Course Selection
There are many factors that enter into college admission decisions, but none may be more important to the college than a student’s academic profile. When a college evaluates the transcript of an applicant, two factors are weighed most heavily: the rigor of the curriculum and the student’s performance. This means that each student should take the most demanding load that he or she can handle, especially in his or her area of academic strength, while giving important consideration to achievement.
Students are encouraged to follow their passions and develop their talents while carefully considering a college’s requirements. Students who are competing for freshmen college spots often have four years of math, science, English, and foreign language. College counselors and students in tenth and eleventh grades meet frequently—which can be initiated by either the student or the counselor—in order to discuss their academic course selection.
All ninth graders are assigned to the director of college counseling. In the second semester after grades are released, students are invited to stop by the office to meet the director and discuss any transition issues or college questions they may have.
Students are assigned individual counselors starting in the tenth grade, and formally start an introduction to the college process through a series of counseling sessions in the second semester.
Students are introduced to Naviance, a database that houses The Masters School college admission information. Naviance also helps each student assess his or her strengths through the personality and interest inventory that each student is invited to take. Results are interpreted for each student and parent at a meeting in the spring. Also discussed are the standardized test results from PLAN and the PSAT. What is discussed in addition to this depends on the development and interest of the student.
Counselors suggest visiting some colleges early in the process to help the student discover which colleges might be a good fit, and they help the family set up an individualized list of colleges to tour. Each family receives a college counseling packet, which contains standardized test, academic, and college visitation information.
Sophomores are encouraged to stay in touch with their counselor as they work through the academic course selection process.
Any student who has extended time on tests at The Masters School and wants this accommodation on standardized tests like the SAT I and II and the ACT, needs to apply to the testing agency, preferably before the fall of the student’s junior year. The director can help families with extended time questions.
Students can make an appointment with their counselor at anytime for help with issues ranging from the appropriate time to sign up for standardized tests to college visitation feedback. Although much of the first part of the semester in the college counseling office is geared toward helping seniors apply, counselors’ doors are always open to help eleventh graders and their families.
In the second semester, juniors are invited to discuss their PSAT results, standardized testing schedule, academic course selection, and revisit any personal information as it relates to college selection. A family meeting is scheduled to discuss the college admission process as it is handled at The Masters School. If not developed as yet, a preliminary list of colleges is generated for the family to consider.
Applying Early Decision to a college should only be considered if a student has decided, after visiting and weighing academic, financial, and admission factors seriously, that a college is a realistic fit. Counselors and parents play a key role, but this process is driven by the student.
Students are asked to fill out the Common Application online after July 1, before their senior year. The College Office holds Back to School Application Boot Camp sessions in late August for rising seniors to help them complete necessary application work before they become mired in the academic work of the school year. Writing essays is a key part of this process, and counselors are happy to assist students as they formulate ideas. Athletes need to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse after junior year.
The student, who now is at the center of this process, is encouraged to take a leadership role by contacting colleges for interviews, registering for standardized tests, preparing and submitting applications on time, paying close attention to college deadlines and the Office of College Counseling’s internal deadlines. Students can track applications through Naviance to know when they were sent out and received by colleges. The office sends transcripts, recommendations, and other documentation requested by colleges electronically through Naviance.