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Valwood’s priority in the college guidance process is to help students identify, apply to, and secure admission to colleges and universities that will meet their needs, nurture their talents and interests, and appropriately challenge them. But, the development of decision-making skills, which allow students to own and engage in this process successfully is of equal importance. Good decision-making not only increases the likelihood that students identify colleges that will prove to be a good match for them, but it also prompts a move toward self-awareness and self-sufficiency, attributes that are vital for students as they transition into adulthood.
Valwood’s college guidance program empowers students to make reasoned and informed decisions, to advocate effectively for themselves, to follow a schedule and meet deadlines, and to employ strong organizational skills throughout the process. We are committed to providing timely information, counseling, and support to help each student develop the necessary skills to complete each phase of the college process successfully.
Valwood’s College Guidance program focuses its support on seniors throughout the admissions process and helps them identify and gain acceptance to the college or colleges that meet their needs. The College Guidance process is comprehensive, as our counselor works closely with students and their parents throughout all four years of Upper School. Specifically, the following outlines the supports provided at each grade level.
A mid-year parent meeting with our Director of College Guidance serves to help parents of freshmen begin thinking about the college admissions process. While we remind freshmen of the reality that the grades they earn in Grade Nine do play a large part in the cumulative GPA that will someday be reported to college, and, as appropriate, we inform students and parents about the college entrance standardized testing, we do our best to minimize any focus on college and instead emphasize students’ acclimation to Upper School. Beginning in Grade 8, Valwood students take the PSAT. Any students new to Valwood will take the PSAT for the first time in Grade 9. These data are used to help the student focus on areas for improvement, which might include test taking strategies.
Sophomores once again take the PSAT and their scores are used to help them focus their study time. A group meeting early in the year begins to inform parents of the realities of the college admissions process, including the standard timeline, preparation activities, college visits and the drafting of a college admissions resume.
The intensive relationship between the students, parents and the College Guidance office begins in the winter/spring of junior year with a meeting with students and parents to introduce them to the selection and application process. The College Guidance counselor meets with each student to discuss the implications of the PSAT and ACT scores, as well as to ways to highlight their resume to help distinguish themselves from other applicants.
At the first “formal” group meeting for both students and parents in March, we help our students begin the process of gathering recommendations, thinking about essay topics, researching college possibilities and completing and submitting to us the information that will facilitate the writing of personalized letters to demonstrate the unique skills, talents and strengths of each and every Valwood student. Students and parents meet additional times, to begin drawing up a list of colleges and to make other specific plans. In addition, The College Guidance office might be able to help interested students find summer internships and opportunities.
During the course of the application period, from September through January of the senior year, the counselor works with students on myriad issues, such as the implications of early decision, crafting of the student’s extracurricular resume, campus and mock interviews, teachers’ recommendations and financial aid. The College Counselor, English teachers and administrators work with students throughout the fall as they complete and perfect their application essays. Throughout the fall our College Counselor is in close contact with college admissions officers, advocating for each of our students.
We invite you to explore Valwood through our website, but the best way to learn more about our school’s mission and approach is to visit us. We hold admissions coffee-and-tour sessions monthly where you will learn about our curriculum and extracurricular programs, and you will also be able to see first-hand our beautifully designed, state-of-the-art facilities.