When Does College Counseling Start?
In early December, PSAT results will be released online. Students will be notified via email, and the results are accessible by logging into their College Board account
Before the December break, juniors and families will be invited to complete "Get to Know You" Surveys via email in order to help Ms. Hatch Blauvelt and Ms. Virden learn more about the student's post-secondary ideas, preferences, and goals.
In February, juniors will start attending weekly College Advisories in small groups (they will be scheduled in a current free block).
In February-March, Juniors will start individual meetings as Ms. Virden and Ms. Hatch Blauvelt's schedules allow.
What Should Juniors and Families Do Now?
- Plan Ahead for College Visits during Spring Break. Physically visiting a campus and hearing from current students helps to develop an understanding of the process and identify your preferences and priorities. Most Admission offices require online registration well in advance.
- Discuss money as a family. The idea that saving for college will hurt is a huge myth. The most selective schools have generous need-based aid but offer no merit scholarships.
Understand there's more to college admissions than junior year grades and test scores - and more selective institutions are going test-optional. The majority of colleges look at grades from all four years (including senior year), plus the level and challenge of your course selection, and how you've improved over time.
They will also consider detailed recommendation letters, the student's personal essay, and extracurricular activities including work and volunteering, The majority of U.S. colleges practice what they call "holistic" admissions, meaning they review everything a student can potentially offer their campus as one whole package.
It's vital to stay organized! Consider creating a new family college application email account. Students are inundated with marketing emails from all colleges, regardless of their likelihood of being admitted or whether that school may be a good fit. Email is still the number one mode of communication for both MHS College Counseling and College Admission Offices.
Think about summer plans. Talk as a family about what the student wants to do this summer, whether it’s an academic program, health and wellness, volunteer or internship, athletics training, working, independent research, and/or family obligations. There are no standard “best” or “correct” summer activities. They should reflect your genuine needs, interests, and values. We also encourage reading some good books, and doing a few college visits!
Where's My Score?
Results come out in early December from the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT
), held for all sophomores and juniors in early October. The PSAT is a practice or "rehearsal" test, and results are never sent to colleges. It serves as a guide for students on what to study in order to improve for the SAT, which will be required by many colleges. Read below for more details on these, as well as the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Scores are compared to past research data, not this year's fellow PSAT test-takers. This data is reflected in the percentiles, score ranges, mean (average) scores, and college readiness benchmarks.
Colleges will market to students based on PSAT scores, using the email included on the PSAT. You may change this email and preferences by logging into The College Board
Marketing materials and emails from colleges are not a strong indicator of admission chances.
National Merit Scholarships are based on junior year PSAT scores but aren't awarded until college attendance.
16,000 Semi-finalists are notified in September 2020; 15,000 of those make the next round in February 2021; and 7,500 will be notified in March 2021 if they earned National Merit Scholarships through the organization itself, other corporations, or colleges.
Awards generally range from $500 to $2,500 per year.
Additional Test Prep Resources & Advice
, a College Board Partner, provides free daily questions and online practice tests scheduled throughout the year. Students must log into their College Board account to access these.
The ACT organization provides its own free resources on their website
Method Test Prep
provides more in-depth test prep resources online that are paid for by Miss Hall's and free for students to access. Here are directions to access them:
Which test do I take?Summit Test Prep
, our partner on the fall SAT prep class, recommend juniors to take free practice tests of both the ACT and SAT to see which one is better for the student. Then, direct all future test prep time and resources towards that one test, instead of trying to cover both. They are viewed completely equally in the eyes of all U.S. colleges and universities.