The College Process, Grades 11 & 12
In junior year, the college guidance process truly takes off. While the College Office works as a team and assists all students, juniors are assigned their own advisors at the beginning of the year. Students should feel free to meet with their advisors and ask questions about the process, including standardized testing plans.
In October, parents are invited to the Financial Aid Night and are encouraged to use the SmartTrack website for guidance about planning to apply for financial aid.
Also in October, all juniors sit for the PSAT exam, with results returned in December.
In late-November, juniors and their parents attend the Fall College Night to hear from a panel of expert admission officers about the research and application process.
Group and individual meetings begin after the New Year. In February, juniors have classes canceled one Monday and plan visits to colleges of their choice, as well as visiting schools during Chol HaMoed Pesach. At the Spring College Night, our biggest program of the year, representatives from over 40 colleges and universities speak in small groups (or individually) with juniors and parents.
Throughout the spring, juniors schedule individual meetings with their advisors, discuss preliminary college lists, research colleges, and visit campuses. Many juniors take SAT and ACT exams (Subject Tests have been discontinued by the College Board).
The summer after junior year is a time for exciting experiences, whether academic, travel, chesed, work, or other. It is also a time to jumpstart the college application process by visiting and researching schools, by narrowing down the student’s individual college list, by drafting essays, and by filling in parts of the application forms.
Senior year begins even before school starts! To support students’ progress with completing applications, the College Office holds workshops in late-August to catch up with seniors about their summer experience, provide structured time to work on applications, and review the applications in process.
Once seniors return to school, they hit the ground running. Over 80% of our students submit at least one early application (binding Early Decision, Early Action, public universities, etc.) by November 1. The fall means taking elective senior courses and intensive honors and AP courses, as well as finalizing college lists and completing the applications.
Each week, the College Office holds a mandatory meeting to discuss common application issues, to share information and news about individual application policies, and to keep students on track with their work.
In addition, we host many college representatives, who serve as the NYC point-person for their institutions. We encourage students interested in those schools to meet with the person who may well be reading their applications!
While seniors focus on their applications, grades matter a lot! Many colleges now require a first quarter grade report in order to review Early Decision and Early Action applications. Therefore, fall grades can have a significant impact on a college’s decision, including early applications. Colleges will review fall semester grades, as well, for students being reviewed in Regular Decision AND as a final audit for students who are admitted Early. Seniors must keep their academic performance up!
The fall is also when seniors and their parents complete the financial aid applications. In October, parents are invited to a Financial Aid Night. The federal aid application (FAFSA) goes live October 1, and we encourage families to begin their aid applications early. Parents continue to have access to tools on the SmartTrack website for guidance about applying for financial aid.
Some seniors will schedule their family meeting with their college advisor in the fall, and others will have held their meeting the prior spring or summer. Throughout the fall, seniors will schedule individual meetings during the school day, and they are invited to drop in any time to ask questions informally.
Application season continues through the winter, and grades continue to matter. Even students who have been admitted early will have their senior grades reviewed, and grades must remain at the high level on which admission was offered. In other words, ALL senior grades matter!
By May 1, the application process is concluded for most students. All students must accept the offer of admission for one school only by May 1. Even students pursuing admission from a wait list must secure a spot at a school that has offered them admission.