In October the College Counseling Office offers a “College Admissions 101” program to parents of 11th graders. It is held twice: on a weekday evening early in the month, and again on Family Weekend. This evening is really an educational event, coverings such basics as things to consider when looking at colleges, what goes into an application for admission, elements of a successful campus visit, college admissions policies, and how to put together a balanced and thoughtful list. After the program, the presentation is emailed to all junior parents.
The college process begins formally for students at the beginning of their second trimester of the junior year. In December, all juniors start meeting weekly in classes of 12-15 students with one of the college counselors. Topics covered in this class include:
- Personal assessments and inventories
- College research and putting together a list
- The ins and outs of campus visits and how to make the most of them
- College interviews – what to expect and how to prepare for them
- Activity sheets and resumes – what to include and how to format one
- Teacher recommendations and how to ask for them
- The world of standardized testing
- Brainstorming essay topics
- Financial aid and scholarships
- Parents in the process – How to work effectively with them
- The college selection process - what do colleges looks for and why?
In December, juniors are assigned to a college counselor.
On a Saturday in late January/early February, Dana Hall officially kicks off the college process with a Junior College Day for both juniors and their parents. The program includes hearing a panel of college representatives speak on topics not typically found in a college guide and participating in a mock admissions committee exercise.
Also in January, each junior starts meeting individually with her college counselor. They are required to meet at least three times with their college counselor before the end of May. During these meetings, they will collaborate with their counselor and put together a list based on their needs, goals and the competitiveness of each institution vis-a-vis their academic record at Dana.
Throughout the process, college counselors also welcome the opportunity to meet with parents. Although their daughters may want them as far away as possible, and insist they have everything under control, parents will certainly have some questions and concerns.
In early June, right after exams but before graduation, rising seniors attend a college essay workshop to prepare for writing their college essay over the summer. The college essay is the most common source of stress associated with the college process – for both students and parents. To minimize this, seniors are required to submit their college essay to their senior year English teacher upon returning to school in September. The workshop helps them to focus on this task and brainstorm ideas.