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College Counseling

College Process Timeline


College counselors will have several opportunities to introduce themselves to 9th and 10th graders and talk a little about the college process.  For example, each year around course selection time, they attend a 9th and 10th grade class meeting to talk about the importance of keeping college admissions in mind when selecting courses for the following year and the role of good grades in the admissions process.  Sophomores and juniors also meet college counselors when they take the PSAT in October of these respective years.
Parents often want to learn more about the college admissions process before their daughter is ready. So, each November the College Counseling Office hosts an evening program for 10th grade parents where they give an overview of the college admissions landscape and present information about standardized testing.  


In October the College Counseling Office offers a “College Admissions 101” program to parents of 11th graders. 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.  For parents who may not be able to attend, the presentation is posted online.

The college process begins formally for students at the beginning of the 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 from a panel of college representatives speak on topics not typically found in a college guide and participating in a mock admissions committee exercise.    
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 counselors collaborate with them on the process of putting together a list based on their needs and 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 sources 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.


In September, counselors continue to meet individually with seniors to take stock, review summer activities, finalize their list, and provide lots of feedback on the essays.   

From September - November, college representatives – more than 150 of them! – visit Dana Hall. These visits serve two purposes: to provide a great opportunity for students to learn more about colleges on their lists, and to give both students and admissions officers a chance to make a personal connection, a meeting that will be valuable when the student’s application comes across the admissions officer’s desk.  It’s a win-win for all!  

While all of this is going on, college counselors write individual college recommendations for each student. There’s a lot of information that goes into these letters, from teachers, advisors, coaches, parents, and students.    

Finally, college counselors do their very best to minimize the anxiety students (and some of their parents) will invariably feel at some point during the college process.  They do this by keeping students on track with their To Do lists, checking in with them, and holding their hand if they need it.  While most of this soothing comes from College Counseling Office, the adults in the Dana Hall community are very well aware of what juniors, and particularly seniors, experience as they move through the steps.  And at the end of the day, every student – 100% of them - go to college.  

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  • Western Civilization

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  • Common Ground

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  • 9th Grade Retreat

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  • Testimonials - Julia

    “At the retreat in 9th grade, there were so many girls from all different parts of the world who I couldn't wait to meet.”
    - Julia ’16