Dear Juniors and Junior Parents,

    Welcome to the Junior Edition Newsletter! Perhaps you're considering post-secondary goals like the military, trade or technical school, the workforce, or college? In preparation for the transition planning you will do during your junior year, the Counseling Department has collected various resources to help you navigate the confusing and sometimes muddy waters of post-secondary planning. It is our hope that this Newsletter will assist you through every aspect of individual planning in the junior year.

    And, don't worry, we will be ready and waiting with further resources to guide you through the upcoming senior year, as well. This time can be stress-ful, but it can also be very exciting, too. Always remember, we welcome you to make an appointment at any time to meet or talk over any questions or concerns with your counselor. We're here to help.

    Sincerely yours,

    The High School Counselors


    Students, becoming a Competitive College Applicant is a little like playing chess. It is to your advantage to plan two to three moves ahead of yourself and anticipate the moves of your opponent. It's always good to have a ¨Dcontingency plan, in case your opponent makes a move you didn't anticipate. Hopefully, by the end of the game, you're right where you want to be. With good planning, accurate anticipation, and contingency plans in place, becoming a competitive college applicant will be an easy ¨Dcheckmate for you.

    A note to parents: Any parent who has ever packed up the car, driven a distance to a school, unloaded his/her child's earthly possessions into a dorm room, and kissed this child good-bye in the parking lot knows that this is an emotionally charged transition for both the parent and the child. The one hope that a parent clings to, as he or she drives away, is that this child is at a school where he/she can both succeed academically and be truly happy. To enhance the chances that this fit will occur, a systematic approach, involving all the pertinent factors, is helpful.

    The College Selection Process can be described as having four components: Information, Preparation, Visitation, and Application. When working through this systematic approach, it helps to weigh the seven factors of college selection. The details with which each institution will provide you regarding these factors will most certainly affect your child's decision to attend.

    1. Preparation

    2. Information

    Begin by prioritizing the seven factors for yourself. By prioritiz-ing, you begin to develop a means for potential compromise, if necessary. Before you begin gathering information and asking questions of institutions, start by asking them of yourself and begin to note where you are willing to compromise.

    TO DO:

    Meet with counselor to discuss your grades and GPA

    Ask for advice regarding National Standardized tests like the SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT

    Get ideas on constructing your R¨¦sum¨¦ and Essay

    Maintain academic quality through 12th grade by following teacher recommendations in scheduling senior year

    Once you've prioritized the seven factors, play a simple game of matching: as you research and visit schools, see whose answers come the closest to your ¨Dideal¡¬. Remember, this is a process and these factors are a systematic way of assessing your post-secondary options.

    TO DO:

    Attend the Pittsburgh National College Fair on February 4

    Use the eDiscover program, the Internet, and the CRC

    Attend College Rep Visits in the spring and throughout your senior year

    3. Visitation

    4. Application

    The campus visit is still the most important thing you can do. And don't discount the most important, immeasurable and unpredictable factor on the visit: your gut feelings. Gut feelings on a campus visit are almost always right, so pay close attention to them. Good luck and have fun with your search!

    TO DO:

    Make a list of questions to ask on a visit by reading Coun-seling Department Junior Publications

    These publications also include tips on visiting schools

    Take an unofficial copy of your transcript with you

    Take a walking tour with a student guide and meet with an admissions counselor and a Financial Aid Officer

    The Application component of the College Selection Process will be addressed at a later date. For now, just focus on the VOCABULARY of ADMISSION. It is important for you to have a working vocabulary of the terms of acceptance (our goal) in the College Selection Process.

    TO DO:

    Consult with your counselor on an appropriate list of Reach, Realistic, and Safety Schools

    Follow the instructions from the High School Counseling Department in pulling your applications together

    Plan well: try to have all


    Top Ten Things Colleges Look for in a College Student

    1. A high school curriculum that challenges the student.

    2. Grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend.

    3. Solid scores on Standardized Tests like the SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT Exams.

    4. Passionate involvement in a few activities, demonstrating commit-ment, leadership, and initiative (rather than over-involvement in sev-eral activities with no real depth).

    5. Community service showing evidence of being a contributor.

    6. Work or out-of-school experiences that illustrate responsibility, dedica-tion, and development of areas of interest.

    7. A well-written essay that provides insight into the student's unique personality, values, and goals.

    8. Letters of recommendation from school staff that give evidence of integrity, special skills, and positive character traits.

    9. Supplementary recommendations by adults who have had significant DIRECT contact with the student.

    10. Anything special that makes that student unique! What are you doing to make yourself stand out!?

    9th 9jj9th Grade

    10th G10th Grade

    11th Grade

    13112th Grade

    No college preparation or entrance exams in the ninth-grade year. Also, no PSSAs in the ninth-grade year.

    Ninth grade is the time to build a solid grade-point-average (GPA). Students should be focused on academic transition to high school and performance in their academic classes.


    Sophomores may consider taking the PSAT (practice SAT).

    Although this test is not appropri-ate for ALL students, as it is de-signed as a junior year test, some students may find the practice helpful in planning for future stan-dardized test preparation. This test is only offered in OCTOBER.


    Again, the PSAT is simply a practice SAT. However, the eleventh grade PSAT is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test ¨C all college-bound juniors should plan to take this exam. If students score in the top 2% nationally, they may be asked to apply for a Na-tional Merit Scholarship. Remem-ber, the PSAT is only offered in OCTOBER.


    College-bound juniors should plan to take two tests, SAT Reasoning and/or ACT, during the second semester of 11th grade.

    Students may need to test in the early months of the second semes-ter in order to allow for scores to be returned in a timely fashion. This way they may make an informed decision regarding future standard-ized tests.

    Students may want to sit for addi-tional standardized tests either late in the junior year or early in the senior year (or both) so they may further improve their scores.

    The Counseling Department bases its recommendations upon the individual testing needs of each student. For specific information, please see your counselor. The SAT Reasoning is offered in Janu-ary, March, May, & June. The ACT is offered in February, April, & June.

    NOTE: Eleventh grade PSSAs are also given in the spring semester. Scores may appear on the tran-script sent to colleges/universities. Students must demonstrate profi-ciency in order to graduate. They are given in April.

    SAT Subject Tests

    College-bound juniors should plan to take this test if necessary in MAY or JUNE. Scores appear on the transcript and allow students to highlight a particular area of aca-demic strength to their colleges/ universities. (Optional)


    The SAT Reasoning and/or ACT are offered in the early fall for seniors who feel they could score a bit higher on a retake ¨C sometimes colleges and universities request that applicants retake a test, as well.

    The ACT is usually offered in SEP-TEMBER, OCTOBER, and DECEM-BER.

    The SAT is usually offered in OCTO-BER, NOVEMBER, and DECEMBER.

    NOTE: Students must demonstrate proficiency on the eleventh grade PSSAs in order to graduate. Any students not scoring Proficient or above in eleventh grade will have the opportunity to retake the PSSAs in the fall semester of the senior year. Scores may appear on the transcript sent to colleges/ universities. Given in October.

    SAT Subject Tests

    College-bound seniors may find this test is necessary for college admission to certain schools ¨C it's not too late to take this test in October, November, or December. (Optional)