The college counseling program at The Meadows School is based on facilitating a close working relationship between students and their counselor, thereby giving each student the individualized attention they need. In eighth grade, students and their parents have the opportunity to meet with the Head of School to discuss the Upper School and begin preparing a four year plan that will eventually lead to college acceptance and matriculation.
Once students reach the Upper School, they meet one-on-one with their assigned counselor beginning in the 9th grade year and work with the same counselor over the next four years, culminating with completed applications to a well-balanced list of colleges in the senior year.
Each counselor is assigned to work with half of the student cohort in each grade level, a model that is effective in fostering stronger personal relationships. The positive dynamic between college counselors and students provides an open door for all students who need assistance throughout the year.
Students meet frequently with their counselors in a one-on-one setting throughout their time at The Meadows School. Individual meetings occur at least once a semester during freshman and sophomore years, so that the counselor acquires an understanding of the student’s dynamics - personality, work habits, extracurricular interests, academic aspirations, and future endeavors. Additionally, counselors make sure that in the first years of Upper School, students are challenging themselves at an appropriate level, guiding them in their course selection as well as helping students think about their extracurricular involvement in school and beyond, and participation in summer supplemental activities. Once students reach the junior year, counselors meet with students more frequently, to prepare students to plan for standardized testing and to begin the dialogue focusing on colleges that provide programs based on the appropriate fit.
The individualized model of counseling allows counselors to guide students in the selection of courses, activities, and standardized testing, based on their individual needs. They focus on assisting students in their search for colleges on the basis of academic and intellectual interests. The emphasis of the school’s college counseling program is undoubtedly focused on communicating the distinctions that characterize universities (Liberal Arts Colleges versus Engineering Colleges, etc.). To this end, through a supplemental Experiential Learning Program, students travel with their grade cohort and visit colleges in select regions to acquire a better understanding of the academic programs supporting their areas of interest.
In addition to helping students navigate the extensive college application and selection process, counselors serve as advisors within the framework of the school’s Advisory Program assisting students in self-reflection, understanding of the greater community, and acquiring mission appropriate skills required of 21st century leaders.The Counseling Program in the Upper School is a comprehensive program focused on facilitating personal relationships that are founded on understanding and trust. The personalized dynamic that is fostered between counselor and counselee allows for continuity from the beginning of 9th Grade culminating with graduation at the end of 12th Grade. The program’s emphasis is on identifying the “right” program and “right” fit for students based on their areas of interests and future aspirations.
9th Grade is a time of transition. It is a time to build on foundational knowledge and begin to think more critically and independently. 9th Graders should investigate avenues for community service and extra-curricular involvement. 9th Grade advisors should take the lead in pointing advisees toward community service opportunities during Advisory periods. Colleges will look at the 9th Grade transcript in a unique way. Admissions officers will want to know if the student began with a strong start. Students should be directed to fulfill the rigorous graduation requirements while at the same time, allowing for courses in their respective area of interest. Counselors should meet with freshmen prior to the Registration Fair in March to discuss their high school trajectory. This meeting should coincide with small group meetings to also discuss career exploration.
Working with 10th Grade Advisors, students continue with their four year academic and co-curricular plan. Sophomores should continue to explore relevant extracurricular activities and speak to counselors about making plans to assume leadership positions in the future. Sophomores take the PSAT for the first time. The PSAT score report is sent home to families in December and each family should meet with a counselor to review results in the Spring. By March (Registration Fair), 10th grade students will be ready to select courses for Junior year. Each student should have met with a college counselor by this time. The college counselors will work to advise students on appropriate courses leading to specific college majors or level of admissions selectivity. Counselors should also advise students to participate in summer programs to enhance their respective resumes.
Juniors should take the initiative to meet with college admission representatives visiting campus throughout the fall. Students are encouraged to visit counselors prior to meeting admissions representatives so they have a clear focus of what questions should be asked. Early in the fall, the counselors host an Upper School Counseling Night (???) that provides parents with insight into the college application process. In mid-October, junior take the PSAT/NMSQT for the second time and results are sent home in December. Juniors take their first round of the ACT and SAT tests in the spring with students sitting for the SAT Subject Tests in May or June. Test prep classes are offered in conjunction with TMS and counselors should provide parents with insight into college prep courses. Although not everyone requires test preparation, all students are wise to take time ahead of the exams to practice sample questions. Identify new format (move away from SAT/ACT). Counselors should provide insight into College Trips (tentatively scheduled for April), providing educational advice and support. Counselors also make recommendations for a senior schedule based on each junior’s grades, teacher’s comments, testing history, and post-secondary goals. Juniors should be assisted with resume building and college essay writing and developing their summer plans.
By the beginning of 12th Grade, seniors should have most of their college planning and research completed. They should be enrolled in challenging courses and reaching the peak of involvement in leadership (within their respective activities).During the first several weeks of school, college counselors meet with students individually and in small groups during Advisory to discuss the logistics and practicalities of the college application process: obtaining and filling out forms, sending test scores and transcripts, approaching/obtaining letters of recommendation, and continuing to focus on academic classes. A Parent College Night should provide opportunity for Senior parents to inquire/address specific questions as a group. Students should be encouraged to visit counselors during any free period throughout the day for further clarification. Students should also be encouraged to take a second round of testing during this time. TMS takes responsibility for supporting each student’s college applications by writing the counselor recommendation, completing the secondary school report, and gathering the teacher letters of recommendation and school transcripts. These packages, together with an Upper School Profile, are submitted to the universities.