Preparation for college begins the moment a student sets foot on campus in her ninth grade year. Each girl is assigned to a faculty advisor, who becomes her guide and mentor as she engages with our community and begins to establish herself in her classes, sports and extracurricular activities on campus. Advisors encourage girls to try new things, stretch themselves, find and pursue passions. In the spring term, advisors assist ninth graders with planning that includes self-assessment, course planning for the coming three years, and goal setting for continued growth and exploration.
Sophomores have their first taste of college admission testing in October by taking the PSAT. This “practice” SAT provides students with a low-stakes opportunity to become familiar with college admissions testing, and individual feedback her relative strengths and areas of focus. Workshops are held for students and their families on general college admission topics such as standardized testing, athletic recruiting and applying for financial aid during the fall Family Weekend. Again in the spring, students work closely with advisors to evaluate their academic record and extracurricular engagement to look ahead to planning for junior and senior years.
Juniors retake the PSAT in October of 11th grade, and sit for diagnostic SAT and ACT test in the late fall. All of these tools help them assess their testing strengths and begin to formulate a preparation strategy to maximize their college admission scores. The College Office presents at class meetings and hosts small group meetings in December to help orient the girls to the college process, answer general questions, and introduce them to Naviance, the online tool they will use to manage their college searches. The girls are asked to complete a suite of self-assessment tools by the end of the semester, so they are prepared to begin their one on one meetings with their college counselors after the first of the year. During the winter, the College Office also hosts College Planning Weekend, a two-day program for juniors and their parents, with presentations and workshops led by visiting college admission representatives from a range of schools.
Students are encouraged to use Long Winter Weekend and/or March vacation to begin to visit campuses to get a “feel” for the types of school that may be appealing to them. One on one meetings continue throughout the junior year, complemented by a trip to the Hartford Areas Independent Schools college fair, with over 150 colleges and universities in attendance. College counselors work closely with the girls to help them refine a standardized testing plan, identify recommendation writers, navigate the Common Application and compile a workable list of colleges under consideration that includes schools at a broad range of selectivity levels.
By senior year, the college counseling process becomes highly individualized, as each girl’s search becomes as unique as she is. Students are expected to return to campus with their Common Application complete, and the first unit of Senior English focuses on the college application essay. College representatives from over 100 colleges and universities visit Porter’s throughout the fall, and girls are strongly encouraged to meet with the visitors from any schools they are considering for small group and often one-on-one connections. Students and counselors meet regularly as we approach early deadlines and finalize a college applications list that represents the student’s interests and a range of schools to which she has an opportunity to be admitted.
Students who are applying for financial aid must work closely with their parents to assure that all required financial aid forms are submitted by each school’s published deadlines. College admissions decisions come in throughout the winter months with a final notification date of April 1. Students have until May 1, the national reply date, to select from among the schools to which they have been admitted and enroll.