For an international group of students considering university studies in various countries, the process of moving on from High School can be a difficult and sometimes bewildering one. Therefore, preparing students to make good choices about their university studies and guiding them through this process are the priorities of the college counseling program.
Although our High School students undergo preparation for university entrance from the first day of their arrival at Marymount through a rigorous program of study and numerous extracurricular opportunities, the college counseling program begins in earnest in Grade 10, and its aim is to make this process, however challenging, an exciting and enjoyable part of our students’ overall education.
To learn more about how students in Grades 10-12 prepare for college, click on each grade level.
Grade 10 students begin a series of college guidance classes, which take place about once a month. These classes are focused on major themes in the college admissions process, including: knowing oneself; knowing about universities (sources of information); how high school course choices, especially in the IB program, relate to university admission; significant categories for comparing and contrasting universities; and admissions testing.
In addition, specific activities to support these classes take place. All Grade 10 students take the Preliminary SAT, the official practice test for the SAT. By taking the PSAT in Grade 10, all students gain some concrete experience of admissions testing in general and, in particular, of the SAT, the test most widely used in the admissions processes of US universities.
They also get a glimpse of where they stand academically, relative to over one million other students, as measured by this instrument. They are thus given some insight from an external source about their academic strengths and areas for growth and an early start in preparing for the SAT as well as other admissions tests with similar formats, which they may have to take in Grades 11 and 12.
All Grade 10 students are also given the opportunity to participate in the psychometric testing and face-to-face feedback sessions offered by the StepOne guidance company, and thus take a scientific approach to knowing themselves, their interests, goals, talents, and aspirations, better.
Finally, in the second semester, Grade 10 students may begin to sign up to meet with some of the numerous university admissions representatives who visit Marymount each year.
In Grade 11, guidance classes continue. The general themes from Grade 10 are reviewed and reinforced as the focus of the classes shifts to a more specific look at university systems to which about 98% of our students apply (UK, US and Canada, Italy).
Throughout Grade 11 students continue to meet with visiting admissions representatives. They complete a self-assessment as well as an inventory of their activities, interests, special talents, awards, etc.
They preview for practice the application forms related to their plans, such as the UCAS online application for the UK and the Common Application for the US. Those students interested especially in US universities take the PSAT again in October.
As in Grade 10, they are encouraged to make use of the information provided by this test, reviewing their performance this time, though, with a view towards doing their best when they take the official SAT exams later in the year. Students may also participate in after school practice sessions in the spring in preparation for the May and June SAT dates.
Beginning in the 2nd semester, all Grade 11 students, and whenever possible their parents, meet individually with the college counselor to determine their progress to date and to put together individualized work plans to help them move forward. These meetings continue on an as needs basis as students refine their plans.
Ideally, by the end of the semester, students should be ready to begin preliminary application work, such as drafting essays or personal statements, to prepare for any further testing they must do, and, hopefully with the aid of some campus visits, to finalize their research. The objective is for students to return to their last year of high school with clearly formulated plans for applying to universities that represent their best personal “matches” or “fits.”
The trend begun in the second semester of Grade 11 of group work giving way to individual work continues in Grade 12. The focus in this final year is on writing applications. All applications for universities in the UK and in North America are completed in the first semester.
Students continue to work closely with the college counselor to determine exactly what needs to be done in each student’s case, such as completing application forms, finalizing their essays and personal statements, taking any remaining entrance tests, preparing for interviews, etc. The counselor completes specific tasks on behalf of the students, such as writing letters of recommendation, filling out forms required by the universities, preparing transcripts, etc. Students request from their teachers any other formal letters of recommendation required by universities.
For UK applications, students send the electronic form to the counselor, who completes his part of it and sends it on to UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, through which UK applications are processed. For US/Canadian applications, students typically submit all parts of the application (usually but not always electronic) directly to the universities, and the college counselor sends all required supporting documentation.
During the last semester of high school, students continue to work with the counselor in maintaining contact with the universities, fulfilling any further requests the universities may have, and, finally, in responding to the universities once all admissions decisions have been made.
It’s now a question of finishing school strongly and earning the best possible marks and exam results. Three years of exploration, discussion, research, and the work of filing applications come to a close as the doors to their chosen universities begin to open.
Like all programs at Marymount, College Counseling focuses on the individual student. Even though much of the work of preparing students to apply to universities takes place in small, class-sized groups during Grades 10 and 11, this individual focus remains central to the process of preparing students for the journey from High School to College and of guiding and supporting them along the way. At the heart of this process lie a few fundamental concepts:
Because each student is unique, each student’s journey is unique. We believe that knowledge of oneself is of fundamental importance in the process of finding and applying to universities. Marymount students come from a wealth of cultural, religious, and linguistic backgrounds, and each one must try to answer the question, “Who am I as a candidate for university programs?” Accordingly, students in Grades 10 and 11 engage in various activities to help them find the answer, such as, taking the PSAT, completing interest inventories, and undertaking self-reflection in order to understand as well as possible their academic strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, their extracurricular preferences, careers that may interest them, and the like, in order to know themselves as future college students.
The search for universities is not an abstract process but a highly concrete one. Students are encouraged to make use of a variety of sources to learn about universities. Printed resources in the College Counseling office, especially classic works in the field, such as, The Fiske Guide to Colleges, Colleges That Change Lives, The Times Good University Guide, and many others; official websites, such as those of UCAS and The College Board; and the many university representatives who visit Marymount individually or as part of fairs all represent opportunities for students to become well-informed about the vast world of university offerings. Of particular help to students is BridgeU, the specialized university research tool provided by the school.
Whatever students learn about universities is important only as it applies directly to them. Students learn to compare and contrast universities in categories that are personally significant. This is the point at which knowing oneself and knowing universities meet, for the goal of college counseling is for all students to find the universities at which they will be happy and successful. Among universities, one size definitely does not fit all, and neither do one level of selectivity, one academic program, one location, one campus atmosphere, one college lifestyle, one price, or one of any of the many factors that students must take into consideration when choosing where to apply. We believe, therefore, that the best universities are those that are best for each student individually.
In the selective world of university admissions, the potential of students to succeed academically in the programs they are applying for is the most important thing admissions officers are trying to measure. The instruments they use to do so are typically students’ transcripts, standardized test scores, and predicted IB results. Marymount students are challenged to pursue excellence in their studies because the joy of learning lies in this pursuit. But so does being the strongest university candidates, because students’ consistent work, striving to fulfill their potential, day in and day out, results in the deepest learning and thus leads to the best grades, the best test performance, and the best predicted grades possible.
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Each year, representatives from many colleges and universities throughout the world come to the Marymount campus to speak with students.
For more information, you are welcome to contact Marymount's College Counselor:
Mr. Terrence McAndrews
Tel. (+39) 06 36 29 10 78