Fall Guidance News Specific to Juniors

PSAT Update

Most juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT on October 15th. In mid-December, students will receive their scores, their test booklets and all of the correct answers. Through The College Board’s partnership with Khan Academy, students will be able to link their College Board account to Khan Academy to create a fee, personalized study plan to help prepare for the SAT. In upcoming guidance seminars, counselors will preview what students can expect when they receive their scores.

The Pressure of Junior Year

You may notice that your son/daughter is exhibiting signs of stress this year – or showing more concern about academic performance this year than in the past. It is true that students’ academic work this year is somewhat more important than it was in 9th or 10th grade because it will be the most recent full year of achievement that the colleges will see during the application process.

Junior year performance generally reflects consistent progress for most students and it is the unusual case where one’s junior year indicates a marked increase or decrease in academic performance. It is rare that junior year performance alone will make a significant difference in a student’s chances for acceptance to a particular college. In addition, senior year grades are also extremely important because most college admissions officers place heavy emphasis on academic work throughout high school.

We need to work together to help our juniors keep things in perspective. Many students will continue to progress, achieving as they have in the past. Others will perform better this year because they are more motivated and conscientious in their approach to academics. Still others will improve academically because they are maturing and taking school (and perhaps life in general) more seriously. Most college admissions officers view the junior year as a good window into the type of student one will be in college, but many juniors need to be reminded that their consistent efforts will reap the same good results as they have in the last two years. It is not a time to panic or to feel that all their college acceptances hinge upon this year’s performance.

Conversations at Home

As you begin (or in some cases, continue) to discuss the college selection process with your junior, it is wise to focus on the more philosophical aspects of this developmental process. What is most important for your child in the next year is what he or she learns about him or herself. Students will be making decisions about many issues as they go through the college search process: how far from home they want to be; the academic and social atmosphere they think they would like; possible majors or areas of interest; whether they want to be in a large university setting, in a smaller more intimate liberal arts college, or more specialized school, or a post-graduate program; whether they want to be in or near a city or whether they prefer a more rural setting. It is important to keep in mind that there are colleges in every level of selectivity that will fit each student’s criteria.

One of the greatest gifts you as parents can give your child as your family goes through this process is the understanding that it is your child’s search, that it will be exciting and interesting to see what happens, and that you have no pre-conceived idea of where they should go to college. The anxiety that many students bring to the college search can be greatly diffused by the influence of philosophical and realistic parents. On the other hand, that same anxiety can be seriously exacerbated by those who impose their own wishes or expectations too strenuously into the mix. We will have the opportunity to discuss these issues in our Junior Parent meetings in the spring, but please call or make an appointment with your child’s counselor if you would like to discuss your child’s particular situation. We look forward to the formal “kick-off” of Junior Post-Secondary Planning at our January 18th, 2017 Parent Information Night.

College Planning Guide

If you would like to begin to explore any of these topics in greater detail at this point in time, please consult the College Planning GuideThis resource was graciously created, revised and shared with the Newton South community through the generosity of the Newton North High School College Planning Guide Committee. A very special thanks to: Jo Doherty, Marion Golin, Melissa Hanenberger, Sarah Hoffman, Brad MacGowan, Beth Swederskas and Claudia Wu. Hard copies of this guide will be available for purchase at Junior Parent Night in January.

College Board Testing for LD students

As you may be aware, students with current documented disabilities may be eligible for extended time on the SAT Reasoning, SAT Subject Tests and AP tests. The guidelines from the College Board are as follows:

Center testing is available for students who normally receive up to 50 percent extended time for school-based tests and who can use a regular type or large type booklet and machine scorable or large-block answer sheet. This testing is done on the national test dates at test centers. Eligible students are allowed 50% additional time on each section of the SAT Reasoning test and on each SAT Subject Test.

School testing is available primarily for students who normally receive more than 50 percent extended time for school-based tests of who have other accommodations including, but not limited to, a word processor or reader. This testing must be completed in school, in the days following national center-based testing.

In order to apply for extended time the students must have and IEP or 504 plan AND use extended time on regular school tests. An appeals process must be used when there is no plan on file or when extended time is not used on school tests.

Extended time testing requires an additional application verifying a student’s disability which is signed by the student and completed by the guidance counselor or special educator. Consult the counselor to see if the student is registered for testing accommodations.