Category Archives: For Juniors

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.

Winter Guidance News Specific to Juniors

End of First Semester

With the end of term 2/semester 1, junior students will have their current GPAs reported for the first time. Weighted and Unweighted GPAs will be available based upon 10th grade and first semester of 11th grade, and will be found in Naviance prior to February school vacation.

Course Selection

Students will be reviewing course options for next year in the coming months. This presents an excellent time to talk with your children about their interests, abilities, talents, and future aspirations. Encourage them to consider the most beneficial selection of courses in light of their future plans. It is important that they create a schedule that ensures their eligibility for the type of higher education/post-secondary path they seek, allows them to explore different academic and elective interests, and keeps in mind the necessity for maintaining a balance in their lives among academic, extracurricular, family, and work obligations.

PSAT Results Returned

If your eleventh grader took the PSAT exam in October, he or she should have received their PSAT score by now. Students can access their score by creating an account on using the same email they provided on their PSAT answer sheet. If your child needs assistance in interpreting his or her score, please encourage them to make an appointment with their counselor to review. This year marks the first year that The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy as the official provider of free, authorized SAT preparation materials. There is a link to access the Khan Academy SAT prep site directly from your son or daughter’s College Board account. We strongly urge students to access this free resource

National Merit Scholarship Competition

Based on their selection index (the sum of the verbal score, the math score, and the writing score), juniors with the highest scores (the top 0.5% of scorers in each state) will go into competition for the National Merit Scholarships. In September, 2016 about 15,000 National Semifinalists will be named. Later that month, the next 35,000 high scorers across the country will receive Letters of Commendation, but will not continue further in the competition for Merit Scholarships. More specific information on the National Merit Competition is available in the PSAT information students received in October.


Please note: Deadlines for the March, May, and June SAT are approaching on February 5th, April 8th, and May 5th respectively. Students should register online at for their desired test date(s) as soon as possible to reserve a seat at the Newton South test center. Student planning to take the ACT at Newton North on either April 9th or June 11th have deadlines of March 4th and May 6th respectively.

Initial Stages

Often, the return of PSAT scores to students stimulates their thinking about the road ahead. Many juniors are deep in thought about their lives after high school and what post-secondary option might be right for them. For some students this will be a four-year college. For others, they may be interested in a two-year college. Others still may want to pursue technical training, work, or military service.

Engage your son or daughter in conversations about what their hopes are for after high school, but be aware that this is their life and choice and it is important not to pass judgment on their preferred plan. Even if their plans differ from your plans for them, it is important to allow this to be your child’s choice to make. Counselors will be having these conversations with juniors as well, and you should feel free to make an appointment with your child and their counselor to assist in the process.

If you plan to do any college visiting this year, the best times may be during February or April vacations as classes will be in session, as opposed to during the summer, when the student population is scarce and not necessarily representative.

College & Career Center/College Planning Guide

The Newton South College Planning Guide is available to all families online. Hard copies of the guide are available for sale for $5.00 in the NSHS College & Career Center. Students and families can access Mrs. Sabet in the College & Career Center in addition to their child’s guidance counselor to assist in college planning throughout the spring and into senior year.

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Junior Parent Night/PSAT Update

Dear Parents/Guardians of Juniors,

As we enter the December break, in the Guidance Department our hope is that students are experiencing a challenging, yet manageable junior year. We hope to see growth in students’ academic achievement, extra-curricular participation, while seeking good social and emotional health. During first semester we work with students to help them achieve balance between school, outside interests, and other responsibilities. During the second semester of junior year, the focus naturally shifts more to post-high school planning and therefore, we begin to incorporate more activities associated with that process. We will kick off that process formally at Junior Parent Night on January 7th, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the NSHS Field House. (Snow date January 13th) 

The purpose of this evening is to become acquainted with information that is essential to the post-graduate planning process. The program will begin promptly at 7:00 pm in the Field House, where you will hear from a few key people involved in your educational experience. You will then have the opportunity to meet with your child’s counselor in a group setting, when general information will be shared about what to expect for the remainder of the year and transitioning into senior year. Junior students will have a corresponding Guidance Seminar session with their counselor on the same day. For students, this is a follow up session to their first seminar meeting in early December at which time counselors presented an overview and facilitated a question and answer session about what to expect during the spring of junior year.

Most juniors took the PSAT exam in October and in early January students will be able to access scores electronically, via The College Board website. Students will be notified by email when scores are available (on or about January 7th). This year’s new format for score dissemination is a significant change in process. Most significantly, school counselors will not receive copies of student score reports until after students receive theirs. We feel it is important for students to meet individually with their counselors, who will explain the score reports and have a meaningful conversation about future testing options. Therefore, we ask that students schedule meetings with their counselors soon after they get their scores. During these meetings students will receive their test booklets to refer back to when going through the score report. For your reference, I have attached a PSAT/NMSQT sample score report as well as an interpretive guide as helpful tools for understanding the scores. You can also get additional information from the College Board’s website at

As many of you are aware, the College Board is changing the format and structure of the SAT exam starting in March 2016. Some students may be questioning whether to take the old SAT in January since it has been a known entity. It is suggested that juniors continue with their normally scheduled testing timeline, which begins in March 2016, especially since many juniors took the new PSAT, which aligns with the new SAT. That being said, students should register for whichever SAT and/or ACT exam they feel most comfortable and most prepared. If anyone plans to take the old SAT on January 23rd, (registration deadline December 28), please be aware that colleges may not combine the old SAT scores with any new SAT scores to get the highest cumulative “super score.”

The Guidance Department encourages students to explore the redesigned SAT format on the College Board website (, as this may help students determine their level of preparedness for the exam. In addition, The College Board has partnered with Kahn Academy for free test preparation for the new SAT. For more information regarding the specific updates to the exam, please refer to the attached Overview: Current SAT vs. Redesigned SAT vs. ACT fact sheet.

Lastly, we encourage you to review the Newton South College Planning Guide. This comprehensive guide serves as a resource manual with rich information to help you navigate the post-secondary planning process. Hard copies will be available for sale at the Junior Parent Night.

If you have any questions, please contact your son/daughter’s school counselor.


Dan Rubin/Kathleen Sabet

Director of Guidance & Counseling/College & Career Center Counselor


PSAT Sample Score Report

PSAT Score Report Case Study


PSAT Reminders from Our PSAT Coordinator

Please share this information with your child if (s)he will be taking the PSAT on Wednesday, October 14th:

  1. Please bring your student ID.
  2. You will need several #2 pencils and your own calculator. Calculators will not be provided.  Here is more information about approved calculators.
  3. Unlike the MCAS, College Board tests such as PSAT and SAT are timed tests. You must arrive on time (7:40). This was written incorrectly on the notes you received at registration. Once testing begins, you will not be admitted.
  4. There is no make-up.
  5. The room assignments will be posted in the front lobby of Wheeler House. Please check the lists on the afternoon of Oct.13th or the morning of the exam, Oct. 14th.
  6. Your information packet contains a full length practice exam and there are more available on the College Board website.

Thank you,

Joan Bryant

PSAT Coordinator

REMINDER: Junior Parent Coffee Tomorrow at 8AM

Reminder – the Junior Parent Coffee is tomorrow, October 2 from 8:00-9:30AM at Tanya Lazar’s house (222 Baldpate Hill Road). We hope to see you there!

Late PSAT Registration Tomorrow, Sept. 22

Late registration for the October 14 PSAT will take place on Tuesday, September 22, in the cafeteria during lunch. Please bring $16 in cash or a check made out to Newton South High School with “PSAT” and student’s FULL name on the MEMO line. Click here for more information about PSAT registration, including accommodations, etc.

CORRECTION: Upcoming Parent Coffees

We here at the PTSO are only human, and sometimes mistakes are made. We accidentally listed the wrong dates for the Junior and Senior parent coffees. Here are the correct dates for the upcoming parent coffees. Please update your calendars and we hope to see you there!

  • Sophomore parent coffee:  Monday, October 5 from 8-9:30AM at the home of Helen Haley and John Denninger at 104 Carver Road in Newton Highlands.
  • Junior parent coffee:  Friday, October 2 from 8-9:30AM at the home of Tanya Lazar at 222 Baldpate Hill Road in Newton.
  • Senior parent coffee:  Monday, September 28 from 8-9:30AM at the home of Christine Breslin and Glenda Ganem at 44 Varick Hill Road in Waban.

Newton South College and Career Planning Guide

Dear Newton South Student and Parent/Guardian:

We are very pleased to introduce the Newton South College and Career Planning Guide for 2015-2016, a comprehensive guide to the college search and application process for Newton South students and their families. A team of Newton North/South School and College Counselors as well as parent volunteers collaborated this year to bring you this comprehensive resource.

At Newton South, we understand that students take different paths after they graduate. While the majority of Newton South graduates pursue some form of post-high school education, the Counseling Department has designed this Guide to be relevant to all Newton South students and families contemplating college and other educational or vocational options.

It is our intention to review and update the Guide annually. Access to the document is free and online to all Newton South students and their families through the Newton South website now.  

Newton South College and Career Center

Class of 2016 – Senior Portrait Process Has Begun!

Dear Students and Parents/Guardians of the Class of 2016,

The time has come to plan for the 2016 yearbook at Newton South High School. This year we have made arrangements for Prestige Portraits by Lifetouch to take our senior portraits. Seniors will be sent an appointment card through the mail. The initial mailing will come in a four-color envelope containing a brochure showing the various sitting plans available along with the appointment card which will indicate the specific day, time, and location that he/she will be photographed. It is the responsibility of each senior to re-schedule his/her appointment if the day and time is not convenient.

To confirm or modify your senior portrait session, please utilize the company’s online scheduling website located at: The appointment card mailed to you will contain your confirmation code to access the online scheduling website.

In the interest of uniformity and quality, all senior portraits that will appear in the yearbook must be taken by Prestige Portraits. ONLY ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAITS TAKEN BY PRESTIGE STUDIO IN THE COURTYARD ADJACENT TO THE GYM AREA MAY BE USED FOR THE SENIOR SECTION OF THE YEARBOOK!

PARENTS OR SENIORS WISHING TO HAVE A FORMAL STUDIO SITTING WILL BE GIVEN THAT OPPORTUNITY ON THE SAME DAY AS THEIR SCHEDULED COURTYARD SITTING. THE VARIOUS SITTING FEE PLANS WILL APPEAR ON THE APPOINTMENT CARD MAILED TO EACH SENIOR’S HOME. The brochure that arrives with your first appointment card will show various sitting plans offered to each senior. All further appointment notifications will come as a postcard.

After the portraits are taken, proofs will be mailed to you from Prestige Portraits and you will be asked to select which pose you would like submitted to the yearbook. Seniors may also order personal picture packages from the price list enclosed with the proofs.

We urge all seniors to have their portraits taken during the summer at the times indicated on their appointment cards and not to wait until the fall when the weather and darkness can become a factor.

Please contact Terry Bleiler at or 781-789-0778 with any questions you may have, as the PTSO has no direct involvement with the process.

Thank you for your support!
Your Newton South Yearbook Staff

Boston National College Fair April 9 and 10

Juniors!!  The Boston National College Fair will be at the Boston Convention & Expo Center this Thursday and Friday, April 9th & 10th. Colleges and Universities across the United States will be there. This is a great opportunity to connect with colleges that you may not have a chance to visit or to learn more about colleges in general. Hours are Thursday, 4/9 from 9-12noon & 6-8pm and Friday, 4/10 from 9-12noon.  Pre-registration is highly recommended. Check out this link for more information,