High School College Counselors

School's Out for Summer

Now that school is out for summer, College Admission is going on vacation, too. But just as rising seniors will be working from time to time on their college application process, we'll also be hanging around and posting a bit. So please check in from time to time here and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

We'll be back strong in August with advice from more deans -- Georgia Tech and Davidson start us off -- and more high school college counselors -- from New Mexico and Indiana -- as well as a Q&A with a top college recruiter for football, information for students interested in applying to the military academies, and the complete guide to the new Common Application, CA4.

In the meantime, enjoy the lazy days of summer... I know we will.

Juniors, Five Things to Do Before the End of the Year

We recently asked high school counselor Kelly Dunham what five things juniors should take care of before the school year ends and we thought we'd bring you her great advice here again. BTW, she added a kicker sixth item that is essential for a smooth college admissions process in your senior year!

What are the five most important things for juniors to do before the end of the school year?

Conference with their high school counselor or college counselor

ACT/SAT test prep and take ACT/SAT (hopefully twice)

Ask for teacher letters of recommendation

Have an honest conversation with parents about finances

Online college searches, local college fairs, visit college campuses

And one more:

Be aware of college admission requirements:  required high school coursework, GPA, test scores, letters of rec, essays, etc.


For more information about applying to college, see College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, including the recommendations in "Timeline: The Path to College."

Andrea O'Gorman, Scarsdale High School

Andrea O'Gorman, Director of Counseling at Scarsdale High School, is our December Counselor of the Month. O'Gorman oversees a department of nine counselors at this Westchester County, New York, public high school, serving 1460 students.  Named as "one of the 144 exemplary schools to which others may look for patterns of success" by the United States Department of Education, Scarsdale High School serves a diverse community with a large international population. 

"The thing that I enjoy most about working here is that students and faculty are so engaged in the learning process," says O'Gorman. "There is so much going on, so many new ventures. Education is the industry of Scarsdale. People come here because they want a school system they can invest in and parents, faculty and the administration are invested. Everyone feels like a stakeholder."

Elsa Heydenreich Clark, Immaculate Heart High School

Elsa Heydenreich Clark is the Director of College Counseling at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, California, a private Catholic college preparatory school for 555 young women in grades 9 through 12.  A graduate of the University of Southern California, Clark also holds a Master of Science in School Counseling from California State University, Los Angeles.

Since 1988, Clark has counseled juniors and seniors at Immaculate Heart, a unique institution with a storied history in Los Angeles. Founded in 1906, today the school ‘s student body includes many who are the daughters and granddaughters of graduates. It is also known for its diversity, reflecting the demographics of the Los Angeles population — two-thirds of those attending are students of color and many are first generation.

A "Nearly Perfect Parent Response"

Last week, an email showed up in our mailbox from a high school college counselor with the following subject line: "a nearly perfect parent response." Just as students need to understand what their responsibilities are in navigating the road to college, it's also important for parents to have sign posts and sound bites that help define their role in the application process. Here's what putting your student in the driver's seat looks like from one counselor's perspective:

"A"* was excited to hear that you will be her College Counselor over the next year.  "We"* are excited for her as we embark on this adventure together.  I realize that” together” entails stepping back and supporting "A" as you work to advise and guide her through the college process.  I realize it’s been 40+ years since I was submitting applications & doing auditions for college---but at the risk of sounding “out-dated” I recall it being a much simpler process. 

*Names have been redacted

Charlene Aguilar, Lakeside School

Charlene Aguilar is Director of College Counseling at Lakeside School, an independent day school for grades 5 through 12 in Seattle, Washington.  A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, Aguilar has worked both sides of the desk in college admissions during her career.  She began as an admissions counselor at her alma mater in Santa Barbara and served as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Santa Clara University.  For ten years prior to coming to Lakeside, she was Director of College Counseling and Dean of the junior class at Castilleja School, an all-girls independent school in Palo Alto, California.

Marcia Hunt, Pine Crest School

Marcia Hunt, Director of College Counseling at Florida's Pine Crest School, joins us this month to share her advice and insight on everything from her favorite resources for students and parents to some do's and don'ts that will help them get the most from the relationship with their counselors.

Hunt has been counseling students for twenty-nine years at Pine Crest School, which has about 2,600 students, pre-K through 12th grade, on campuses in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. A graduate of Syracuse University, where she was a political science major, she also holds a masters in counseling from Canisius College.

Married to an attorney and mother to two children, now grown, at one point, Ms. Hunt was also ranked in women's doubles tennis in Florida. We think she should write a book on time management!

James Conroy, New Trier Township High School, Winnetka, Illinois

Each month we feature a high school college counselor so you can get to know them -- their pet peeves and personal heroes -- but also so you can learn something from all that they know about applying to college.

This month we welcome James Conroy, Chair of the Post-High School Counseling Department at New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Illinois. A graduate of Michigan State University, where he received a B.S. in political science, Conroy also holds a Masters in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Born just outside Boston, Conroy later moved with his family to Grosse Pointe, Michigan, but a trace of the Bay State remains in his speech. Conroy and his staff counsel about 2,000 juniors and seniors each year at New Trier, where he has been a tireless -- and bracingly honest, we suspect -- advocate for college applicants for the last twenty-six years. 

Jayne Caflin Fonash, Academy of Science, Loudoun County, Virginia

Each month we feature a high school college counselor -- so you can get to know them and benefit from what they know about applying to college! In our Q & A, you'll find out about their pet peeves, real life heroes, and best advice for students and parents.

This month we welcome Jayne Caflin Fonash, Director of Guidance for the Academy of Science (AOS) in Loudoun County, Virginia, a Magnet program, whose mission is to integrate science, math, writing, and communication skills into research and experimentation.