While the formal college counseling program for Berkeley Carroll students begins in earnest during the winter of a student’s junior year, the school’s mission to “prepare students for a life of of cultural, ethical, and global thinking” means that long term preparation begins the moment a student walks through the doors of our school, ready to explore the vast offerings of our rigorous college preparatory program.
9th and 10th Grade
In ninth and tenth grade, the focus of the college counseling program is to provide developmentally appropriate advice for both students and parents, facilitating the understanding of, and preparedness for, decisions that lay ahead. We use a variety of methods to provide information and resources every step of the way, including curriculum nights, parent coffees, class meetings, information sessions, and periodic communications (emails, brochures, social media blasts, and blog posts). Our goal is to help families feel informed and plan judiciously without labeling every decision as being “for college.”
Our students engage in aspects of the process as early as 9th grade as they adjust to the expectations of a rigorous program. Relationships with advisors, faculty, and deans help cultivate self-knowledge and enhance independent learning. Curriculum choices ensure a solid foundation with ample opportunity for rigor and exploration, enabling them to go as far as they would like in disciplines they are most deeply interested in studying. As sophomores, students are introduced to some of the broader ideas about selecting a college through class meetings and college Q & A sessions.
As part of their preparation for standardized testing, sophomores take both a full-length practice SAT and full-length practice ACT in the spring. These tests are offered in collaboration with Compass Education Group to ensure our students have experience in taking both tests, each used interchangeably by U.S. colleges that require testing. Detailed results of these practice exams are sent home and the College Office hosts an evening information session to help families interpret test results and make informed decisions about testing options and test prep at the beginning of junior year.
Berkeley Carroll offers test prep courses with small class sizes on campus throughout the fall, winter, and spring in collaboration with Bespoke Education and financial aid is available for families who qualify. A list of test prep providers, tutors, and other free and low cost resources is also made available to allow families to choose the best method of test prep for their students.
11th and 12th Grade
We believe that the second semester of the junior year is the best time for families to begin their most serious engagement with the college process. At that point, students have the maturity needed to begin making the kinds of distinctions that will shape their application list – the best approach for which always includes an honest self-assessment and thoughtful, research-based understanding of potential college “matches.” Students also have ample practice testing and academic grades under their belts to allow for responsible assessment of which colleges and universities would be most reasonable to target.
In the fall, class meetings set the stage for the process to come and counselors are assigned before the winter break. Our counselors begin to meet individually with juniors starting in the spring semester, followed by family meetings, continuing a dialogue with the student and the family that lasts until the end of senior year. The process is framed as a set of opportunities for growth and discovery.
There is tremendous collaboration within the college counseling team and the expertise they provide is collective. Every student is assigned to one of three counselors with whom they can develop a strong, trusting relationship and who will help them develop a college list (including an initial list to begin their research). Counselors write a comprehensive secondary school report and offer advice on testing, teacher recommendations, interviews, personal statements, and other aspects of the process, including matriculation decisions.