Happy December! It is exciting to think about your future opportunities and I know you have lots of questions about post high school planning.  Rest assured that I have a year of meetings and support planned for you.  I have organized the spring semester to provide a great deal of information and resources to all students, allowing for plenty of time for follow up throughout the next twelve months.  This email is just a jump-start on what is in store when we return from winter break.


    Junior STUDENT Conferences:  ALL take place the week of January 14-17Please plan to attend school all day every day of that week to ensure that you are present for your meeting with me.  I will be forwarding your exact conference date and time in an email to STUDENTS ONLY, so you MUST read your emails from this point forward. Student conference dates and times are posted on the window outside my door.  Please see me IN PERSON if you need to make a change. PARENTS: Please remind your young adult to read her/his email (thanks).

    Junior PARENT Workshops:  I will be providing Junior Parent Workshops in January & February (pick one).  The topic is “Insider Tips to Help You Help Your Student Navigate the College Search Maze.”  Dates/times will be forwarded in a separate email.  I then host one final Junior Parent Workshop (Q&A only) in late spring to handle any follow-up questions that arise following spring college visits/gap year fair, etc.  I also co-host a Student workshop during Tutorial with a College of Marin Counselor where we review the fantastic opportunities provided via the community college (i.e., guaranteed admission to the UC system, saving $$$ thousands of dollars).  This workshop will be open to parents as well, and I will forward the date to you once it is set. 


    Register for earliest SAT  and/or the earliest ACT

    Make sure to take the exams WITH WRITING, as that is a requirement of the UC system and many private colleges.

    If you have completed your practice exams, taking the first real exam early (Dec, Feb, March) is ideal.  

    Here is a link to my advice for exams.  Rationale for early testing:  Having a real score early allows you to gauge your areas of strength and challenge.  Oftentimes, you will get your score and realize that you are competitive for the schools you are considering and you will not have to re-test or do any prep (YAY!).  When in doubt about which exam you prefer, take one of each and then either use your highest score (if it meets the requirements of the colleges of interest to you) or focus on the one you feel most comfortable and competent with and prepare for a retake in late spring of junior year.

    I try to provide advice that is timely, alleviates stress, and saves your wallet.  Once you have a score, you can review your college goals to determine if a retake is necessary.  You then have until May or June to prepare for the retest dates.  I discourage students from spending all their winter break in prep classes or taking practice exams.  A well-rested, relaxed and rejuvenated teenager is happier, mentally healthier, and prepared to take on the spring semester with renewed vigor.

    I encourage students to finish ALL testing by June of junior year, as that also alleviates anxiety about testing in the fall of senior year, when the focus should be on essay refinement and application completion.

    From this point forward, Junior families will be receiving a WEALTH of information via email. I will not always have time to answer individual questions via email as I will be busy meeting students in person. Hence, students are encouraged to see me in person (minimal emails is the goal) by stopping by or making an appointment; I will give you as much time as you need.

    JUNIOR YEAR COMMUNICATION:  One of the tasks of becoming a young adult is learning to communicate for yourself and develop relationships with adults.  This is the year when many relationships are taking on new meaning; junior year teachers may be writing a letter of recommendation next year.  As a student reflecting back on the last two years, I am sure you are aware of the vast sea of change you have experienced, and most likely see yourselves in a different place in terms of maturity and independence than in years past.  I want to continue to support you to become more confident managing your communication.  It is definitely time that some of the issues of concern at school should be handed over to you, as many of you are growing in confidence in your ability to find solutions.  Your desire to be independent should be met with increased responsibility (even if it is a little scary).    

    Questions about SAT/ACT, college searches, college visits, handling difficult situations with coursework, etc., are all situations that you can take the lead on.  Having your parents there for support and guidance remains essential, but the parental role is more of consultant and less managerial in nature.  This experience can actually be exciting and a relief for parents, as they can see the fruits of their guidance when you come home and share a success story of a problem solved on your own.

    Students, please put any questions together in a list to bring to your junior conference in January(Please DO NOT email me with questions now). Discuss your list of questions with your parents and add their questions into the mix.  Parents may also bring their questions to the Junior Parent Workshops. 

    Counselors and the College & Career Specialist will be providing a wealth of opportunities to support the college application process. These workshops will be held during Tutorial and/or 7th period(please sign up in advance on Naviance). 

    Here are the Junior Tutorial workshops being offered:

    • Determining Your Post High School or College Values 
    • College Search Assistance 
    • Financial Aid/Scholarship Preview 
    • Common Application Essay Workshop 
    • UC Personal Insight Question Workshop
    • JC Transfer Workshop - How to Guarantee a spot in the UC system, save $ and get a solid foundation for transfer 
    • Common App Supplemental Questions & General Essay Tips for all applications 
    • In addition to the above, we will be meeting with all Juniors to assist them with opening their individual Common App account and understanding how to start the application process.

    I look forward to seeing you all IN PERSON and helping to guide you through the next 12 months with a minimum of anxiety and a maximum of excitement!

    See you soon.   Sheila Souder, Counselor

    Posted 12/04/2019 by Sheila Souder.