September marks the beginning of formal, bi-weekly, college guidance classes for all juniors. The classes are taught by the Director of College Guidance and the curriculum includes: review of online college search and selection tools with student iPads, definition of application and college terms, practice of interview skills, essay-writing, standardized testing considerations, sports and talent recruitment, and other pertinent topics. Juniors receive additional, personalized information regarding these topics and others when they begin individual college planning meetings with the Director of College Guidance. These individual college planning meetings ultimately include participation by parents and guardians.
For a third consecutive year, students are administered the PSAT as first semester juniors and test results are disseminated and interpreted by the Director of College Guidance in a class-wide assembly. The significance of the National Merit Scholarship Program is discussed and the typical annual National Merit qualification parameters are reviewed. The juniors’ individual results on the PSAT are ultimately compared with scores received from a diagnostic ACT offered at the end of the first semester. The goal is to help juniors determine the college entrance exam, SAT or ACT, with which they are most appropriately matched and, consequently, with which they will likely experience the strongest results. Once students determine which standardized test is most suitable, they are invited to enroll in sharply-discounted standardized test preparation courses conducted on weekends in our school building by The Princeton Review.
Each spring, all juniors participate in an on-site college program featuring representatives from the majority of the twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities located throughout the country. This small college fair is followed by our juniors’ participation in the College Fair at the United Nations International School, hosting admissions deans and representatives from 200 domestic and international institutions. Once the new Common Application essay prompts are released in the spring, the English faculty begin to assist juniors with the development of essay ideas and editorial suggestions for improving them.
The end of the academic year also signals the hosting of Loyola School’s annual five-day college tour. The trip alternates annually between colleges and universities of the New England states and those of the Middle Atlantic region and it usually comprises campus visits to twelve distinct institutions. Although participation is optional, the majority of the rising senior class typically participates, with additional space often available for members of the rising junior class.