Loyola School offers freshmen the rare opportunity to pursue the PSAT in October of their first semester, followed by subsequent administrations in sophomore and junior year. Early practice with the PSAT engenders student comfort and familiarity with this SAT-type format, helps students to form an early understanding of their individual academic strengths and challenges, and it allows school counselors to identify freshmen who are not meeting academic potential (i.e. testing results may be strong but might not be matched by high school grades). Once available, the results of the PSAT are interpreted for the freshmen in a class-wide assembly conducted by the Director of College Guidance. The meeting content is focused primarily on the meaning and use of standardized tests in college admission; relatedly, the freshmen are informed of the growing cohort of ‘test-optional colleges’ that place far more weight on high school grades, not test scores. Freshmen also gain experience with the ACT through class-wide administration of ASPIRE, the newly redesigned practice test for the ACT.
Each spring, all freshmen participate in the Freshman College Seminar, a presentation featuring an admissions representative from a New York City area college or university; past presenters have hailed from Columbia, Fordham, and NYU. The goal of the program is to convey to freshmen the admissions criteria competitive colleges seek from applicants; the hope is that the information will inspire the freshmen to work to academic potential in the years ahead and to make positive choices throughout the high school experience.
Additionally, the parents of freshmen are invited to the annual Long-term College Planning Meeting, an opportunity for parents to understand the current state of college admissions so that they may encourage their sons and daughters to make wise academic and extra-curricular choices and to provide more informed support to their sons and daughters.
As noted, the sophomore class also sits for the PSAT and receives their test results in a class-wide assembly conducted by the Director of College Guidance. The meeting agenda, once again, focuses on interpretation of score results and the meaning and purpose of standardized test in college admission. Attention is also devoted to identifying exam content that proved to be particularly challenging to the student and suggestions are made regarding appropriate use of academic tools and study guides (online, etc.) that can be utilized to improve standardized testing results in the future.
All sophomores also experience Sophomore College Immersion Day, an opportunity for them to explore campus life at two distinct institutions in the New York/Tri-State Area. Past visits have included participation in campus tours and information sessions at Princeton, Fordham, Columbia, Vassar, Fairfield, Marist, Yale, and other well-known colleges and universities.
As in freshman year, parents of sophomores are invited to participate in a Long-term College Planning Meeting that details academic and extra-curricular choices expected by competitive colleges and of which sophomores and their parents should be mindful.
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.
In early September, returning seniors are offered the chance to participate in a weekend College Application Seminar to review the essay and application work they completed over the summer with college guidance staff and English department faculty. Additionally, the seminar enables seniors to ask pertinent questions regarding the completion of electronic applications and ensures the inclusion of all required admissions forms, transcripts, and teacher recommendations in college applications.
September also marks the start of weekly college guidance classes for the senior class led by the Director of College Guidance. The class serves a number of purposes: as an iPad-based course, it is an opportunity for seniors to continue live completion of their college applications and essays; it allows them to continue to conduct online college research as they confirm their final college application list; and it provides the opportunity to practice interview skills, plan college visits, and review standardized testing submission procedure.
Beginning early in the fall semester, Loyola School typically hosts over 100 colleges and universities from around the world for on-site information sessions with our students in the comfort of our school Parlor. These meetings provide our students with in-depth knowledge of the institution’s academic and campus offerings and admissions criteria, allow our students to ask pertinent questions, and build institutional relationships with a diverse set of colleges and universities. Admissions interviews are occasionally offered on-site as well.
Seniors and their parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to schedule one or more concluding college planning meetings to review the student’s final college list, discuss the overall application submission process in detail, and to answer any lingering questions or concerns. These themes are further highlighted and underscored in the public Senior Parents College Meeting hosted in mid-September by the Director of College Guidance. As the academic year unfolds and seniors gather new information and receive early application admissions news, the conversation between parents, students, and college guidance staff continues fluidly and consistently until a final college choice is selected.