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College and Career Counseling

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College and Career Counseling at WPS

For College Admission Partners and Families

To schedule a visit or contact the college counselor, reach out to the Director of College Counseling, Mr. Kerry Clark, by email at kclark@willowsprep.com. We are open to in-person and virtual visits from university representatives. More details will be shared upon contact.

College Advising

Choosing a college will be one of the bigger decisions of your life. Your choice will open opportunities you may never have considered. It will dictate where you spend your college years and who you will spend those years with. The decision will have an impact on future decisions, such as where you live, what kind of career you choose, and who you spend time with. Not only that, you may come out of college with a debt that you have to pay off. So, yeah, it’s a big decision.

At Willows Preparatory School, students work with the Director of College Counseling, Mr. Kerry Clark, in weekly advisory meetings at school and in other capacities—test prep, college information presentations, college trips, and more—throughout each year of high school. The following merge to yield successful outcomes relative to each student:

  • Small class sizes and one-on-one counseling from eighth grade through high school
  • Knowledge of our dynamic students in our dynamic IB programs shared among caring faculty, administrators, and the counselor
  • Positive energy and step-by-step guidance for students and families who have direct access to the counselor in person and by email year around
  • Access for each student and parents to Scoir, a college admissions network

As a result, students are well-prepared to gain admission to top colleges in the U.S. and beyond. Not only do these universities include the nation and the world’s most selective, but also represent “best fit” colleges to reflect the talented, eclectic, and diverse composition of our student body.

The resources made available through this page represent some of the information that will be shared with families during any given school year. While these resources don’t represent a comprehensive list, they do provide a starting point for any family considering Willows Prep as a school or for those already attending.

 

Timelines

Eighth through Tenth Grade College Prep Timeline

Eighth grade students are guided to learn more about themselves and to put forth best efforts in all they do, while also exploring different interests in and out of school.

Experiences and records that go on college applications start in ninth grade, so any insights and experiences a student can gain prior are all extra, and a bonus of going to WPS. As ninth graders, college may still be four years away, but freshman year is a critical year to begin setting oneself up to be prepared to apply to target schools in three years. Students are laying the foundation for their college application now, so they have the ability to make the most of the time they have! After all, freshman grades make up 1/3 of the GPA colleges will see when a student applies in the fall of senior year. Also, students will take the PSAT for the first time during ninth grade at WPS. Sophomore year is the middle year between figuring out high school and getting ready to do the heavy lifting involved in the college admission process that takes place during junior and senior year. Sophomores take the PSAT and continue to work hard in classes, develop interests outside the classroom, and start to think seriously about their future.

Some lessons students and families will be introduced to in eighth, ninth and tenth grade include:

  • GRADES, GRADES AND GRADES
    • Keep your grades up. Once you let your grades slip, it can be very difficult to get where you want to be at the end of your junior year.
  • DO GREAT IN CORE CLASSES
    • All students are enrolled in IB courses at WPS, which is widely regarded as the best college prep curriculum available. Make sure you focus on doing well in core subjects, such as English, math, science, world language, and social studies. All students are automatically enrolled in more than the minimum of core classes required for admission to highly selective universities, with some elective options available to develop personal areas of interest.
  • PSAT/TEST PREP
    • You will take the PSAT in class in October as freshmen and sophomores to provide a baseline, and your counselor will advise you and your family to give you a better understanding of your results and how to make the most of the information. Consider registering for test prep offered by Mr. Clark as a sophomore at earliest.
  • THINK ABOUT ACTIVITIES
    • Activities, whether in school or out of school, are an important part of your college application. Anything from sports, church groups, social groups, and volunteer opportunities are all valuable components of the college application. Choose a few that you can really get involved in. When applying for college, the depth at which you are involved will be more critical than a laundry list of activities.
  • RESUME
    • Create a resume of activities and accomplishments starting freshman year. This will be needed when requesting letters of recommendation from your counselor and teachers, and completing your college applications. If you kept a list during your freshman and sophomore years, then you’re already two-thirds done! You can use Scoir to help keep track of your experiences, accomplishments, and any awards you receive.
  • MEET WITH YOUR COLLEGE COUNSELOR
    • Mr. Clark is here to help you discover potential career paths and to assist you and your parents in navigating the college application process. His office is open during school hours and after school, so stop by with questions or drop him a line by email. During your freshman year, you will meet with Mr. Clark to discuss your college and career goals during weekly advisory.
  • SCOIR
    • Each student and parents have access to Scoir starting freshman year. You will use the Scoir heavily when you research and apply for colleges and to explore your strengths and interests through the YouScience Assessments, so get to know the system now.
  • VISIT COLLEGES
    • Isn’t it too early to visit colleges? No! When you are traveling on vacation, take advantage of the opportunity to visit colleges. The more you visit college campuses, the more you’ll start to get a feel for what you are looking for; this will help when you have to decide where to apply. Talk to the counselor before travel to get help with planning visits and access to worksheets to complete after each visit.
  • USE YOUR SUMMER
    • Use your time off over the summer break to find ways to volunteer and build your credentials. Check with Mr. Clark for help finding volunteer or internship possibilities.
Eleventh Grade College Prep Timeline

Junior year is a very important year for preparing for college. Within the next year, students will take standardized tests, finalize a college list, visit schools, write essays, and apply… whoa; what a busy year!

Some considerations students and families will be introduced to include:

  • GRADES, GRADES AND GRADES
    • You will be taking some of your most challenging classes this year as an IB Diploma Program student, so make sure to keep your grades strong and seek help when needed. Remember: balance is one of the IB Learner Profile traits.
  • STAY INVOLVED
    • Colleges like to see commitment, so stay involved in the activities you joined freshman and sophomore year and continue to look for leadership opportunities within these organizations.
  • ATTEND COLLEGE VISITS
    • College representatives will visit campus throughout the year. Keep an eye out for upcoming visits by checking Scoir and your email. Attend these visits to learn more about a variety of colleges and universities and meet with admission representatives. Pro tip: Often, the people visiting campus are the same people reading your applications and working with you throughout the process, so making a strong first impression can go a long way.
  • PSAT/TEST PREP
    • You will take the PSAT one final time in class in October, and your counselor will advise you and your family to give you a better understanding of your results and how to make the most of the information. Also, Mr. Clark will help you if you qualify as a National Merit Scholar. Consider registering for test prep offered by Mr. Clark or through an outside agency.
  • SCHEDULE COLLEGE VISITS
    • Take official college visits whenever possible By taking an official tour, your name will be in the system, which will be to your advantage when it comes time to apply, especially with smaller schools that formally track demonstrated interest.
  • ATTEND COLLEGE CONFERENCE
    • Look out for information about when this event takes place and register to join.
  • COLLEGE LIST
    • Now it is time to compile a preliminary list of colleges, including reach schools, 50/50 schools, and safety schools. Enter all the schools you are considering in Scoir and look out for suggestions from Mr. Clark. He will help you throughout this process in the form of meetings with you and parents.
  • SCHEDULE AND TAKE TESTS
    • Come up with a testing strategy for what tests you plan to take based on your preliminary list of colleges. Some will specify tests that need to be taken and some may be test optional. Take any standardized tests (SAT or ACT) in the spring for the first time and remember you will need to register for these tests several months in advance if you aren’t going to take them during a school day test offering.
  • STUDENT ATHLETES
    • Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at the beginning of your junior year, as you will need to be cleared academically and as an amateur athlete before you will be eligible to play division I or II sports. Also, if you are considering NAIA schools, you will need to register with them.
  • LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
    • Request letters of recommendation from junior year teachers, ideally one from math/science and one from English/social studies. Start with an informal, face-to-face request, and then follow up a “yes” from a teacher with a formal email with details at the start of senior year in the fall. Provide each person you have requested a letter from with a resume of activities and accomplishments.
  • COLLEGE FINANCING
    • Review your college financing with your parents and make sure schools on your list fit within your budget. Attend college information nights with your family to learn about paying for college, and be prepared to fill out the FAFSA fall of senior year.
  • SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
    • Locate your social security number. You will need this when you apply for financial aid during fall of senior year; if you do not have one, consider letting your counselor know so he can help guide you.

FOR THE SUMMER

  • REGISTER FOR FALL TESTS
    • If you are planning to retake any tests in the fall, make sure to register for them when necessary over the summer. Look out for the option to take a fall school day test.
  • COLLEGE VISITS
    • Most colleges will continue to offer tours throughout the summer, so you can visit schools you did not make it to during the school year.
  • FINALIZE YOUR COLLEGE LIST
    • Continue to finalize your college list and update your Scoir account with any schools you have omitted or added.
  • COMMON APP/COALITION APP/UC APP/OTHERS
    • Create an account with the application systems you will need to apply to various schools of interest and add any colleges you are considering to start the process, particularly figuring out whether some of the schools you are interested in might require supplemental essays, or essays that are school specific and are required on top of the personal statement you write and submit to all colleges.
  • APPLICATIONS
    • Make a chart of deadlines and pay particular attention to early decision, early action and preferred application deadlines. Confused on early decision and early action? Follow this link.
  • ESSAYS
    • Review the essay requirements and supplemental questions for your target schools. Look for common themes and begin to outline your essays and answers to questions. Write all essays in a Word document and only transfer them to an application at the very end of the process before submitting. Mr. Clark will offer three essay workshops during the summer before senior year. Attend those! He has a master’s degree in English and has helped countless students with the writing process.
Twelfth Grade College Prep Timeline

Welcome to your senior year! This will be an exciting and emotional year as you complete the final leg of your k-12 journey and make plans about where you’ll be next fall. Work hard this year and finish strong: you’ll be thankful you did in June.

Some steps students will be involved in will include:

SEPTEMBER

  • LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
    • Request letters of recommendation from teachers, ideally one from math/science and one from English/social studies. Start with an informal, face-to-face request, and then follow up a “yes” from a teacher with a formal email with details at least a month prior to your first application deadline. Provide each person you have requested a letter from with a resume of activities and accomplishments.
  • REGISTER/TAKE FALL TESTS
    • If you are planning to retake any tests in the fall, make sure to register for them as soon as possible. Take advantage of the option to take the fall school day test.
  • COLLEGE VISITS
    • Attend college visits to help finalize your list of schools and gain information on schools you may be thinking about; take every opportunity to get as much information as possible.
  • COLLEGE BOOT CAMP
    • Be prepared to spend a school day working on everything college with your counselor. Bring any questions you have with you. Go over all of your essays, applications, recommendation requests, scholarship applications, and deadlines with your counselor and peers.

BY OCTOBER 1

Updater Scoir with all the schools you are applying to by moving them over from the schools you are following list. Send an email to your recommenders reminding them of your deadlines and sharing useful information for them to include in their letters for you. Begin filling out the FAFSA.

OCTOBER-JANUARY

  • COMPLETE APPLICATIONS AND SUBMIT
    • Finish your applications and have your counselor look over each one before you submit any of them. Especially pay attention to your list of activities and have your counselor help you organize them in the most meaningful way possible. Only after your counselor says you are good do you actually hit submit.
  • ESSAYS
    • Share your essays with others to get feedback. Parents, friends, knowledgeable family members, and of course, your counselor. Move all essays over to applications from Word after you get the final go-ahead from your counselor.
  • FAFSA
    • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will open October 1st of your senior year. This form is used to established eligibility for federal financial aid programs and colleges will use this information to compile your financial aid packages. If the FAFSA is not an option fill out the WASFA, Washington State’s Financial Aid program. Even if you think you make to much to qualify for aid, still complete the FAFSA as some colleges require it before making a decision.
  • CSS PROFILE
    • Confirm if any schools you are applying to require the CSS Profile for financial aid and make note of the deadline this must be filed by. The CSS Profile is an online application used by colleges and scholarship programs to award Institutional (their own) aid. The CSS Profile is free for domestic undergraduate students whose family income is up to $100,000. The fee for the initial application is $25. Additional reports are $16.
  • EARLY DECISION/EARLY ACTION/RESTRICTIVE EARLY ACTION
    • These application types are due as early as October, but more commonly during November. If you have been admitted to a college through early decision (binding), you need to notify the other schools you have applied to and submit all necessary forms to the college you will be attending. If you have been admitted through early action or restrictive early action, Congratulations!
  • REGULAR DECISION/ROLLING
    • Regular decision applications are typically due in January, which will result in a decision by March or April. Rolling decision allows you to apply at any time during the year, with a decision typically being rendered within a few weeks of applying.

FEBRUARY-APRIL

Check back soon! More info will be available about the remainder of senior year, along with other resources that will be posted regularly.

Services

Willows Preparatory School provides the organizational, intellectual, and emotional base for a student’s success in high school and the college admission process. Services include:

  • One-on-one counseling for each student
  • Access to the counselor for meetings and to gather information once a student joins Willows, even as early as 5th grade
  • Specific programming for students in grades 8-12
  • Custom plans for each student in high school
  • Trips to colleges near and far, including Seattle, Portland, California, and Boston
  • Strong relationships between each student and counselor from weekly advisory
  • Suggested colleges
  • Outlining and debriefing for college travel plans
  • Practicing college interviews
  • Development of a plan for test prep and standardized testing
  • Shared information about financial aid and scholarships
  • Discussions about summer opportunities and, if interested, gap year possibilities
  • Arranged yearly campus college representative visits
  • Organized additional opportunities such as evening events and college fairs
  • Providing feedback on applications and essay writing
  • Established due dates for college tasks
  • Coordination of teacher recommendation requests
  • Authorship of each student’s official “counselor letter”
  • Submission of application supporting documents
  • Communication and relationships directly with admission offices and representatives
  • Guiding students in self-advocacy critical to college success
  • Suggested internship and service opportunities
  • Discuss eventual admission decisions, financial aid details, and college choices
  • Lead the industry by participating, presenting, and serving at regional and national levels
  • Up-to-date knowledge concerning college admission standards, norms, and changes
  • Education about the test-optional movement and its implications
  • Communication with WPS community through newsletters, emails, and other correspondence
  • Celebrating each student’s outcome—you will get into college; it is just a matter of how many and which ones!