College & Career Counseling
The transition from GSA to college and career starts in the spring of junior year, when students meet individually with Director of College and Career Counseling Peter Goss to discuss their interests and ambitions, both in and beyond the classroom, and their possible career choices. Whether a student plans to attend college, seek training for a particular profession, or enter the work force, all receive the same level of personalized attention and guidance throughout the senior year, up until they have chosen a college or developed a suitable career plan. Contact Peter Goss: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choosing a College: The initial conversations between counselor and student focus on the factors that go into selecting a college, including size and geographic location, academic and extracurricular opportunities, affordability, and selectivity—the relative difficulty of gaining admission. Throughout these discussions, the counselor carefully reviews the student’s academic record and extracurricular accomplishments and the proposed course selection for senior year. Before the end of junior year, every student who plans to apply to college in the fall is provided a list of suggested colleges tailored to the student’s particular interests and preferences. Informed by the director’s extensive knowledge of colleges and universities throughout the U.S., developed over 20 years of working with students and families, the list includes a judicious mix of schools that have the greatest potential to meet the student’s needs and provide a challenging and enriching educational experience.
Senior year, college applications take center stage, and meetings between the student and counselor are more frequent. Every part of the application process is covered, including
- Refining the list of colleges the student will apply to, including an appropriate number of reaches, targets, and safeties;
- Seeking recommendations from teachers;
- Developing and polishing the personal essay and any supplementary essays required by individual institutions;
- Choosing the right admissions plan (e.g., early decision, early action, regular, or rolling admission) for each school and applying by the appropriate deadline;
- Taking or retaking standardized tests and submitting scores, if required;
- Applying for financial aid to meet college expenses;
- Reviewing offers of admission and financial aid, and making the final choice.
This is an exciting and often stressful time in a senior’s life. Besides writing a detailed recommendation for every senior, the counselor offers a listening ear and a reassuring presence to keep students moving forward and help them put the inevitable challenges and disappointments in perspective. When it comes time for seniors to make their final college choices, the counselor plays a key role in helping students and parents assess their options, including a careful review of financial aid and merit scholarship offers.
Online Resources: Many online resources are available to students as they explore careers, learn about colleges, and submit college applications. GSA uses SCOIR to manage all aspects of the admissions process, from signing up to meet college representatives on campus to requesting teacher recommendations and having transcripts and other documents sent to colleges. Most students also apply to colleges using The Common Application, accepted by hundreds of colleges in the U.S. and over 50 universities in 19 other countries. Students can register for standardized tests, send test scores, and research colleges and scholarship opportunities on collegeboard.org and act.org, and find a complete list of test-optional schools on fairtest.org. These and other resources are used frequently as GSA students advance through the college search process.
Standardized Testing: Most colleges and universities will continue their test-optional admissions policies for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. Students can continue to apply with our without test scores, with no penalty, but are encouraged to discuss their plans and strategy with our college counselor. GSA offers juniors one on-campus SAT opportunity in the spring. The PSAT, essentially a practice test for the SAT, is given on campus every October, and juniors have the opportunity to opt in. Students often choose to take the ACT or to retake the SAT at local high schools, and transportation is provided for any international student who wishes to take the SAT or ACT off campus during junior or senior year.
Affording College is a major concern for almost every GSA family, and we offer students and parents detailed information and assistance in applying for financial aid and seeking scholarship opportunities. Evening presentations for students and parents are given each spring and fall on affording a college education. In addition, the college guidance director meets frequently with parents who need help navigating and submitting financial aid forms (chiefly the FAFSA and CSS Profile) and often assists families in choosing the college that will provide the best education for the most reasonable cost.
In spring, seniors can apply for scholarships provided by many local organizations to help them meet college expenses. These are administered by GSA and awarded by the GSA Scholarship Committee. A separate list of scholarships available through local and regional organizations and not administered by GSA is provided to students and families each spring. Useful guides to scholarship opportunities throughout the U.S. also can be found at fastweb.com, unigo.com, and scholarships.com.
Alternatives to College: Some GSA students seek other opportunities rather than apply to college as seniors. Students who wish to pursue professions that don’t require a college degree—those who want to become boatbuilders or chefs, for instance, or police officers or skilled welders or carpenters or engine mechanics—are provided the same personalized guidance as they research and apply for appropriate training programs and job opportunities. GSA’s annual Independent Study and Internship Program gives all juniors and seniors the option to shadow working professionals in an area of personal interest, and often helps them chart the path to their own future careers. Students who plan to work after graduation can get help with writing a resume and preparing for job interviews, and should they decide sometime after graduation to apply to college, the same array of services is available to them as GSA alumni.
International Students benefit from the same opportunities to explore careers and develop academic interests through our Independent Study and Internship Program, and to participate in athletics, academic competitions, arts activities, performances, and student government as their American classmates. They receive the same careful college and career guidance as their peers, but with special attention paid to the writing of their personal essay and the presentation of their academic accomplishments and extracurricular activities to maximize their chances of acceptance to the colleges of their choice. When they apply to college, they are well able to present themselves as multitalented, well-rounded candidates for admission to a range of selective colleges and universities.