College Counseling Timeline

First Year Students

During the 9th grade year, the College Counseling Office takes a back seat, as our community focuses on helping new students transition successfully to Thacher life and obligations. This time allows for the kind of self-discovery and growth that can be hampered by immediately introducing the pressure of college admissions. That said, our Director of Studies and College Counseling work closely together to ensure that students are making thoughtful academic choices that help them thrive and nurture excitement about learning. And, all academic advisors are well informed of general college admission requirements and understand that a student’s performance, starting freshman year, will be considered in an admissions review.

At the end of that first year, sophomores and their family will receive information about the college counselor who will serve as the primary point of connection for the next three years.

Second Year Students

In September, the sophomore class is formally introduced to the College Counseling staff.  In a class meeting, we discuss the significance of their work and growth in our classrooms in the college process, making the most of all Thacher’s offerings every day, and forging strong connections with faculty who may ultimately write letters of recommendation.

SAT and ACT Testing 
Additionally, in the winter/spring of this year we engage the students in diagnostic work for standardized tests required by colleges.  (Please note, that Covid resulted in new test-optional policies at the great majority of the schools to which Thacher students apply.  However, we do want to make sure everyone has engaged in testing should policies evolve by the time the students apply.) 

Two testing paths are available when applying to college: the SAT or the ACT.  Schools accept both without bias. To help determine the right choice for each student, sophomors take the PSAT10  (precursor to the SAT) and the Pre-ACT. With these results in hand and some preliminary advice from our office, families can determine the next best steps for students which can include test prep. To help with the latter, the College Counseling Office provides families with a list of test prep options that our students have used in the past.

The testing agencies for the SAT and ACT do offer fee waivers.  Students can inquire with our Testing Coordinator about their eligibility (national income guidelines) when their first testing date is determined.  Also, receipients of Financial Aid are eligible to receive support for test prep.  Our Director of Financial Aid in the Admission Office will email eligible students and parents information about this at the end of the year.  We ask students and parents to follow up regarding both of these opportunities if interested.

Third Year Students

Standardized Testing
By the start of junior year, students have a testing plan in place for either the SAT or ACT. Counselors will track their progress through the spring and offer any additional guidance required.

Individual College Search
In mid-January, college counselors meet individually with students to discuss goals, aspirations, educational backgrounds, and family histories. This helps counselors recommend schools that students and their families should explore. Another meeting takes place after Spring Break—a time that some families use to visit colleges. This second meeting focuses on generating a list of colleges that students should research, as well as confirming testing strategies. A third meeting takes place in late May and June to confirm senior- year course loads and teacher recommendations, and discuss college related tasks for the summer.  With the rise in Early Applications due in October and November the summer is a critical time for research, work on applications, and essays. 
 
College Class
Every junior enrolls in College Class during the spring trimester. College counselors lead these weekly sessions, focusing on developing a thoughtful college list, setting up a Common Application account, initiating work on college essays, teacher recommendations, financial aid applications, etc. These sessions acquaint students with the application process, vocabulary, and details so that when they embark on the real deal senior year, they are confident and well prepared.

Fourth Year Students

Individual Meetings
When students arrive on campus in the fall, the College Counseling staff schedules individual meetings to catch up on summer activities, fine tune college lists, and discuss all details/deadlines of their applications. They confirm a plan of action for the fall and develop a strategy that may include early decision, early action, rolling, or regular decision applications. Follow-up meetings are dependent on each student’s needs. In December, with early results in, every student meets with their counselor to review and reassess the college list. Individual meetings continue through the winter and spring to address issues that may arise and to help students weigh their options when admission decisions are released.
 
College Class
Every senior’s schedule includes weekly College Class, which begins in the fall and concludes a week after Winter Break. In small groups with counselors, students work through each segment of the application process - completing all forms and recommendation requests, writing essays, discussing interviews, sending official test reports to colleges, and confirming their family’s progress on the financial documents. 
 
Essays
College essays have a unique audience and require students to shift from analytical writing to personal prose. Junior year workshops help students begin to practice this style of writing. Senior year involves lots of feedback and refining of topics. Experience has taught us that finding one’s voice takes time. And thoughtful, authentic, teenage voices are the most compelling. Over-worked, professionally coached or edited pieces are a huge red flag for colleges.   
 
Interviews
Today, just a tiny group of schools provide interview opportunities, most typically after a student applies. It is every student’s responsibility to confirm if the schools they are applying to require or encourage an interview. If an interview is required or offered  at or near Thacher, the College Counseling staff helps coordinate the meeting and arranges transportation if needed.
 
Financial Aid
Given the confidential nature of family finances, a student’s parents manage all financial aid applications. Of course, the College Counseling Office has a program in place to help them starting with informational meetings in the spring of sophomore year. Applying for aid is an annual event, and once in college, students are responsible for triggering the application process and making sure all necessary documents are in place. So our goal is to help set a helpful foundation for this responsibility. 

It’s very important to note that Thacher’s application for financial aid differs from the college process, and financial aid awards provided by colleges/universities can be significantly different and often not as generous. Therefore, families are encouraged to plan ahead for this process

Meet the Staff

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Maria Morales-Kent

    Maria Morales-Kent 

    Director of College Counseling
    Bio
  • Photo of Jill Manfredi

    Jill Manfredi 

    Administrative Assistant, College Counseling
    Bio
  • Photo of Czarina Hutchins

    Czarina Hutchins 

    Associate Director of College Counseling
    Bio
  • Photo of Judy Oberlander

    Judy Oberlander 

    10th Grade Liaison, College Counseling
    Bio
Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.