Suffield’s four-year College Counseling Program is afforded generous staffing, modern space, significant financial resources, and dedicated time in the school day. This unique program includes material designed to appropriately challenge students of each grade.
The 9th-grade curriculum concentrates on providing students with college basics. Through the leadership curriculum and sessions led by college counselors, freshmen learn relevant information such as what a transcript looks like and how a GPA is calculated, how to maximize the Suffield experience and think to the future, and four-year course planning. The year culminates with a field trip to visit a college campus.
The 10th-grade curriculum builds on work done the year before while adding a significant amount of new information. A crucial component of the program is the introduction of standardized tests for college admission including taking both the PSAT and Pre-ACT. Through small sessions with college counselors, sophomores will also explore:
- The differences between the SAT and ACT
- Basic college vocabulary
- Summer opportunities and developing a student résumé
- Personality types and possible career fields
The 11th-grade curriculum (College 101) is taught in regular weekly leadership classes during the winter term. College 101 covers topics such as self-reflection and focusing on finding the right college match, the importance of self-advocacy throughout the college search, instruction on researching colleges and building a balanced college list, tips on how to get the most out of a college fair (all attend a fair hosted by area independent schools in April), and planning campus visits.
Juniors are encouraged to pursue the test format that best suits them, typically taking their first official SAT and/or ACT in December, with additional testing in the spring of the junior year. Suffield requires students to do some formal test preparation and offers prep classes on campus for juniors during the early winter and spring. Other students may opt to use private tutoring, online courses, or self-study.
Students also begin individual work with their assigned college counselor in January of their junior year and all will have developed an initial college list by March break. Students are encouraged to visit colleges during spring break and summer vacations. By the end of junior year, college counselors help families get a sense for some expected admission outcomes using the cumulative GPA and test scores. Juniors will also request letters of recommendation from teachers in May.
Before the academic year formally begins, seniors participate in a special “Senior Day” which focuses on college counseling and leadership of the student body. By the time they return to campus, seniors are encouraged to have two essays written and the Common Application completed. The English department and college counselors help them edit and revise their essays. Our goal is for all seniors to be ready for early application submission by early October. As the 12th-grade program continues students will focus on:
- Working with their counselors to narrow their college list keeping an eye on balance
- Reviewing applications with counselors before submission
- Meeting with college admission representatives visiting Suffield
- Using fall testing dates for the SAT and/or ACT (if needed)
- Sorting through their offers of admission, making a final choice ...and graduating!
Our college counseling office offers several programs for parents to learn more about the college admission landscape and process. Programs are scheduled for Parents’ Weekend in the fall and as part of the Parents’ Discussion Series. Additionally, a Junior Parents’ College Program is held every December and focuses on more specifics about the college application process, information on financing college, and how to best support their child throughout this exciting and important time in their life.