Suffield Academy’s mission includes readying students for success at the next level and beyond. As part of this effort, the school’s unique college counseling program includes material designed to appropriately challenge students of each grade. Housed in the 3,000 square foot Hoffman College Counseling Center, Suffield’s innovative college counseling program is a model for independent schools across the United States. The school provides comprehensive and effective college counseling marked by individual attention and extensive services.

The goals of the college counseling office are threefold: to provide highly professional, proactive, hands-on counseling and guidance throughout the college search; to represent each student fairly and responsibly, identifying with his or her uniqueness and potential; to enable each student to find a match—fitting his or her ambitions and talents with a college’s programs, resources, and style.

The information below outlines our program by each year, lists what is expected of students, parents and college counselors, and answers frequently asked questions. In addition, we have listed links and downloads to help in your college search process. 

SA College Counseling By Grade

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • 9th Grade Program

    The ninth grade curriculum concentrates on providing students with college basics. Through the Leadership curriculum and sessions led by college counselors, freshmen learn relevant information like:
    » what a transcript looks like and how a GPA is calculated
    » how to maximize your Suffield experience and think to the future
    » four-year course planning
    The year culminates with a field trip to visit a college campus.
  • 10th Grade Program

    The tenth 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 PLAN.
    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
    » how to use the online database, Naviance, for test prep and college research
    » personality types and possible career fields
  • 11th Grade Program

    The eleventh grade curriculum—College 101—is taught in regular weekly Leadership classes during the winter and spring terms. Making use of the text, College Match, the College 101 course covers topics such as:
    » self-reflection and discovery on what will be the right college “fit”
    » 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 and campus visit
    Juniors begin individual work in January with their assigned college counselor and all will have a working college list by March break. Juniors are encouraged to visit colleges during the spring and summer vacations. Juniors typically take their first SAT in January and ACT in February or April, and all juniors are advised to take both tests at least once. At the end of College 101 juniors have the opportunity to visit as a class either a large or small college campus. They will also attend an annual college fair hosted by a Hartford area independent school. By the end of junior year, using cumulative GPA and test scores college counselors are able to help families get a sense of expected admission outcomes.
  • 12th Grade program

    Before classes begin, seniors participate in a special “Senior Day” program that focuses on college counseling and leadership for the upcoming year. In preparation for the day, seniors are encouraged to have two essays written and the Common Application completed. A portion of the program is scheduled for English department faculty and college counselors to review essays with seniors to help proof, edit and revise as they work toward a final draft.
    Seniors work closely with their college counselors in the fall to narrow their college list and complete college applications. Seniors also have an opportunity to meet with college representatives that visit Suffield from September through December—Suffield welcomes over 100 colleges each year. Standardized testing continues in the fall and the majority of college applications will be submitted before December break. Admissions decisions follow depending on the type of application and the college’s response time. Counselors help seniors sort through their admission and financial aid offers to make a decision about their final college destination.
  • Parent Program

    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 spring and as part of the Parent Discussion Series. Additionally, a Junior Parent College Program is held every January for parents to learn the nuts and bolts of the college application process, gather information on financing a college education, and discover how to best support their child throughout this exciting and yet stressful time in their life. Guest speakers are a regular part of our parent programs.

Roles & Responsibilities

It is important to understand who takes responsibility for which aspects of the college search. Our operating philosophy is that the most successful college match derives from a student-driven process. We will work with students to ensure they have every tool they need to be successful in their college search.

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Expectations of Students  [read more]

    It is expected that Suffield’s students will begin the process of decision-making early. Make sure you make an appointment with your college counselor in the winter of your junior year. You will be required to complete an interview questionnaire before the meeting. Attend all group and individual meetings (please be on time).
    » Communicate your wishes and desires honestly with your parents and college counselor. Be actively engaged in the college admission process.
    » Be prepared for standardized testing (SAT and/or ACT). Complete a testing plan with your college counselor, register for tests on time, and participate in the test preparation best suited for you (e.g. tutoring, self-paced lessons, classroom instruction). Send official score reports as required from the testing agencies to the colleges where you file applications.
    » Attend the HAISSCCA College Fair (Hartford Area Independent Secondary School College Counselors Association) held each April. Suffield expects all juniors to attend the fair with their college counselors. This fair is an excellent opportunity for juniors to collect information from over 100 colleges and meet with college representatives. Research the basic admission criteria at the colleges you are considering. Make sure that you understand the standardized test requirements, interviewing procedures (if any), financial aid and scholarship process, as well as any special application requirements (graded papers, portfolio for art majors, auditions for music or theater majors, etc.).
    » Learn Naviance—our college counseling software. It is a tremendous resource of information and makes managing the college process much easier.
    » Plan to visit colleges during spring break, summer vacation, and other school vacation days.
    » Meet with college representatives visiting Suffield in the fall of your senior year. Obtain the applications, or research application requirements online, by the early fall of your senior year.
    » Request letters of recommendation from teachers at the end of your junior year. Complete the Teacher Recommendation Request Form and return it to the college counseling office before spring exams.
    » Complete applications honestly and accurately. Meet deadlines by submitting your applications early. Keep copies of any applications you submit—occasionally materials are lost in the mail/cyberspace or misfiled in college admission offices.
    » Write two essays during the summer before your senior year (directions will be distributed by the college counseling office during a spring workshop). Bring these essays with you when you return for Senior Day in September, which includes time set aside to help you with edits and feedback.
    » Request your school records (transcript and recommendations) by submitting a Transcript Request Form (orange sheet) to your college counselor at least two weeks before the application deadline.
    » Keep your college counselor up to date on all of your plans, progress, and results. Communicate regularly with your counselor.
    » Monitor and respond to communications from colleges whether it be email, phone calls, online portals or regular mail.
    » Ask for help! Your college counselor is happy to review applications and essays before you submit them and offer suggestions and edits. It is important to plan ahead and ask for help well before the deadline.
    Submit enrollment deposit fee at final choice college by May 1st.
  • Expectations of Parents [read more]

    It is expected that Suffield’s parents will discuss college plans—including the financial picture and any restrictions—openly and honestly with your child early in the process. Share these thoughts with the college counselor either by phone, in writing, or at a meeting. Offer support to your son or daughter throughout the college admission process, but please remember that your child should direct the college admission process. Help your child to recognize and celebrate his or her strengths and to highlight them in interviews and on applications. Encourage your child to take the lead in the process and to take pride in his/her accomplishments.

    » Complete the Parent Questionnaire.
     This form is mailed to parents in the winter/spring of the child’s junior year. It is also posted in a forms folder in the document library section of Naviance 
    » Family Connection. Parents who supply us with information and thoughts on this questionnaire add greatly to our understanding of their child, which in turn enables us to write a better, more comprehensive counselor’s summary and recommendation.
    » Assist your child with standardized test registrations (a credit card is required for online registration). Remind your child to submit test scores to colleges as required directly from the testing agencies when applying. Be aware of deadlines and other requirements. Assist your child in visiting colleges of interest.
    » Complete your portion of the application by providing your personal information (educational background, employment, etc.) and provide a credit card number for application fees.
    If applying for financial aid, fill out financial aid forms and submit before the deadline.
    » Communicate with your child’s college counselor. If you have any questions or concerns, we are here to help. Please remember that we all want what is best for the student.
    » Submit enrollment deposit fee at final choice college by May 1st.
  • Expectations of College Counselors [read more]

    College counselors will discuss college planning with the student and the parents to help develop a balanced list that represents good matches. They serve as advocates for each Suffield student to colleges, support and counsel students and parents with college research, applications, and selection processes.
    » Keep students informed about college admissions representatives visiting Suffield, special events, scholarships, and testing.
    » Help students with forms such as Common Application, SAT and ACT registration information, Financial Aid Forms (CSS Profile and FAFSA), testing fee waivers if applicable, and special scholarship information and applications.
    » Prepare a well-written summary and recommendation for the student in a positive and honest light, emphasizing on academics, personal strengths, achievements, and growth.
    » Prepare and submit transcripts to colleges along with a secondary school report form, counselor’s summary and recommendation, school profile, and teacher recommendations.
    » Submit fall term, mid-year, and final grade reports to colleges.

College Counseling: Frequently Asked Questions

List of 13 frequently asked questions.

  • » When will students/families be assigned a college counselor?

    Suffield students are assigned to a college counselor in January of their junior year. Our office collaborates on dividing up the junior class among four counselors and experience has taught us that this serves our students well. If students/families have a request for a specific counselor, we will take that under consideration and will try to honor, but cannot guarantee, the request.
  • » When can parents meet with a college counselor?

    Meetings are scheduled with families twice a year—spring parents weekend (for juniors), and fall parents weekend (for seniors). Meetings with counselors are generally available at other mutually agreeable times and preferably after the counselor has had a chance to meet individually with the student. Counselors also communicate directly with students and families through emails and phone calls throughout the process.
  • » When will a college list be available?

    Counselors begin preparing a preliminary list of colleges after initial meetings with individual students and are generally available in Naviance near the end of February. These lists are merely a starting point and will change over time as counselors receive feedback from students and parents after college visits and further research as to what a “good fit” will be. In June, after junior year grades and test scores have been received, counselors will take into account admissibility to individual schools and revise the college lists.
  • » What colleges should we visit?

    There is no substitute for visiting a college campus to get a feel for the school as a potential match for a student. Images and programs in promotional materials and online are carefully chosen, but the essence can only truly be experienced by visiting the college and it’s surroundings. Any of the colleges designated by the counselor on the student’s college list are a good consideration, and choosing schools that are in an approximate geographical local helps maximize time during school breaks. Students are encouraged to visit as many colleges as possible and to make notes about likes/dislikes that can be discussed with the counselor to help determine a “good fit.”
  • » Should I interview at a college?

    Many colleges offer admissions interviews by various means. If available and the student feels comfortable talking one-on-one, an interview can be good way for students to personalize the application, especially if there are any special or extenuating circumstances which might be best explained in person. Be prepared to answer and to ask questions about the school and its programs, answer questions honestly, and always take the interview seriously.
  • » What tests do students take and when?

    Students at Suffield begin standardized testing in the fall of their sophomore year with the PSAT and a full-length practice ACT in the spring. Testing continues into junior year again with the PSAT in the fall and the SAT and ACT in the winter. A repeat of the SAT and ACT is encouraged in the spring of the junior year. Seniors will generally take at least one more SAT and/or ACT in the fall/winter. International students should take the TOEFL at least twice—in both the junior and senior years.
  • » Do I need to register for the PSAT or other standardized tests?

    Suffield will automatically register sophomores and juniors for PSAT and sophomores for the full length practice ACT. SAT, ACT and TOEFL registration becomes the responsibility of the student.
  • » How can a student get extended time for standardized tests?

    The reality is that most students would benefit from extended time on standardized tests, but only certain students qualify to receive it. There are stringent guidelines to which all families must adhere when applying for extended time accommodations. The application process is detailed and requires several weeks for the testing services to review. If a student wishes to apply for extended time, contact with Suffield’s academic support office must be made PRIOR to the start of the junior year.
  • » Is there test prep available?

    As set forth by a task force assembled by the school, completion of some form of standardized test preparation is a requirement of Suffield’s college counseling office. Design of such preparation is a student/family decision and the requirement can be met by enrollment in a formal test prep program such as Kaplan or Princeton Review, work with a private tutor, enrollment in an online course (both SAT and ACT offer them), or self-study using test prep study guides/books. For the convenience of our students, Suffield has contracted with Summit Educational Group over the past several years to offer fee-based on campus courses. These courses target juniors in preparation for the January and May SAT, and the February and April ACT.
  • » What do colleges look for in an application?

    There is no “secret formula” as to what colleges look for in an application, but there are several components. First, and foremost, is always the transcript. Admissions representatives will review not only the grades received, but also the level of courses that a student took. A strong academic record alone will not guarantee admission so representatives also look for students with a variety of talents—athletic, musical, and artistic—and/or participation in extracurricular activities or work experience. Colleges are also interested in what others have to say about the candidate through their recommendations. The application itself will provide personal information and the reader will learn more about the student in the personal statement and essays. Most, although not all, colleges will require standardized test scores, and some colleges require supplementary materials such as a graded paper. Interviews are also taken into consideration, although admissions will be much more interested in your academics. Finally, colleges will be reviewing the rigor of the curriculum at Suffield Academy by looking closely at our School Profile. This document includes general information about Suffield, our grading scale, graduation requirements, and course offerings that help admissions representatives access a student’s achievement in relation to the rest of the class.
  • » Who sends test scores to colleges?

    It is critical that students familiarize themselves with the specific testing requirements and policies for each individual college. Students can talk to their college counselor to determine which scores should be submitted, but it is the student’s responsibility to submit the scores to colleges directly from the testing agencies. Suffield does not report test scores on our transcript.
  • » How does the application get “sent?”

    All colleges accept some form of online application, and most accept the Common Application. Once the application is complete, students should review it and their essays with their college counselor before submitting it electronically. The counselor will follow up by submitting the student’s supporting materials (transcript and recommendations) separately.
  • » When is the best time to visit colleges?

    March break and over the summer present the best opportunity for students to visit colleges without interfering with our academic schedule, especially for those schools a distance away. Many colleges will not be as busy in the summer and options may be limited in terms of interacting with students or attending a class, so if it turns out that interest in the college becomes extremely high, a return visit to the college while in-session might be of consideration. Counselors can provide resources should families need help planning specific visits.

SA College Counseling Team

List of 7 members.

Directing college counseling at Suffield is an intellectually engaging and enjoyable challenge. Our range of student interests is reflected in the colleges our graduates attend, and this diversity is a great part of Suffield’s appeal. We are proud of the individual attention each student receives.  -Ann Selvitelli, Director of College Counseling
Suffield Academy   185 North Main Street   Suffield, Connecticut 06078   Phone 860.386.4400  |  Fax 860.386.4411