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College Counseling Newsletter

January 2017

Happy New Year!

Grade 12

“Waiting is the hardest part....” Many of us enjoyed this Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tune in the early '80s and now our seniors are feeling the truth in these lyrics. As hard as our seniors have worked to get to this point, the next few months can feel like an eternity. And, that there’s nothing left to be completed. All the essays have been written, the standardized tests taken, the applications submitted. However, now is the time to revisit the college list once more as the last round of deadlines is approaching. Seniors should keep in conversation with their counselor as we are in communication with colleges to which our students have applied and welcome any news students may have to share. An award won or recognition received, an update that a college is now clearly a top choice, or some other tidbit could prove helpful in conversations with our colleagues at the colleges to which our students apply.

We ask that you take a few moments to review the checklist below with your child.

  • Check the status of all applications. Confirm the colleges once more in Naviance. Be proactive in checking your application status at each college to which you have applied. It is a good idea to check the admission offices’ websites or portals about one week after the due date to make sure they have received every aspect of your application and that your file is complete. Some colleges send notices about missing information, and some do not; it is important for you to check the status of your own file. Please let us know if something is missing. Often colleges contact the student regarding missing documents, not the College Counseling Office.
  • First semester grades (Mid Year Report) will be sent shortly. The College Counseling Office will begin submitting your first semester transcript to all of the colleges to which you are applying when grades become available. We DO NOT need college-specific forms for most colleges as many accept them electronically.
  • Complete financial aid applications immediately. Be sure to follow directions for each specific college closely and submit by the published deadlines. If you have questions, please speak with your counselor as soon as possible. Any delay in submitting financial aid applications can impact the aid allocated. Now is also a good time to look at scholarships; many students will visit,, or College Board’s Big Future to search for scholarship opportunities. There are also scholarships listed in Naviance.
  • Please let us know as soon as you hear any admission decision. We want to be able to offer our support and our congratulations as appropriate. College decisions will arrive in fits and starts with a vast majority arriving in March. 
  • Speaking of decisions, if you were deferred from an early application school, check in with your counselor. There may be an opportunity for you to connect with the college once more, provide updates, and strengthen your position.
  • You will pay only one enrollment deposit, but a major state university may allow for a refundable housing deposit. Read the fine print. If you were admitted to a large public university, you may have received a “request for housing” application form. If you are not sure you want to attend the university, you still may want to register for housing since on campus housing may be tight. Confirm with the housing office or the admissions office that the deposit is refundable.
  • March mid-semester grades can still matter. Final grades definitely do. It’s true, colleges may hold off on making a decision about you until receiving mid-semester grades in March. And all colleges review final transcripts. Every effort on your part to perform as strongly as possible may help colleges make a positive decision.  The news is the number of applications keeps going up and acceptance rates continue dropping.  Don’t jeopardize your chances!  Rather, use this as an opportunity to strengthen your application by putting up your best grades.
  • NCAA athletes should verify their materials are completed and can confirm with Ms. Dohr that the final transcript will be submitted when available in June.  Students who are expecting to compete at the Division I or II level need to be sure that they are registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center at  
  • AP Exams are approaching! Every student currently enrolled in an AP course is already registered for that exam. If a student is interested in taking other AP exams, you must speak with Mr. Nicholson and then inform Ms. Dohr in the College Office by March 10. AP exam dates are May 1-5 and May 8-12.

Grade 11

Now that the New Year is upon us, the college process will begin accelerating rather quickly for many students. Thank you for everyone who attended our program on January 4 and for making the evening a success. The first conversations with counselors will center on a testing plan and scheduling and the concluding conversations we will have heading into the summer will involve creating a balanced college list. There is a lot that will happen between now and then. The process requires active communication; parents are welcome to join their child when they meet with their college counselor, to meet separately or to communicate via the phone or email. To schedule an appointment, please contact Nancy Dohr.

  • SAT and ACT test dates and registration deadlines are approaching.  Now is the time to register.  Please remember that you are responsible for registering for the tests you plan to take. The counselors will meet with juniors to revisit the testing plan for the rest of this school year. Students who have not yet met with their counselor should schedule an appointment through Ms. Dohr in order to develop a testing plan.

ACT Registration deadline for the February 11 test is January 13. This test will be held at Breck School. If you miss this deadline you can register late. There is an additional fee for late registration and you may not receive your preferred testing site.  If you miss the late registration deadline, you can try to test as a standby on test day.  Specific directions for standby testing can be found at The last two ACT test dates for this school year are April 8 and June 10; Breck will not be a test site for either of these dates.

SAT test dates are January 21, March 11, May 6 and June 3. The deadline for the March SAT is February 10. Breck will be a test site in March and June. For registration deadlines, and to register, go to

  • SAT and ACT test prep options: There are many different ways to prepare, both free and at cost. The best approach is to develop a long-term plan using a combination of coursework and practice tests. The key ingredient to improving results is the use of practice tests.
  • Self-preparation through a book or online. Both the SAT and ACT websites offer services through ACT Online and the SAT’s My College Quickstart.
  • One-on-one tutoring.
  • Test preparation course.
  • Combination of the above.

As you notice, doing nothing is not advisable.

  • Practice Test Results were distributed in January. If a family was unable to attend our program, please make arrangements to meet with a counselor to discuss the results.
  • Mark Your Calendars:
  • Course planning for juniors.  Mr. Nicholson, Dr. Graham, and Ms. O’Connell will meet with juniors to discuss course selection for next year.  Each junior should visit the College Counseling Office and speak with Ms Dohr to make an appointment with her/his counselor.  These meetings should take place before conferences in the beginning of March.
  • Application Workshop for Students & Parents on April 5. This is our most highly anticipated program of the process. Deans and directors of admission from 5 national colleges will be on hand to lead admissions committees comprised of you, the students and parents!
  • Spring Semester Coffee Talks. The College Counseling Office will host a series of informal conversations focused on specific topics. Please watch your email for these opportunities!
  • AP Exams | Every student currently enrolled in an AP course is already registered for that exam.  If a student is interested in taking other AP exams, you must speak with Mr. Nicholson and then inform Ms Dohr in the College Office by March 10. AP exam dates are May 1-5 and May 8-12.

Recommended reading:

Looking Beyond the Ivy League, by Loren Pope ISBN 0-14-023952-9
I'm Going to College – Not you!  Edited by Jennifer Delahunty. ISBN 978-0-312-60729-6
Colleges that Change Lives, by Loren Pope. ISBN 0-14-023951-0
Fifty College Admissions Directors Speak to Parents, by Sandra F. McGowan and Sarah M. McGinty ISBN 0-15-601595-1
College Admissions: A Crash Course for Panicked Parents, by Sally Rubenstone and Sidonia Dalby ISBN 0-02-861931-5
The College Admissions Mystique, by Bill Mayher ISBN 0-374-52513-7

Grade 10

Every sophomore should have received his/her counselor assignment last month. Should you have not received your counselor assignment, please contact the College Counseling Office. Developing a relationship is an essential step in creating a successful college process. Many students may wish to meet with their college counselor the first time without parents. However, the college office welcomes parents! The best way to schedule an appointment is to contact Nancy Dohr (763/381-8258 or email).

  • Remember that the Grade 9-10 College Night is on February 1. This will be a full evening and we expect to see sophomores and parents there. Topics will include athletics, financing a college education, visiting colleges, standardized testing and the college process moving forward. A schedule of the event is forthcoming. Families should make plans on attending this event!
  • Grade 10 students will receive PSAT and Practice ACT results during the February 1 College Counseling Night. The students receive the original test booklet and a score report and will receive information to help process the scores.
  • Course Planning for Sophomores. Mr. Nicholson, Dr. Graham and Ms. O’Connell will meet with sophomores to discuss course selection for next year. Each sophomore should visit the College Counseling Office and speak with Ms. Dohr to make an appointment with her/his counselor. These meetings should take place before conferences in early March.
  • What should you be doing now, in the middle of sophomore year, to plan for the college process? There are several very important considerations in the middle of sophomore year for students.
    • Where am I academically at Breck?  Where do I want to be in two years? At the end of first semester senior year? Course planning is an essential piece of sophomore year.  It is important students have an appropriate balance of challenge and mastery in their classes, and they understand the credentials they are building over the course of high school.
    • Sophomore counselor meetings:  Mr. Nicholson, Ms. Graham and Ms. O’Connell on plan to meet with all of their sophomore students one on one to discuss how to best achieve their individual goal.  These meetings should take place by parent conferences at the end of the February.  Sophomores are responsible for making an appointment by coming to the college office and speaking with Ms Dohr.
    • In what ways am I participating in the life of the school? Breck is a relatively small high school, and it is important that each student contribute through involvement in activities, sports and service work. Take an assessment about your involvement and make plans for future leadership and activities.
    • What am I going to do in the summer? Some of the greatest growth for high school students is the summers after their sophomore and junior years. We strongly encourage students to plan significant experiences that take them away from their school friends and Breck’s academic work and put them in a different atmosphere where they learn about themselves and the world around them.  Such experiences include formal programs, finding ways to contribute locally, or one of the best teachers of all, a job!  Successful experiences in the past have been taking classes at a local university, speaking Spanish while making tortillas at The Mercado on Lake Street, joining an archaeological dig, joining a local political campaign, or designing your own reading list with a teacher at Breck.
  • AP Exams | Every student currently enrolled in an AP course is already registered for that exam.  If a student is interested in taking other AP exams, you must speak with Mr. Nicholson and then inform Ms Dohr in the College Office by March 10. AP exam dates are May 1-5 and May 8-12.

Grade 9

With a semester fully under your belt, it is time to reflect on the first semester. What went well? What are areas of improvement? Are the subjects or activities that you would like to learn more about? While the college process is still years away, such questions and reflections can allow you to take steps that can put you on a path towards success. It is important to end the year on a high note; with the slate wiped clean in classes and opportunities for involvement presenting themselves anew this semester, make the commitment to do your best!

  • Student/Parent Workshop for Grades 9-10 on February 1 at 6:30 in the Chapel. We will then run concurrent breakout sessions from which you may elect to attend. Topics will include athletics, financing a college education, visiting colleges, standardized testing and the college process moving forward. A schedule of the event is forthcoming. Families should make plans on attending this event!
  • Course Scheduling. Now is the time to think about your interests. What courses/subjects are most compelling? In what areas do you excel? Are you interested in pursuing an AP course, such as AP European History? If this is the case, talk to your teacher(s) in the discipline(s), your advisor, and the department chair.
  • It’s not too early to think about summer!  Yes, this is a time to rest and to take a break from school. However, it’s also a time to explore interests! The best way for a college to know what a child is actually interested in is to assess how the student has spent his/her time. 

College Counseling Staff

Jonathan Nicholson
Director of College Counseling

Susan Graham
Associate Director of College Counseling

Andrea O’Connell
Associate Director of College Counseling

Nancy Dohr
Office Assistant

CEEB Code for Breck