Thursday, December 8, 2016

Before moving forward, consider your back-up!

Before moving forward, consider your back-up!
When students begin to compile the list of colleges which they will apply to, it’s important to put focused thought and effort into choosing a back-up or “safety” school. This begs the question, “What exactly is a safety school?”
I like to use a three-pronged approach to deciding if a college should be considered a good back-up or safety school.
1)     Acceptability - When looking at a school’s requirements for admission, you can see that you not only meet them, but exceed each one. For example the college might require scores on the SAT that are in the 1100 range, but yours approach 1400. They ask for 3 years of high school science preparation and you have 4, plus you’re enrolled in and excelling in a college science course while a high school student. When meeting with students I often joke that this prong should be called the Jimmy Neutron prong, as in the college would consider you among their top students when looking at your application. For many students the local community college is a viable option to fulfill this criterion – but not for all (see #3, below).
2)     Affordability – While I understand, on a deep and personal level, that college is just plain expensive, a safety or back-up school’s cost should be at a level that you can afford. Putting together student loans, grants and scholarships, savings and/or gifts, and even a college-sponsored payment plan, you can manage the bill for this school.
3)     Affability – (admittedly named as such to have a tidy 3-pronged list) This is a school you would be happy attending. You like the campus, the location, the clubs and athletics, and the majors offered. If your heart’s desire is to live on campus then many community colleges become disqualified at prong 3 because they may not offer on-campus dormitories.
Measuring colleges against all three of these considerations takes some time and effort. I might suggest that you should put in more work pursuing a clear back-up school than any other school on your list – it might turn out to be your home for at least a year therefore you should be as sure as you can be that you’ll be successful at it, able to afford it, and, of course, happy with it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Post PSAT Blues

Juniors signed for the PSAT. They paid the fee, they had a good breakfast, and arrived on test day bright and early.
With the PSAT test day all over..... now what?
Beyond waiting for scores, which will not be available for several weeks yet, there are a few things to start considering.
Keeping in mind that the PSAT is a practice test for the SAT, it is time to start thinking about college entrance exams: the SAT and/or the ACT, and, of course, when to take them.
This week I have been visiting junior class morning meetings to talk about factors to consider with regard to these tests. Factors such as test dates and junior year schedules should not be overlooked in this process.
Consider first that the tests themselves cover subjects often taught during the junior year of high school. Thus taking the test too early in the year could put students at a disadvantage. On the other hand, at Vergennes Union High School, as at many high schools, we have a semester-based schedule which allows students to complete some courses by the end of January. With this in mind, juniors who have their only junior year math class during our first semester should consider the idea of taking their SAT or ACT in January or February, so that newly acquired math concepts are fresh. The registration deadline for the January 21 SAT is December 21, 2016. The registration deadline for the February 11 ACT is January 13, 2017.
Whether juniors opt to test in the winter or in the more traditional window of May/June, registration can and should be completed as soon as possible. Doing so is more likely to yield a seat in the test center of their choosing. If students are considering a test date in the spring, they should be aware of other important events that might conflict with a positive testing experience such as spring (sports) playoffs and the prom to name just a few. Test day is a long one and students should not approach the test either tired from the night before or distracted by the anticipation of post-test activities.
To register for the SAT go to - the cost is $45 - don't forget your VUHS code is 460-460.
To register for the ACT - the cost is $42.50 - use the same VUHS code 460-460.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Demonstrating Your Interest (Take advantage of the upcoming long weekend!)

When all other things are equal, a student who demonstrates their interest in a college by way of a college visit, which may or may not include an interview, has a slight advantage. Hold on! Now read that first phrase again…. When all other things are equal… What does that mean? Let’s look at two hypothetical candidates.

Admission criteria
Candidate A
Candidate B
Overall average
Rank in class
SAT scores (total)
Letters of recommendation
2 (excellent)
2 (excellent)
Choice of major
Demonstrated interest (optional)
On-campus tour 10/1/2016

Using our table above, let’s consider an all-too-often real set of circumstances. Two average students are vying for the last available seat in a college’s nursing program. ALL – yes, that’s in all cap’s – nursing programs are very competitive. Our two candidates are identical except for the fact that Candidate B has visited the college for a tour, thus demonstrating interest. The admission staff can surmise that Candidate B applied based on what was learned about the college from the candidate’s research on colleges and on what was experienced during the visit. In essence, the candidate thought they might be interested in the college then visited, and went on to apply confirming that they liked what they saw/experienced during that visit. Demonstrating interest in this way, signals to admissions staff that an offer of admission is more likely to yield an enrollment.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Who’s afraid of the ASVAB?

The ASVAB, or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is part of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program provided by local armed services personnel. While the connection to the military may be intimidating to some, this is an excellent program designed to help students discover how their interests and skills relate to more than 400 occupations. The test also helps students understand where their verbal, mathematical, and science/technical skills lie.
It’s available for juniors or seniors and will be held on the morning of November 9, 2016. Stop in or call the VUHS Guidance and School Counseling Office to reserve a seat.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Prior Prior Year (P.P.Y.) -- 
This year for the first time college bound students (and their parents) will have the opportunity to file the F.A.F.S.A. (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) after October 1, 2016. Using taxes records from 2015, will allow families to file once - with no update needed, and see their calculated, E.F.C., or Estimated Family Contribution earlier than in the past.
An informal poll of visiting college representatives to V.U.H.S. has revealed that this change in federal law is having no effect on when colleges are planning to send out their financial aid offerings to accepted students.