Overview of the Oak Grove College Counseling Program
The College Advisor coordinates the college counseling program, working closely with the all four of the high school Advisors, the High School Registrar and the Head of School. We hold parent meetings each fall and spring dedicated to college topics, and Advisors integrate college topics into Advisory throughout the four years. Students can drop in during office hours and parents are able to make appointments with the College Advisor as needed; emails and phone calls are also welcome. Our goal is to fully support students and families through the college selection and application process, but if you feel your student needs more SAT/ACT prep or college advice than we can offer, please feel free to seek help outside of the school. In addition, please bear in mind that no one here believes a student should judge their intelligence solely via test scores, whether they be high or low. We do not rank students at Oak Grove and we do not rank their post high school choices either, believing that all students and families should be considering the right fit for their individual student. These choices can include college, military service, a gap year, an apprenticeship, or joining the world of work. We have never had an “honor roll” but attempt to honor all students who bring the best of themselves to their educational experience.
Each year in Advisory students receive a copy of our four-year calendar for college planning. This gives tips about what to do each year, starting in ninth grade. Juniors and seniors also receive a copy of the college counseling handbook which covers topics such as the senior year timetable, evaluating colleges, standardized testing, visiting colleges, application procedures, the college essay, letters of recommendation, financial aid, and more. Various college admissions representatives visit Oak Grove each fall and spring during the school day, and all interested students are invited to attend those informational sessions.
College and post high school planning is a collaborative process – if you are a parent of a junior or senior be prepared for homework! It is also a wonderful opportunity for students to take ownership of their lives and their futures. We encourage students to take initiative and responsibility for this process. For an indication of the range of schools our seniors apply to, please see our list of college acceptances below.
9th & 10th graders are encouraged to discuss their goals, concerns, and feelings about college and post-high school choices during Advisory. The College Advisor has many publications that can be perused. Students can also get information online. Students are encouraged to focus on their academic progress, participate in extracurricular activities and summer programs, and talk to older students and adults about their experiences.
11th graders meet in Advisory during the second semester to discuss and develop college plans. They are encouraged to take the SAT and/or ACT once in the spring. Each January they spend a half-day with their Advisor researching colleges and preparing informal reports to share with one another. Juniors also spend some time in the spring working on drafts of college essays as part of the English 3 curriculum.
12th graders are assigned college planning homework over the summer which includes developing an initial list of colleges, writing draft essays, and visiting prospective colleges. All seniors meet in Advisory during the first semester to make final decisions for college plans and work on their applications. Students are assisted in refining their college essays as part of their English 4 curriculum. Each October they spend a half-day together, along with their Advisor and the College Advisor, in a college counseling retreat that is focused on essays and applications.
SAT and ACT Prep Program
9th & 10th graders receive some preparation as part of their regular English and math courses. In October, freshmen take the PSAT 8/9 and sophomores take the PSAT. These exams serve as practice at taking standardized tests and give students exposure to the content and format of the SAT.
11th graders devote some of their Advisory time in the first semester to independent practice for the PSAT (which all juniors sit in October) and a practice ACT, and shift their focus to SAT and/or ACT prep thereafter. They are encouraged to take the SAT and/or ACT once in the spring. They have SAT/ACT practice throughout the year in their math class in addition to the regular course content.
12th graders are encouraged to prep for the SAT, ACT and/or Subject Tests over the summer if they feel they can improve their test scores. Students devote some of their Advisory time to studying for the SAT, ACT or Subject Tests as needed.
All students are encouraged to do additional preparation outside of Oak Grove if they feel they need it, and options include working independently with a test-prep book, using the free resources on KhanAcademy.org, and hiring a tutor.