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October 2016

Dear Breck Parents:

Fall is here! It is difficult to believe the start of school was the better part of five weeks ago and yet the energy and excitement reveal just how deep into the school year we now find ourselves. Parent-Teacher-Student conferences will soon take place as will the MISP Fair, MEA Weekend, the post-season for fall sports, and the list goes on. 

This newsletter is full of information and details. Please feel free to read its entirety or delve into the area that pertains to your family. One important announcement for all families pertains to the week of October 24 and the following Monday, October 31. For these six days, the counselors will have open office hours dedicated to seniors to help prepare them for the buildup to the November 1 deadline. If there is a need for a ninth-, tenth- or eleventh-grade student, please email your counselor or contact Nancy Dohr. 

Seniors

Around this time, anxiety and pressure can begin to mount. We are here to help! Below is a checklist of sorts; not all will apply directly to you, but please review carefully the items that do pertain. 

Third and Final Common Application Essay Workshop, Wednesday October 5 (US Dining Room)

Our third essay workshop will take place on Wednesday evening preceding Parent-Teacher-Student conferences. With no classes the next day and few conflicts, most seniors should plan on attending. This follows the June workshop launching the writing and our August workshop detailing the essay and supplemental essays. On this night, from 5:30-8:00 pm we offer one thing students most need to write: time. The counselors as well as a few English faculty members will be on hand to offer feedback on student writing. Students must sign up by Monday, October 3rd so we can order enough food. The registration may be found at Ms Dohr’s desk. 

If students are planning on applying early, they should be in attendance. We are setting aside this time to alleviate the crunch that can occur the last week of October for counselors and English faculty. If seniors are expecting help the week leading up to November 1st, they should attend this evening! 

MISP Fair at Breck School, Sunday October 9

The Minnesota Independent School Partnership (MISP) Fair brings over 150 college reps to the Breck campus on Sunday afternoon. Hosted in conjunction with five of our peer schools, the fair is a highlight of the year for our students. Attendance is expected and nearly 100% of our juniors and seniors attend each year. Parents are welcome! 

To see the list of colleges in attendance, please click here. Please note the length of the fair and plan accordingly. Spreading out arrival and departure times and ride-sharing can make for a better experience. The fair will close precisely at 3:00 pm so representatives may prepare for the second portion of the fair with our community partners. 

College Programming and Visits Surrounding MISP Fair

Around the MISP Fair, nearly 70 colleges will visit Breck. On Thursday (6th) and Friday (7th), college visits will be spread from 8:30-1:00. On Monday (10th) and Tuesday (11th), seniors are expected to attend any and all visits for colleges they are considering. It is also a time to expand the list once more. The list of college visits was available at last week’s class meeting and can be found in the College Counseling Office. You may also access the list of visits in your Naviance account. 

We understand that family schedules are difficult to coordinate. As you schedule Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences, we ask you to consider avoiding these times as much as possible. Should your conferences overlap the dinner hour, we invite you to hear from a Durham University admissions officer about the merits of a British/Scottish (UCAS) education, Thursday, October 6th, 4:30 PM, US Library. 

MEA Weekend, October 19-23

Many students will use these dates to travel. Students considering a binding program may visit the campus once more. Others may take the opportunity to visit an area they have yet to see. And, for those who are in town, we will host a visit to two local campuses (see below for details). 

Seniors not traveling can drop in to speak with a counselor about their essays and other aspects of their application on the Thursday and Friday.

  • Reminders as you start your applications:
    • Parents & Seniors should submit your respective questionnaires immediately. These questionnaires are invaluable to your college counselor.  If you have questions about accessing your account, contact Nancy Dohr.
    • Complete and submit your Request to Send Transcript form (blue sheet) to the college office 30 days prior to your first deadline. If Ms Dohr is not at her desk, just place it in the tray on the counter. We do not officially know you are applying to a college unless it is on your blue sheet. Remember, you can change your blue sheet at anytime.
    • Complete the FERPA agreement in your Common Application account. In order for the college office and your teachers to submit recommendation letters and transcripts, you must complete this step. You must first complete the Education section of your Common Application. You can confirm your status in your Naviance account. See the Common Application Reference Guide in Naviance (Under Class of 2017 Forms) or see a college counselor for assistance. 
    • Link your Common Application to your Naviance account. This is done by entering the email address you used on your Common Application account when prompted by navigating to “Colleges” > “Colleges I’m Applying to.”
    • Finalizing your College List. The list on your blue sheet should be the same as the list in your Naviance Account as well as your Common Application (when applicable). This list should be balanced, which generally entails 3 likely schools, 3 possible/target schools, and 3 reach schools. Your college counselor can help you in these decisions.
    • A note about teacher recommendations and supplemental recommendations. Typically, a college requires one or two teacher recommendations in addition to the counselor recommendation.  Our counsel is to follow these guidelines and not exceed the number of recommendation letters. If you are applying to a specific program that requires a supplement (i.e. arts,) your counselor will gladly guide you through the process.
    • Send your test scores directly from ACT/SAT.  Breck does not send test scores to colleges.
    • Show your counselor your application and supplements before submitting. 
  • If you are applying to a large state university – be aware of priority and rolling deadlines: Though published deadlines may be much later, we advise submitting your applications earlier. In particular, we suggest submitting your University of Minnesota application by the November 1st Priority Deadline. Remember that the college counseling office requests one month advanced notice of a due date to submit your transcript and counselor recommendation.
  • If you are applying Early Decision or Early Action: These deadlines are usually around November 1 or November 15. Early Decision is suitable for students who are ready to make a binding commitment to a college or university. Early Action is a non-binding application. If you are applying early: 
    • Confirm with your counselor.
    • Notify your teacher recommenders.
    • Be sure to turn in your Request to Send Transcript form (blue sheet) one month before the application deadline.
  • If you are applying for financial aid: The FAFSA goes live on October 1! For the first year ever, colleges will use Prior Prior Year (PPY) information to calculate aid. Families may use 2015 taxes to complete the information. 
    • The published cost of attendance for college can be quite substantial. However, financial aid, through merit and need-based awards, can make college more affordable. It is imperative you know the required forms and deadlines for each school to which you are applying. A missed deadline can result in missed money! Check the Net Price Calculator at the college(s) to which you are applying to get a sense of what aid you may be eligible for. Your counselor can help you navigate this process. 
    • We will host Macalester College Director of Financial Aid, Brian Lindeman, on November 2nd who will discuss FAFSA and PROFILE. Please mark your calendar for this highly attended event. More details to follow. 
  • If you are a potential DI or DII athlete: Make sure you have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center and confirm with Ms Dohr. For recruited students, you should be in regular contact with the coaches at schools you are most interested. If not, see your college counselor immediately.
  • If you plan to submit art supplements: Please check with your counselor and art teacher. Note this process has changed greatly in recent years. 
  • Standardized Tests
    • The registration deadline for the October SAT has passed.
    • October 22 is the next ACT test date.  Request for Standby Testing will be accepted until September 30 online at www.actstudent.org
    • November 5 is the next SAT and Subject Test date. Registration deadline is October 7. Late registration deadline is October 25. To register, go to www.collegeboard.org
  • Upcoming Calendar Items
    • Thursday, October 13th, Coffee Talk: Developing a Balanced List, Talking Money, and Answering Your Questions. We will host our 3rd Coffee Talk at 8AM in the Heritage Room at Anderson Ice Arena. These sessions are not intended to replace individual conversations you will have with your counselor and session overviews will be sent following the meeting.  
    • Wednesday, October 19th, Seniors are not required to be on campus. Rather, seniors should use this day to work on applications or use it as an additional travel day for MEA weekend. Be productive with this time! Early deadlines are around the corner!
    • Thursday, October 20th , College Visit to two local campuses: The College Counseling office is planning a student trip to the University of St. Thomas AND Hamline University. If interested, please register your student by contacting Nancy Dohr by Monday, October 10. Students will need to have their own transportation to and from Breck, but we will take a Breck bus from school to/from the colleges. We will depart from Breck at 8:15 AM and return at around 3:00 PM.
    • Thursday and Friday, October 20-21 ED/EA Application Help.  Drop in to the College Counseling Office for help on your application and essays.  There will be no appointments; a counselor will be available throughout the day.
    • Monday, October 24 – Monday, October 31, Open Office Hours for Seniors. When not teaching or in meetings, the counselors will make special efforts to be available in the office and around the senior commons and other locations where seniors may be. Seniors should feel comfortable speaking with any member of the college office about any aspect of their application process. We feel this will make counselors more available to more students throughout the school day. 
    • Colleges may be hosting an area informational session. This is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of colleges! Many schools will visit Breck and some will use these regional session in lieu of school visits. We will post the ones of which we are aware in Naviance.
    • November 2, FAFSA Workshop. This is an event not to miss. Macalester College Director of Financial Aid, Brian Lindeman, will be on campus to answer questions about the FAFSA and PROFILE. 
  • College Representative visits to Breck School - Each fall, over 150 representatives visit Breck.  It is important that seniors attend the meetings of the colleges that interest them. Seek information, get your questions answered, and make direct contact with reps from schools that most interest you. Often, these representatives read the applications from our students first and then take those applications to their admissions committees. Refer to the college visit list on Naviance and Mustang Minute. Students must receive permission to miss class for these meetings.
  • A note on fall term grades - Please note that we no longer have quarter grades. Colleges and universities, particularly those who utilize the binding ED program, may want a grade check-in this fall. This is incentive to continue the momentum you’ve built thus far: continue to engage in class, submit your work on time and thoroughly completed, and get in to ask questions! We will not take a snapshot of grades this year. Rather, we will send grades if they are strong and you wish they be sent and/or the college requests them. 

Juniors

As you may have heard, expectations and responsibilities can increase dramatically this year. The fall can be a difficult time to acclimate to this, so make sure you get in to ask questions of your teachers, participate in class, take advantage of opportunities—academic or co-curricular—to grow. Remember, at least one of your teachers from this year will most likely write one of your college recommendations. A good start is imperative for a good year! 

This month also provides unique opportunities for our juniors to expand their awareness of colleges and the vast array of educational experiences available at post-secondary institutions around the country and beyond. The MISP Fair and the college visit programming surrounding the visit will afford juniors tremendous opportunities to connect with professional admissions officers from around the country. These are times not to be missed! 

MISP Fair at Breck School, Sunday October 9

The Minnesota Independent School Partnership (MISP) Fair brings over 150 college reps to the Breck campus on Sunday afternoon. Hosted in conjunction with five of our peer schools, the fair is a highlight of the year for our students. Attendance is expected and nearly 100% of our juniors and seniors attend each year. Parents are welcome! 

To see the list of colleges in attendance, please click here. Please note the length of the fair and plan accordingly. Spreading out arrival and departure times and ride-sharing can make for a better experience. The fair will close precisely at 3:00 pm so representatives may prepare for the second portion of the fair with our community partners. 

College Programming and Visits Surrounding MISP Fair

Around the MISP Fair, nearly 70 colleges will visit Breck. On Thursday (6th) and Friday (7th), college visits will be spread from 8:30-1:00. On Monday (10th) and Tuesday (11th), juniors are expected to attend. This is a time to expand one’s awareness of the colleges and types of education available to them. The list of college visits was distributed at last week’s class meeting for students to indicate their interest and returned during the September 28th Advisory with counselor suggestions. You may also access the list of visits in your Naviance account. 

On Thursday afternoon from 1:00-3:00 PM, a noted test prep expert will be on hand to lead juniors through the PSAT. 

We understand that family schedules are difficult to coordinate. As you schedule Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences, we ask you to consider avoiding these times as much as possible. Should your conferences overlap the dinner hour, we invite you to hear from a Durham University admissions officer about the merits of a British/Scottish (UCAS) education, Thursday, October 6, 4:40 PM, US Library. 

  • Wednesday, October 19, PSAT administered at Breck:  All sophomores and juniors are scheduled to take the PSAT at Breck during regular school hours.  A great source for preparation for this test is the website: www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/prep.html
    • Words of advice: 
      • Eat breakfast and arrive early. 
      • Think about which email address to enter on the registration form. Students should expect to receive communication from colleges after taking the PSAT. Therefore, students should select an email address they plan to use throughout the college process. Many students use their Breck School email address, whereas others prefer a personal email account.
      • Bring sharpened #2 pencils and calculators. Remember, this is a College Board test and we need to follow their testing policies.
      • Treat it seriously. It’s more important than you may care for a test to be. These score results can be helpful as you progress through the standardized testing process.
      • But, it’s less important than you fear. Remember, it’s a practice test! This provides students with a standardized testing experience and feedback. 
  • MEA Weekend, October 20-21 College Visits Strongly Encouraged. We strongly encourage juniors to visit colleges over MEA weekend. There are many opportunities in the local area and surrounding states. 
    • Thursday, October 20, College Visit to two local campuses: The College Counseling office is planning a student trip to the University of St. Thomas AND Hamline University. If interested, please register your student by contacting Nancy Dohr by Monday, October 10. Students will need to have their own transportation to and from Breck, but we will take a Breck bus from school to/from the colleges. We will depart from Breck at 8:15 AM and return at around 3:00 PM.
  • College representatives visit Breck School: We will host over 150 colleges this fall. Multiple college representatives are visiting our campus daily. Juniors should feel free to go the meetings (mostly in the senior area) during a free hour. The beginning of October is an especially heavy visit schedule. The college visit list for all days is posted on Naviance, the Mustang Minute and the bulletin boards in the college office and in the senior hallway.  Check it out for specific dates and times.
  • Colleges may be hosting an area informational session. This is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of colleges! Many schools will visit Breck and some will use the regional session in lieu of school visits. We will post the ones of which we are aware in Naviance. 
  • Saturday, November 5, 8:30-noon, Practice ACT. Every junior should take at least one ACT prior to taking the real test. For juniors who have not yet taken an ACT or would like another opportunity to take a practice ACT should register by October 19, at Ms Dohr’s desk. 
  • January 4, 6:30 PM, Grade 11 College Night. Mark your personal calendars now to attend this program as we discuss the college process as it unfolds during the second semester of junior year and cover other aspects such as standardized testing. 

Sophomores

Our goal this year is to get to know you better and to help ease you into the college process. We urge you to take it at your own pace. We will post newsletters a few times this year to keep you updated on the happenings in our office.  If you are curious, check out some college counseling information on Breck's website. You will find information about ACT/SAT testing, course planning, college visits, and more.

  • Wednesday, October 19, PSAT administered at Breck: All sophomores and juniors are scheduled to take the PSAT at Breck during regular school hours.  A great source for preparation for this test is the website: www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/prep.html. There is no registration for this test. This is a practice test for the SATs and it is designed for juniors- you’re not expected to ace it.  So remember, relax and do the best you can. To help prepare for this, on Wednesday, October 5, Ron Michalak, founder of BreakAway Test prep spent an hour and a half guiding sophomores through the elements of the PSAT.
    Words of advice: 
    • Eat breakfast and arrive early. 
    • Think about which email address to enter on the registration form. Students should expect to receive communication from colleges after taking the PSAT. Therefore, students should select an email address they plan to use throughout the college process. Many students use their Breck School email address, whereas others prefer a personal email account.
    • Bring sharpened #2 pencils and calculators. Remember, this is a College Board test and we need to follow their testing policies.
    • Treat is seriously. It’s more important than you may care for a test to be. These score results can be helpful as you progress through the standardized testing process.
    • But, it’s less important than you fear. Remember, it’s a practice test! This provides students with a standardized testing experience and feedback. 
  • Saturday, November 5, 8:30-noon, Practice ACT. All sophomores are registered for and should expect to sit for this Practice ACT. These results can help inform the testing schedule you will set with your college counselor and will not be shared with any testing agencies. 
  • What do PSATs and Practice ACT mean in the sophomore year? Breck gives the PSAT to sophomores to familiarize students with the test, its scoring system, and the testing conditions.  When you receive your scores next semester, you will also receive your testing booklet.  This book serves a purpose, don’t throw it away.  Take a look at your test sheet and see which answers were right and wrong. Then go to the test booklet and study the questions.  This analysis will help you practice for the next PSAT you take in your junior year.
  • Should I take a prep class for the PSAT/Practice ACT? Although all test prep classes are a personal and family choice, sophomore year is early to prep for a practice ACT/PSAT.  Simply familiarize yourself with the test components so you can utilize the testing time effectively. Our October 5th program will provide a thorough introduction to the PSAT. Remember, the best predictor of college GPA is high school GPA. Beyond earning the marks, now is the time to develop and hone your habits, further your analytical skills, and continue to know who you are. This takes place not only in the classroom but in your varied commitments beyond the class day. Find ways to get involved, to serve, and to challenge yourself. 

Freshmen

As you embark on your Upper School career at Breck, you are beginning a time of great personal and intellectual growth.  In the College Counseling Office we are interested in these developments and your sense of how you want to shape your future.  Welcome to this exciting time!  

Settling into the routines and rhythms of Upper School life takes energy, focus, and sustained commitment.  While you are getting involved in the daily happenings at school, we encourage you to take time to step back, reflect, and think about how to best build a solid foundation for your future.  You are creating a pattern of work habits and attitudes that will be interesting to college admission people in their admission processes and decision making.  You should work hard, do your best, get involved and learn from your experiences as a student and member of our community.

On Wednesday, October 19, during the school day, all freshmen will take a practice PSAT test. There is no preparation needed and all students have been registered. The test, an actual PSAT9, will be offered through outside agency, so students should feel comfortable knowing the only ones who will see your results will be family and college counseling. The PSAT9 is a newly designed test that will help you figure out what you need to work on most so that you’re ready for college when you graduate from high school. It tests the same skills and knowledge as the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT, in a way that makes sense for your grade level. In other words, the focus is on skills, not scores.

  • Words of advice: 
    • Eat breakfast and arrive early. 
    • Bring sharpened #2 pencils and calculators. Remember, this is a College Board test and we need to follow their testing policies.
    • Treat is seriously. It’s more important than you may care for a test to be. These score results can be helpful as you progress through the standardized testing process.
    • But, it’s less important than you fear. Remember, it’s a practice test! This provides students with a standardized testing experience and feedback. 

Here are several bits of advice for the freshman year:

  • Read often and carefully.  Find things that interest you and read them thoughtfully and strategically.  Students who read purposefully and actively tend to retain information longer, have better developed vocabularies, a broader knowledge base, and make more connections with other concepts and information they already possess. 
  • Develop relationships with your teachers.  Teachers are an essential component to your years in Upper School not only because they help you learn, but also because some will eventually write you college recommendations.  It is important to have adults in the school who know you well, and that is your responsibility as much as theirs.
  • Figure out what interests you and pursue them.  Opportunity abounds at Breck and outside of school.  Take advantage of the possibilities. This is a good time in life to try out new and intriguing academic, social, and athletic activities.
  • Strengthen and refine your work habits and time management.  Given the increased Upper School workload and daily preparation for classes, you will be more engaged and successful if you prepare for classes by studying every day, organizing and prioritizing assignments, and carefully budgeting your time.
  • Use laptops and other technology wisely.  Computers are an amazing and versatile learning tool as well as a social networking system.  Strive to balance both types of activity.  Avoid staying up too late and getting insufficient sleep because of excessive “social” screen time.

Please know that our office is here for you questions and inquiries.  Some times are much busier than others, but we appreciate the chance to get to know you. Please contact Ms. Dohr with questions or to make an appointment. We are excited about working with you over the coming years.

College Counseling Staff

Jonathan Nicholson
Director of College Counseling
763-381-8248

Susan Graham
Associate Director of College Counseling
763-381-8246

Andrea O’Connell
Associate Director of College Counseling
763-381-8138

Nancy Dohr
Office Assistant
763-381-8258

CEEB Code for Breck
241592