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February Newsletter: Sophomores

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

College Counselor Assignments and First Meetings

College Counselor assignments were sent to families in December. We ask that all sophomores see Carrie Papillon in the College Counseling Office to schedule an appointment with their college counselor. 

Counselor schedules are filling up as many sophomores have already done so and juniors will now begin scheduling meetings as well. We ask these first meetings include only the student and counselor as they serve as an opportunity to get to know each other a bit. They also serve as a preliminary discussion on scheduling and testing and you may want to be a part of these conversations. We ask that your child come to the meeting with some ideas and having had some conversations at home prior to the meeting and to return home with follow up discussions after this meeting. This will allow the counselors to begin forming a relationship with your child and provide an opportunity for your child to try on the responsibility this process requires. Counselors are more than happy to connect with parents. Feel free to email or call or to schedule an appointment through Carrie Papillon. If your family needs to find out their college counselor, please contact Carrie Papillon in the College office.

Grades 9-10 Student/Parent College Counseling Meeting

On Wednesday, January 31, many families joined us for our annual Grades 9-10 Student Parent College Counseling Meeting. Jeff Allen, Vice president for Admissions and Financial Aid at Macalester College, Chris George, St. Olaf’s Dean of Admissions, Adam Webster, Senior Associate Dean of Admission at Carleton College and other members of the Breck community joined us for a series of conversations on a variety of topics. It was a great night to learn how artists and athletes can optimize their process and as well as how to finance a college education, how to approach standardized testing, and thoughts on optimizing and personalizing the Breck experience and a chance to ask questions. 

Please refer to the invitation sent last week for further information about panels, panelists and programming details.

Spring Break Plans

Whether you are traveling or staying local, this time may be a good opportunity to visit colleges. 

At this time, it’s important to visit a range of colleges and universities. Your college counselor can help you plan your spring break trip. However, you do not need to travel to accomplish this! There are a lot of great options locally. Plus, the Minnesota Association of College Admissions Counseling (MACAC) is hosting a series of fairs in the latter half of March. Though these MEF Fairs are hosted by other secondary schools, Breck students are invited to attend. To see the list of fairs and the colleges attending, please visit this website:

Summer Plans

Some of the greatest times for growth for high school students are 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 get them in a different atmosphere where they learn about themselves and the world in which they live. There are many wonderful programs out there for students, and our city offers a richness of local experiences. Take a class at a local university or art center, join an archaeological dig, join a local political campaign, or design your own reading list with a Breck faculty member. Think big. Think broad. Find something that will allow you to pursue a passion or something in which you are curious.

A Note on Practice Tests, Practice Test Results, and College Emails

We distributed Practice ACT booklets and scores and PSAT booklets during the January 31 College Forum. If your child was absent or missed this event, they will receive the information when they meet with their college counselor. The scores are informative, but should be reviewed within context. Reviewing these results and possible action items with your college counselor will be beneficial. Our focus is on skills, not scores. 

Many sophomores may have noticed an increase in the amount of correspondence – email and snail mail – they are receiving from colleges. Many colleges obtain names and contact information from testing agencies, most likely the College Board (PSAT), who fit broad demographic and score profiles. Colleges do not receive the actual PSAT results. 

The correspondence from colleges can be as informative as it is overwhelming. A student need not reply to every email that is sent. A student need not read every letter. Rather, set the items aside to review as a study break or when a student has more time. Just because a school has sent material may not mean the student will be admitted to the institution; likewise, a college to which your child will be admitted may not yet have your child’s contact information and has therefore not sent information. 

Students should not feel compelled to respond to inquiries or contacts from colleges. If there is a school that piques their interest, they should respond or request more information in order to remain on the college's mailing list. There are many times a student can enter into the communication flow, this happens to be the first time. A student may always request information via a college’s website, an email, a campus visit, or other means. 

Advanced Placement Exams

All students in AP courses will be registered for their respective AP exams. Students who have received College Board accommodations will use them on AP tests as well. If there is an exam for which a student would like to sit and is not in the AP course for that exam needs approval from Mr. Nicholson by February 20. Please speak with Ms. Papillon immediately.

Upper School College Counseling News

Last week we were fortunate to host a handful of senior level admissions professionals from around the country. Not only did our students impress our visitors with their genuine and engaging personalities, but I noticed once again that in those hours between the end of school and the start of our evening program, our students were remained. Many going to and from commitments, sitting around a table doing homework, and finding a moment to scarf down some dinner before the program began. It’s a wonder just how much Breck students accomplish. These commitments coupled with the lingering winter weather can cause some angst to develop this month. 

This is always an exciting time of year for the College Counseling Office as we are working with students at every phase of the college process: sophomores who are stepping timidly into the college sphere with introductory meetings through to seniors, who, for some the process is over, and for others, who are still in the thick of things. Therefore, you will find this to be a longer newsletter; but it is one I trust you will find valuable as you support your child. 

College Counseling Office

Jonathan Nicholson
Director of College Counseling

Susan Graham
Associate Director of College Counseling

Andrea O’Connell
Associate Director of College Counseling

Carrie Papillon
College Counseling Office Assistant