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March Newsletter: Juniors

Friday, March 2, 2018

With Spring Break approaching and what often feels like a sprint through May following thereafter, we have included a lot of information in this month’s newsletter.

Please note there is material for both 10th- and 11th-grade families as well. 

Building the College List

Each junior should head into the summer with a balanced college list constructed in consultation with your college counselor. Now is a good time to meet with your counselor to start building that balanced list and talking about “the process.” Counselors will use current test scores to begin placing colleges into groups: 

Likely: ≥ 80% chance of admission
Possible: ≥50% chance of admission
Reach ≤ 25% chance of admission
Far reach < 10% chance of admission

It is our advice for students to build a substantive list of schools now in order to appropriately research and potentially visit them. It is a common tendency to first latch on to known schools; it is the counselors’ job to expand the list, to challenge assumptions, and to put the focus on the student and the fit. The size of the list will ebb and flow over the course of the coming months as your child figures out fit and begins to prioritize what is most important in the search. 

The Role of Parents and Guardians in the Process

We firmly believe that parents and guardians know their children the best and are integral to a successful college process. While we have already entered into conversations about the process (course scheduling, testing plan, etc), we look forward to venturing further into conversations about colleges, fit, and developing “the list.” To that end, we ask from parents and guardians:

  • Schedule a Spring Meeting with Parent(s), Student & Your College Counselor. We encourage parents to meet with their child’s counselor prior to the end of school. Often the best arrangement is with parent(s), child, and counselor. Please contact Carrie Papillon ( or 763-381-8258) to schedule an appointment beginning March 16.
  • Complete the Parent Surveys! Each parent has a unique Naviance account. In addition to the many college search features it offers, there is a survey for each parent to complete that affords your college counselor deep and unique insights into your child. Login to your Naviance account; click on the About Me tab; there is a link to the survey in the left column. 

Junior Parent/Counselor Coffee Talks at Anderson Ice Arena

The College Counseling Office will host an informal conversation every few weeks in the spring to discuss a particular college admission topic. These will be held from 8:00-9:00 AM in the Heritage Room at the Anderson Ice Arena.

  • March 8: Building a Balanced List 
  • April 26: Common Application Nuts and Bolts
  • May 30: Senior Year – What’s It like?

Spring Break

Are you visiting colleges over spring break? Here is a guide that can help spur conversations. The vital piece of this entire process is the self-reflection; opening a variety of college experiences to your child can result in some wonderful conversations that can be guided by the list of questions included in the mailing. 

Standardized Testing

By now, all juniors should have developed a standardized testing plan with their college counselor and most have taken one. Most juniors will have sit for two tests during their junior year. For some juniors, SAT Subject Tests may be a part of the plan. Please speak to your college counselor. 

Junior (Rising Senior) Workshops in June

We plan to have one or more workshops for rising seniors right after the end of the school year. 

  • Essay writing workshop on Friday, June 8, 9:00-noon.
  • Interview workshop on Monday, June 11 and Tuesday, June 12. Sign-up will take place shortly. 

We will keep you posted as details are set. We hope this will be a helpful bit of information as you begin to make your summer plans.

Juniors and Sophomores

AP Tests

Students have received confirmation of his/her AP exam date and the CollegeBoard’s Bulletin for AP Students and Parents from AP teachers. Students and parents are expected to review the material. AP tests will be given on Breck. All students enrolled in an AP class are required to sit for the AP exam.

Summer Test Prep

All students should set aside time prepare for standardized tests over the summer. Those students who are able to plan for prep over the course of the summer months can alleviate added time stressors to their schedule during the academic year.  There are many types of prep offered by many companies. 

Junior  and sophomore parents will receive an email introducing the standardized test preparation class offered by Breakaway College Test Prep. The class is not required, but rather offered as a service to our families. Please note the dates and times of the courses as well as the need to schedule a practice test prior to and after the test prep class. The registration deadline is not until May 5, but some of the testing times may fill. Ron Michalak, founder of the company, has structured the 12-hour class for our students and has attempted to limit the financial burden for families. Please contact your child’s college counselor should financial limitations be a potential obstacle. 

Think Summer

By this time, college counselors have met with most sophomores and juniors to discuss scheduling. These conversations have allowed us to learn more about your child, provide input and guidance as they choose classes for next year, gain a better sense of how they are connected with the Breck community and beyond, and learn more about how they spend their "free" time. In some of our conversations we have broached the topic of summer programs. While we philosophically believe summer break is a good time for students to rest, relax and reconnect with family, for some students it is an opportunity to explore academic and/or personal interests, cultivate leadership skills, or try something different. Remember, students reveal their interests in how they spend their time

For summer programs, like the college process, there is not a "one size fits all" solution as programs range in focus, location, duration, cost, and prerequisites. In addition, we strongly believe students should approach these programs out of personal interest and not for the sole purpose of impressing a college. We recognize that many families are receiving information about summer programs and may have questions, and we would like to know what you have planned for the summer! Should you have specific questions about summer programs or other opportunities for your student, please do not hesitate to contact your student's college counselor.

MEF College Fairs

For sophomores and juniors who would like to get a jumpstart on the college process, the Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling (MACAC) will host a series of fairs targeting all Minnesota high school students, and our colleagues at Hopkins and Eden Prairie have issued a special invitation to Breck. To view the institutions that will be in attendance, please click on the following link and select the location, This fair is different from the fall MISP fair that is hosted in part by Breck. Nonetheless, this will provide sophomores the opportunity to see a wide range of colleges, to learn of programs and opportunities that are available, and to enter into the college process in an informal manner. For juniors, it is a chance to make contact with a college representative, connect with a specific college that may be in attendance, or to learn about schools that may not be on their radar. If you have any questions, please contact your college counselor. 

Information for All Upper School Students

Best of UK Consortium

Breck will be hosting the Best of UK Consortium on Monday, March 12, from 6:30-9:00 PM in Breck School's Chapel. The program consists of information and guidance for students thinking about applying to a UK university, about the UK UCAS application system, as well as an introductory presentation about the advantages of studying in England, and short presentations about each represented university (Bristol University, Durham University, Southampton University, and the University of York), before breaking out to a mini fair. This is for both parents and students. Please RSVP here.

2018 AP Exam Information 

AP instructors have distributed the Bulletin for AP Students and Parents 2017-2018, a reference for families and students. AP classes are constructed to emulate a college-level course, and the AP tests are designed to assess student proficiency on the material. AP scores may be used for placement and credit at post-secondary institutions, but each institution sets its own policy. To learn more about AP courses and exams, visit or speak with a college counselor. 

Please keep the bulletin handy as it contains helpful information, including:

  • Page 5 has important exam day information
  • Page 6 explains how to ensure all your exam material matches properly
  • Page 8 has a useful checklist. AP STUDIO ART students should discuss their portfolio submission timeline with Ms. Affleck or Ms. Sagar.

AP Registration

All students currently enlisted in AP courses at Breck are automatically registered for the respective AP exam(s) and their Breck account charged the AP testing fee.

AP Testing Calendar

The AP exam dates and times are set by the College Board and may be found below. Please mark your calendars now and reserve these dates and times. All AP exams will be conducted on campus. Students will be expected to be ready to enter the room at their respective time. Late arrivals may not be admitted to the testing room.

Note that AP exams take place during the school day. Therefore, students will need to plan ahead and discuss with the teachers of classes they will miss on how they should proceed with class notes and assignments. If students will miss their exam day, they should notify Ms. Papillon as soon as possible. 

Monday, May 7 Chemistry  
Tuesday, May 8 Spanish Language and Culture Art History
    Physics I: Algebra Based
Wednesday, May 9 English Literature and Composition  
Friday, May 11 U.S. History  
Monday, May 14 Biology Physics C: Mechanics/Electricity and Magnetism
  Music Theory  
Tuesday, May 15 Calculus AB French
  Calculus BC  
Wednesday, May 16 English Language and Composition  
Thursday, May 17   Statistics

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