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September 2016

August | September 2016 

Welcome back! The College Counseling Office believes clear and regular communication makes for a successful college search process. The monthly newsletter serves to provide general information by grade to the Breck community. We ask that you read the information relevant to your child and encourage you to review the entire newsletter to appreciate the scope of the college counseling curriculum. These newsletters are sent via the weekly email bulletin board. 


First Joint Parent/Student College Meeting: August 29 | 6:30 PM | Cargill Theater

Following tradition, the first senior and parent joint meeting will occur on the first day of school. Counselors will map out the first semester calendar, offer key nuts and bolts information, and provide details to Breck’s college process. Please plan on arriving at least a few minutes early so we may begin promptly so that we can conclude no later than 8:00 PM. We will post a summary of the evening’s content in Naviance for those unable to attend. 

Parents, please complete the Parent Questionnaire. The insights and responses provide immeasurable value to our work, from the conversations we have with your child to the recommendation letters we craft for your child. Thanks to the many of you have already completed the surveys. To access, navigate to your Naviance account and go to About Me tab, Surveys to Take. If you would prefer, you may use the questionnaires as a guide in composing a letter to your counselor (please send to your counselor and Ms. Dohr). Parents can contact Nancy Dohr for login information. 

Naviance/Family Connection should be the first resource you use when you want to know the latest information in the College Counseling Office. Parents and seniors have individual accounts. On the Home page you will find:

  • The College Counseling Calendar which lists college counseling events, standardized test dates, registration deadlines, and college visits.
  • The Class of 2017 Forms link which will be a repository of important information and forms needed.
  • The Financial Aid 101 reference guide.

On the Colleges tab under My Colleges you will see:

  • Upcoming College Visits. This up-to-date schedule will include all the colleges that have made appointments to visit Breck. Students can use this page to register for college meetings.
  • Colleges I’m Thinking About.  This is the student’s working college list, so it is important to ensure this list is current and you have indicated your interest level. This is a valuable tool for you and your counselor to ensure a balanced and complete college list.
  • Colleges I’m Applying To. This will reflect the colleges listed on the Blue Sheet the student submits. This is the reference we will use to send your official school documents to colleges. Only the college counseling staff has access to make changes to this list.

On the About Me tab:

  • Under Official Things: (1) Select Profile to verify your GPA is accurate and (2) select Test Scores to verify your list is complete and accurate.

Common Application Workshops

Once again a large majority (80%+) of the senior class attended at least one of these workshops. Aside from offering a place, time and computer to work, these workshops allowed seniors to speak with counselors and learn about specific aspects of the application. The Reference Guide and notes from the specific programs (Writing the Essay, Applying to Public Institutions, and College-Specific Questions) may be found in Naviance. No application or essay should go out without a counselor’s review. There will be multiple drafts of the essay and most likely the “supplement” portions. 

Early Applications

Students will utilize application deadlines in various ways. Some will apply via a binding Early Decision program or through an Early Action, Rolling or Priority program. Many of last year’s seniors were holding a letter of admission in January. Students who anticipate applying Early Decision, Early Action or to a state university (the U or Madison, for example) should schedule an appointment to speak to their counselor. 
All "Request to Send Transcript" forms (“Blue Sheets”) are due in our office AT LEAST ONE MONTH before the first college application due date.  Therefore, if you are considering one of the early options listed above, your deadline may be as early as September 15 or October 1. Here are steps you take to meet this deadline:

  • Meet with your counselor to finalize your early list, verify all of the application requirements including standardized test requirements, supplements required, and that you have asked the appropriate teachers to write a recommendation for you.
  • Make sure you have submitted two Teacher Recommendation Forms, one for each of the teachers you have asked to write recommendation letters for you. Many of you completed this task before you left for summer break.
  • Submit the completed forms to Ms. Dohr or place in the basket on her desk. 

All seniors are responsible for SENDING official score reports directly from the testing agencies to the colleges you are applying. Use the ACT ( and College Board ( websites to request your scores. Please allow four to six weeks.

Coffees with Counselors | Dates listed below | All are at 8:00 AM in the Heritage Room at Anderson Ice Arena

We host a series of casual, one-hour meetings for senior parents to address a specific topic. Please note these are not intended to replace individual conversations, but are intended to address specific issues relevant to many, if not all, families. 

  • September 13: Applying to Public Institutions
  • September 20: Applying Early Q&A
  • October 13: A Balanced List & Financing College
  • November 10: Finishing Applications and Utilizing Breaks

If you are unable to attend, you will receive a summary of the discussion shortly following the conversation.

MISP Fair | October 9, 12:30-3:00 PM at Breck School

Breck is the site of this year’s MISP (Minnesota Independent School Partnership) College Fair. All seniors are expected to attend as it is a unique opportunity to connect with college representatives, demonstrate your interest in colleges, and expand your awareness.

Students’ To-Do List  

  • Complete the junior surveys if you have not done so.
  • Submit the Senior Update Form by September 9.
  • Schedule an appointment to meet with your college counselor. It will prove immensely helpful as you finalize your college list, set an application strategy and construct your applications. 
  • Make sure you have fulfilled all the test requirements for the colleges to which you are applying. October 7 is the registration deadline for the November SAT. September 16 is the registration deadline for the October ACT.  These may be the last test dates for ED/EA applications.
  • Sign up in Family Connection to attend the college rep meetings that interest you. College Representative visits are very important. Remember, if a college visit is scheduled during one of your classes, you must receive your teacher's written permission to miss the class in advance of the meeting.  Respectfully ask for permission at least a day ahead of time. 
  • Attend the MISP Fair on Sunday, October 9 from 12:30-3:00 PM at Breck School. It is essential that all seniors attend.
  • Plan for the possibility of college travel over MEA weekend, Oct 20-23. Please note: seniors are not required to be on campus Wednesday, October 19. This weekend can be spent visiting colleges or working on applications. Counselors will be available to help.
  • Be on the lookout for additional opportunities such as interviewing skills, essay sessions, and drop-in times. 

August and September Dates

September 1 | Registration deadline for Oct SAT
September 8 | Coffee with Counselors* | Topic: Applying to Public Institutions.
September 9 | Senior Update form due
September 15
and October 1 | ED/EA forms completed and handed in to the college office
September 16 | Registration deadline for Oct ACT
September 20 | Coffee with Counselors* | Topic: Applying Early Q&A
September 30 | ED/EA forms due to the College office

October Dates

October 1 | SAT test date (at Breck)
October 7 | Registration deadline for Nov SAT
October 9 | MISP Fair at Breck School
October 13 | Coffee with Counselors* | Topic: A Balanced List and Financing College
October 20-23 | MEA weekend trips & drop-in assistance
October 22 | ACT test date (at Breck) 

* The Coffees with Counselors will begin at 8 AM in the Heritage Room at Anderson Ice Arena.

Recommended Reading

  1. The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life by Laura Kastner
  2. Almost Grown:  Launching Your Child from High School to College by Patricia Pasik


We recognize the build up to the much hyped junior year – increased work and expectations, “college” becomes all-consuming or at least unavoidable, and the lack of “fun.” It is important to find a balance this year in all facets of your life. Perhaps the greatest lessons you are learning now are how to learn, how to manage your time, and how to communicate with your peers and faculty.

We believe the college process has an appropriate place in the lives of our juniors. It is best approached with the long-term in mind: you will have a college list by the fall of your senior year (though it need not be a finalized list until the winter), you will be admitted to college, and you will find yourself attending a college that fits you. The College Counseling Office is here to help you clear through the clutter and hype to achieve these ends. The counselors are experienced, work as a team, maintain relationships with admissions professionals, and have your best interests at heart. Remember, no one can promise results. However, we will promise you an unsurpassed process.

To that end, please read the information below as you begin to plan your year.  We have a number of programs planned for you this coming year, and we are looking forward to working with you this school year.

Junior Parent/Student College Meeting | August 31 at 6:30 PM in the Cargill Theater

All juniors and their parents are expected to attend as we will cover the counseling process, focusing on this fall and discuss standardized testing, scores, and test preparation. Please plan on arriving at least a few minutes early so we may begin promptly so that we can conclude no later than 8:00 PM.

College Representative Visits throughout the fall

College representatives visit Breck School throughout the fall. Juniors should feel free to attend the meetings if the visit time is a free hour.  In particular circumstances, juniors will be able to leave class with permission from the college office and their teacher.  The college visit schedule can be found on Naviance. Around the time of the MISP Fair, we will host many colleges in a unique schedule.

October 6 and 7 Grade 11 College Programs

On Thursday and Friday, the College Counseling Office will host college visits, run programs and offer a guided practice PSAT. Juniors are expected to attend. These events should not conflict with other obligations and juniors should still be able to attend Parent/Teacher Conferences.

MISP Fair | October 9, 12:30-3:00 PM at Breck School

Breck is the site of this year’s MISP (Minnesota Independent School Partnership) College Fair. All juniors are expected to attend as it is a unique opportunity to connect with college representatives, demonstrate your interest in colleges, and expand your awareness.

A Note on Testing in the Junior Year

As in all facets of the college process, for as much as this process is universal, it is individual. Some students find it appropriate to first take a standardized test in the fall of their junior year whereas others elect to first test in February or March. There is not one path to standardized testing success. We strongly encourage students to take the test of their choice at least twice and no more than three times by the fall of their senior year. And, yes, the fall of senior year can be a good time to test! Don’t rush into testing, but enter into testing with a plan and with adequate preparation. Your counselor will be instrumental in this aspect of the process.

This year we request all juniors to take the PSAT and a Practice ACT.

  • On Wednesday, October 19, the PSAT test will be given at Breck School.  The college office will register your child. This is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Competition; more importantly, however, it offers a simulated SAT experience.
  • On Saturday, November 5, a Practice ACT will be administered at Breck. This is an unofficial test and will be administered without accommodations.

MEA Weekend – October 20 & 21

Families may travel near and far over this weekend, and we encourage you to work in a college visit or two. Not traveling? There are many local opportunities to visit as most colleges and universities in Minnesota and surrounding states have special visit schedules to accommodate students. College counselors can assist in planning. The College Counseling Office will host a visit to a local college or two on Thursday. Be on the lookout for registration!

Other Dates to Mark:

  • January 4 Junior College Night at 6:30PM
  • Spring Break Possible College Visits!
  • April 5 Junior Application Case Studies Workshop
  • June, 2017 Workshop for Juniors

Recommended Reading:

  1. The College Admissions Mystique by Bill Mayher
  2. The All-in-One College Guide by Barron's


Though college is still a long way off, we will meet with your class several times throughout the year, and we are looking forward to getting to know each of you. Breck is unique in our local area in that we assign college counselors to 10th graders. The intention is that the counselors get to know the students and families as best we can so that we can provide appropriate and individualized counsel as we seek to fulfill Breck’s mission to “prepare each student for a college whose culture is compatible with the individual’s needs, interests and abilities.”

Testing in the Sophomore Year

This year we are strongly encouraging all sophomores to take the PSAT and the Practice ACT.

  • On Wednesday, October 19, the PSAT test will be given at Breck School. The college office will register your child. We will offer an introductory meeting for sophomores during the school day on October 5. Please note that the “P” stands for practice. This date offers a simulated SAT experience and will provide useful feedback.
  • Saturday, November 5, 8:00 AM is the Practice ACT for sophomores.

Grade 10 Parent College Counseling Meeting | September 7 at 6:30 PM in the Upper School Library

Parents mark your calendar for September 7th, 5:30 PM.  Prior to the Upper School Back to School Night, the College Office will hold a brief, 20-minute program in the US Library.

Recommended Reading:

  1. I’m Going to College, Not You by Jennifer Delahunty


The secret to success is getting off to a great start! While the college process is a long way off, you are developing the foundation upon which you will build your high school career. Now is a time to get involved, try something new, develop good habits and time management skills, and get to know your peers and faculty.

On Wednesday, October 19, we will offer a Practice PSAT9 test via Cambridge Educational Services. While this provides an experience similar to the PSAT, it is not a test offered through the College Board. This provides a unique opportunity to simulate a standardized testing experience while also providing feedback that should be useful for students and parents. 

College Counseling Staff

Jonathan Nicholson
Director of College Counseling

Susan Graham
Associate Director of College Counseling

Andrea O’Connell
Associate Director of College Counseling

Nancy Dohr
Office Assistant

CEEB Code for Breck