Monthly Newsletter

September 2016

Welcome to the 2016-2017 academic year and the start of the college counseling season! Our office is bustling with activity as students check in with Mrs. Sanford to schedule appointments, arrive for their meetings with Ms. Hedgspeth, Mrs. Sohne-Johnston, and Mrs. Wicks, and come by for conversations with visiting college admission officers. To date, over 65 colleges and universities have scheduled visits, and the list is growing. These visits are great for seniors confirming interest in a school and for meeting the representative who may be reading applications from St. Anne's-Belfield School. For others in attendance (mostly juniors, though sophomores and freshmen are welcome), the information shared can help students begin to determine what they are looking for, as well as decide which schools they would like to know more about and perhaps visit. If interested in seeing the list of schools already scheduled, juniors and seniors should log into their Naviance account.

As this year begins, we wish everyone a wonderful season of academic inquiry, extracurricular pursuits, and community outreach. Please let us know if you have any questions about any aspect of the college search process. We are here to help and will keep you updated through this monthly newsletter!

On the Road

Things will be quiet in the College Counseling Office during the week of Sept. 19. We will be visiting colleges and attending the NACAC Conference in Columbus, OH. These national gatherings offer opportunities to connect with college admission deans and other independent school counselors, attend informative workshops relevant to our work, and explore nearby colleges and universities in a different region of the country. Whenever possible, we also enjoy connecting with our alumni who are in attendance at the schools we'll be visiting. It is great reconnecting with former students, and there is no better way to get an insider's glimpse into the life of a school than hearing about it first-hand from someone you know. While we are away, you can still reach us via email, and Mrs. Sanford will also be in the office and available to assist you.

Senior Writing Workshop

On Thursday, Sept. 8, the senior class met with Ryan Hargraves, Senior Associate Dean from the Office of Admission at the University of Virginia, for an engaging presentation on ways to approach writing the personal statement. Highlights included how to avoid the dreaded McEssay and the overworked, overwritten Thesaurus essay. Students also had the opportunity to practice incorporating sensory detail into their writing as they contemplated ways to describe the best sandwich they had ever eaten, as well as how to begin their essays with a "hook" that leaves the reader wanting to know more. Seniors who missed Mr. Hargraves' presentation - and those who wish to watch it again - please come by the College Counseling office.

Opportunity Block

To date, Opportunity Block offerings in the College Counseling Office have included the following: ACT Essay Writing Tips, Common App Help Sessions, College Essay Writing Workshops, and the Power Pose: Amy Cuddy's TED Talk. Be on the lookout for future sessions to include email etiquette, interview practice sessions, mindfulness tips and practice, and  community service opportunities. Our offerings will rotate throughout the year, and if there is a specific interest or need you would like us to address, please let us know.

Featured Blog

Many schools have informative blogs that are worth checking out. Each month, we will highlight a blog that offers helpful insight into the admission process and the journey from high school to college. This month's selection is a mid-August Olympic-inspired post from Georgia Tech's "A Dialog on College Admission" blog.

College Planning


All sophomores and juniors are scheduled to take the PSAT at school on Wednesday, Oct. 19. In anticipation of the upcoming PSAT, we invited interested students to participate in a voluntary, optional PSAT Prep course. Those students who registered for the PSAT Prep Course by the deadline will be taking the Prep Course on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 

Junior Test Prep

Mark your calendars. There is a mandatory Practice ACT test at school on Friday, Nov. 11. Also, all juniors who have completed Integrated Math 3 should plan on a first round of standardized testing in early December by taking either the SAT or ACT.  Register early to have your choice of testing locations. If you have questions about your testing plan, please touch base with your college counselor.


College Night for Prospective College Athletes

The College Counseling Office and Athletics Department are pleased to host a College Night for any student in grades 8 - 11 who has aspirations to play a varsity sport in college. Panelists will give a general overview of the recruitment process for athletes, and will share information about what to expect. We will be joined by D1 and D3 coaches, a member of UVA's office of compliance, an admissions officer from an area college and a member of our athletic development team. Students and parents are encouraged to attend. The event will be held on Oct. 6 at 7:00 p.m. in the Learning Village. No RSVP is necessary.

Looking Ahead - Spring Break College Tour

We will again be offering a Spring Break College Tour for interested students. Our focus for the March 2017 trip will be schools in the Mid-Atlantic Region (from New York City to Washington D.C.). Registration information will be available later this fall.


College Visits and Excused Absences

Just a reminder of school policy concerning missing school to visit colleges: seniors are allowed three excused absences to visit schools, and juniors and sophomores are allowed two excused absences (over the two years), for a total not to exceed five days. If planning a college visit, be sure to get approval beforehand from Mr. Ware and your advisor. An unexcused absence can have a negative impact on academics, particularly if a quiz, test, or other deadline is scheduled for the date of the absence.

Suggested Reading

A recent article from Inside Higher Ed provides data that reveals, despite all the hype about a few elite colleges that admit a small share of applicants, most institutions say yes to most of those who apply. Titled "More Applications, Plenty of Spaces," the article provides an overview of the NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) survey that shows "most colleges admit most applicants."

Opportunities Outside the Classroom

The Virginia Discovery Museum is looking for enthusiastic teenagers to serve as Museum volunteers during the upcoming school year. If you enjoy working with kids and have interests in art, history, and science, this is an excellent opportunity to gain some work experience and give back to the community, all while having fun. If interested in learning more about this opportunity, contact the Museum at or 434-977-1025, ext. 106. You can learn more about the Virginia Discovery Museum by visiting their website at

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium would like to share the following information about three FREE NASA-related programs for Virginia high school students interested in STEM:

Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) is a NASA-based program for 11th grade students interested in aerospace-related science, technology, engineering and/or math (STEM). This course focuses on space mission design and human space flight.

Virginia Earth Systems Science Scholars (VESSS) is a NASA-based program for 11th/12th grade students interested in Earth Systems Science-related science, technology, engineering and/or math (STEM). This course focuses on Earth Systems Science and the NASA missions that help study these topics.

Virginia Space Coast Scholars (VSCS) is a NASA-based STEM program for 10th grade students interested in NASA's space, Earth, and airborne science-related missions managed by NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

For more information about these programs, visit The deadline to apply is Oct. 30, 2016.

Follow Us!

We are on social media! Follow us on Instagram (@stabcollegecounseling) and Twitter (@STAB2College) to stay up to date on the daily happenings in the College Counseling Office.

Forward this eNotice to a friend.
Unsubscribe from this eNotice.