September 2017

Monthly Newsletter

The start of a new school year is a wonderful time to reflect on the coming year, establish goals, and consider how to best balance our expectations with the reality of day-to-day responsibilities. Before students arrived on campus in late August, the College Counseling office took some time to think about our guiding philosophy. We arrived at the following belief statement:


In addition to managing and overseeing the many deadlines and administrative responsibilities associated with college admissions, we place special emphasis on our work with students. We seek to support students as they learn to assume greater control of their hopes and dreams, make informed choices, and work toward self-efficacy. We provide the tools and feedback that recognize their emerging independence and encourage a process that both informs and guides a purposeful, mindful approach to college choice. Conversations with students, the writing support we provide, and our various "assignments" are all geared toward self-discovery and personal growth, essential components in determining "fit" during the college search.


This year, our College Counseling newsletters will focus on keeping you informed about the college admissions landscape and its related offshoots, as well as our philosophy and how it informs our approach to the work we do. We will provide "big picture" information, resources, and interesting reads related to admissions and the world of higher education, the life of the mind, personal growth and fostering independence, and what the experts have to say about the challenges our students face and the many growth opportunities such challenges afford.


For detailed information about upcoming deadlines and impending action items, please look to the emails sent by our office. These emails are time sensitive and class specific. They outline exactly what you need to know relative to the college timeline for each grade. Our email communications will highlight any upcoming deadlines and provide detailed information about student responsibilities related to listed "tasks." When needed, important action items and reminders will also be included in the Upper School Digests that goes to parents each week. As always, we are available to answer any questions as they arise, so please don't hesitate to reach out at any point in the process, regardless of your child's graduation year. We are here to help.


Financial Aid

Curious about how much your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) will be at each school? To find the answer, use the Net Price Calculator available on each school's website to receive an estimate of tuition costs for that institution. Every school's formula for calculating the EFC is different, so you will need to use the Net Price Calculator for each school of interest.


This article addresses the five most common mistakes parents make when considering college costs and provides several helpful tips on applying for financial aid.


A Mindful Approach – Paying Attention on Purpose

Mindfulness is the practice of awareness – awareness of our own breathing, surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. By slowing our breathing and directing our focus to the movement of the air in and out of our lungs, we can reduce feelings of stress. Focused breathing enhances both our sense of well-being and our subsequent performance, whether academic, artistic, athletic, or in our interactions with others. Duke Integrative Medicine, part of the Duke University Health System, defines mindfulness as the "natural human capacity for non-judging, present-moment centered awareness," and states that "mindfulness arises simply by paying attention on purpose in a non-judging and accepting way to experiences arising both inside and outside of one's body." The simple practice of Paying Attention on Purpose is a mindfulness habit available to everyone, and it can have a measurable impact on dealing with the challenging or stressful moments of daily life.  


As educators in the often stress-inducing college search process, we find it encouraging to know that something as simple as slow, deep breathing can have an immediate positive impact. This year, each of our meetings with seniors will start with learning a mindfulness skill. In our first meeting, we introduced and practiced taking three slow, deep breaths. This simple mindfulness practice is one we hope our seniors will continue to use whenever they find themselves feeling nervous or stressed, whether in response to an impending quiz or test, performance, competitive event, or college applications and approaching deadlines.


Featured Blog - "Own It"

Rick Clark at Georgia Tech always manages to entertain readers with anecdotes about his own life while also providing valuable insight into the admission process. This month's blog offers some parenting tips and important advice about the college essay and "owning" the experiences that have shaped personal growth. For a good read, click here.

Food for Thought

"What changes people is relationships." David Brooks' column from last October's New York Times offers insight into the power and potential of the relationships we forge with one another. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did.



Looking for a job? The Old Navy at Barracks Road is hiring, and they take great pride in supporting young people in their first jobs. They welcome applicants 16 and older who love fashion and are comfortable interacting with new people. Interested students can apply here.


Volunteer opportunities are available at many local non-profits. You can reach out directly to the organization of your choice to explore available opportunities, or contact Mr. Stinnie to learn more about volunteering at Our Lady of Peace, the Ronald McDonald House, Boys and Girls Club, and/or the Senior Center, among others.


UVA Society of Women Engineers has a high school visitation program planned for Saturday, Nov. 18, geared to benefit participants with all levels of engineering experience, particularly those who are not yet familiar with the field and may be interested in applying to engineering schools or pursuing a STEM career. The program is designed to give young women a comprehensive look at engineering fields and UVA's engineering curriculum through informative speakers and hands-on design activities. The application and selection criteria can be found on the UVA Society of Women Engineers' website. The application deadline is Oct. 21.


The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is open to students ages 13 - 18 and requires students to create a three-minute video that explains a scientific or mathematical concept. The winning video will receive a $250,000 college scholarship, among other prizes. The deadline to enter is Oct. 1. For more information, click here.


After completing the required three-year hiatus for schools awarded a Lemelson-MIT grant, we will again be forming an InventTeam to pursue another Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant. To learn more about the program, click here and reach out to Dr. Troy to let him know of your interest.


The Prose and Poetry Contest for Middle and High School Students, which was previously housed by the Virginia Festival of the Book, will now be a community-wide endeavor with many opportunities for student involvement. Students interested in taking part should reach out to Dr. Simeone.

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