College Counseling Timeline

College Counseling meeting with students

Our college counseling approach at Shady Side Academy is that every student creates a college application over time. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of all the Senior School has to offer: rigorous courses, talented teachers, arts and athletics, a myriad of clubs and activities, leadership and service opportunities. Opportunities abound at every turn, and in accessing those – guided by teachers, counselors, coaches and peers – students amass excellent credentials for college applications.

Here's a basic timeline for our developmental approach to helping students grow, achieve, and ultimately research and apply to college:

Grades 9-12

The College Counseling Office (CCO) provides resources for all Senior School families via grade-specific class pages on the website portals (login required). These resources range from an overview of standardized testing and when it is most appropriate, to summer opportunities, to college-specific programs and scholarships, and more. The CCO also maintains a Facebook page that includes links to helpful articles about college admissions and the latest happenings in the office. In addition, the CCO offers group programming for all families on financial aid and hosts morning and evening Coffee & Conversation sessions for all parents on a variety of topics.

Grades 9-10

Freshmen and sophomores learn about relevant college counseling topics during class meetings at various times during the year, such as the importance of class work and developing self-advocacy skills, summer opportunities, making appropriate course choices, leadership and service, standardized testing, and the concept of creating a college profile over time. There are no one-on-one meetings scheduled between students (or parents) and counselors during the school year, but emailed questions are answered in a timely manner.

Grade 11

For juniors, the formal college process begins in the winter term. Each student is assigned a college counselor, and has many one-on-one meetings where they get to know one another, create a standardized testing calendar, explore colleges, begin to make a college list and plan visits to college campuses. There are also class meetings that provide specific information on topics such as course registration, writing college essays or organizing an activity list. Parents of juniors are welcome to schedule meetings with their child's counselor after an initial student-counselor meeting has occurred.

Grade 12

During the fall term, seniors work with their counselors in both group and individual meetings on college applications and essays, finalizing an application strategy, interview preparation and more. Seniors also have the opportunity to meet with nearly 140 college representatives who come to the SSA campus between September and December. Senior parents are welcome to schedule meetings with their child's counselor as needed. By May 1, students make their college choice from among a wide variety of excellent college acceptances, and prepare to head out the gates of Shady Side Academy.