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Concord Academy

Jan letter to Juniors (Class of 2018) and questionnaire

Dear Member of the Class of 2018,

Soon spring semester will be upon us, and we are looking forward to beginning our work with you. As you already know, the College Counseling Workshop will be held on January 14 beginning promptly at 9:00 am in the PAC (yes, it’s mandatory for students). The main program will end about noon, at which time there will be two hour-long optional sessions, one on financial aid and one on athletic recruitment. Please note that the day’s schedule does not allow for individual meetings with students and parent(s). We realize that many of you have parent(s) or other relatives traveling a great distance for this meeting, and we assure you that we will find other opportunities to connect with them either face-to-face or over the phone during the remainder of the semester and next fall, as well.

As you anticipate (we hope) a restful winter break, here are a few things you need to know:


As you read on Schoology, the College Board released PSAT scores online on December 12. Please refer to that information (it’s in the “CCO” folder) if you have questions about accessing your scores. If you experience difficulty retrieving your scores, contact the College Board at 866 433-7728. Your PSAT test booklet was put in your school mailbox on December 13.

Please be aware that your score is less important than the diagnostic opportunity the results provide, and remember that PSAT results are neither sent to colleges nor recorded on your transcript. We encourage you to spend a little time going over your score report and test booklet; review your results and work on areas which need improvement, if any. You may have found yourself incorrectly answering a disproportionate number of geometry questions, for example, and it would behoove you to go over these difficulties with a math teacher. Some of you may move on in the National Merit competition based on your selection index, however we will not know the cut-off score (a number that is arrived at by adding the sub-scores together) until next September. We continue to impress upon you that the rigor and quality of your high school academic program are paramount both to your learning and to admissions officers when they evaluate your applications next year.


If you and your family decide to engage test preparation help, we recommend that you assess your area(s) of weakness and find a tutor to work on those specific skills. There are as many different ways to prep for standardized tests as there are learning styles; the key is to identify the method most appropriate for yours. Most students at Concord Academy do quite well on their standardized tests without a great deal of specific preparation. Taking practice tests is probably one of the best ways to prepare for the “real” tests. For the self-starter, we highly recommend using the materials available on the Khan Academy (SAT) and ACT websites. While test preparation can be helpful, we recommend that it not interfere with the most important element of college admissions: earning good grades. So for some, this will mean waiting until summer break.


As we mentioned in our August letter to you, we expect you will visit at least two college campuses by the conclusion of spring break. We believe that exploring campuses is an important and informative part of college research, and seeing schools first-hand usually increases excitement about and engagement in the process. If you have other plans for spring break, you will want to undertake college travel on weekends instead. While we don’t expect these visits to occur over winter vacation – in fact, many admissions offices are closed at this time – you might want to begin tentative planning discussions with your parent(s) now.


Looking ahead, a reminder that the Boston Independent School College Counseling Association hosts more than 100 college representatives each spring to meet with students and families in a college fair format. This year’s event will take place in the afternoon on Sunday, April 23, at Milton Academy. Attendance is required for juniors; parents are welcome, as well. CA will provide transportation for boarders.


This questionnaire is important for a number of reasons. First, it allows us to become familiar with you and your strengths. It also will help you to begin to focus your very preliminary thoughts about colleges. And, in the fall, we will likely refer to the free-writing you do in this assignment as a starting point for your letter of recommendation (and who knows: maybe you will use it as the basis for a college essay!). Please note that there is no right or wrong response; we simply want to get to know you.

Trust us: this assignment is truly not busy work. Your response, if well done, can be extremely useful to us, so please give this questionnaire some careful thought and attention. We expect your work to be thorough and legible, and we ask that the free-write portion be word-processed rather than handwritten.

Most importantly, we need this completed questionnaire by Wednesday, January 11. Deadlines are absolutely crucial in the college process and adhering to this date gets you off on the right foot. (Note: If you are participating in an off-campus program during spring semester (HMI, CITYterm, etc.), we nonetheless expect that you will complete this assignment by the deadline.)

We hope you enjoy a restful winter break!


Peter Jennings              Kate Peltz                       Alison Tomlin