College Newsletter
November 18, 2011
Freshman College Newsletter
Dear Freshmen,

Greetings from the College Counseling Office! I hope that your year is going well, and I'm thinking that maybe you're feeling a bit left out. All those college visitors who flooded our hallways in October came to talk to our juniors and seniors; seniors have started wearing college sweatshirts already, and how come you had to play kickball instead of taking a standardized test in the gym? (Okay, not that last thing!) Anyway, I’ll check in with you each semester this year to let you know that you’re important, and I haven’t forgotten you!

This year is the third year of implementing our policy to include freshman grades in our GPA calculations. This may seem somehow ominous, but there are plenty of seniors who are thrilled to have their 9th grade courses included in their GPAs. The point is that colleges will look at your entire transcript when they’re considering your applications, so excluding freshman year in GPA calculations doesn’t really make sense anymore. There was a time when school systems across the country were experimenting with keeping 9th grade in middle school and making high school 10th-12th (horrifying!), in which case basing GPAs on 10-12 made sense. Well, that experiment clearly bit the dust, so here we are.

“Ruh roh,” you’re thinking, “Should I be worrying about this?” Nope. Colleges recognize that 9th grade is a transition year and sometimes it takes freshmen some time to get up-to-speed. But, of course, doing your best is always a good policy. So if your thinking about whether you should study for your exams or watch a 24-hour Star Wars marathon, well, you figure it out. (Just watch Episode IV – it’s the best.) And keep in mind that the better you do in your classes now, the more doors will be open for you in the future. Common sense, of course, but there are hormones coursing through your veins that are common-sense-blockers. Those are the hormones that convinced you that working on a vampire costume for the midnight showing of the latest Twilight movie was more important than finishing that LST lab.

Speaking of doing your best, in January, when you return from the Winter Break, Mr. Ehrenfried will be introducing you to Naviance, the program we use to track our students’ college applications. Not so interesting for you now, but there are lots of other features that might be useful. In particular, you’ll be completing a Learning Style Inventory that will help you identify your learning style strengths and areas where you might have room to improve. The idea is that being aware of how you learn best will empower you to employ strategies that will help you maximize learning and do your best. Also, once you’re logged into the student side of Naviance, called “Family Connection,” you’ll be able to access a college search engine, college admission test prep, and other cool features that you’ll use more as you move on up in high school. There’s a welcome screen especially for freshmen that will let you know about features that may be of interest to you now, so have some fun with it! And be sure to set a password that you can share with your parents in case they’d like to play too.

If that’s enough advice from me, then tah-tah for now, but if you’d like more, check out the College Counseling page of the KDS website: See the blue box that’s labeled “I Want to Go to College – What Should I Be Doing Now?” You can click on “Freshman Year” for more rock-solid advice. Still not enough? You can access the entire Kent Denver College Counseling Handbook from the blue box on the right labeled “College Counseling Resources.” I recommend the “College Selection Process” section and some of the items in the Appendix, such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the College Admissions Process. (For parents, there are Naviance tutorials available via a link in that same “College Counseling Resources” box. They’ll have to wait until you’re registered in January, though, before they can get onto Family Connection.) More? You can scroll down the College Counseling page to access links to the newsletters that have gone out this year to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. And if you’d like to read a really good (and short) article from the college side, try this piece from Whitman College president George Bridges, Choosing the Right College: Getting to the Heart of the Matter: click here. It’s one of my favorites.

In any case, without making you click anywhere, I can assure you that now is not the time to be consumed by college admission angst. (Actually, no time is the time for that!) Really get involved in learning in your classes (not just doing the work), enjoy your extra-curricular activities, do some good, enjoy the outdoors, read a book for fun, walk the dog, and be happy. Rest assured that you are in an excellent place for preparing for college. You have teachers who care about you, setting the bar high in your classes and helping you reach it so that you will be challenged and grow. If you’re feeling a bit worn out by all that growing right about now, know that vacation is just around the corner.

You’ll be matched with your very own college counselor in the middle of junior year, but until then, if you ever do want to “talk college,” come see me in the College Counseling Office. My door’s open!

Best Wishes,
Mrs. Horn
Director of College Counseling