Too often, college is perceived as the ultimate goal or final destination, which often causes students to become anxious or singularly focused. Because this is a process of finding the appropriate fit, students should think less about what they think colleges want to see and more about how their relationship with a particular school could be mutually beneficial. Our goal is to have 100% of our seniors attend college, ideally at four-year institutions, but we understand that everyone has their own journey. We are committed to helping you make the most informed decision possible.
COLLEGE PLANNING: THE FOUR-YEAR PROCESS
While the college counseling process doesn’t officially begin until junior year, it is important for all of our students to think about their college future. That is not to say that college should be the sole motivating factor in all their decisions, but they should realize that everything they accomplish in high school is factored into their college applications.
9th and 10th Grade
The primary challenge for ninth and tenth graders is discovering how they will connect to Pacifica. The connections they make will have a direct influence on their college process, whether it is through an influential teacher, an activity they are passionate about, or their academic interests. The grades earned in ninth grade are considered at most colleges and universities, so it is important that students are challenging themselves at an appropriate level while learning how to organize their work. For parents of freshman and sophomores, there is an annual parent night that will present the current college landscape and information about what students should expect as upperclassmen.
9th Grade CHECKLIST
- Take challenging courses, but not more than you can handle
- Develop relationships with teachers and classmates
- Be engaged during class and do not be afraid to take academic risks
- Develop your organizational and time management skills
- Attend quarterly meetings with your academic counselor
- College should not be the sole motivating factor for anything you do, but authentically pursue your extracurricular interests while feeling the freedom to develop new ones
10th Grade CHECKLIST
- Continue interacting closely with teachers, classmates, and counselors
- Take the PSAT in October (students are automatically registered)
- Talk to teachers/college counselor about whether you should consider taking an SAT Subject Test
- Begin test preparation for either the SAT or ACT
- Consider signing up for one of the local college day trips in the spring
- Learn about service and summer programs
Starting the second semester of junior year, individual and group college counseling sessions begin. The college counselor will meet with each student at least twice individually and optional parent meetings are also available. The college counselor will discuss with each student their college and career preferences, standardized testing plans, senior class schedule, and additional college related topics. Juniors will also be asked to complete a variety of questionnaires to help the college counselor get to know them as well as prepare their letters of recommendation. Parents will also be encouraged to complete a parent questionnaire regarding their student(s) as well as attend the junior parent night in January.
11th Grade CHECKLIST
- Continue taking a rigorous yet appropriate course load, including AP classes
- Take the PSAT again in October (students are automatically registered)
- Take the SAT and/or ACT at least once and meet with college counselor to discuss additional preparation
- Think about college preferences and start exploring Naviance and college websites
- Meet individually with college counselor for initial college planning
- Complete junior questionnaire and junior brag sheet on Naviance
- Request letters of recommendation from teachers, preferably from this year
- Strongly consider signing up for one of the local college day trips in the spring
- If not already involved, pursue leadership opportunities for next year (leadership comes in many forms)
- Strongly consider attending the college application workshop over the summer
Individualized college counseling continues during the first semester of senior year. In addition to individual appointments and optional parent meetings, open office hours will be available on weekends during mid-October. Seniors are expected to have a tentative final college list by late November.
12TH GRADE CHECKLIST
- Meet with college counselor to finalize college plans and establish application timeline
- Continue to work hard in senior courses; first semester grades will be forwarded to colleges
- Attend meetings with college representatives on campus and evening receptions off campus
- Retake standardized testing as necessary
- Submit essays and supplements to college counselor for feedback and suggestions
- Submit college applications by their respective deadlines; complete the entire application process, preferably by Christmas break
- Prepare for the financial aid process by filling out net price calculators on college websites and completing the FAFSA application after January 1
Office of College Counseling
At Pacifica, we believe that the college counseling process begins and ends with the students. It is our goal to demystify college admissions and help them find their voice in the process of discovering the ideal place for the next chapter of their story to unfold.
Director of College Counseling
B.A. Economics, Pomona College
M.A. Postsecondary Education, Columbia
T: 310.828.7015 ext. 111