The Waterford School College Counseling Office guides, supports, and serves our students as they consider an exciting variety of undergraduate options. Waterford’s College Counselors have extensive experience in secondary education and college admissions and have developed a program to educate and encourage students to take responsibility for meeting deadlines and making important decisions. Waterford Upper School students engage in a four-year curriculum that guides students and parents through an exciting process of college exploration--a process that ultimately results in acceptances to top colleges well-suited to student interests and passions.
Waterford’s college counselors begin working with students as they enter Upper School, developing a relationship with students that allows counselors to provide informed guidance and support to students throughout the college process. The Waterford School counselor to student ratio is 1:35, considerably lower than the national (1:470) and Utah state (1:712) ratios (National Center for Education Statistics).
The Waterford School curriculum is the rigorous, challenging, inclusive program colleges are looking for on a college application. Colleges report that course choice and grades are the most important factors in college admission. The standard curriculum at Waterford School is considered rigorous and complete. Students may choose to enrich their curriculum with selected Honors and AP courses. Beginning in ninth grade, students look ahead to future course selections, registration, and planning with teachers, deans, and college counselors.
Waterford School students possess the kind of academic preparation and experience that colleges seek. Highly selective colleges and universities recognize Waterford’s academic program as both robust and rigorous. College admission offices collect data on their admitted students to determine the types of students who will succeed at their schools. School report forms, the school profile, counselor reports, and teacher recommendation letters provide much of this information, in addition to student grades, activities, and test scores. Year after year, college representatives pursue Waterford students because of their demonstrated success at colleges across the country.
Waterford School students begin the college search process as Freshmen (Class IX) and continue through Upper School. Students begin to develop criteria for their college search based on their high school experiences and goals, as well as new areas they wish to explore.
Waterford School college counselors are available to answer any questions students have about the process, and parents are encouraged to become active participants in the process as well.
Course selection is an important part of Freshman year, as it is the first year in a student’s academic career that grades factor into their reported GPAs. Waterford college counselors work closely with teachers, deans, and the registrar to ensure that students are taking appropriately challenging courses.
Freshman year is also a time to explore, play, and find passions. Extra-curricular activities are a great way for students to discover interests and distinguish themselves in the college process. During Freshman year, Waterford college counselors recommend:
- Try something new!
- Don’t specialize just yet.
- Be multidimensional in your interests.
- Use summers also to try new activities.
The start of Sophomore year is a good time for students to carefully consider their academic trajectory. Waterford School college counselors recommend that students challenge themselves with the most rigorous course of study they can manage. Student GPA also becomes increasingly important, so students need to be mindful of balancing course selection with academic performance.
Academic aspects to consider as they relate to the college process:
- Colleges value the liberal arts preparation, and appreciate seeing strong coursework and success across the disciplines.
- Foreign Language: take as many years as you can.
- Math: If you are interested in engineering, colleges will expect strong math grades and calculus. Interested in business? Math grades and scores are more important than you think.
- A strong humanities foundation is valued by colleges and employers.
Robotics? Debate? Writing? String Quartet? Soccer? Community Service? No one activity is “the best” for college. During Sophomore year, students should keep exploring while stepping up their involvement in preferred activities. It is also important, however, that students pay attention to balance and health--students may need to drop some activities to keep others going alongside rigorous academics. Waterford School college counselors help students refine their selections and focus on areas where they demonstrate the greatest interest and talent.
PSAT: All Sophomore students take the PSAT on the national test date, a Wednesday morning in mid-October; no registration necessary.
During Junior year, Waterford School college counselors introduce students to the college search. Students develop personal college criteria based on their strengths and interests and hopes for their college experiences.
In the fall, college admission representatives from top U.S. colleges visit Waterford School one at a time during the school day. Students have an opportunity to meet with representatives and learn more about schools of interest.
Throughout the year, the college counseling office runs weekly college workshops for juniors that cover topics ranging from how to research colleges, filling out the common application, and asking for teacher recommendations. Beginning in January, college counselors meet individually with students and parents to develop college lists, review course load, and suggest colleges to visit.
Grades in academic and arts courses are critically important this year--an upward trajectory is the goal, especially if colleges can see growth and maturity since Freshman year (Class IX). Waterford School college counselors recommend that students also develop their intellectual interests through independent work and self-directed study.
During Junior year, students are encouraged to take on leadership roles within their extracurricular activities.
Potential College Athlete? Complete college recruiting questionnaires. Sign up for summer camps, showcases, and/or leagues to feature your talents. Construct a highlight video. Register with NCAA Clearinghouse if you are looking at D1 or D2 programs.
Budding Performing Artist? Draft a resume and gather films of performances. Consider summer experiences where you can test this interest in a short time frame. Begin to prepare for auditions for those looking to major.
Aspiring Visual Artist? Begin assembling a portfolio; write Artist’s Statements for each piece you include; consider summer experiences where you can test this interest in a short time frame.
PSAT: October--All Junior (Class XI) students take the PSAT on the national test date, a Wednesday morning in mid-October; no registration necessary.
December: Review PSAT scores; Practice ACT on Saturday in December
Plan for Spring testing in December-January:
- March SAT
- April ACT (or February ACT)
- May or June SAT; OR May or June SAT Subject Tests
- June ACT
- AP Exams held first two weeks of May; plan ahead for busy weeks.
Summer is a terrific time to reflect, to distinguish yourself, to have new experiences, and to explore your passions. Waterford School offers amazing Summer Term programs on campus and abroad for students to take a deeper dive into areas of interest.
Additional recommendations for summer activities:
- Visit Colleges! Make a plan--visit over Spring Break and Summer Break
- Community Service
- Summer Job
- A pre-college arts or academic program on a college campus
- ACT and SAT test prep course (class or online)
Waterford School college counselors help students identify a number of colleges they may want to visit. College counselors provide students with the names of Waterford alumni currently attending the colleges they plan to visit. Waterford School college counselors offer the following advice for making the most of a college campus visit:
- Visit the college's website to see when tours and information sessions are offered. Register for tour and information session.
- Smaller colleges may offer interviews or overnight stays to rising Seniors. Do this if you have time, are likely to apply, and it is offered.
- Visit no more than two colleges a day. Allow yourself extra time to find parking, the building, and still be on time for the campus tour.
- Plan to have lunch or a meal in the student center so you can see students interacting, test out the food, and ask more questions of other students.
- Take the lead in asking questions on tours and in information sessions.
- Write a journal entry and take pictures on each campus. What was most impressive, surprising, etc. on each campus?
- Email your college counselor with brief notes about which colleges you were excited about and why, or which you will take off your list and why.
During the fall of senior year, much of the college application work and meetings is individualized. Waterford School college counselors work one-on-one with seniors to finalize college lists, review essays, and complete applications.
Grades in rigorous courses continue to be very important during the first half of senior year, and colleges look closely at senior year course choice. Grades are released around December 1, and sent to colleges as part of a “Mid Year Report” required by Common App colleges.
For students who have been waitlisted at preferred colleges, grades continue to be important throughout the winter. Colleges often consider these grades as they decide who to accept from the waitlist.
Again, an upward trajectory is important: admissions officers are judging your most current motivation and preparation to be a college student through course choices and grades earned. Colleges value success across the disciplines, but also look for demonstrated success in your stated field of academic interest.
By Senior year, find an area on campus to be a leader. It could be the classroom, the arts, the athletic fields, robotics, yearbook, etc. Lead through action and not necessarily title. Colleges like to see leadership potential in prospective students.
Many students retake the SAT and/or ACT to maximize their scores after summer preparation. If another SAT Subject Test is needed, Literature, Math, or foreign language could be a possibility senior fall.
SAT and SAT Subject Tests: New late August date, October, November.
ACT: Early September, October.
Scores typically take three weeks to report. Most colleges will update scores even after their application is due, but students need to have a strong score by October if applying Early Decision or Early Action.
The Application Process
The Waterford School College Counseling Office works closely with students to ensure deadlines are met and all documents are appropriately sent to colleges. Naviance Family Connection is used to manage the application process.
By October 15:
- College recommendation requests completed
- Accurate College Application list recorded in Naviance
- Testing plan in place
- Common Application complete
- Supplemental essay list compiled and shared with college counselor
- Early Applications (ED & EA) established and near completion
By November 1:
- Deadline for Early Decision and Early Action applications at most colleges
By December 1:
- University of Utah and BYU applications, and many other scholarship applications due
- All applications near completion
By December 15:
- All applications complete for January 1 application deadlines
By April 15:
- Report all outcomes to your college counselor
- If waitlisted, meet with College Counselor and determine a plan
By May 1:
- Deposit at the College/University where you plan to attend.
Five-Year Matriculation List 2014-2018: Where Waterford School graduates are currently attending
University of Alabama
Arizona State University
University of Arizona
Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University, Hawaii
Brigham Young University, Idaho
University of British Columbia
University of California Berkeley
University of California Davis
University of California Irvine
University of California Los Angeles
University of California San Diego
University of California Santa Barbara
California College of the Arts
Claremont McKenna College
University of Colorado Boulder
Colorado State University
Concordia University Montreal
Dixie State University
Kansas City Art Institute
Lewis & Clark College
Loyola Marymount University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Miami
Michigan State University
University of Michigan
Montana State University
University of Nevada Las Vegas
The College of New Jersey
University of New Mexico
New York University
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
North Idaho College
North Park University
Ohio State University
University of Oklahoma
Oregon State University
University of Oregon
University of the Pacific
University of Pennsylvania
University of Portland
University of Puget Sound
University of Queensland
University of Redlands
Regent’s University London
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rochester Institute of Technology
Salt Lake Community College
San Diego State University
San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
University of San Diego
University of Southern California
Southern Utah University
Southern Virginia University
University of Tampa
US Air Force Academy
US Naval Academy
Utah State University
Utah Valley University
University of Utah
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
Wake Forest University
Washington State University
Washington University in St. Louis
University of Washington
Weber State University
With no end to college admissions books, here are a few Waterford School college counselors have found useful for understanding the higher education landscape:
- College Guides: The Fiske Guide to Colleges and The Princeton Review’s The Best 382 Colleges are our go-to books for objective data, as well as subjective descriptions and quotes on 300+ colleges you are most likely to attend. Online also.
- Colleges That Change Lives, Loren Pope. A classic that has been updated and spawned a traveling college tour of “CTCL” Colleges: interesting, excellent colleges you may not have heard of yet that serve undergraduates well. See also his book, Looking Beyond the Ivy League.
- Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be. 2015 version of Pope, acclaimed in the admissions world, by education writer, Frank Bruni.
- There is Life After College, Jeffrey Selingo. 2016. What Parents and Students Should Know about Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow.
- College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, Andrew Delbanco, 2012. Columbia Professor who spoke at Waterford School that year.
- Admission Matters 4th Edition; Sally Springer, Jon Reider, Joyce Vining Morgan. 2017. What Students and Parents Need to Know about Getting Into College.
Online College Search Tools
- Naviance www.connection.naviance.com/waterford Waterford School's Internet-based college application manager.
- College Board bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search A useful starting point for your search.
- College Planner https://issuu.com/wellesleyadmission/docs/college_planner5 steps toward a sane, productive, even enjoyable college search process, plus practical tools, like a calendar with deadlines and a chart for comparing colleges, from Wellesley College.
- Unigo unigo.com This site has a high volume of student perspectives.
- Niche niche.com This site also provides “insider” reviews of colleges, done by current students.
- College Kickstart: https://www.college-kickstart.com/blog Blog entries and data compilation for selective college admissions.
Helpful if you are not able to visit a college of interest.
- You Visit https://www.youvisit.com/education You Visit has virtual tours and videos, including student tour guides.
- YoUniversityTV.com https://www.youniversitytv.com/ Informative video tours of colleges; also career videos, and college tips.
Cost and Financial Data Searches
- College Net Price Calculators: Every college is required to have one. Use it to get an approximate figure of how much you will likely pay specific to colleges you are interested in.
- My InTuition: https://myintuition.org/ Quick College Cost estimator for 30 selective colleges.
- College Scorecard https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/ Dep’t of Education’s resource to compare colleges through required and verified data such as cost, graduation rates and salary data.
- CollegeData.com Collegedata.com More student stories, financial aid information.
More Information on Colleges
- College Countdown http://www.collegecountdown.com/ $20 for online access to the Fiske Guide to Colleges, a go-to guide for college research.
- BestCollegeFit Blog by Peter Van Buskirk: http://www.bestcollegefit.com/ Peter was Dean of Admissions at Franklin and Marshall College--good perspective.
- Peterson’s Guide petersons.com good general information and search.
- The Princeton Review www.princetonreview.com
- Collegexpress www.collegexpress.com Offers college lists by different criteria.
- College Navigator http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- National Center for Education Statistics. Dept. of Ed information.
- Colleges that Change Lives ctcl.org “They will change the way you look at college.”
Scholarships and Financial Aid Information
- Net Price Calculators Each college is required to provide a Net Price Calculator, which will give you an idea of the financial aid or merit scholarship.
- College Aid and Affordability Chart, showing merit & need aid by college; compiled by Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy: http://www.personalcollegeadmissions.com/need-and-merit-2017
- Fastweb Fastweb.com Scholarships search.
- FinAid.org http://www.finaid.org/ Most complete neutral source of accurate Financial aid information.
- EduPass http://www.edupass.org/finaid/ Financial aid and scholarship information for International students.
Career and Major Information
- O*Net: https://www.onetonline.org/ O*NET OnLine has detailed descriptions of the world of work.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics career and college major information
- Career Information, Charts, Maps, Videos: http://www.bls.gov/k12/students.htm
- Career exploration site: http://www.benobe.com/
- Common Application www.commonapp.org