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College Guidance Program
LWA College Guidance, a comprehensive and individualized program that is built into the students’ schedule, begins the moment a student joins the school community. In partnership with our families, a much-valued relationship, we support every student as they discover their passions, deepen their involvement, and reflect on who they are and who they might become on their road to college and beyond. Though students are exposed to different aspects of the college application process every year of their high school experience, Paving Your Path, Shaping Your Story is the throughline that guides our mission and informs our intentions. Our unique and personalized program is one of many doors open to LWA Upper School students as they immerse themselves in their Upper School experience preparing for college. It is a journey that begins in freshman year as students begin to develop a mindset and set of skills to comfortably, confidently and skillfully engage in the world of ideas. It is a way of thinking, an approach to education that says, “all doors are open–academic, extracurricular and co-curricular.” Open them, create them, step confidently through them. As they navigate this pre-college landscape, LWA students live, experience and create their singular story for their college applications. Those stories translate into college acceptances and scholarships that invite them to the next chapter of their lives.


The college process begins in the ninth grade as teachers, advisors, and the Freshman Seminar instructor work with students on developing and building organizational and study skills needed to successfully transition to the demands of Upper School life. In Freshman Seminar, students are introduced to the Common Application, are made aware of the importance of teacher recommendation letters, learn how to read a transcript, and plan a course of study, community service, and club activities that best fit their unique interests and passions as they start to shape their story for the college application process. To help students discover their interests and begin to envision the many paths open for them, students engage in science-backed aptitude and personality assessments and, under the guidance of their instructor, begin to explore some possible best-fit careers and colleges. In terms of standardized testing, students are exposed to real-testing conditions in the 8th grade and are introduced to different aspects of both the SAT and ACT during Freshman Seminar. Test-taking strategies, time management, and effective planning are taught and reinforced throughout the year.
All sophomores attend a small group seminar weekly during which they expand upon skills learned during Freshmen Seminar and dive deeper into the Common Application, focusing on the strategic development of their resume via a rigorous course load and intentional extra-curricular engagements both during the academic year and summer. Students are also introduced to Naviance, a college and career readiness program, through which they research colleges via a structured framework and learn more about what they are seeking in their college experience. Continuing to focus on SAT and ACT test preparation and strategies, during Sophomore Seminar students use an online test prep program, Methodize, for weekly lessons, strategies, reviews, quizzes and evaluations. Guided by the Seminar instructor, this test preparation program can be accessed by the students throughout their Upper School years. All sophomores take the PSAT during the school day in October and in April. The test is administered and scored under real test conditions and provides sophomores with an opportunity to experience this test and to use the diagnostic for skill building in specific areas of that test.

Semester 1: Juniors generally take for the first time the SAT and/or ACT in the spring of this year. Prior to this, they will have taken the PSAT / NMSQT in October. Once the students receive the score reports, LWA advises students to begin an SAT and/or ACT Prep Class or individualized tutoring to best prepare for these tests in the spring. We strongly recommend at least twelve weeks/sessions prior to the first test administration. Students continue to use Methodize in their Junior Seminar sessions. Students also do a deep research of colleges they are interested in and draft a “Why Us?” response for each institution as this will help students learn how to thoroughly navigate a college website, identify key details of the school’s mission, and articulate their interest in an institution in a succinct and tailored response. Finally, students also review the Common Application essay prompts and may begin to brainstorm a few ideas in order to prepare for the second semester of Junior Seminar. Juniors are also invited to attend college information sessions with representatives from various colleges; these sessions are hosted by College Guidance.

Semester 2: This is a small-group class taught by the Director of College Guidance. During these classes, students review their transcripts, strengthen and refine their college lists to ensure a balance, request teacher recommendations, write drafts of their resumes, and engage in many reflective writings designed to prepare them for the college essay and interviews. Students are encouraged to have a completed draft of their college essay by the end of the term. All students and their parents have an individual meeting with the Director of College Guidance by the end of the year and/or summer to discuss their student’s college list, college visitations, and how to approach the summer before senior year.

This is a small-group class designed to support students and their families in all aspects of the complex college application process. All college essays and supplementary writing receive individual and extensive feedback from the Director of College Guidance. Students are also invited to attend college information sessions with representatives from various colleges; these sessions are hosted by College Guidance. Families attend a Financial Aid workshop, which reviews key points and offers advice for approaching the financial aid process. This is a first semester senior year course.

As an extension of the LWA College Guidance’s “Paving Your Path, Shaping Your Story” theme that is at the core of our program, we launched our first annual Career Week for Lower, Middle and Upper School students in 2021. LWA parents and alumni share their career stories with our students K through 12, offering them advice, opportunities, and lifelong networking possibilities.

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