College Counseling is an integral part of the educational program at WMA. We view ourselves as teachers and advisors rather than placement officers, and strive to support our students and families by providing accurate and up-to-date information and personalized guidance throughout every phase of the college search and application process. Our program is designed to equip our students to take the leading role in their own education and to nurture self-reflection, independent thinking, resourcefulness and resilience - qualities that will serve them well in college and beyond.
Every aspect of a student’s education at WMA helps to prepare them for a successful college search. Our curricular emphasis on developing our students’ research skills, mastery of written and verbal expression, critical thinking and global awareness provides a strong foundation for college exploration.
"We believe that the college search and selection process is an integral part of our students' experience at WMA."- WMA College Counseling Mission statement
Jessica "Jessie" Smith '14 and Junhao "Mark'' Xu '16 have shared much in common, but each has experienced a unique journey through their current college years.
Associate Director of College Counseling Laurie Blair Ernst '73 takes a closer look here.
The formal part of the college process begins in Grade 10 when students are assigned to a weekly class for the spring semester. Sophomore Seminar introduces our students to the college process at WMA and covers a range of topics from self-assessment to the art of writing a compelling personal statement to navigating Naviance, the college counseling software WMA uses.
- Attend required evening Kick-Off College Counseling event for seniors and parents in early September featuring a keynote address from a college admission officer.
- Attend Senior Seminar classes and workshops in the early fall which will address important topics relating to the college application process.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the college admission representatives on the WMA campus from September through early December.
- College Counselors available for individual meetings with parents during Parents’ Weekend in October and throughout the year upon request.
- Meet regularly with your College Counselor. Seniors should work closely with their counselors to effectively manage their college applications, especially regarding application requirements and deadlines. Finalize plans to apply Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision.
- Register for remaining standardized tests well in advance of the deadlines. Remember that the student is responsible for submitting his/her own scores directly from the testing service. Official test scores are NOT included on the WMA transcript.
- PARENTS can apply for federal financial aid online at www.FAFSA.ed.gov and for institutional financial aid by completing a CSS/Financial Aid Profile at www.collegeboard.com/parent.pay
- International students should register to take the TOEFL again if necessary.
- In the early fall, PARENTS OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS should prepare all required financial documentation including the Certificate of Finances and a signed Bank Statement to be submitted to colleges by the specified deadline. Many colleges require original documents to accompany each application, so please be aware that you may need multiple copies.
- Use the long weekend in October and/or the extended Thanksgiving Break to visit colleges of interest.
- Make sure you have requested two teacher recommendations at least four weeks in advance of your earliest application deadline.
- Review your applications and essays with your College Counselor BEFORE submitting.
- Finalize and submit all applications ahead of deadlines. We recommend submitting applications PRIOR to the holiday vacation as many colleges have deadlines of Jan. 1.
- Results of most Early Action and Early Decision applications released between mid-December and mid-January. Students admitted under a binding Early Decision plan must withdraw their applications from other colleges.
- Maintain a strong academic record throughout your senior year. Mid-year progress reports are sent to colleges in January. Colleges reserve the right to reverse any admission decision due to a decline in your performance, and have done so in the recent past. Don’t let this happen to you!
- Financial aid applicants file the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1.
- College decisions released between March and mid-April. Notify your counselor of all decisions, including wait list offers and merit scholarship awards.
- Carefully weigh offers of admission, financial aid and merit scholarship as you make a final college choice.
- Send a deposit to ONE SCHOOL ONLY no later than May 1.
- Take appropriate Advanced Placement exams in May.
- Promptly notify all colleges to which you have been admitted of your plan to enroll at another institution. (Remember that students on a wait list are anxious to know if they have a place in the entering class.)
- Share your news with your College Counselor, teachers and any other individual who has helped you during this process. Remember to express your gratitude for their support and guidance. A written note of thanks is always welcome and deeply appreciated.
- Continue to focus on strengthening your academic record and preparation for college. Be mindful of your academic and personal goals when choosing your courses.
- Maintain meaningful connections with faculty members, advisors and coaches and seek their advice as you begin to research and identify colleges.
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) in October. This year your scores will be used to identify students for the National Merit Scholarship. PSAT scores are NOT sent to colleges.
- College Counselors available for individual conferences with parents of juniors during Parents Weekend in October and throughout the year upon request.
- Consider taking a SUMMIT SAT or ACT test prep course in preparation for the March or May administration of the SAT or the April administration of the ACT.
- College Counselor assignments are made in December of the junior year. Students should make every effort to schedule at least three individual meetings prior to spring break.
- Required Junior Class field trip to two college campuses. Schools visited in the last two years include Trinity College, University of Connecticut, College of the Holy Cross and Clark University.
- Discuss a standardized testing schedule and plan with your College Counselor and register well in advance of the deadlines to avoid unnecessary late fees. International students should prepare to take the TOEFL exam at least once before the end of the academic year. Talk with your classroom teachers about taking an SAT II Subject Test in any areas of strength. (Note: Most colleges no longer require subject tests, but a few of the most competitive colleges still do.)
- Attend required evening program featuring admission officers addressing current topics on college admission. Parents are encouraged to attend.
- Attend required Junior Seminar classes during the winter trimester. These classes meet once a week in a small group setting with a College Counselor and provide an in-depth exploration of the college admission process. Students will learn how to research and identify colleges that are a good “match”, how to navigate Naviance and a college website, how to complete the Common Application, brainstorm essay topics and work on the development of an effective personal statement. Students will create a Common Application account as part of the class.
- Take the March or May SAT and/or the April or June ACT. Take Subject tests as appropriate.
- If appropriate, take the Advanced Placement exams administered in May.
- If you are a student athlete who is interested in playing a Division I or II sport on the college level, register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at www.eligibilitycenter.org.
- Students and parents should have an open, honest discussion about financing a college education. Take time to research financial aid policies and scholarship resources.
- Identify two teachers you will ask to write letters of recommendation on your behalf. Ask at least one teacher from your junior year IN PERSON using the College Counseling Office’s request forms no later than May.
- Schedule campus visits to as many colleges that interest you as possible. Take advantage of the opportunity to interview if it is available.
- Students who have attended any other high school before enrolling at WMA should request a copy of their official transcript from their previous school and submit it to their College Counselor.
- Make good use of your summer vacation! READ, review application requirements, work on college essays and complete the Common Application.
- Continue to make thoughtful choices about your curriculum in consultation with your teachers, academic advisor and parents.
- Take the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) in October as a practice for future standardized testing. Keep in mind that these scores are NOT sent to colleges but will help you to identify both strengths and weaknesses in your academic skills. This test is administered to all WMA sophomores and juniors during the school day on our campus.
- Attend required Sophomore Seminar classes offered by the College Counselors during the spring trimester. These classes meet once a week and focus on a variety of topics including the importance of self-reflection in the college process, strategies for developing a strong personal statement and an introduction to Naviance, WMA’s college counseling software.
- Yearly presentation on the college essay by Allan Reeder, professional writer. This program is required for all sophomores.
- Get more deeply involved in the activities that interest you most. Focus on making a meaningful contribution to a few endeavors rather than superficial involvement in many things. Look for opportunities to take on leadership roles.
- Begin investigating colleges through searches on Naviance and the internet, recommended guidebooks and campus visits if time permits. Take a campus tour, attend an information session and be open to learning more about the wide variety of colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world.
- Sophomore class visit to a college campus for a tour and general information session.
- Continue to make good use of your summer break. In addition to the many academic enrichment or volunteer opportunities that are available, you may now be old enough to consider a part-time job or internship.
- Begin to consider your academic goals and work with your academic advisor regarding your plan of study.
- Learn time management skills and how to strike a healthy balance between your academic, extracurricular and personal commitments.
- Explore ways to become meaningfully involved in school life.
- Develop strong relationships with your academic advisor, teachers and coaches. Seek out a mentor who can help guide you through your high school years.
- Reach out to other students and make new friends.
- Stay healthy by exercising regularly and/or playing a sport.
- Make time to read for knowledge AND pleasure.
- Choose to take the most challenging courses that are appropriate for you. No one expects you to be equally strong in all academic areas, so be thoughtful in determining your choice of classes.
- Meet the College Office! A meeting in the late spring will be held to introduce you to the College Counseling staff and to tell you about the integral role college counseling will play in your high school experience.
- Use the summer productively. Try something new, brush up on a skill, visit a college campus or two, and pursue areas of genuine interest such as athletics, performing arts, volunteering, etc.
Your program reminded me why I do what I do...thank you for the opportunity to meet such wonderful enthusiastic students and supportive parents. At one point in my career, I considered 'going over to the other side' and becoming a college counselor. Watching . . . you last night being so in love with what you do, made me wonder about a lost opportunity. Of course, I love, love, love what I do at Smith ... but just saying....you make it look so good!"
Sid DalbyAssociate Director of Admission
Each fall, admission officers from more than 75 colleges and universities visit WMA to meet with our students and college counselors. In addition, college admissions presentations featuring a variety of schools and admission professionals are scheduled throughout the year. In the past two years, we have welcomed the following guests to our campus:
Do you ever wonder who "gets in" and "why?" The Admission Game® takes you inside the admission process for the answers.
Wilbraham and Monson Academy’s College Counseling Office presents The Admission Game® with Peter Van Buskirk for sophomores and juniors and all parents. It's a fun, interactive and insightful perspective on the college search and planning process.
Motivational speaker, author, consultant, and former Dean of Admission, Peter Van Buskirk equips families to make healthy, productive choices as they plan for college.
Focusing on a student-centered approach, the high energy live programming and innovative online college planning solutions he offers through The Admission Game® reach tens of thousands of students, parents and educators annually. For more information about Mr. Van Buskirk and The Admission Game®, visit his website at www.bestcollegefit.com.
Each February, the College Counseling Office presents a special program for juniors and their parents featuring a panel of seasoned admission officers. Last year we welcomed Ms. Terry Cowdrey, former vice president and dean of admission at Colby College and Erik DeAngelis, Associate Director of Admission at Brown University.
Alan Reeder of Hillside Writing presents "The Common-App Chalk Talk," which helps college-bound applicants and their support teams to see the college admission essay less as a challenge and more as an opportunity — even an enjoyable one!
It is expected that WMA students will:
- Take an active and leading role in the process
- Engage in genuine self-assessment and college research
- Pay attention to announcements, emails, and meeting requirements with counselors
- Pay attention to deadlines throughout the college application process
- Check in with parents and reinforce partnership throughout the process
- Work cooperatively with faculty, counselors, coaches, and parents to maximize opportunities
It is expected that WMA parents will:
- Continue to guide, support, and trust your son or daughter
- Encourage your son or daughter to take the lead
- Keep the counselor informed about any questions or concerns you may have so we can work together on behalf of your child
- Keep an open mind about what a “good” college is
- Use positive language
- Teach your child how to be an effective self-advocate
It is expected that WMA college counselors will:
- Work collaboratively with all parties involved in the college process to ensure students are well-supported in the college search, application, and decision process
- Provide timely information about the college process
- Provide students with best-fit options for potential colleges
- Learn about and communicate new trends and developments, both nationally and at individual colleges