Frequently Asked Questions

Can you clarify the role of the student and that of the college counselor?

Since independence and maturity are common traits among successful college students, we work closely with students and help them take a leading role in the conversations about college. We help them develop the independence and decision making skills necessary in researching colleges, creating a college list, writing authentic applications and making creative decisions about where to apply and which schools to attend. Our role with them is one of guidance, support, advice in the logistics of applications, and encouragement. We also offer a realistic sense of the college admission landscape, and strive to help all students put forth the most positive picture of themselves.

How are students assigned to each college counselor?

The two Directors and the Associate College Counselor work with all students, although students are assigned a main point of contact. We feel that each student and their family benefits from our collective experiences and expertise.

How often will students meet with the college counselors?

We will meet once per cycle in college guidance class during the Class 11 and Class 12 years. In addition to these classes, we meet regularly and individually with all students. Students are also able to schedule additional meetings as needed.

We would like to meet with our daughter's college counselor. When is that possible?

We begin family meetings in February of Class 11. Those meetings are more productive if they take place after we have spent some individual time with the students. We are available for these meetings during the school day. We also offer College Conversations sessions for Class 9 and Class 10 parents. We invite communication from any parent or student through emails and phone calls at any time.

We hope to visit colleges during the school year, especially during Spring Recess. When will we have our student's "list?"

Spring recess of Class 11 provides an ideal time to visit colleges, possibly when those schools are in session so that students can see the full picture of the school and its students. Since the development of a college list is more of an evolving process than a timed event, any plans to visit schools should include seeing different types of schools in potentially different locations. This allows students to observe the differences between a large, urban university and a small, more rural liberal arts college. Often colleges are not yet prepared to interview juniors, so we caution you about visiting too many schools. The college counselors will work carefully to get to know each student and to help identify specific colleges that might appeal to them.

When should a student take the SAT or ACT?

Typically, most students take the SAT Test for the first time in January, March or May of Class 11 or the ACT in April or June. Colleges require either the SAT or ACT. Students should not feel they have to take both tests. For more information on standardized testing, click HERE.

What are SAT Subject Tests? How many does a student need to take? Which ones should she take?

SAT Subject Tests are one-hour exams that correspond to academic coursework. Some colleges/universities recommend SAT Subject Tests. There are only five colleges that require them (Caltech, MIT, Cornell A/S, Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd College). We recommend every Chapin senior try to take at least two of these tests in order to apply to any college. Click here for a list of schools that require and/or strongly recommend SAT Subject Tests.

How do students register for these tests?

Students set up an account on the College Board website so that they can readily register for tests. The college office does have fee waivers for families receiving financial aid to help with the cost of these tests. Please allot one hour for the initial registration process.

Does my student need to register for the PSAT?

No. There is no pre-registration for the PSAT. Chapin will order a test for your student.

Do you recommend taking a test preparation course or working with a tutor?

This is a personal decision. The Chapin School does not endorse any particular program or tutor. The College Guidance Department can provide families with information about some of the options available locally, so if your family is interested we encourage you to ask. There are strong options in every price point. Chapin also offers a prep class at the school where financial aid is applicable.

Are there any special procedures we should follow if our student might be a recruited athlete?

The most important factor in the recruiting process is for the student to make her academic achievement the highest priority. Stronger grades will present greater opportunities. While the athletic recruiting process varies depending on whether a student is a Division I or Division III recruit, the student’s first step should be to have a discussion with her coach about the level of collegiate play that would be suitable for her. The student should also ask her coach about the proper steps to take to increase the chances of recruiting (e.g. camps, tournaments, showcases, etc.). Many students prepare a letter and resume to send to the coaches at schools of interest as a way to make initial contact. Once the student has a better sense of her appropriate level of college play, she should meet with the college counselors to begin discussions about schools and programs that fit her academic and athletic abilities.

What types of activities do college admissions officers like to see a student participate in over the summer? What things do you suggest students focus on?

We recommend our students do something over the summer that they enjoy. Summer breaks offer students the chance to try something new, deepen an interest, or have an experience that may support their academic interests. For example, if they are considering studying education, they might volunteer to work with children. If they enjoy creative writing, they might attend a summer writing program. They may also want to get a job to see what real world experience is like. It's important to do something, and also important to have some down time and family time.

There's not a particular type of summer program that colleges prefer above all; they just want to see that students did some sort of enrichment activity during their time off from school. Finally, students should not try to impress admissions committees with an excessive quantity of summer activities. They prefer meaningful participation in one or two activities, and will be able to see right through any attempts at filling a resume.

Are summer pre-college programs helpful in admissions?

Summer pre-college courses are offered for credit and may benefit students in three ways: they may prepare students for the required subjects they will encounter in college as a freshmen, they may open a student's mind to new ideas or life paths, and they may give students a taste of campus life. However, Pre-college courses do not give students an advantage for college admissions.