May Road Map

This last stretch of school after spring break is a busy one with a lot of college activity.  Seniors have sent their deposits to the school of their choice, AP and SAT exams are being given, and everyone is starting to turn their attention to finals and other end-of-school activities.

My students are reporting back on campus visits they did during spring break, and in the last few weeks I was able to do some of my own including a trip to Elon University, a visit to Virginia Commonwealth University, and a tour of the University of Richmond, where a group of colleagues and I had the chance to sit down with Dean of Admission Gil Villanueva.  I’m also looking forward to connecting with representatives from member schools that will be in town for DC’s upcoming Colleges That Change Lives event.  I recommend these information sessions and college fairs for students in grades 9 through 11; see the Events section below for dates in your area.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I wanted to share a conversation I had recently with a colleague who’s doing research on suicide prevention.  We were discussing the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and my friend mentioned that while she loved the book, the mental health community is concerned about the way the show treats the topic of suicide.  If your teen has been watching the show or expressed interest in it, take a look at this news report and these talking points from the Jed Foundation.

Road Map for May


It’s decision day!  I hope you’re all excited about your plans for next year, whether you’re going straight to college this fall or taking time off first.  Now that you’ve chosen your college, don’t forget to share your choice with the people who helped you along the way, especially your school counselor, teachers and anyone else who wrote recommendations for you.  If you haven’t written thank you notes to these people yet, this is the perfect time to do so.  It’s also nice to send a thank you note to each of the schools that admitted you that you’ve decided not to attend.  Then check out this article on other items to add to your to-do list.

As your high school career rapidly comes to a close and you look ahead, DC students can sign up for this upcoming college study skills boot camp to get prepared for the next academic level.  For those of you taking a gap year, your plans should be taking shape.  The American Gap Association has created this guide to help you map out your activities, timeline, budget and other logistics.

Finally, if for any reason you are not enthusiastic about your final college choice, please do not hesitate to contact me for a consultation.  You might be surprised to know that there are colleges that are continuing to accept applications for entry this fall.  I can also offer guidance on submitting new applications during a gap year.


Did you take notes on your spring break college visits?  If not, jot some thoughts down before you forget what you loved and hated about different schools, then figure out a filing system that will work for you as you continue to develop your college list. However you keep information, whether it’s paper or electronic, including notes, photos, and/or videos, getting organized now will pay off as you continue your research and eventually start your applications.

There’s a lot of testing going on this month; I wish you the best of luck on AP exams, SATs and SAT Subject Tests if you’re taking them and hope you’re feeling confident as you look ahead to finals.  As each of your classes wraps up don’t forget to request letters of recommendation before the end of school.  In addition to letters from your classroom teachers and school counselor, many colleges will accept a recommendation from a coach, employer or someone else who can speak to your non-academic talents.  If you have someone in mind, contact him or her soon to provide plenty of notice before fall and winter deadlines.

As I mentioned above, I urge juniors to attend the upcoming events hosted by Colleges That Change Lives.  This organization is a group of liberal arts schools, many of which may not be on your radar, but that all have excellent academic programs with undergraduate education at their core.  Even if none of the specific colleges wind up on your list the information sessions are worthwhile for the perspective they offer on how to approach the college search.

I’m continuing to take new clients for one-on-one counseling and application support; email me to schedule an appointment.  I’ll also be announcing details soon about college essay workshops I’m holding in July and August.


AP exams are here and finals are coming soon.  Do you have a study plan–and are you following it? If not, map out your exam schedule and estimate how much time you’ll need to devote to studying for each of your classes.  Then reserve time on your calendar from now until each test date.  If you haven’t been using a planner, now is the perfect time to start.  It’s also a great time to revisit any goals you set at the beginning of the school year, which can help you stay motivated through this busy period.

Thinking ahead to college, have you done a campus tour yet? I recommend that sophomores try to have their first one done before the school year is out.  There’s no need to start buying place tickets.  Just pick a local college or university and schedule a tour online through the admissions office’s website.  Even if it’s not a school you’re hoping to attend, visiting now will provide a frame of reference for the tours you’ll take next year when you’re getting focused on your research and developing your college list.  Check out these tipsfor campus visits to make the most of the experience.

You might want to consider starting test prep this summer for the SAT or ACT you’ll take next year.  Although I generally don’t recommend sitting for these exams until the second half of the junior year, doing some of the study when school is out can help keep your workload more manageable next year.  Contact me this spring for help choosing the best exam for you and developing a long-term plan for testing and prep.


If you’re nervous about your first round of high school final exams, remember this is an opportunity to finish the school year strong.  Start studying early, take advantage of any review opportunities your teachers are offering and check out these study skills tips to make the most of these last few weeks.

Although it’s still a bit early to be fully focused on college there are a few things you can do now.  If you’re taking classes this year on which SAT Subject Tests are offered, such as biology or world history, ask your teacher if you should consider taking these exams.  Register by May 9 to take them on June 3 while the information is fresh in your mind from your final exam study, or plan to take them in August if you’d like to do some additional prep during the summer.

You may also want to find a time before school ends for a check-in meeting with your school counselor.  This person will support you throughout high school, so do your part to develop a strong relationship.