Freshmen & Sophomores
In addition to adapting to a rigorous Upper School academic program, ninth grade students are strongly encouraged to discover and explore new interests in the larger context of Hewitt. In particular:
- Concentrate on your academics and do as well as you can.
- Learn time management, study skills, and the value of balancing work with play.
- Test the waters by exploring extra-curricular interests. Consider joining a club, competing in a sport, auditioning for a theatrical production, contributing to a school publication, engaging in community service or seeking an internship.
- Establish a habit of meeting with your teachers outside of class, if you have questions or to feed your curiosity about other areas related to the course. This shows teachers you are interested in learning and can lead to conversations and activities you never imagined.
- Spend time thinking on topics and resources introduced in Advisory throughout the year, including the Summer Options database tool. Topics and discussions are introduced to point you in interesting directions and support you in seizing opportunity.
Hewitt’s structured Advisory Program features the peer leadership of upperclassmen, who have been selected to meet with their small groups under the direction of the school counselor throughout the year, moderating conversations on the intellectual and social challenges students face as they acclimate to high school and carve out a personally gratifying upper school experience. Personal management and sound decision making are central to this ongoing counsel, and Hewitt prides itself on a personalized grade-level advisory program led and developed by dedicated faculty advisors, who follow their students through all four years of high school.
In addition to ongoing Parent Association meetings, College Guidance offers optional parent coffees designed to answer questions in a timeframe that contains the anxiety too often associated with the college process and keeps students present in the high school experience.
The primary responsibility for a freshman is to identify at least one mentor in The Hewitt School community and to use the resource and guidance available to develop the organizational skills that frame a solid academic foundation alongside positive and productive school citizenship.
The continuity inherent in Hewitt’s advisory system moves each student toward autonomy in shaping an intentional high school experience that is uniquely her own. Given the small size and closeness of the Hewitt faculty, the safety net at Hewitt is extremely tight and encouraging. Faculty take pride in knowing all students well and often confer with each other to suggest safe departures that will open up the student to making interdisciplinary connections and to realizing her strengths and how well they travel. Students are discouraged from categorizing themselves in any one way and encouraged to contribute across a broad range of school activities and initiatives as pathways to personal development and discovery.
Sophomore year is the first ‘trend year’ colleges will see, as they trace the pattern of a student’s academic performance and level of engagement with the world. Here at Hewitt, faculty invest in regular parent conferences led by the student and take the time to discuss course recommendations individually with each advisee, so that she is challenging herself both in course work and in an assortment of co-curricular activities that support personal growth and well-being.
- The College Office door is always open, and you are encouraged to review the academic plan you’ve discussed with your faculty advisor in spring, looking forward to your junior-year curriculum.
- Be sure to continue cultivating solid working relationships with your teachers, because this small environment is ripe with the opportunity to learn more about yourself from knowing the people around you. Next year, you will be considering which faculty members know you best and whom you would like to write in support of your applications to college senior year.
- Standardized testing begins with practice tests in fall of sophomore year, when all Hewitt students sit for a practice ACT and for the PSAT (taken again junior year). Individual course work directs any SAT Subject Testing decisions a student will make, and these are informed one-on-one by faculty teaching the courses that lead naturally into SAT Subject Tests.
- Be productive over the summer and know that teachers in every discipline and activity, as well as College Guidance, are happy to point you toward summer programs that will expand on your interests and curiosity. You may consider getting a job or internship, taking a college-level or experiential course, immersing yourself in a foreign culture, or engaging in community service. The key is to pursue and develop authentic interests.
As you continue to grow as a student and find new interests, you probably are noticing the frequency with which the classroom connects to your outside activities. People have told you for years that junior year is the big one. True, this is the last full year of record to appear on the transcript colleges will review in making decisions, but junior year is biggest because it is when most students truly turn the corner. The factors contributing to this juncture of high school will be different for every one of you. Embrace yours. Here is an overview of how junior year goes, including more specific responsibilities.
- Focus on picking up where you left off last year and getting a strong start to your junior year.
- Attend optional college preview for juniors in September.
- Remember that your PSAT in October is practice, so breathe;A full-length practice ACT+ writing is also available to juniors in November.
- Engage in the school community and remain present in your high school experience.
- Raise questions re: college by stopping by the office or when College Guidance stops in on Advisory.
- PSAT/NMSQT scores are distributed to juniors at Hewitt before holiday break
- If you did not attend optional program sophomore year, Interpreting Score Reports, attend.
- Understandably, seniors are the priority fall semester, but come January you’re up!
- Keep up your grades; honor your commitment to activities and service. Your grades lead the review of any college application you will file (despite all the space that standardized testing business is taking up below!).
- Make plans to visit a few different types of college campuses as time allows during long weekends happening throughout the semester: January, February, break, April, and in summer.
- Weekly College Seminar sessions begin with spring semester in January.
- Complete the Junior Questionnaire and bring it to College Guidance to schedule your first one-on-one meeting. Students aim to have a first one-on-one meeting by the end of January.
- Students should be researching colleges. This may be done via guide books or the internet and is something we discuss in our first session of seminar, along with how to register for college mailing lists and request printed materials (on-line or by phone).
- Get organized. Suggestions include choosing a wall calendar or deciding which electronic version will house your important college-related dates (college visits, interviews, local receptions, standardized testing plan: dates & deadlines). In case you haven’t noticed, the College Board sells lists of names, so establishing some sort of storage box in which to keep all the mail you want to keep from colleges is a good idea. These materials will start piling up, so being organized from the start & purging as you go will keep you from getting buried.
- Register for appropriate spring tests: SAT Reasoning or the ACT Plus Writing, SAT Subject Tests (based on your academic program and discussion with faculty, college guidance). **
- Every student should plan to take the SAT Reasoning or the ACT Plus Writing prior to the end of junior year. Students completing courses that align with SAT Subject Tests and who have been encouraged by that teacher to sit for the related Subject Test should browse potential colleges’ testing requirements. Contrary to the hype, SAT Subject Tests are not required by most schools and some of the most highly selective universities (i.e. Yale, Duke) will accept ACT Plus Writing in the place of both SAT Reasoning and numerous Subject Tests.
- Those who prefer the ACT should register to take it ‘Plus Writing’ in April or June at www.actstudent.org (where you will create your own login and see dates/deadlines).
- It is the student’s responsibility to register for any of the above testing: www.collegeboard.com or www.actstudent.org.Each SAT Subject Test is one hour long, so students can register for up to three on any test date except for March (when only the SAT Reasoning test is offered); students taking language with listening in November are limited to that one SAT Subject Test for that date. Due to the length of the SAT Reasoning Test (and, I imagine, child labor laws), students cannot register to take Reasoning and Subjects on the same SAT day, so plan accordingly (see all dates/deadlines on sites above).
** Familiarity with the standardized test(s) you will take matters, but don’t spend so much time prepping for the test that your academics and/or co-curricular commitments suffer. Your transcript and community engagement will lead the review of any college application you file.
- If you let January slip by without doing so, complete the first Junior Questionnaire issued in January and return it to College Guidance, so you can…
- Arrange your first one-on-one meeting with college guidance to begin an ongoing discussion of your emerging priorities and preferences. This will combine with the second Questionnaire (to be completed late spring) to provide context for your transcript grades, program, involvement, and preliminary test scores.
- You should have plenty of questions as we go, so keep asking! Our conversations will help shape a working list of schools that guides your research and prioritize campus visits.
- Registration deadlines for the March SAT Reasoning and April ACT Plus Writing occur this month. You are advised to review your springtime schedule, including AP and other exams/projects and co-curricular commitments, to decide which test(s) to take when. College Guidance is happy to guide your individual testing plan. The ACT Plus Writing is offered this month but not in New York.
- Make sure the colleges you are considering meet your needs and interests, are ones you would happily attend. Every student’s list should include at least two colleges, where you like to picture yourself and admission is all but certain.
- Discuss aspects of suggested colleges with your parents, college counselor.
- Browse college web sites and request information for all of the colleges of interest to you. There is no charge, no obligation, so no harm in getting on their radar screens as you absorb the information and continue your research.
- Plan for an enriching summer. Consider experiences that might give direction to your future—get a job, volunteer in the community, or sign‑up for a college course and/or a program that appeals to your interests, represents a departure, feeds your curiosity. Request transcripts (faculty or counselor letter) as needed, if you plan to apply.
- Work a couple of campus visits into spring break, as most schools will be in session. Arrange in advance to take a tour, sit for an info session, meet with professors, coaches, an art director or voice coach; see if the school offers the option to interview while you’re there. Always sign in with Admissions and write thank you notes to those you meet.
- Aspiring artists and college athletes should make contact with coaches, completing their online questionnaire where applicable and following up with an email; interested coaches may request a DVD. Also bring questions to your Hewitt arts faculty, coach, your club coach, and your college counselor.
- SAT Reasoning is offered this month (no Subject Tests).
- March is the registration deadline for the May SAT Reasoning or Subject Tests and a smart time for juniors to look ahead to testing dates in April (ACT), May (SAT), and June (SAT or ACT) to plot a testing course and register/reserve a seat. Most juniors looking at schools that require or recommend SAT Subject Tests (again, a vast majority of schools do not) take them in May or June. Remember, these are popular testing dates, so register early to secure your first-choice test center.
- Each junior should schedule a family meeting for herself and parent(s) with College Guidance once the completed Family Information, Parent Response have been completed and submitted to College Guidance.
- The ACT Plus Writing is offered this month.
- Registration deadline for the June SAT Reasoning and Subject Test(s).
- Juniors and parents attend Case Studies Program, date TBD.
- Juniors plan to attend the College Fair at Chapin, typically on the last Sunday of April, 6 p.m.
- Review exam/semester grades in progress; speak with your teachers if you are unsure about any course recommendations for senior year.
- Schedule a meeting with college guidance to review your course selections for senior year, challenging yourself as appropriate in the curriculum and maintaining all five core subjects throughout your high school career.
- Make sure you meet a couple, few times with college guidance, even if these are quick meetings. Before you know it, the distractions of spring in New York will be upon you, leaving no time to touch base before you head off into summer.
- SAT Reasoning and Subject Test(s) are offered this month, as are AP exams.
- Juniors are advised to keep a couple of graded papers in a safe place, as the option to submit one may come up in college applications (at a score optional school).
- SAT Reasoning and Subject tests are offered on the first Saturday; the second Saturday is an ideal/popular date to take the ACT Plus Writing. Review the specific testing requirements of each college on your list and update the seminar grid on your desktop.
- Develop a system for yourself. Review all the college mail that has come to you thus far, sort out what you don’t need, and establish a filing system that will keep you organized throughout senior year.
- Take stock of your college research thus far. Have you taken the time to request information from the schools that interest you most by going to the school’s web site and clicking through admissions? If not, now is the time, as this registers on their end as expression of interest and keeps you from becoming a stealth applicant.
- Take responsibility for updating your prospective college list on Naviance and for keeping it updated throughout the summer and fall.
- Continue work on your Essay (personal statement), Short Answer, supplements drafted in May. Finalize your list of extracurriculars, whether you are keeping them in Naviance or creating an extracurricular resume from the formats reviewed in Seminar.
- Start investing in the Senior Survey to be returned to College Guidance before the end of August.
- The Parent Questionnaire (sent to families in January) needs to be complete and submitted to College Guidance by now.
- Be in touch with College Guidance via email, with updates on the standardized testing scores you receive in June and July, to share essay drafts for input or to brainstorm essay topics you are considering, to ask questions you have as you research and visit campuses.
- Expect an individualized summer status email, rating schools on your prospective college list in Naviance, based on final grades from junior year and spring testing received by Hewitt. The student is responsible for keeping her prospective list in Naviance current.
- Watch for and plan to attend a Common App workshop at Hewitt next month.
- Research scholarship opportunities on individual school sites, at www.fastweb.com, and in the scholarship search engine of Naviance. Understand what is required to apply for financial aid at any school by bookmarking and exploring: www.finaid.org, www.fafsa.ed.gov (you establish your personal PIN – one for the student and one for the parents) at www.pin.ed.gov, and https://profileonline.collegeboard.com.
- The Common Application (previously available only in preview) goes live this month, so it is time for students to create a personal login and get to work. The same goes for UCAS, for those of you looking to apply internationally; most international deadlines will come first, in October.
- If you did/could not attend the Common Application session offered in late-July, plan to attend the one that will be offered during the last week of August.
- Complete and review draft copy of the online Common Application, highlighting questions for your first one-on-one meeting of senior year.
- Finish work on your personal statement (central Common App essay), Short Answer.
- Continue work on related supplemental essays and short answers specific to schools on your list.
- Make sure you understand the testing requirements for every school on your list. Register for the fall SAT Reasoning and/or Subject Tests and/or ACT Test(s) as needed.
- Refer back to your Seminar Grid and make sure it is accurate in terms of deadlines, application options, interview policies, testing requirements, supplement key notes, as you are responsible for organizing this information for the schools on your college list.
- Review and update your activities list to include summer activities.
- Plan ahead in scheduling appointments with College Guidance, so that your first individual senior meeting happens within the first days of school. The expectation is that you come to your first meeting with an updated college list and a complete draft of your Common Application, so plan ahead.
- Plan and make final college visits, sit for interviews when available in the final weeks of August.
- Submit your completed Senior Survey.
- Meet with College Guidance in the first days of school to share your summer update, confirm the updates to your college list and your first anticipated application deadline.
- Confirm (or finish requesting) letters of recommendation from teachers by sharing your first anticipated deadline with those faculty and organizing required forms.
- Attend College Night Program for Seniors and Parents;it is mandatory.
- Review, complete, and submit all forms introduced at College Night.
- Share college essay(s) & supplements with College Guidance in early September for suggestions and final editing guidance.
- Take September ACT or be registered for SAT Reasoning test; make sure you understand each of your school’s testing requirements and review your personal testing plan with College Guidance. It is your responsibility to know what tests are required by your schools as well as each school’s testing and application deadlines, interview policy.
- Attend the meetings with college representatives visiting Hewitt (students only) from now through November, listed in Naviance and in weekly email updates.
- Transcript requests and associated forms are due 8 October for all EA/ED/rolling schools with November deadlines.
- Continue to prepare for and complete fall standardized testing, as needed.
- WORK ON APPLICATIONS, adhering to internal deadlines ahead of actual deadlines, to leave yourself time to review calmly before hitting submit.
- Pay close attention to financial aid deadlines for ED/EA. Often times (i.e. USC’s December 1) colleges will have a priority deadline by which all students wanting to be considered for merit aid and scholarships must apply; remember, the CSS Profile can be completed months ahead of the FAFSA filing date of January 1.
- Log on to actstudent.org or collegeboard.com to send your scores directly to EA, ED, or early rolling schools ahead of November deadlines. Remember, these orders can take up to four weeks for the agencies to process and for various schools to download and process as received.
- Consider November 1-15 to be the deadline for any schools with Rolling Admission.
- Transcript requests are due to the college office by 1 December for all Regular Decision schools.
- Continue with standardized testing as needed.
- Review all remaining information with College Guidance to finalize your college list and submit any missing/stray Transcript Requests by 1 December.
- Confirm that the College Office has score reports from your standardized testing, remembering that any scores received by Hewitt are reflected in your Naviance profile.
- Receive Early Decision/Action notifications; students admitted under ED option will formally withdraw any other applications filed elsewhere and deposit according to their college’s guidelines.
- The goal is to finish your applications BEFORE holiday break, so that all that is left is to review one last time, make sure you have ordered all required score reports from ACT or College Board and hit submit!!
- File FAFSA, CSS Profile (if not yet filed in the fall) and other financial aid paperwork as soon as possible. Be sure to check each college’s financial aid web site to see what additional forms or information your schools require.
- First semester grades are sent to every school to which you have applied.
- Attend Alumni Panel for Seniors, date/time TBD.
- Enjoy the entirety of your Senior Year. Continue the same level of effort and commitment to your academics and extracurricular life – avoid the senior slump!
- Complete any final SAT or SAT Subject testing as needed.
- Attend Senior Seminar, devised to address topics related to transitioning to college.
February – April
- Check your email and postal mail for communication from colleges regarding missing items or any additional information they may require.
- College decisions should be arriving for Regular Decision applicants in March.
- Set aside some of spring break to visit colleges, knowing that these cannot all be done in April.
- Continue the same level of effort and commitment to your academics – avoid the senior slump! All college acceptances are contingent on a strong finish to the year and a senior year that lines up with the performance level presented by the admitted student.
- Inform the College Office of your decisions from colleges as you receive them.
- If you have been admitted to a college you are certain you will not attend, it is good form to write and thank them, letting them know you will not be enrolling, and perhaps opening a spot for someone who will.
- Discuss with College Guidance any wait list offer you intend to pursue, if applicable.
May 1 – College Declaration Day!! By this date, you must submit a deposit (and any related paperwork, as indicated by that college) to the one college of your choice.
- Notify College Guidance of your matriculation decision, and the celebration begin!!
- Give College Guidance a completed copy of the Final Report (from the Common App) or any form(s) related to submission of your final official transcript to your college.
- Get fired up for GRADUATION day!