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The Carrollwood Day School college counseling department believes that planning for a collegiate career should start before the upper school journey begins. Which is why we have a very unique timeline for college planning. When a student is finishing up their 8th grade year, our goal is to prepare not only the student for what's to come, but the entire family. Preparing for college is a journey, not a sprint and CDS college counseling provides guidance from what the colleges are looking for, goal mapping, multiple PSAT, ACT, and SAT testing opportunities, to preparing your college application. We are here to make your college dreams a reality. 

CDS’s college counseling philosophy centers on a five-year developmental program that is designed to deconstruct and demystify what has become a complex process involving many moving pieces. We holistically invest in “slow dripping” information to parents and students as they begin their tenure in the upper school. Our institutional position on the college admissions process centers on discovering the most competitive match/fit for each CDS student. As college students spend 90% of their time outside the classroom, it is imperative to not only seek a challenging and scholarly environment, but one that feels comfortable and manageable both inside and outside the classroom.  It is also incumbent upon the college counseling office to edify parents and students on college outcomes (four-year college graduation rates, quality and reputation of colleges, graduate school admission, and job placement/salary).

The college counseling program initiates (with parents and students) in the second semester of 8th grade where information about the college admissions is articulated and examined. It is paramount to discuss curriculum, grade achievement, what is valued by college admissions offices in the review process, and to “see where we are going” before we get there.”

The first two developmental years (grades 9 and 10) focus on college counseling related issues and information. From curriculum choice/development to strategic extra-curricular engagement to visiting colleges to understanding the nomenclature of a wide variety of university settings, CDS’s college counseling staff will prepare students to understand each individual’s “in and out of school” achievement portfolio versus what is required to gain admission at a wide variety of colleges throughout the United States and abroad. 

The second two developmental years (grades 11 and 12) focus on college admissions related issues and the application process. These two years will focus on college choice, college counseling classes, and evening seminars addressing the many aspects of what constitutes an excellent application to college, including but not limited to: college interview preparation, college essay development, standardized testing timeline and strategy, developing a resume of activities, letter of recommendation guidance, visiting colleges, dissecting college scholarship (merit) potential, discussing strategic application programs (early decision/early action/ restricted early action), filling out applications, and making a final decision with thoughtful and reflective care.

Review below to learn a little more about the Five-Year Developmental College Preparation Plan at CDS

8th Grade

As mentioned above, the college counseling department will meet with parents and students in the second semester of 8th grade. This is a soft entrance into the next step of the journey for your student...college preparation. By giving families a "preview" of what's to come in the Upper School, it makes the path a little less daunting.

Middle school parents are encouraged to attend the monthly college counseling parent coffees. 

9th Grade

9th Grade:

  • Grade level evening meeting for all 9th grade parents and students to discuss chronologically appropriate college counseling content, trends, and timelines.
  • Each student is assigned a college counselor
  • Each student (and at least one parent) will have a sixty minute meeting with their respective college counselor in the spring of their freshman year to discuss grades, testing, potential colleges, interest inventory, financial aid or merit scholarship needs, extracurricular activities, testing analysis/interpretation, and expectations based on family priorities.
  • PSAT and Pre-ACT testing in October
  • Open door policy. Students and parents are free to drop in or schedule a meeting any time they sense a need.
  • Access to Case Studies program and Directors of Admission panel presentations.

September

  • College Counseling Coffee

  • BAIS college fair

October

  • Administration of Pre-ACT and PSAT at CDS

  • College Counseling Coffee

  • Financial aid night program

November

  • College Counseling Coffee

February

  • College Counseling Coffee

March

  • College admission case studies program

  • Tampa NACAC college fair

  • College Counseling Coffee

April

  • Grade 9 evening presentation by college counseling

  • Begin individual meetings with students and parents/guardians in college counseling (completed by the last day of school)

  • Admission directors panel

  • College Counseling Coffee

10th Grade

  • Grade level evening presentation for all 10th grade parents and students to discuss the IB DP/Course Candidate curriculum, current trends in undergraduate admissions, review how colleges evaluate applicants, testing timeline, and creating an individual strategic plan.
  • Each student (and at least one parent) will have their second official college counseling meeting that will in February of their sophomore year to continue to discuss grade achievement and trend lines, degree of rigor regarding curriculum, defining what a school profile is, matching achievement with potential college admission middle 50% ranges, testing analysis/interpretation, potential college athlete opportunities, leadership in activities, and continued evaluation of interest inventory.
  • PSAT and Pre-ACT testing in October
  • Access to Case Studies program and Directors of Admission panel presentations.
  • Access to college information sessions (by colleges) hosted by CDS.
  • Access to financial aid presentation conducted by a director of financial aid at a local college.
  • Access to the BAIS (Bay Area College Independent School) college fair, which is only open to area private/independent school students/parents.
  • Open door policy. Students and parents are free to drop in or schedule a meeting any time they sense a need.
  • Begin college visits to target schools of interest and potential admission

September

  • College Counseling Coffee

  • BAIS college fair

October

  • Administration of Pre-ACT and PSAT at CDS

  • College Counseling Coffee

  • Financial aid night program

November

  • College Counseling Coffee

February

  • Begin individual meetings with students and parents/guardians in college counseling (completed by April)

  • College Counseling Coffee

March

  • Grade 10 evening presentation by college counseling

  • College admission case studies program

  • Tampa NACAC college fair

  • College Counseling Coffee

April

  • Admission directors panel

  • College Counseling Coffee

11th Grade

  • Grade level evening presentation for all 11th grade parents and students to discuss undergraduate admissions policies/selectivity (public, private colleges and universities), formal test preparation strategy, current trends in undergraduate admissions, introduction to college counseling class, formalizing final college lists, defining Bright Futures scholarship qualification, and reviewing financial aid forms and formulas.
  • Each student (and at least one parent) will have two meetings with their college counselor. One will take place in November-December and the other will take place in June. The purpose of these meetings is to definitively identify colleges students will have an opportunity to gain admission and to ascertain merit scholarship opportunities.
  • College counseling class begins second semester of 11th grade. Students will be involved in a formal class (two times per week during the 35 minute advisory period) conducted by the students’ respective college counselor. The purpose of the class is to continue to dissect the college admissions process with a set curriculum and to complete college applications, college essays, and the resume of activities.
  • PSAT and Pre-ACT testing in October
  • Identify a formal standardized test preparation tutor or class to maximize test scoring potential.
  • Take baseline and two SAT or ACT exams during the junior year.
  • Access to financial aid presentation conducted by a director of financial aid at from local university.
  • Access to Case Studies program and Directors of Admission panel presentations.
  • Access to college information sessions (by colleges) hosted by CDS.
  • Access to financial aid presentation conducted by a director of financial aid at a local college.
  • Access to the BAIS (Bay Area College Independent School) college fair, which is only open to area private/independent school students/parents.
  • Open door policy. Students and parents are free to drop in or schedule a meeting any time they sense a need.
  • Continue college visits to target schools of interest and potential admission.
  • Preparation to interview at colleges that offer personal evaluative interviews.

September

  • College Counseling Coffee

  • BAIS college fair

October

  • Grade 11 evening presentation by college counseling

  • Administration of Pre-ACT and PSAT at CDS

  • Financial aid night program

  • College Counseling Coffee

November

  • College Counseling Coffee

December

  • Begin individual meetings with students and parents/guardians in college counseling (completed by February)

January

  • Begin standardized testing (ACT/SAT)

  • Begin college counseling course during advisory block weekly (completed by May)

 February

  • College Counseling Coffee

March

  • College admission case studies program

  • Tampa NACAC college fair

  • College Counseling Coffee

April

  • Admission directors panel

  • College Counseling Coffee

May

  • Begin end of junior year individual meetings with students and parents/guardians in college counseling (completed by July)

Summer

  • Set application completion meeting with college counseling

  • Summer application workshop

12th Grade

  • Grade level evening presentation for all 12th grade parents to discuss the timeline for applying to college, application strategy (Early Action, Early Decision I/II, major area selection), review the CDS School Profile as it relates to college admission, communicate what a suspension from school looks like for undergraduate admission, senior grades, and more detailed information on Bright Futures scholarships and financial aid.
  • Students and parents have open access regarding contact time with their respective college counselor (formal and informal).
  • College counseling class continues for seniors throughout the first semester.
  • Each student is assigned an internal application submission date predicated on completing the application process no later than October 15.
  • SAT and ACT testing continues through December of senior year.
  • Access to financial aid presentation conducted by a director of financial aid at from local university.
  • Access to Case Studies program and Directors of Admission panel presentations.
  • Access to college information sessions (by colleges) hosted by CDS.
  • Access to financial aid presentation conducted by a director of financial aid at a local college.
  • Access to the BAIS (Bay Area College Independent School) college fair, which is only open to area private/independent school students/parents.
  • Continue college visits and interviewing (if required or recommended).
  • College counselors advocate (over phone or in person) for students who have an identified first choice college, if appropriate.

August

  • Class presentation by college counseling

  • Begin college counseling course during advisory block (completed by November)

  • Resume standardized testing (ACT and/or SAT)

September

  • Set application submission date with assigned college counselor

  • College Counseling Coffee

  • BAIS college fair

October

  • FAFSA & CSS Profile forms are available on October 1st

  • Financial aid night program

  • College Counseling Coffee

November

  • All applications completed/sent to colleges and universities

  • College Counseling Coffee

December

  • End standardized testing (ACT and/or SAT)

Spring

  • Individual meetings with college counselor (as needed)

  • Make final visits to colleges

  • Inform college counselor of final college destination

May

  • May 1st is the national deposit deadline day!

June

  • Final high school transcripts sent to your college/university selection 

July

  • Request IB exam scores to be sent to your college/university for college credit