College Counseling

September College Counseling Newsletter

Important College Counseling Events:

Sept. 28,           8:00 a.m. OR 6:00 p.m.     Junior Parent Q&A with the College Counselors

Oct. 19,            8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.           PSAT (juniors) and Pre-ACT (sophomores), SMA

Oct. 23,            1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.             Portland National College Fair, Convention Center

Oct. 24,            7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.            Performing/Visual Arts Fair, Portland Art Museum

We are excited to resume the work we do to support SMA students as they work to realize their goals of attending college and are pleased to introduce Karlen Suga, the newest member of our college counseling team. We are thrilled to have three dedicated college counselors to support our students as they approach and prepare for college!

In the fall, much of our time is spent supporting seniors as they research colleges and universities, fine tune their college application list, and work on their applications. We encourage juniors and seniors to attend college visits held at St. Mary’s (see below). The focus for sophomores and freshman should be on finding academic success and challenge and selecting meaningful and fun extracurricular activities.

We will meet with senior parents and students at Senior College Night on September 7. Our junior class meeting is held during TA on September 14.  For junior parents we have optional Q&A sessions on September 28 at 8 a.m. and a second session the same day at 6 p.m. This is your chance to get questions answered prior to our Junior College Night in February.

We communicate with juniors, seniors, and their parents via emails sent through Naviance to students’ school email addresses and parent email addresses we have on file. We also use Naviance as the crucial tool to manage the workflow of submitting materials for college applications – transcripts, letters of recommendation, and forms. If you have a junior or senior enrolled and have not yet registered and logged into Naviance, please get in touch with Meg Bowman ( to activate your account. Students and parents need separate accounts.

The college counselors have begun scheduling counseling appointments with seniors. It is a “best practice” for seniors to interact regularly with their college counselor, so that we can be well aware of their desires and intentions. Encourage your daughter to schedule an appointment so we can talk about where she is in the process, the schools she is considering and how she is managing her senior year responsibilities. It is especially important for your daughter to meet with us if she feels behind or anxious about her college search or applications.

College Visits to St. Mary’s

In the fall, we host visits from representatives of more than 120 colleges and universities. This gives both juniors and seniors an opportunity to learn about colleges from the admission counselors and get their questions answered. College visits are listed under the “Colleges” tab in Naviance. Your daughter can register to participate in the visits that most interest her. If the student will miss all or part of a class, she needs to have a permission slip signed by her teacher the day before. This takes some extra thought and planning given our block schedule.

The Common Application

The Common Application is used by nearly 700 colleges and universities of which more than 40 are public institutions. Seniors should register with the Common Application this month (if they have not already done so) and investigate the steps required to complete the basic application. As they zero in on their preferred colleges, each student will want to also research the college specific supplemental questions and essays that will be required.

“Priority” Applications – Note of Warning

As part of their marketing, some colleges send out streamlined applications to encourage students to apply and apply early. These are often called “Leadership” or “Priority” applications. We strongly discourage the use of these streamlined applications. Students should use the Common Application to apply wherever possible. The Common Application provides a more complete picture of each student and is the best way for us to send and track recommendations and transcripts. Colleges that waive an application fee for using a priority application must also do so if a student applies through the Common Application. If you have any concerns about this, please check in with your counselor.

SAT/ACT Testing

Seniors who have not yet taken the SAT or the ACT should register as soon as possible, since test centers fill up quickly. Your daughter is responsible for ordering her test scores to be sent from the testing agency to her schools that require them. There are links to both testing agencies on Naviance.

More than 800 colleges are now “test optional” and provide an application option that does not require standardized test scores. A complete list of these schools can be found at The specific application procedures vary widely across schools. Each student should research the specific testing and application requirements for the colleges that are most interesting to her and check with her counselor if she has questions.

Please do not hesitate to contact the College Counseling Office if you have any questions.


Kimberly, Carolyn, Karlen, and Meg

The College Counseling Staff