College Counseling

October College Counseling Newsletter

Dates to Know:

Oct. 23rd     1:00-5:00 pm          Portland National College Fair, Portland Convention Center

Oct. 24th      7:00-9:00 pm         Visual and Performing Arts College Fair, Portland Art Museum

Nov. 30th     7:00-8:30pm          Financial Aid Night, St. Mary’s Academy

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Financial Aid Night for juniors, seniors, and their parents is November 30. Leslie Limper, Director of Financial Aid at Pacific University, will present and discuss topics relating to funding and paying for college. Bring questions and come for the opportunity to have the FAFSA and CSS profiles demystified and hear about need- vs merit-aid strategies.

New This Year: Also on November 30, we will host a separate College Financial Aid Night freshmen and sophomore parents. We are offering a primer on how to think about and plan for college costs. We will discuss how need-based aid is determined, how merit scholarships might fit into the picture, and ways to consider lower cost alternatives.

Seniors and Parents: The 2017-18 FAFSA is now available. Seniors and families applying for financial aid can work on submitting it using their tax returns from 2015. To begin your FAFSA, both student and one parent/guardian need a FSA ID. You can create your FSA ID at

There is a scholarship database in Naviance you may want to access. Beyond Naviance, list scholarships available to students regardless of where they attend college. Students planning to attend school in Oregon should check out at, a site that offers a single application for over 400 scholarships.

Portland Area College Fairs

The NACAC Portland Area College Fair is scheduled next weekend, Sunday, October 23, from 1:00-5:00 at the Portland Convention Center. Information, including a list of colleges and a link to register., is available here: Though you do not need to register, it can save time once you are at the fair. The Portland Area Performing and Visual Arts Fair is scheduled for Monday evening, October 24, at the Portland Art Museum at 7:00 PM. The link to register is available here:

For juniors and sophomores, we suggest having a plan of checking in with at least five to eight colleges that might be of interest to you. Seniors, this is your time to ask questions of colleges you are most interested in!

College Visits to St. Mary’s Academy

College representatives are visiting SMA daily to meet with juniors and seniors. Students should sign up and attend visits to hear about different types of schools and ask questions, and to learn more about schools they are considering. Admission representatives are often the ‘first reader’ of applications from St. Mary’s Academy, so these meetings can serve to support your daughter’s application to a given school. Sophomores may attend these visits during lunch or activity block only.

Admission Deadlines: Early Decision, Early Action?

Colleges offer a variety of application deadlines.  As your daughter decides what colleges she plans on applying to, she needs to choose a specific application deadline for each school. This information must be entered into Naviance when she changes a school from “Colleges I’m Considering” to “Colleges I’m Applying to.” Deadlines in Naviance trigger creation and submission of teacher and counselor letters of recommendation and transcripts. Your daughter’s college counselor can enter an earlier deadline if your daughter wishes, but this is something to discuss with the counselor.

Early Action is a great option for a student who knows in October where she wants to apply. Early Action deadlines allow students to submit their application and receive an admission decision significantly earlier than the regular decision timeframe. Early Decision is different. It represents a more serious, binding commitment to the school and has additional requirements. If your daughter is considering applying Early Decision she must have a conversation with her college counselor. The Common Application requires a counselor signature for students applying Early Decision as well as a parent signature to ensure that the student fully understands the implications.

The SMA College Counseling Handbook, in the documents library of your Naviance account is a valuable resource for both juniors and seniors, including a handout on how to best manage the College Fair. Of course, we are always available to answer questions or help you find the information you need!

Kimberly, Carolyn, Karlen, and Meg.