Guidance Newsletter 2016

Post-High School Planning - It's time to think about it NOW!

Junior College and Post-High School Planning Process by Kate Luce

Choosing colleges and applying to them can be a daunting process. Have no fear! The Guidance Department is here to help you every step of the way! We meet with juniors multiple times about this process both in the classroom and in individual college planning meetings. Here is a preview of what is to come for the spring:

Guidance Visits to all juniors in their classrooms

In the first two weeks of April Guidance will give presentations on the college process (and other post-high school plans) to all juniors in their classrooms

The College and Post-High School Planning Guide is given to every junior

This is a resource guide to the college process which includes vital information on the application process, the Common Application, financial aid, standardized testing, Naviance resources, as well as information on the military, seeking employment directly after high school and much more. It will also be available online.

Individual College/Post-High School Planning Meetings with Guidance

Every junior should schedule a meeting with their Guidance Counselor to make a post-high school plan. Ideally one or both parents join us in the meeting to discuss the student’s future college or other plans and to get individualized advice based on your student’s needs. Call or email your Guidance Counselor today to set up a time.

What is to come for the Fall 2016:

Guidance Visits all senior classrooms

We go back into the classrooms with additional information on the college process and encourage seniors to start applying to colleges.

Mini-workshops Offered during Advisory

Assistance in essay-writing, resume writing, filling out the Common Application and other elements of the application process during Advisory period for interested students.

College Representative Visits

Admissions representatives from many colleges around the country come to meet with

seniors. Students can get their college questions answered by attending these sessions

and meet the college admissions people who may be reading their applications.

Financial Aid Informational Evening

We have a financial aid expert who gives a presentation to help parents to learn more about the financial aid process. The date is usually in late November or early December.

Western Connecticut State University On-Site Decision Day

In December, admissions counselors from Western interview students and in most cases give the students an immediate decision as to whether or not they will be offered admission to their school.

If you have questions please feel free to contact you student’s Guidance Counselor for more information. We look forward to working with you and your student on planning their future!

How to Find a College That Fits You* (Source: submitted by Lisa Dighton

How to Find a College That Fits You

Some students want to find the perfect college. The truth is, there’s no such thing. You can find many colleges at which you’ll be happy and get a great education. The college search is about exploring who you are and what you want and then finding colleges that will meet your goals.

Still, you do need to narrow down the possibilities into a manageable list. Here are steps you can take to find colleges where you will thrive.

Stay open to all the possibilities — don’t limit your search.

Decide What You Want in a College

Ask yourself what’s important to you, where you want to be and who you want to become. Then you can figure out what types of colleges will allow you to reach your goals.

Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Size

  • Location

  • Distance from home

  • Available majors and classes

  • Housing options

  • Makeup of the student body

  • Available extracurricular activities

  • Campus atmosphere

Which of these aspects are things you feel you must have to be comfortable at a college? Which things are you flexible on?

Also, think about what you want to accomplish in college. Do you want to train for a specific job or get a wide-ranging education? If you have a major in mind, are the colleges you’re considering strong in that area?

Keep an Open Mind

While it’s good to have some ideas in mind about what sorts of colleges will be right for you, stay open to all the possibilities at the beginning of your search.

Challenge your assumptions about what will work for you. For example, “you may not think you're able to thrive in a large institution because you come from a small high school, but ... you may actually do better in that type of setting,” notes Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a history professor at the University of Central Florida.

Talk to people who know you. Tell parents, teachers, relatives, family friends and your school counselor about your goals, and ask if they can suggest colleges that may be a good fit for you.

Don’t limit your search. At the start of this process, you may rule out colleges because you think that they are too expensive or too hard to get into, but this may not be the reality. Remember that financial aid can make college more affordable and colleges look at more than just grades and test scores.

Do Your Homework

Once you have a list of schools, it’s time to do research. To learn more about the colleges you're considering, check out college guidebooks and the colleges’ websites. Jot down your questions and get answers by:

  • Talking to your school counselor or teachers

  • Checking out colleges’ student blogs, if available

  • Contacting college admission officials

  • Asking admission officials to recommend current students or recent graduates to talk to

  • Visiting college campuses, if possible

Keep Perspective

During your search, keep asking yourself questions about your preferences and goals. You are changing throughout high school, so your answers may change during the search process.

And remember that there are many good college matches for every student, and that you can be successful at many types of schools.

Source: Big Future, College Board

Sizing Up Colleges: Big vs. Small* (Source: submitted by Lisa Dighton

One Size Does Not Fit All

As you begin your college search, one of the first decisions you need to make — and one that helps narrow your list — is what size college you want to attend. U.S. colleges offer many options, from small colleges with fewer than 1,000 students to large state universities with more than 35,000 students. What's best for you depends a lot on your personality and academic goals.

The Big College Experience

Do you picture yourself at a Big Ten university that offers everything from televised sporting events to countless degree programs? Are you itching to break free of the high school fishbowl and enjoy the anonymity that comes with being one of thousands of students? Then a big college might be a good fit for you.

Here are some of the benefits associated with big colleges. Keep in mind, these may not be true of all of them:

  • Wide variety of majors and courses

  • Well-stocked libraries

  • Variety of housing opportunities

  • Well-funded sports programs

  • Wide range of academic choices and student activities

  • Distinguished or famous faculty

  • State-of-the-art research facilities

Things to Consider

To succeed at a big college, it's best to go in knowing what subjects or general areas you're interested in pursuing. Students who do best at large colleges tend to be go-getters who are not afraid to speak up and take advantage of the many opportunities available.

Introductory classes at a large college may contain hundreds of students. Some students find this environment exciting. Others feel overwhelmed.

Another point: If you're attracted to a college because of its famous faculty, find out how many classes are actually taught by the professors, and not by their teaching assistants.

Administrative red tape is also something to think about — large colleges tend to have a lot of it. For example, enrolling in a course that's not part of your major may require multiple signatures and approvals.

To succeed at a big college, it's best to go in knowing what subjects or general areas you're interested in pursuing.

The Small College Experience

Do you enjoy personal attention from teachers and advisers? Then a small college may be just what you need. Some students find that a smaller setting is a better fit. Although there may be fewer facilities, there are also fewer students to compete with.

Here are some of the benefits associated with small colleges. Again, these may not be true of all of them:

  • Small class sizes

  • Hands-on learning opportunities

  • Individually designed majors

  • Strong advising system; advisers know students well

  • Strong sense of community

  • Professors, not teaching assistants, teach most courses

  • Opportunity to get to know professors well

Things to Consider

Small colleges don't offer as many majors as big colleges; however, some of them let you design your own.

Courses at small colleges are usually taught by professors, not teaching assistants. The professors may even know your name and areas of interest.

Be aware that small colleges do not have the research facilities of large universities. If you're hoping to be a research assistant, find out what kind of work and facilities are available before you apply.

Although you'll find a robust social life at most small colleges, you'll find less in terms of big sporting events and variety. However, there is often a stronger sense of community and connection.

Start Your Search

Whether you're considering a big university, a small college, or something in between, you need to carefully look at all options, and determine what's most important to you. Use Naviance to research two-year and four-year colleges and find some of the size that meets your needs.


Taking Charge before Junior Year by Stephanie Romano

There is always big talk around junior year of high school being the most important time for high school students to plan for after high school. This is because it is the time that the plan starts getting put into action.

Freshmen and Sophomore years are a great time to start thinking ahead so that by junior year, students have an idea of where to start rather than having a complete blank slate. This is not to say that 9th and 10th graders should know exactly what job, college or major they are working towards. Everyone develops a plan at his or her own pace, however, being aware of yourself helps the plan to be more strategic and objective when it comes to junior year.

Here are some things freshmen and sophomores could do in order to be ready to take on junior year!

Know Your Learning Style - Pay attention to how you learn. Do you learn better listening or watching or performing an activity yourself? There are many types of learners. When you have an understanding of how you learn best you can develop better study habits around your learning style. These habits can help you be a success in college as well as guide you about the type of institution would be a best fit for you.

Know Yourself for Fun - What makes you truly happy? What are some activities that you enjoy doing? Having an idea of what you naturally find fun and exciting can translate into a career for many - especially one that satisfies the adage “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Know Your Skill - Are you naturally talented at something? Does studying come easier to you then friends? Or maybe labs in science are a breeze for you? Paying attention to the skills and subjects that come natural to you can help you determine which direction may be a good fit for you.

9th and 10th grade years are a good time to spend reflecting on these topics and you as a person. The more you know who you are as a person come junior year, the more exciting the process can be. Spend these years exploring the topics above (Naviance has some great inventories you can take that can help guide you!). Many people who have satisfying careers are in a job that combines each of these areas. They feel competent and challenged but also enjoy their work.

Now is also the time to hone in your study habits. Each person has their own study skills that help them remember and connect material. Graphic Organizers, making up rhymes or sentences, drawing pictures, retyping or copying your notes are all great skills that you can use. Find one that really works for you so that you can be live to your fullest potential as a student.

Take charge of your education!

Don’t just let education happen to you. Freshmen and sophomore years are equally as important as junior year. Students who find the college and career planning process fun and exciting are those who have been thinking about their education and life goals all along. Freshmen and sophomores are encouraged to make an appointment with their counselor to talk about these topics.

Managing Test Anxiety by Kate Planz and Monika Krepsztul

As testing time approaches, parents can be a great resource for students by helping them identify and cope with any feelings of test anxiety.

Some basic guidelines for helping a student manage test anxiety is making sure your student attends school regularly. Missing any school work can result in a student feeling even more overwhelmed and anxious as they feel unprepared and behind. Doing well on an exam is easier if a student has been consistently completing school assignments, homework, assigned reading and participating in regular studying sessions. Making sure your child is maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also very important. Is your child sleeping well? Eating well? Exercising and engaging in healthy social outlets? The more your student engages in unhealthy lifestyle choices, the more susceptible they are to anxiety. It is also important to encourage open communication with your child about their school and test performance. Try and find a balance between encouraging your child to do their best without applying too much pressure. If your student perceives that doing poorly on an assessment will come with dire consequences then they are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. Developing healthy and effective study habits to increase feelings of being prepared for a test is also important. If your child does perform poorly on a test, it is important to help them identify what contributed to the poor performance and then problem solve strategies to manage whatever was the trigger. For example, if your child performed poorly because they didn’t put aside enough time to study, collaborate with your child to develop a plan or routine to address this problem the next time.

If your student does experience test anxiety, there are several coping strategies that you can encourage them to use to help support them. A basic strategy is for your student to take deep breaths. The key to deep breathing is to take your time and breathe in slowly, hold the breath and breathe out slowly. Encourage your child to clear their mind and focus on the breathing. An additional strategy is to encourage your student to identify the negative thoughts that are contributing to their anxiety, and then support your student in challenging those thoughts. For example, if your child’s anxiety is the result of feeling as though failing a grade will interfere with their chances of getting into any college, then support your child in challenging and breaking down those thoughts. If their thoughts are rational, for example that a poor grade on the SAT will interfere with their chances of getting into a top school, then help them problem solve an alternative plan. Anxiety is often the result of feeling out of control and if you help your child problem solve and gain back some control, then it can help minimize their anxiety. Distraction is the most simple coping strategy. If you can support your child in distracting them from their negative, anxious thoughts, then this can help a great deal in helping them regulate their emotions. When appropriate, encourage your child to engage in an activity that they enjoy. Encourage your child to tell you a funny story about something that happened or you yourself tell your child a funny story to help distract them. Unless directed by your child’s doctor, do not give your child medication to help them manage test anxiety. If your child has not been prescribed this medication, then it can has negative effects on them medically and emotionally. Moreover, it is important that your child develops healthy coping strategies to manage stress so that they can carry these strategies with them throughout all contexts of their life.

On test day, there are additional strategies your child can engage in to help manage their anxiety. Begin with a healthy, substantial breakfast. Avoid coffee as caffeine will further trigger stress and anxiety. Make sure you are prepared with everything that you need. If your child arrives for the exam and feels unprepared, this will exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Encourage your child to continue to utilize distraction strategies and not focus too much on the test. All preparation has been completed at this point and focusing on the information not covered or memorized will only interfere. If, during the test, your child finds their anxiety is causing negative, interfering thoughts (i.e. this test is so difficulty, I can never pass), then they should work to focus their thoughts on the material before them. When your child has completed the test, then a positive reinforcement (ice cream, extra few minutes on video game, etc.) can be an incentive for them to be work towards in a positive manner.

If you suspect that your child is engaging in unhealthy coping strategies then open up communication and talk with your child. Share your concerns in a neutral manner. If you can express your concern in a way that makes your child feel heard and appreciated, then you can begin to help your child identify alternative coping strategies. Additionally, there are resources both within the school and community environments available to help support you and your child. If you are unsure how to access these strategies, contact any of the New Fairfield High School support staff including your child’s school counselor, the school psychologist and the school social worker.

Important Dates by MaryAnn Smyth and Clare Raneri

  • Senior Exit Survey is due before seniors leave for the SEE Project- this is a graduation requirement. The survey is in Naviance, under about me tab. it is short and only will take a few minutes to complete. They must give permission in the survey to have their graduation flags posted in the lobby, and we need their final plans so we can send transcripts.
  • Community service must be completed before SEE Project (total of 60 hours)
  • Check individual scholarship deadlines. Read instructions carefully, some applications are returned to CCC, others must be mailed in
  • ACT DATES - 4/9/16 and 6/11/16
  • SAT DATES - 5/7/16 and 6/4/16
  • Junior Prom - 4/30/16
  • Senior Prom - 5/21/16
  • AP Testing 5/2/16 - 5/13/16
  • 5/13/16 - Seniors last day of school before SEE Project begins
  • 5/16/16 - SEE Project begins
  • NFHS scholarship application due Monday, April 25th
  • Underclass awards night is Tuesday May 17th
  • Senior Scholars Night is Thursday, June 9th
  • Invitations will be sent to students for both awards ceremonies for those students receiving an award and or scholarship
  • Graduation Date - Currently 6/25/16 - Tentatively June 18th (TBD at BOE meeting on 4/7/16)

Drug Awareness

For more information on the warning signs of a potential drug problem, please refer to the following link as previously sent by Dr. Roy in her email:

Please take some time to review the link and the attached document with your family, as age appropriate, to keep drugs from our schools.