NFHS Guidance Newsletter

What you need to know to be successful at the High School

Index of Articles in the December Guidance Newsletter

  • The Next Generation of Workers by Dr. Przytula
  • "THE" Junior Year by Stephanie Romano
  • How to Help Your Sophomore Plan For The Future by Kate Luce
  • Freshman Year Planning by Lisa Dighton
  • Important Dates and Information for 2015 by MaryAnn Smyth
  • The College and Career Center by Clare Raneri

Meet The Guidance Department

Dr. Przytula - O-P & Class of 2016 Q-R & ALC

Lisa Dighton - A-D

MaryAnn Smyth - E-F & M-N & Class of 2017 Q-R

Stephanie Romano - G-L

Kate Luce - Q-Z & Class of 2015/2018 & S-Z 2016/2017

Director of Guidance, Dr. Przytula

The Next Generation of Workers by Dr. Przytula

Trying to guide today’s children is probably more difficult than ever before. Think of the changes we have experienced in the last ten years and how the smartphone, apps and new software have changed what and how we do in our daily activities. Our world is changing at an exponential rate. The amount of electronic/digital information one can access doubles every year. How is it possible to prepare our youth for a future world that is changing at a record pace and is unknown and unpredictable?

A recent study found that forty-eight percent (nearly half) of all 2010 college graduates reported they worked in jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38% of those reported that their job did not even require a high school diploma. Over the past few decades two phenomena have worked to nearly eliminate entry and middle management jobs, the traditional workforce entry point for new college graduates. The first is the computer. One worker with a computer can now do the work of many others. The second is outsourcing. Companies can pay workers in other countries a much lower wage than a comparable worker in the U.S. The loss is millions of entry level jobs.

Currently only about 39% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have a post secondary degree. By 2020 that percentage is expected to jump with an additional 19 million college graduates entering the workforce while the number of jobs requiring a four year degree is expected to rise by only 7 million. The U.S. Dept of Labor tracks job market trends carefully and annually puts out publications about the job market and predicted trends. Of the twenty fastest growing jobs in the U.S., according to the D.O.L., only two require a four year degree, nursing and production managers, the rest are semi-skilled or low skilled jobs paying below the average wages in the U.S. For a complete list of these predictions go to: Some people believe the U.S. is over-educating its college age youth at a great public expense and at an even greater sacrifice of families. The competition for the best jobs among college graduates will be greater than ever before.

If we try not to think about college as job training but as preparation for life, we can better grasp the idea of being “underemployed” after graduation. Ask yourself; ”How many of my adult acquaintances actually work in a field related to their undergraduate major?” Have you ever dined in NYC and your wait staff explained they are trying to break into the theater. Waiting tables may be underemployed for the college graduate but it serves many other needs. It affords them the flexibility needed to attend theatrical try-outs and callbacks, and the ability to drop the job in a minute when the big break comes about. There may be strategy to being underemployed. Ted Turner, the cable TV mogul, worked as a billboard installer after graduating from Brown. Rachel McAdams worked at McDonalds after graduating from York College. Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, worked as a grocery store clerk after graduating from Stanford.

Today’s students need to be prepared in ways we could not have imagined a generation ago. Gone are the “company towns” where the employer took care of all the employee’s needs. This next generation of workers will likely change jobs and careers many times and over half will work for employers with less than four workers. This generation cannot count on employer based pension plans or employer sponsored health insurance. Our youth will need to be savvy enough to plan for their own future and manage their health care costs on their own. They must also be flexible enough to be able to change jobs and retrain as the job market shifts at an unprecedented pace.

It comes down to having the ability to think. Memorizing facts that now are available at a click of an icon seems to be losing value in this digital world. As far as applying the information, there will probably be an app. to do that. Our students will have more information immediately available to them then we can even imagine. The skills needed will be in analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating that information. To survive in the changing workforce, our children will need advanced analytical skills not able to be done on laptops and smartphones. Do not be surprised when your child says, “The teacher did not teach that, but expects us to figure it out.” The skills of analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating can only be developed over time with practise.

The new SAT exam which rolls out in March 2016 will have a drastic change in format and content. The changes, made at the request of college and university officials, will emphasize how students think, and de-emphasize what they know. All three sections of the new SAT, Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing, will be changed and focus on analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information provided, and not on what students learned and retained. The College Board implemented these changes because they too believe our youth need to be prepared for that changing and unpredictable world, and that preparation must begin now. Information about the changes in the SAT will be explained in a future newsletter.

"THE" Junior Year by Stephanie Romano

You’ve all heard it before – junior year is “THE” year, the “make it or break it” year, the “if you aren’t perfect now you are never going to college year.” So is there truth in this widespread notion? The answer is both yes and no. Keep reading to learn what makes the junior year so important as well as what steps you can be doing so that your student is set up for the best success..

The NFHS Guidance department understands that many of our students choose other routes besides four year universities. We use the term “college” because the majority of NFHS graduates move on to these institutions, however, the information below is applicable to those considering the military, technical school and other choices. It’s important that you and your student speak directly with their guidance counselor to develop the best plan of action.

The GPA and high school transcript that is sent to colleges for admission is NOT updated after junior year. Therefore, a student’s final gpa is calculated in June of 11th grade and is combination of 9th, 10th and 11th grades. So yes, students should be working hard in 11th grade to not let their grades slide, however, a stellar gpa in 11th grade can still be brought down by poor 9th and 10th grade academics. But since 11th grade is the most recent record of a student’s success, it is looked upon more heavily than what the student did two years prior. Additionally, bringing up the GPA in senior year is not an option. Schools will possibly look at first and second quarter grades and strength of senior year schedule, but the GPA is not recalculated. So yes, junior year is important, but so are the previous years as well as the Senior year.

Standardized Tests (SAT or ACT) are also prepared for and taken in the junior year. A good rule of thumb is for a student to take three (3) standardized tests. Your student should consider sitting for the SAT in March, May or June, and sitting for the ACT in April or June. Talk with your student about the test they felt most comfortable taking, and then have them repeat that test in September (ACT) or October (ACT & SAT). Schools will compare scores (even among different types of test) and use the best score for admission purposes. There are a lot of free, independent study tools available – through Naviance, the and the Encourage your student to do prep work prior to the test to be familiar with the dynamics of the questions. If your student is not a strong test taker, check out for an extensive list of test optional colleges - schools that don’t require standardized tests for admission.

This is the time to visit and explore colleges. Junior year, especially April break, is the best time to visit college campuses. College students are still on campus, so a visit to a college will show your child what the campus is like in action. Additionally, being on a college campus (even if they don’t’ want to apply to that particular school) helps your student decide what he/she likes and doesn’t want in a college campus. This is helpful in determining if your student wants to be on a large/small campus, in a rural or urban area, etc.. Knowing these factors can help your student narrow down colleges when working with his/her guidance counselor .By the end of their junior year, a student should have idea of what type of school they should be applying to, if not a list of 10-15 colleges they are interested in.

So what else? Your student should have a rough draft of a college essay done by the end of junior year. It would be extra great if it was reviewed by a teacher so he/she has the summer to create a final product. Your student should consider asking teachers for letters of recommendation for colleges to avoid the rush at the beginning of senior year. Students should discuss their options with their school counselor during the individual junior planning meetings held in the springtime.

The bottom line is that junior year is very critical, but at the same time, with the right preparation is a fun and exciting year. Additionally, students should be working to their best and fullest potential regardless of their current grade. Higher Education is the first big choice a student gets to make in regards to their education and it should be an exciting time. With the right steps in place, the stress of it all can be decreased significantly and allow the student to feel as though their college planning process is manageable and they have control over it.

How the NFHS Guidance helps 11th graders. Be sure your email is up to date in Naviance in order to receive important information on:

· Attend the Junior College Planning Night held at NFHS on Monday, February 2, 2014

(a Representative from Union College will be presenting)

· College Representatives at New Fairfield High School in the springtime

· Guidance presentations to all junior classes on the college process in early spring.

· Each school counselor will request students and parents to have individual planning meetings with them starting in spring.

How to Help Your Sophomore Plan For The Future by Kate Luce

Developmentally your sophomore is maturing into a young adult and that means they need to learn how to be independent and responsible. We know that you are helping them to do that at home and here at school we want to support your child in becoming an adult as he/she tackles some of the challenges of sophomore year.

1. Encourage them to use Naviance

What does my child want to do for the rest of his/her life?

Before your student can determine whether or not he or she wants to go to college or a trade school or wants to join the military or go straight to work, they need to have some idea of what they might want to became as an adult. Naviance offers great resources for them to explore and discover what they love and what careers these interests might point them to. They might discover a career that they didn’t know about or learn something about themselves that will help them learn better in school.

On Naviance: Click on the tabs “About Me”, “Colleges” or “Careers

They can access the personality Inventory: “Do What you Are” and many other tools to investigate career paths, find out what their strengths are, explore colleges, etc.

2. Encourage them to plan ahead

Course Selection - Important planning time

In a couple of months your sophomore will be choosing the courses he/she will be taking in that all –important junior year (see Ms. Romano’s article about junior year!) Planning ahead in the course selection process is vital to ensuring that your student is prepared with courses that they need to challenge themselves and to be prepared for college work in the major/career path of their choice.

For many students this may be the first year that they have been able to consider taking an honors or AP course as more high-level courses become available to them. The rule of thumb is to take the highest level of course(s) in which they can be successful. Colleges want to enroll students who are willing to challenge themselves and who are prepared for the rigors of a college curriculum. If your student already has a particular career in mind, share with your Guidance Counselor so that he/she can advise you on what courses would be beneficial or in some cases required for them to take in high school in order for them to be accepted into the major of their choice. A little thought and effort in the course selection process goes a long way in helping your student to mature and be prepared for his/her future.

Did you know? - The GPA is set after junior year.

Sophomore year is a perfect time for your student to be working to bring up his/her grade average while there is still time to improve.

Colleges are looking for students with interests outside of the classroom.

It is more important to pursue one or two interests/sports/hobbies, in depth than to be involved in many activities without much focus. Encourage your Sophomore to become involved in activities that interest them if they are not already doing so. Joining clubs in senior year will not be impressive to a college admissions counselor while pursuing interests in depth, over time, will. (Your child can get a copy of all of our clubs in the Guidance Office.)

With a little advance planning and the right resources your child can become an independent and responsible young adult. We are here to help. Feel free to contact us in Guidance at any time with questions or for assistance.

Freshman Year Planning by Lisa Dighton

Some people know from an early age exactly what they want to be and how they plan to get there. Not all of us are so sure of our plans, though, and that's okay too. School is also not just about careers and getting a high-paying job after graduation — it's a place for learning about yourself and the world.

As you think about what you “want to be when you grow up,” ask yourself these questions:

• What do I love doing?

• What subjects are easy for me?

• What are my hobbies?

It’s a great idea to match your future career plans to areas that matter to you. If you love soccer, maybe you could be a coach some day. If math is your best subject, and things having to do with money make sense to you, think about becoming an accountant.

You can find help with career planning:

• Take different kinds of classes and read different books to find a subject that fascinates


• Ask your school counselor about taking a career assessment test on Naviance.

• “Shadow,” or observe, someone who works in that field to get an idea of what the work

might be like.

*Take the right classes - What can you do right now to put yourself on the right track for getting into college and achieving the career of your dreams? Take the right classes!

Meet Requirements:

• Check with your counselor to make sure you are taking the right classes to meet graduation requirements.

• If you already have colleges in mind that interest you, check what classes they require

for admission. These may differ from what your high school requires for graduation.

What to DO during your Freshman year:

  • Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss classes and course selections

  • Plan which courses to take during your 4 years of high school – Keep in mind your goal upon graduation – do you want to graduate with a Diploma with Distinction, Diploma with Highest Distinction, Valedictorian/Salutatorian? Are you planning on college after high school? Military? Technical School?

  • Join clubs and activities – take leadership positions when possible

  • Communicate with your teachers!! Let them know when you have any concerns

  • Volunteer/Service work (15 hour minimum requirement EACH year)

  • Begin to think about possible career choices – research what post‐secondary training/education is needed for your career choice as well as schools that offer the program of study that interests you

  • Start an Activities Resume (Naviance has a great template)

  • Grades: Get off to a good start – your Freshman GPA DOES MATTER!!!

  • Attend extra help sessions; Learning Center, and/or National Honor Society Student Tutoring after school Tues/Wed at 2 in the library as needed

  • Take good notes and participate in class

  • Develop a system to keep track of assignments

  • Develop good study habits

What to THINK ABOUT during your Freshman year:

What are you looking for out of life? (tough question!)

What interests do you have that might lead to a career?

What skills do you have that you might use in a career?

What are your likes and dislikes?

What do you like to study?

Freshman year is a great place to start a solid foundation for the next three years. Having good habits now paves the way for future success! Your school counselor is available to assist you enjoy success during this very important year.

Important Information and Dates for 2015 by MaryAnn Smyth

Alumni Panel - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 9 AM - 10 AM - NFHS Auditorium

(Snow date Thursday, 1/8/15)

Alumni Panel Q & A Session

Seniors will have the opportunity to ask NFHS Alumni questions about the post-secondary transition.

College Goal Sunday - Sunday, 1/25/15 - 1:00 PM

The Office of Financial Aid & Student Employment at Western Connecticut State University is excited to host CollegeGoal Sunday on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm.

College Goal Sunday, a national program, will be hosted at 14 sites across Connecticut where students and parents can talk to experts and get in-depth help completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for any institution they are considering. Students will be entered to win a $200 Scholarship!

Students and families need to register online at in order to participate.

If you have any questions, please contact the Site Coordinator, Mayra Aurell at!

Junior College Planning Night

Monday, February 2 - 6:30 - 8:30 pm NFHS Cafeteria (Tuesday, February 3, SNOW DAY)

This exciting evening helps to prepare students and families for the college planning process. We will have an Admissions Representative from Union College presenting. This information will be helpful in understanding the timing and steps in the college planning process.

Kaplan SAT and ACT Exam 1/16/15 - FREE TEST PREP

On January 16th, an early dismissal day for students, in the afternoon we will be offering another free diagnostic exam provided by Kaplan. The Jan.16th exam will help students differentiate between the SAT and ACT. One of the questions we are often asked is , "which test should I take?" The Kaplan test is only an hour in length and has a very high correlation with the two exams. With these results students may wish to put their efforts into exam or the other. More information about the Jan 16th exam will follow.

TO REGISTER: Enter this code to register for this event SKXY 150007

Catalyst Bootcamp

March 7 - 8, 2015, Saturday and Sunday from 9am - 1pm in the NFHS Library - to prepare for the

March 14th SAT


The College and Career Center by Clare Raneri

The New Fairfield High School College and Career Center (CCC), located next to the Guidance Office, is staffed by a full-time coordinator and volunteers. The CCC offers students considerable help in the college search and application process as well as help searching for scholarships. The CCC has four computer terminals students may use for college research either in Naviance or any other computer/internet program. The volunteers are trained to assist students in logging in and guiding them through the computer search process. Additionally, students turn in their community service hours to the CCC for graduation requirements.

Listed below are some of the many services the College and Career Center coordinates for NFHS:

- College Admissions Representative Visits

- Naviance Log-in Information (for Parents & Students)

- Scholarships

- Acceptance Pennants

- Alumni Panel

- Test Registration

- Summer Programs

- Community Service Logs