School Counseling Office News

Fall 2017

School Counseling Fall 2017 Newsletter Topics Include: Ask an Alumni, Family Connection by Naviance, Khan Academy, the National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists, Essay Writing, the South Hills College Fair, FAFSA Completion Overview Workshop, the PSAT, and SAT Informational Links.

Ask an Alumni

Have any questions about the college decision making process? Wondering about what college is really like? Curious about what a former student would say? Email a question to Mrs. Steffen for the opportunity for an alumni of PTHS to respond. Questions and responses will be selected and printed on each newsletter.

Garrett Warmbein: Penn State: Class of 2017

Garrett is an Analyst for JP Morgan


1. What classes from PTHS were most beneficial?

As a finance major several classes came in handy to help me succeed in this field. AP Government helped to give a better understanding of government and regulation, which is great for finance. All Mathematics courses especially Algebra courses are extremely beneficial, but perhaps the most underrated courses are technology courses like Computer Science that teach Microsoft application.


2. What advice would provide to a college bound high school student in trying to decide where to apply?

The best advice I could give is to find someplace you could call home for four years, a college that makes you feel comfortable and excited to be there. I feel this was huge for me at Penn State and made the experience much more personal, which helped me excel from the get go.


3. If I knew then (at PTHS) what I know now, I would have… concentrated on taking a greater diversity of courses. High school is a great time to figure out what interests you which in turn helps narrow what you'd like to study in college.

Daniel Florentino: PTHS: Class of 2017

Daniel currently attends Washington and Jefferson College


1. What classes from PTHS were most beneficial?

The AP credit courses I took have been extremely valuable to me in many ways. Two of the major benefits I have reaped from them include transferring in college credits to save time and money in the future, and learning various skills for academic success. Although I gained a lot from the higher level courses, I often found courses like ceramics equally important to balance out your days.


2. What advice would provide to a college bound high school student in trying to decide where to apply?

In deciding where to apply, it is definitely important to research your potential schools. Some of the major factors include the size, location, and academic rigor. After all, you will most likely be living there, so it is vital to not blindly choose a school that seems cool. I also suggest looking into what the school can do for you; make sure you are getting your tuition's worth of an experience.


3. If I knew then (at PTHS) what I know now, I would have… focused on building better habits as early as possible. With many courses, you are expected to spend 3-4 times the time spent in class working on mastering the material yourself. Getting organized and staying on top of your work can do nothing but help your future.

Chase Maszle: James Madison University: Class of 2017

Chase is a Digital Producer working at The Walt Disney Company with the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Worldwide communications team in Orlando, Florida


1. What classes from PTHS were most beneficial to you as a college student and why?

I think there were a few classes that proved to be beneficial…

- The first was my senior year English class. While it wasn’t initially easy writing that amount of words each night, it proved to help me advance my skills. Being armed with powerful writing skills helps separate you from the rest of the crowd, which was especially important during my college years. Luckily, I succeeded because I wasn’t learning how to write in college—I was ready to go out of PTHS.

- The second class was personal finance. Why? Because no other classes teach you how to do your taxes and balance your checkbook. If nothing else, it is the only thing that society expects of you. Mrs. Berger was in her first year when she taught this course—and we quickly turned into her favorite class because of our boisterous roster. But she is to thank for keeping things on topic and relevant, all while dealing with our senioritis..

- Third, honors chemistry. I was horrible at chemistry. I commonly referred to the subject as, “Chem-is-cry.” But, having Mrs. Kendrick as a teacher was life-changing. She helped me realize that teachers were real people, and that they want to see you succeed. That was a turning point in my education because she understood that I couldn’t rush through a chemistry test like everyone else. She tripped over herself when I admitted to her that I had no idea what I was doing, and she helped me until I understood the content like the back of my hand. I will never forget acing my first honors chemistry test—we gave each other high-fives, and exchanged hugs.

- Taking part in the video and media classes sparked my career in digital communications. If it weren’t for Mrs. Hodgin-Frick and Mr. Bastos, I’m not sure where I would be. But having a portfolio of media content by time I graduated high school definitely helped to shape my future.

- Pro tip: Ask your teachers to help you on things like your college essay. They want to help provide inspiration. Matter of fact, Mrs. Price helped critique an essay that helped me get gain admission into my dream school.. She went out of her way to help during a series of lunch and study hall periods.


2. What advice would provide to a college bound high school student in trying to decide where to apply?

- Find an institution that has a palatable base of general education courses. I went to a state-school that prided itself on a liberal arts-style education. It was by far the most important part of my education. While is does not always seem, initially, like you’ll learn from those type of classes, it is so important to do things that challenge you to think differently than you’re used to.

- Find a teacher/mentor who can be there to help and support you during your junior and senior year. Ask them straight up if they’d be willing to coach you during your last two years of school. Then, go to them when you have challenges or struggles, and ask them to look things over for you. They will offer a second-opinion, and help you make sound decisions on your own. Mrs. Alexander was my mentor during high school. She and I still keep in touch, which I think is the coolest thing.

- Pro tip: Pick an institution that makes you comfortable, not your parents. It is also strategic to go to a school that aligns closely with the geographical hotspots of your hopeful career. Example: If you want to study film, consider applying at schools in California like CalArts. Studying theatre, performing arts, or finance? Consider schools in or around New York City. You get the gist. Here’s why: it’s important to develop a network while you’re in college. It helps you find more opportunity and success.


3. If I knew then (at PTHS) what I know now, I would have…

- …done even more. Marching band, photo club, volleyball, student government, Rotary Club, marching band, computer club, thespians, and more. In high school, I felt like I barely had time to breathe. But experimenting with all of the different activities that I took part in helped me understand how I would make an impact in our world. The only thing I wouldn’t have changed is my academic schedule. I only took a few honors classes, but stuck with mostly academic-level. I don’t regret that because I lived my life and got my school work done with time to spare.

Lastly, consider inviting your favorite teacher or mentor to your grad celebrations or senior-recognition night. They love feeling like an important part of your life and your accomplishments.

Welcome to Family Connection by Naviance

Click on Welcome to Family Connection to sign into your PTHS Family Connection account.

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Students who use Khan Academy for 20 hours, average an increase of 115 points on their SAT scores compared to their PSAT/NMSQT! Khan academy allows you to take practice tests, provides strategies, and individualized practice for free! Access Khan Academy at satpractice.org or click on the title of this article to be directed to the site. You can link your PSAT 8/9 or your PSAT NMSQT test to Khan Academy for targeted practice. Also access score reports on the College Board website. Scores are broken down based on academic skills that are strengths and weaknesses. Any weaknesses identified have suggestions to improve deficits. The more you prepare for the SAT, the better you will do. SAT scores are utilized as predictors of success and readiness in the college admissions process. Higher SAT scores can also lead to more scholarship opportunities.
Connect Your College Board Account to Khan Academy

Click on Connect Your College Board Account to Khan Academy to learn how to match your accounts for free personalized practice.

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National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Congratulations to our National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists! This year, PTHS, had seven semifinalists as pictured above. Sitting from left to right are Wen Quan Zheng and Paul Luniewski. Standing from left to right are Garrett Langley, Pratiik Kaushik, Shruthi Shivkumar, Luke Gallagher, and Benjamin Zeisloft. They will complete an application for eligibility as a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. Good luck!

College Application Essay Writing

Congratulations, seniors! You have made it! You have done all of the work, earned the grades, the SAT/ Act score, maximized your GPA and now you are applying to the school of your dreams.


Imagine a table of college admissions officers reading through thousands of essays (including yours) and sorting them into two piles; applicants that they want to know more about and those who don’t make the first cut. The essay that stands out and makes the most memorable impression will go into a pile for further review.


As the college admissions officers read through your essay, you will want them to get a feeling for your personality and why you are the best applicant for their institution.


What is it about your essay that will stick out?


This is the first and sometimes the ONLY impression that the college admissions officers will have of you; make it count!


What are they looking for?


  • Something that will grab and hold their attention immediately.
  • Something that embodies your personality.
  • A memorable event, class or interaction.
  • Something personal that makes you unique.
  • Be specific.
  • Reasons why / how you will fit into to their college.


Don’t fall into the trap of writing something:


  • Too generic.
  • Regurgitates your resume.
  • Repetitive.
  • Looks like a laundry list of accomplishments.
  • Looks like the standard letter that you’ve submitted to all schools on your list.
  • Grammatically incorrect.


Ask your English teacher, counselor, or the writing lab to read and provide feedback.

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In Case You Missed It

The article above is from the summer newsletter from the counseling department. Find this as well as other great college application tips within the document library of Family Connections.


During the second week of school, counselors met with students in grades 9 and 12. The classroom meetings in grade 9, consisted of an introduction to Family Connections by Naviance. This is a college and career planning site that assists in exploring and organizing for post secondary plans. Goal setting and career exploration were a focus. Within the 12th grade classes, students discussed the college application process through Family Connections by Naviance. Planning ahead and staying organized was a focus for this presentation.

The South Hills College Fair

Tuesday, Oct. 10th, 6:30-8:30pm

309 Church Road

Bethel Park, PA

Check out the annual South Hills College Fair with over 100 colleges represented! This annual event between the school districts of Peters Township, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, South Fayette, and Bethel Park, is a great opportunity for students to learn more about colleges and have conversations with college representatives. We look forward to seeing you there!

FAFSA Completion Overview

Monday, Oct. 2nd, 6:30-8pm

616 East McMurray Road

Venetia, PA

The Peters Township Public Library will offer a free FAFSA Completion Overview at the library for college bound seniors and their parents.
Peters Township Public Library FAFSA Workshop

Click on the Peters Township Public Library FAFSA Workshop to learn more about the FAFSA Completion Overview workshop and registration information.

The PSAT 8/9 and PSAT/NMSQT - October 11th

Students in grades 9-11, will be participating in the PSAT, on Wednesday, October 11. This is a great opportunity to practice for the SAT that students take during the Spring of their junior year. The PSAT is a an opportunity to explore academic strengths and weaknesses that are predictors of success in college. Identified deficits can be targeted for improvement. Students in grade 9 will take the PSAT 8/9. Students in grades 10 and 11, will be administered the PSAT/NMSQT which can qualify juniors for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
PSAT 8/9 Student Guide

Click on the PSAT 8/9 Student Guide for more information about the PSAT 8/9.

PSAT/NMSQT Student Guide

Click on the PSAT/NMSQT for more information about the PSAT/NMSQT.

SAT Test Dates

Click on SAT Test Dates for dates and registration information. The SAT will be at PTHS on November 4, March 10, and May 5.

SAT Subject Tests

Click on SAT Subject Tests for more information about SAT Subject Tests, what to expect, and which colleges use them.

Peters Township High School Counseling Department

Mrs. Cunningham (A-Di) x 5232

Mrs. Wawrzeniak (Dj-Kl) x 5234

Ms. Simmons (Km-M) x 5517

Mrs. Prinsen (N-Sk) x 5220

Mr. Sudol (Sl-Z) x 5238

Mrs. Bennett - Counseling Secretary x 5213

Mrs. Hindman - Counseling Secretary x 5518

Mrs. Steffen - Dean of College & Career Readiness x 5213