Class of 2024 College Prep Info
Summer is here....what you need to know.... June 9, 2022
Information for you!
We want you to learn about ways we communicate and support our student's career development and their college prep process. As always, we are here to support you.
- WBHS Counseling Team
College and Career Counselor
My name is Noelle Essig and I am the College and Career Counselor at West Bloomfield High School. I have 13 years of experience as a high school counselor and 9 years of professional higher education experience - I worked as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Central Michigan University and residence hall director at Bowling Green State University and Truman State University. My experience from the “other side of the desk” has been extremely valuable in my role here at the high school.
I work in tandem with your school counselor to assist you with your college and career planning. I am a parent to 4 boys… twins that just finished their first year of college, a 10th grader, and an 8th grader. Thus I am humbly “walking the walk” with you and I have felt the same nervousness that many of you are feeling as you anticipate the college/career selection process. I’ll break down my information into various topics below:
Breathe and balance- I cannot stress this enough… please breathe and know that you are not alone. Our counseling team is here to help and we care about our students. I ask that you remember the importance of “balance” as you select your courses and activities each year. Please be more concerned about your mental health, sleep, and appropriate academic schedule, than doing things because you think they might “look good” on a college application.
As a former admissions professional, I can tell you that colleges are more impressed with you doing activities in which you have passion and purpose than a laundry list of clubs in which you just attend meetings. Find a club and become an officer… lead a special event or fundraiser… fail at organizing an activity and learn from it. It is those “in-depth” experiences in which you will learn, grow, and develop leadership and communication skills.
Stay informed- We work really hard to provide you with important information in a timely manner and we try to not overload families with email. We have streamlined our source of communication into a few tools. Thus please take the time to read our information so you don’t miss out!
WBHS Counselor Connection - Twice a month, I send out the WBHS Counselor Connection. This newsletter provides valuable information from our counseling department. We send this out to high school students' and parents’ email addresses. We also post the newsletter on our website which can be found here: https://www.wbsd.org/west-bloomfield-high-school/counseling-office/counselor-connection-newsletter
If you are the parent of a high school student and are not receiving the newsletter, you may need to update your email address with us, or you may have placed some “blocks” in PowerSchool that you need to have removed.
College and Career Center Canvas page - In the fall, your junior should look for the invitation to the College and Career Center Canvas page. This is a MUST read resource. Here you will find many videos and links to valuable resources on ALL topics related to post-secondary education.
Twitter - We have a pretty active Twitter page and I encourage you to check us out on a regular basis. This is many times how colleges are communicating with us and we “retweet” their information. You can find us at @WBHSCounseling. https://twitter.com/wbhscounseling
WBHS Counseling Website - Our counseling website has the answers to many of the questions you may have. Check us out by clicking here: https://www.wbsd.org/west-bloomfield-high-school/counseling-office
Career Exploration- As I talk with students about their career plans, too often I find that students have worked hard in school but really haven’t taken advantage of exploring their career interests. Back in “my day,” it was common to “go to college and then figure it out.” Well, this still may hold true, but honestly, college has become so expensive that I hope you will take advantage of all of the “free” career exploration opportunities we have at WBHS. I’ve worked in several high schools, and WB by far has the most extensive course curriculum for students to select from. I encourage students to dabble in a variety of subjects to explore their career interests.
Let me also fill you in on another “secret”.... Most high schools in Michigan have students taking 6 classes each semester. Because of our block scheduling, we are able to offer 7 classes to students. This is the perfect way for you to explore different electives! Take advantage of this FREE opportunity! And yes, you may still “change your major” in college, but at least you will go into college with a little more direction than many of us started out with.
Finances - College has become very expensive. I tell my friends with young children to start saving money TODAY as if their child was starting college TOMORROW. Skip the fancy birthday parties and expensive holiday presents, and put the money into an investment account. I am not a financial advisor, so I won’t begin to pretend to tell you how to invest your money, I just know that it is not too late to start. We encourage all families to fill out a form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if they are eligible for federal and state aid. With few exceptions, students will need to provide parent financial data on their Financial Aid form. These forms are not available until after October 1st in the senior year. We will host an information session about the FAFSA in the spring of the junior year.
Honesty- Please start having honest discussions as a family about the cost of education and how much parents can (or cannot) financially assist. I always ask students about the affordability of the colleges in which they are applying...most shrug their shoulders in a manner that shows they haven't given it much thought and most admit they have no idea how much, if any, money their parents can assist with....most seem to think by filling out the FAFSA, the money will appear....which for many families, unfortunately, doesn't always happen.
Net Price Calculators- Each college has a tool called a “net price calculator (NPC)." You can find it easily by doing a Google search for the name of the college with net price calculator. Here you will be asked to enter in some basic financial information and the student's academic stats. It will then give you an estimate of your cost of attendance at that college. I find that they can be a close predictor of your child’s aid but they aren’t always correct so use it as a tool only.
Keep an open mind- Please be cautious of your words…. Remember that your (or your child's) “safety school” might be another student's “reach school.” I often hear parents say, “I just want my kid to get into a good college.” When I hear this statement I cringe. We are so fortunate in the state of Michigan to have amazing choices for all students. What defines a “good” college? To every person, it is something different. Be careful of your words. I often ask my husband, who hires staff for his company, how much weight he puts into where the applicant earned their degree. He shrugs his shoulders and emphasizes that he’s more concerned with their work ethic, experience, knowledge, and communication skills. Listen to a great podcast about this topic here.
Debt- If you read any news articles, you know that the student loan crisis is real. When students come into my office, they many times have no understanding of how loans work and the implications of compounding interest. I pull up this link and show them how interest works. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/student-loans/student-loan-calculator/?trk=nw_gn1_4.0
Be open-minded about going to a college that will give generous merit scholarships. If you don't qualify for much in terms of aid, consider attending a local college where you can commute from home or consider a carefully navigated plan at a community college.
Compare all offers - In reality, just because one college might have a higher “sticker price,” it doesn’t mean that in the end, it will cost more. I have seen situations where the private college is cheaper than the public college. I give an example of a new car purchase. Ten of us can all buy the same new vehicle, but all ten of us have probably paid something different for that vehicle. You need to carefully compare the financial aid package of each college before making a decision.
Standardized Tests: In the past two years, many colleges have become test-optional/test flexible/test blind. Check the college website for the most up-to-date information on their policy. I am finding that many colleges will still require test scores for merit-based scholarships... but again, this changes so check with the colleges you are considering.
We encourage students to do some test preparation so that they are comfortable with the format of the test. Khan Academy offers free SAT test prep for students and can be extremely helpful. Click on the video link to learn test prep advice from previous year's seniors: https://youtu.be/w77-Roxc3sc You can find an ACT/SAT Google Slide presentation here. I also have many test prep materials students can check out by stopping into the College and Career Center.
Consider the Trades - In the next 5 years, the state of Michigan will desperately be seeking qualified tradespeople to fill the gap of retiring staff. I have attended numerous information sessions about the opportunities available in the trades. Many of them start paying right away along with a pension and health benefits. The salaries of many of these trades may exceed some of the salaries that those with a 4-year bachelor’s degree will earn. Be open-minded and willing to consider this as an option. Learn more here: www.MUSTcareers.org and https://miapprenticeship.org/.
Well, I think I’ve given you enough information to get you thinking. Know that we at WBHS are here to help you!
Noelle Essig, M.A.
College and Career Counselor
We hold a number of events here at WBHS to support our students. Below is an example of how we provide help.
College Admission Presentations- Each fall we connect 11th and 12th-grade students with admissions representatives from around the country live or via Zoom in our College and Career Center. Your child will have the opportunity to meet with these college reps to ask questions and learn more about that college. Mrs. Essig will post the visit days in the College and Career Center Canvas page and calendar.
Junior Parent Night - College 101 - Each December, we host a Junior Parent Night. During this meeting, we will go into further detail about the college planning process.
Junior Counselor Meetings - Following our Junior Parent Night, students will meet with their counselors and receive information on college, trades, and planning for life after WBHS.
11th Grade College Prep Brown Bag Lunch Series - (for students) - In the spring, juniors will receive information to help them determine their ACT/SAT testing plan, possible majors or careers, creating the college list, trade school options, and career plans.
Highly Selective Junior Seminars- These spring seminars prepare students who intend to apply to the University of Michigan, Ivies, or other highly selective institutions.
College App Boot Camp for seniors- This workshop is held in August prior to the senior year and is staffed with counselors, teachers, and administrators. Students attend presentations and get individual help on college applications, the college list, and essays.
Essay Writing Workshops- These workshops are designed to help students select a topic, draft, and edit college essays.
Appointments with Mrs. Essig- Juniors and seniors can meet with Mrs. Essig to discuss colleges and careers and seek help for last-minute application questions. Because the fall is extremely hectic for seniors, we kindly ask that juniors wait to request a meeting with Mrs. Essig until after November 1st.
Military Lunch Tables- Students can meet representatives from every branch of the military and connect with recruiters.
On-Site Admissions Day- At this optional event, seniors receive immediate admission decisions from many Michigan area colleges and universities. This is held in October of the senior year.
Financial Aid Night & Workshops - In April, we will host a financial aid official from an area university to discuss the FAFSA & answer parent questions during your junior year. This event will be held via Zoom. Look for more information in the WB Counselor Connection. In October of the senior year, we host hands-on workshops where families can fill out the FAFSA and obtain help as needed.
Junior Year Checklist
Juniors - College Readiness Checklist
Noelle Essig quickly offers suggestions of things to do this summer to stay on track for the college and career planning process.
College Prep Advice - 35 minute Video
Watch this video that Mrs. Essig shared last year about how to create the college list.
Students (and their parents) are welcome to make an appointment to meet with Mrs. Essig after November 1st of their junior year. By starting early, we can begin to answer many of the questions you have and ease the anxiousness many of you are feeling. Click on the link below to make a 1/2 hour meeting with her. If parents would like to join in, Mrs. Essig supports this either in person or via Zoom. We are happy to help!
WBHS College and Career Center
College and Career Counselor