College and Career Resource Center

Room 1120

Sophomore Year

Dear Sophomore Parents,

The school counselors met with sophomores during their Health class on November 23rd and 24th to discuss post secondary planning. During this class period, we emphasized the importance of sophomore year. We discussed how colleges utilize various factors when admitting students to their university, but the most important is the student's cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA). To emphasize this point, the student played the "Great Sorting Game" where students moved up or down the college admissions list based upon certain criteria.

"Biggest Gainers"

In the sorting game, the students who moved up the most took rigorous high school courses, remained committed to their activities, and wrote a strong college essay. Students should challenge themselves by taking 4-5 core academic classes each year of high school. The core can be defined as English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and World Language. Also, the student should be appropriately challenged in academic areas of strength by taking honors or Advanced Placement classes. Course registration for junior year courses begins at the end of January. It is important to have dialogue with the student's counselor and teachers to determine the right placement.


It is very easy to jump from one activity to another because we have so many clubs, sports, and fine arts programs offered at Niles West. However, colleges want students who are committed to two to three activities per year and hold leadership positions. These candidates stand out in the application pool because colleges know that they will be involved in a similar activity in college. These experiences outside of the classroom can be a rich and rewarding experience.


Most colleges will allow the student to express themselves in written form through a personal statement. We emphasized the importance of making the essay sound unique. At times, students write essays that sound very cliche and bland. Our students are very diverse and can bring a lot to a college. The student should be articulate in the college essay and have fun writing about themselves. It is important that students take their time to write a wonderful college personal statement.

"Biggest Losers"

Students who moved back in the game were students who did not give their counselor/teacher any information to use when writing their letters of recommendations, had mom complete their application, and rushed through their application. Colleges rely on the letters of recommendation when reviewing a student. They want to see what contributions the student made in the classroom and in their high school community. If a student develops relationships with teachers and the school counselor, the student's attribute will shine through in the recommendation letters.

Students are busy with their school work, activities, and social lives. It is easy for parents to fill out the college application for the student. Colleges know the difference between a 50 and 18 year old writing the essay. It is important for the student to take ownership of this process.

With deadlines pressing, students begin to rush their application to get it submitted. This often leads to carelessness. In order to fight the urge to procrastinate, the student should submit a week before the application deadline. This way, if something is missing, or a mistake is found, the student has time to correct it. Also, waiting til the last minute leads to a lot of stress.

Demonstrated Interest

Everyone wants to be loved. Colleges are no different. One way to show interest is to talk with the college representative when they visit Niles West High School. In the fall and early spring, we are fortunate to have approximately 125 different colleges and universities visit. Here is a great way to learn about the university. A complete list of visiting colleges can be found on Naviance. Also, walking on campus is a great way to get a feel for a school. It is important to sit through the admissions presentation, take the campus tour, ask questions, and hang out in the quad. Even if your child is visiting a friend at college, they should stop by the office of admissions to let them know they are on campus.

One way to start the college search is to come listen to three dynamic speakers from a Community College, Private Liberal Arts, and a Large State University talk about the similarities and differences of attending these types of universities. This program will be held on Thursday, January 28 at 6:30 PM in the Niles West Auditorium.

Career Search

During our Sophomore presentation, we introduced Career Cruising and Naviance to the students. Each of these computer programs have great career search components that help students identify possible careers.

On Career Cruising, students can answer 39 questions to find careers that relate to their strengths. Once a student clicks on a career, they can see job growth, potential earnings, education needed, and watch a video of someone in that field. On Naviance, students can do a Personality Test called "Do What You Are" Students will receive a four letter personality code that will match up possible career interests as well.

College Night 2016

Each year, District 219 hosts a college fair at Niles West High School. Some parents and students wonder how to maximize their time with over 225 colleges and universities in attendance. Prior to the fair, all sophomores and juniors will receive a booklet with a short description of the attending colleges. Have your student prepare a "must" list of colleges to visit.

Instead of grabbing brochures, utilize the time by asking a specific question such as:
  • What can I do at your school with a major in ...?
  • How many students return for their second year of college?
  • What percentage of students graduate in 4 and 6 years?
  • What are your requirements to receive merit based scholarship?
  • How do I find internship opportunities at your school?
  • What is your job placement rate upon graduation?

You'll be able to gather a lot of insight about the college or university by asking the right questions. Once you and your child visit all of the schools on the list, talk to other representatives. You might find a "hidden" gem.

Important Dates

Please mark your calendar for the following events:
  • December 16, 17, and 18: First semester final examinations
  • January 15: Sophomore College/Career Resource Center Drop in Day
  • January 25 - February 2: Registration for junior courses
  • January 28, 6:30 PM at Niles West High School: Exploring College Options for Sophomores & Their Parents
  • April 13, 6:30 - 8:30 PM at Niles West High School: College Night
Mrs. Ann Alegnani
E: annale@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2690

Ms. Happi Bills
E: hapbil@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2684

Dr. Ben Grais
E: bengra@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2691

Mr. Andrew Johnson
E: andjoh@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2685

Mrs. Hope Kracht
E: hopkra@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2687

Mrs. Stephanie Lau
E: stelau@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2689

Mr. Mark Medland
E: marmed@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2686

Mrs. Venesa Ocasio
E: venoca@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2688

Mr. Mitch Stern
E: mitste@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2683

Mrs. Joyce Van Alstin
E: joyvan@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2692

Mr. Jerry Pope
Dean of College Counseling
E: jerpop@d219.org / P: (847) 626-3947

Ms. Shermaine Miles
College Resource Center Assistant
E: shemil@d219.org / P: (847) 626-2594