Paly Guidance Update

Friday May 14, 2021

Good Afternoon Viking Families!

May has been a busy month. We have enjoyed seeing an increased number of students on campus. While vaccinations are more open now to all high school-aged students and with the CDC changing their recommendations this week in regards to mask-wearing, we ask that all students, staff, and parents continue to wear masks when on campus. We will be in touch should our guidelines for our county and school district change.

Lockers: If any students are interested in using a locker, please stop by the ASB Book Keeper's office at the north end of the Tower Building and Ms. Giffen will be able to help you out.

Graduation: Please be sure to check Parent Square for updates about the graduation ceremony to be held on Wednesday, June 2nd.

A reminder that our finals schedule has been updated on our calendar. Please see our other updates about Advisory and College and Career below.


Paly Guidance


As the year winds down and we head into finals, the focus of Advisory topics turn to summer and next year.

As mentioned previously, at this time of year we like to invite guest speakers to share information and experiences with the students a grade below. Students love hearing from their peers. It is interesting to note that when we polled each grade level to see specifically what they'd like to hear about, within the hundreds of answers were some very common themes.

Freshman wanted to know about:

  • How did you manage your time?

  • What tips do you have for successfully organizing your work?

  • What is being on campus really like? (spirit week, eating at T&C etc…)

  • How do you get your work done while still having time for fun?

Sophomores had a few more things to ask of the Juniors:

  • What is the workload/stress really like in Jr year - was it actually your hardest year?

  • What tips/advice do you have for managing your work/stress while also making time for the people and things that make you happy?

  • What tips/advice do you have for preparing for tests like SAT, ACT and APs?

  • How to build good relationships with teachers who could be writing your letters of recommendation?

  • Was there anything you enjoyed more about Jr yr than previous years?

  • Is there anything you’d recommend we do over summer to better prepare for Jr year?

And finally the Juniors wanted to know:

  • How did you manage your college apps/essays while balancing school, social life and extracurriculars?

  • How has senior year compared to Jr year with workload, courses and teachers?

  • How did you manage the stress of senior year and the possibility of rejection by colleges?

  • What do you wish you would have known (or done differently) in senior year?

We couldn’t have asked for better questions; we certainly could not have delivered the answers as thoughtfully and thoroughly as our own students did! All the TAs commented that this was the best Advisory of the year - a win/win for all involved! Look for more if these sharing opportunities between grade levels next year.

More 9th Grade:

Last week the freshman learned how to get (and when you need) a Work Permit, summer jobs, and volunteer opportunities. Click here to review the Summer Job/Volunteer Opps Lesson . On Friday, they had the chance to attend a virtual job fair with 11 company representatives available to talk to them about employment. For more detailed information, see the Work Experience section below.

For those interested in volunteering, there was a review of the many organizations that welcome high school volunteers - Gamble Gardens, Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society, and The Junior Museum to name a few.

We will end the week helping our freshman plan for finals. The lesson (found here) talks about making a study plan, common mistakes made when studying, and give the students time to share what strategies they used with success in the 1st Semester.

College & Career Center

For Seniors & Their Parents
Now that college acceptances are in and students have decided where to matriculate in the Fall, seniors can sit back a bit and reflect on the college search process and the fact that they not only survived but also were successful. Enjoying the end of the year senior tributes and setting aside some time to relax with family this summer should be next on the agenda. This is an exciting period, but, at times, may also feel like an emotional roller coaster. The following advice might prove helpful in the weeks ahead:

For Students:

  • Don't forget to formally thank the people who've helped support you in the college application process, including your teacher advisor and the teachers and others who wrote letters of recommendation on your behalf. A thank-you note expressing your gratitude goes a long way in showing appreciation for these people who give so much of their time.

  • When you receive the name and contact information of your roommate/s, take the time to email or call. A couple of conversations during the summer will help ease the transition in the fall.

  • Don't be surprised if the first few weeks of college are both exciting and overwhelming.

Remember that students are in a completely new environment. Even though you spent lots of time researching and visiting colleges, actually living the life is quite different. New people, a different schedule, and a heavier workload are all parts of the transition to college. Time management is critical and a challenging part of this adjustment process. Be patient and don't expect everything to be ideal. Remember that everyone is adjusting to college. If students feel stressed, they should seek out their advisor, talk with their college and high school friends and call their parents. Be proactive and take charge!

Here are some other popular books for students about transitioning to college:

  • "How to Survive Your Freshman Year" - Bernstein

  • "The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College" - Cohen

For Parents:

The following are a few tips, which were excerpted from a NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) article as well as some advice from parents who've been through the process:

  • Expect the unexpected: your child will vacillate between emotions. Go with the flow!

  • Encourage independence but offer support. Allow your child to handle college arrangements but act as a safety net.

  • Keep the lines of communication open - the balance between offering support and taking over can be a fine line of distinction. Resist the temptation to stay in daily cell phone contact.

  • Make plans for communication while your child is at college. Expect the frequency to vary whether you use email or the phone.

  • Plan the big send-off if your student will live on campus. If you plan to accompany your student, be flexible. Talk with your child ahead of time about both your plans and their expectations.

  • Take time to adjust to a house without (or with) your college-bound student. If you have other children, they may also experience a period of transition. Remember that the first visit home will also be a time of adjustment for both parents and students. Once again, communication and a good sense of humor usually save the day!

Following are some resources that might be useful for you as you prepare for your senior to transition to his/her post high school life


Video of Class of 2013 "Already Thinking About College" panel presentation on the transition to college is available online:

Event Description: Already thinking about next year and college? Wondering what to expect? Curious about campus life? Student health and support? Whether your student is heading to a “4-Year” or Community college – the transition from high school senior to college freshman is an exciting – and significant – next step. A dynamic panel of local experts in college health, campus life and adolescent development will be on hand to answer your specific questions & share their insights and advice on navigating the social transition to college. Panelists are: Donnovan Somera Yisrael, M.A. Manager of Emotional & Sexual Health Programs, I Thrive @ Stanford, Vaden Health Center, Stanford Univ.; Nancy Brown, Ph.D. Palo Alto Medical Foundation; Lisa Medoff, Ph.D., Lecturer, Human Biology, Stanford University; Sandra Cernobori, M.Ed., College Advisor, Palo Alto High School.

Loyola University's (MD) "Embracing Change" video for parents about preparing for the transition of letting go of their students headed to college is also quite good:


  • "Letting Go" by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger. It is practical and insightful.

  • Another popular title is: "Parents' Guide to College Life" by Raskin

  • Marjorie Savage's "You're On Your Own (But I'm Here if You Need Me)".

  • "The Naked Roommate" (and student workbook) by Harlan Cohen

"Next Steps for Parents" - Great advice from the authors of the "Grown & Flown" blog featured here:

Work Experience, Career Development & Job Exploration

It’s that time of year when your child may be seeking a job! Below are links to some resources that may guide their search, and a reminder that ALL students under the age of 18 must request a work permit if they are earning a wage at a verified company. Work Permits are processed year round (excluding holidays, such as the 4th of July). Job Fair slidedeck – these vendors are actively hiring as the fair was held on May 7th. PAUSD Bulletin Board for job postings & the Student Toolkit for suggestions on how to get a job. Contact: Rachael Kaci