What makes our college admissions program exceptional?
Personalized College Counseling
Sylvia Israel, our Academic Dean, works with each student to help them find the best fit for college, and to help colleges understand our school and our students. Ms. Israel meets with students and parents beginning as early as 8th grade to help them understand and navigate the admissions process.
College Visits and Discussions
As a school, we tour colleges every year - from Harvard and Stanford to William & Mary and UVA. Beginning in sixth grade, students get a taste of what is available and, as they progress through middle and high school, narrow their focus to the schools that are the best fit for their interests and goals.
Working Relationships with Faculty
We treat our students as junior colleagues. We also work with students over many years, so when teachers write college recommendation letters, it is with a deep knowledge of each student, which is critical to help colleges understand why our students are exceptional.
The members of the Loudoun School for the Gifted Classes of 2014 and 2015 (a total of 12 students) have been offered over $675,000 in merit-based scholarships from prestigious colleges and universities. Over 75% were accepted by their first college choice. These schools included:
Christopher Newport University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
James Madison University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Sweet Briar College
Texas Christian University
University of California, Berkeley
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
University of Richmond
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Tech)
Washington and Jefferson College
William & Mary
College advising at the Loudoun School is student-driven, with the benefit of individualized guidance from our Academic Dean based on her ongoing research on the admissions process and regular conversations with college admissions officers. We introduce the college admissions process as early as eighth grade, and meet with students at various points through high school. Beginning in the junior year, we have regular, sustained conversations with students about their areas of academic focus, their college search criteria, and their professional goals. Personal meetings are scheduled with each student several times during the junior year, and these conversations continue until the college selection process is complete in the spring of senior year.
Our goal is to educate, support, and assist both students and parents in managing the college search and admissions process to help students find the schools that best fit their preferences and goals. Our commitment to encouraging a student-driven college search and application process is based on the belief that the process is about their future. The day each student leaves for college is the most important step in a journey that began much earlier. It is for this reason that we encourage and nurture independence and individualism to promote future success in college and in life.
At the same time, we have learned a great deal about the college admissions process through research and conversations with college admissions officers. Our Academic Dean attends information sessions for the most selective colleges and universities in the country. Touring college campuses and developing relationships with admissions officers provides up-to-date guidance designed to aid our students in the selective admissions process. We share this information with students and parents, and the Academic Dean communicates with each student’s preferred colleges to help the colleges better understand our students, our academic program, and our school.
The courses a student chooses to take in high school tell colleges a great deal about the student’s academic aptitude and disposition. Most courses at the Loudoun School are delivered at an honors or advanced level designed to emulate discussion-based college and graduate school seminars. When college admissions officers look at a high school student’s transcript and course selections, they do so in the context of the high school’s specific course offerings. Therefore, a student from a high school with few or no Advanced Placement courses (“APs”), for example, will not be disadvantaged compared to a student from a high school that offers many APs. Every transcript sent to colleges is accompanied by our high school profile that describes the curriculum in detail so admission representatives understand the rigor and focus of our program.
Our students are encouraged to take the PSAT in ninth grade and tenth grade for preliminary exposure to, and practice with, testing content. The “official” PSAT is administered in October of their junior year, and it is the initial qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship awards. Students will be advised as to when they should take the SAT and/or ACT, as well as SAT Subject Tests based on each student’s individual learning sequence. As noted earlier, students own this process: they register for standardized testing on time and prepare for these exams in a committed, focused way.
Ultimately, students who are most satisfied with the college admissions and selection process are those who understand their goals and preferences, take the time to research the schools that best fit their interests, ask questions of admissions representatives, and take note of the specific requirements for each school. As a result, they find schools that meet their criteria, placing them in the best position for success in college and as professionals.
We do our best to help students make the most of this process.
According to college admissions representatives, students who have access to comprehensive college counseling are better prepared to navigate the college search and application process. They are aware of timelines, expectations and the differences among colleges.
+ About the Tests
PSAT The PSAT is the Preliminary SAT Test; it is a two-hour-and-ten minute practice test for the SAT Reasoning Test. It is a test whose score, after the junior year administration only, is used by the National Merit organization to determine Commended, Semi-Finalist and Finalist standings for recognition or even scholarships of up to about $2500. The PSAT is administered in October to Loudoun School students in grades 7-10, to give them a “real test” experience, and then again in the junior year as the official PSAT.
The New SAT and SAT Subject Tests According to the College Board, the New SAT is 3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the optional Essay). There will be evidence based reading and writing based sections as well as math. Focus is on the knowledge, skills and understandings that research has identified as most important for college and career readiness and success. There will be greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone and impact. There will be no penalty for guessing. The optional essay will be given at the end of the SAT; colleges and universities determine whether they will require the Essay for admission. The new Essay format tests reading, analysis,and writing skills; students produce a written analysis of a provided source text.
The SAT Subject Test is a subject specific test of one hour in length which measures how much a student has learned in a particular subject area. Students from the Loudoun School will be advised to take at least two Subject tests depending on individual student course completion during their 9th- 11th grade years. Subject Tests are recommended or required by many competitive colleges and universities, therefore it is important that students take these tests when they are most prepared in a particular subject, usually at the end of the course in June, when studying for the final exam offers students excellent preparation. Some students prefer to take Subject Tests in the fall, using the summer months to practice unencumbered by homework during the academic year.
There is no one right way to college: there is only the best and most appropriate way to college for each student.
How to send SAT Score Reports to Colleges For each student tested, three Score Reports are generated: one for the student, one for the high school and one for colleges.
SAT Reasoning Test and Subject Test Scores: While most colleges use the highest Reading and Math subsections of the SAT Reasoning Test for their consideration of applicants, students should check each school's policy regarding Score Choice. Some colleges allow students to pick and choose which scores to submit with their applications; others do not. Please see www.collegeboard.org for an up-to-date list of each school's practice.
It will not cost more to send one, multiple or all test scores. College Board hopes that this will help "lessen the anxiety associated with testing, and allow student to put their best foot forward on test day."
Sending Scores: When a student’s testing is complete, or at an earlier time if necessary due to an early application deadline, the student must request that the College Board send his or her scores on an Official Score Report to the appropriate colleges. To do so, the easiest way for students to send their scores is to go to www.collegeboard.org; the student just needs to click on Send Scores and follow the directions from there.
Advanced Placement Testing For Loudoun School students who have demonstrated especially strong ability or interest in a given subject, the three-hour subject-specific Advanced Placement exam, often combining essays with multiple choice questions, offers a real challenge and a respected, standardized measure of a student’s ability in a particular field. It is such a respected test that credit toward college graduation, or advanced standing in a particular discipline at college, is usually given for most strong scores (4’s and 5’s).
The AP was designed originally as a means for students to get college-level credit for advanced work done in high school. Now it is also used by college admission officer as a way to separate the very good students in a subject area from the excellent students.
The ACT The ACT is an Iowa-based alternative test to the SAT. The ACT is considered to be more like a Subject Test than the SAT Reasoning Test (more content-based than “reasoning,” or “aptitude” based). The ACT has four sections of 45 minutes duration each, plus there is an optional writing section, which is almost always recommended. Some colleges even accept the ACT with Writing in lieu of SAT Subject Tests. The four required sections of the ACT are English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science.
Recently, the ACT has gained popularity and is now accepted universally as a substitute for the SAT by colleges. Students considering taking this test should explore practice questions (available online and in various resource books) prior to registration.
+ Financial Aid Tips
When it comes to applying for financial aid, the first rule to remember is: Time is money. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of receiving the most aid from the most sources.
FAFSA Tips: Now is the Time to Apply The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary form you will need in order to apply for federal financial aid, including grants, work-study, and loans. The FAFSA is not as complicated as it may appear, and there are many free resources -- online and offline -- to help you and your parents navigate the application process. Prepare tax returns as soon as possible -- income and asset figures from your tax returns are needed to complete the FAFSA. Complete the FAFSA online at FAFSA on the Web. Applying online speeds the processing of your application. FAFSA on the Web will also validate your answers, so there is less chance of entering incomplete or contradictory information. Apply now. The FAFSA can be submitted any time after January 1.
How to Tackle the PROFILE CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® is the financial aid application service of the College Board. Many colleges use information collected on the PROFILE to award nonfederal aid, such as institutional grants. If a college to which you are applying requires PROFILE, here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
• File the PROFILE online. This speeds processing time, alerts you to errors in your application before you submit it, and provides you with extensive online help including a live chat service with customer service representatives.
• Submit PROFILE before priority filing dates. You can find the priority filing date for each of your colleges at PROFILE Online.
• Give yourself time. You can complete the PROFILE in multiple sessions. We recommend starting at least a week before you intend to complete the application.
+ Useful Links - College Admission and Financial Aid