Waterford’s 4-Year College Counseling Curriculum at a Glance
October 26, 2020
The Waterford School College Counseling Office guides, supports, and serves our students as they consider an exciting variety of undergraduate options. Waterford’s College Counselors have extensive experience in secondary education and college admissions and have developed a program to educate and encourage students to take responsibility for meeting deadlines and making important decisions. Waterford Upper School students engage in a four-year curriculum that guides students and parents through an exciting process of college exploration—a process that ultimately results in acceptances to top colleges well-suited to student interests and passions.
Waterford’s college counselors begin working with students as they enter Upper School, developing a relationship with students that allows counselors to provide informed guidance and support to students throughout the college process. The Waterford School counselor to student ratio is 1:29, considerably lower than the national (1:450) and Utah state (1:350) ratios (National Center for Education Statistics).
Sari Rauscher, the Director of College Counseling at the Waterford School, earned her BA at Dartmouth College in Government, where she also competed as a two-time NCAA All-American in Alpine Skiing. She has gained college counseling expertise through the Harvard Summer Admissions Institute, annual professional development conferences, and working with hundreds of talented Waterford students. She has visited over 50 colleges and admission offices in her fifteen years of college counseling at Waterford School. Sari has served as a National Delegate for the National College Admissions Association (NACAC) as well as on the Board of the Rocky Mountain Association of College Admissions Counseling. She currently serves as Chair of the Utah RMACAC College Fair.
Sari began at Waterford School in 1998 as part-time ski coach, while doing post-grad pre-medical coursework, and soon started teaching Senior English electives and Class X Writing Colloquium. She liked it so much she stayed, coaching, teaching PE, English electives and ancient history, and serving as community service advisor and college counselor. She became Director of College Counseling in 2004. She enjoys a good read about U.S. history and explorers, and has recently taken courses in Contemporary China and India. She enjoys hearing from Waterford alumni, and staying up to date on interesting new opportunities in higher education and careers. She enjoys outdoor adventures with students, and makes time for hiking, mountain biking, running, and skiing with her husband and two daughters, Waterford students in the Class of 2022 and 2024. She is a fan of Waterford sports teams, and especially Waterford Ballet, Music and Theater programs.
Nick Grenoble graduated summa cum laude from Connecticut College in International Relations and Economics and has a certificate in College Counseling from UCLA. He brings eight years experience in college counseling, educational services, and tutoring. Prior to his role at Waterford School, he served as the College Preparation Services Coordinator for Jackson Hole and Teton County communities for over five years—offering workshops, classes, presentations, and individual college counseling through the Teton County Library, as well as serving as college counselor for many Jackson area families.
Nick is well-versed in the college application process, testing, financial aid, and connecting electronically and in person with teens. He has a passion for student growth through the transition to higher education. We feel fortunate to have him on our team. He has a warm and engaged approach with students, and values Waterford’s commitment to excellence.
Colleges Look for a Rigorous Curriculum
The Waterford School curriculum is the rigorous, challenging, inclusive program colleges are looking for on a college application. Colleges report that course choice and grades are the most important factors in college admission. The standard curriculum at Waterford School is considered rigorous and complete. Students may choose to enrich their curriculum with selected Honors and AP courses. Beginning in ninth grade, students look ahead to future course selections, registration, and planning with teachers, deans, and college counselors.
Waterford School students possess the kind of academic preparation and experience that colleges seek. Highly selective colleges and universities recognize Waterford’s academic program as both robust and rigorous. College admission offices collect data on their admitted students to determine the types of students who will succeed at their schools. School report forms, the school profile, counselor reports, and teacher recommendation letters provide much of this information, in addition to student grades, activities, and test scores. Year after year, college representatives pursue Waterford students because of their demonstrated success at colleges across the country.
Learning, Exploration, and Grades Matter
Beginning Freshman year, students and parents have access to Waterford’s online college counseling resources and tools.
Canvas: Waterford’s Learning Management System (to which all parents and students have access). College counselors use Canvas to communicate with students, enroll students in a college counseling course curriculum, and provide best college resources, testing information, suggested readings, and thoughts for parents.
SCOIR: Waterford’s College Counseling Office uses SCOIR, a web-based tool that helps students research and apply to colleges. In January of their Class X year, students will be assigned a SCOIR account. Parents also have access to this tool.
Course selection is an important part of Freshman year, as it is the first year in a student’s academic career that grades factor into their reported GPAs. Waterford college counselors work closely with teachers, deans, and the registrar to ensure that students are taking appropriately challenging courses.
Freshman year is also a time to explore, play, and find passions. Extra-curricular activities are a great way for students to discover interests and distinguish themselves in the college process. During Freshman year, Waterford college counselors recommend:
Growth and Challenge: Distinguish Yourself
The start of Sophomore year is a good time for students to carefully consider their academic trajectory. Waterford School college counselors recommend that students challenge themselves with the most rigorous course of study they can manage. Student GPA also becomes increasingly important, so students need to be mindful of balancing course selection with academic performance.
Academic aspects to consider as they relate to the college process:
Robotics? Debate? Writing? String Quartet? Soccer? Community Service? No one activity is “the best” for college. During Sophomore year, students should keep exploring while stepping up their involvement in preferred activities. It is also important, however, that students pay attention to balance and health–students may need to drop some activities to keep others going alongside rigorous academics. Waterford School college counselors help students refine their selections and focus on areas where they demonstrate the greatest interest and talent.
PSAT: All Sophomore students take the PSAT on the national test date, a Wednesday morning in mid-October; no registration necessary.
If standardized testing is the weaker part of your application, consider applying test-optional at a college that offers this application program.Suggested test schedule by class:Freshman (Class IX): noneSophomore (Class X):
Junior (Class XI):
Senior (Class XII):Possible SAT and/or ACT for 2nd or 3rd time (September-November)Possible SAT Subject test retake for Math or English Literature
*What’s the deal with SAT Subject tests? A few highly selective colleges require or recommend two SAT Subject Test scores. Many engineering programs will require an SAT Subject Test score in Math 2 and a science subject (physics, chemistry, biology).
High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test PSAT/NMSQT—which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.6 million entrants each year—and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.
Over the 1.6 million entrants, roughly 15,000 students are selected as National Merit Finalists.
Considering Values, Developing Criteria, Researching…Take Action!
During Junior year, Waterford School college counselors introduce students to the college search. Students develop personal college criteria based on their strengths and interests and hopes for their college experiences.
In the fall, college admission representatives from top U.S. colleges visit Waterford School one at a time during the school day. Students have an opportunity to meet with representatives and learn more about schools of interest.
Throughout the year, the college counseling office runs weekly college workshops for juniors that cover topics ranging from how to research colleges, filling out the common application, and asking for teacher recommendations. Beginning in January, college counselors meet individually with students and parents to develop college lists, review course load, and suggest colleges to visit.
Grades in academic and arts courses are critically important this year–an upward trajectory is the goal, especially if colleges can see growth and maturity since Freshman year (Class IX). Waterford School college counselors recommend that students also develop their intellectual interests through independent work and self-directed study.
During Junior year, students are encouraged to take on leadership roles within their extracurricular activities.
Potential College Athlete? Complete college recruiting questionnaires. Sign up for summer camps, showcases, and/or leagues to feature your talents. Construct a highlight video. Register with NCAA Clearinghouse if you are looking at D1 or D2 programs.
Budding Performing Artist? Draft a resume and gather films of performances. Consider summer experiences where you can test this interest in a short time frame. Begin to prepare for auditions for those looking to major.
Aspiring Visual Artist? Begin assembling a portfolio; write Artist’s Statements for each piece you include; consider summer experiences where you can test this interest in a short time frame.
PSAT: October–All Junior (Class XI) students take the PSAT on the national test date, a Wednesday morning in mid-October; no registration necessary.
December: Review PSAT scores; Practice ACT on Saturday in December
Plan for Spring testing in December-January:
Times have changed–colleges across the nation will take either an SAT or an ACT; students send in their best score(s) on either test.
How much test prep should you complete? That depends on where you are applying and how much you feel your scores need to improve.
If standardized testing isn’t where you show your best work, there is a growing list of excellent colleges that choose to be “Test Optional” in their admissions (more emphasis is put on grades, courses, and other work). See www.FairTest.org for a list. High test scores are generally more important the more selective the college is.
Locally, scores are important at BYU–28 is their average accepted ACT score.
Many colleges give merit scholarship money based largely on test scores, with a wide range of scores earning scholarship at different colleges.
Discuss options with your college counselor. There are many local courses available as well as online and free options. Waterford School faculty members provide a Saturday ACT prep course February-April, and Waterford School Summer Term has ACT prep on campus.
College Visits and Summer Opportunities
Summer is a terrific time to reflect, to distinguish yourself, to have new experiences, and to explore your passions. Waterford School offers amazing Summer Term programs on campus and abroad for students to take a deeper dive into areas of interest.
Additional recommendations for summer activities:
Waterford School college counselors help students identify a number of colleges they may want to visit. College counselors provide students with the names of Waterford alumni currently attending the colleges they plan to visit. Waterford School college counselors offer the following advice for making the most of a college campus visit:
Student tour guides will introduce themselves, talk about their major and main extra-curricular activities. Follow up with tour guides and ask about aspects of daily life on campus that interest you.
Also seek out other students during your visit and ask a few questions.
Ask how the student chose this college and what were some of the factors considered.
Below are additional sample questions:
Apply, Communicate, Celebrate
During the fall of senior year, much of the college application work and meetings is individualized. Waterford School college counselors work one-on-one with seniors to finalize college lists, review essays, and complete applications.
Grades in rigorous courses continue to be very important during the first half of senior year, and colleges look closely at senior year course choice. Grades are released around December 1, and sent to colleges as part of a “Mid Year Report” required by Common App colleges. For students who have been waitlisted at preferred colleges, grades continue to be important throughout the winter. Colleges often consider these grades as they decide who to accept from the waitlist.
Again, an upward trajectory is important: admissions officers are judging your most current motivation and preparation to be a college student through course choices and grades earned. Colleges value success across the disciplines, but also look for demonstrated success in your stated field of academic interest.
By Senior year, find an area on campus to be a leader. It could be the classroom, the arts, the athletic fields, robotics, yearbook, etc. Lead through action and not necessarily title. Colleges like to see leadership potential in prospective students.
Many students retake the SAT and/or ACT to maximize their scores after summer preparation.
SAT: New late August date, October, November.
ACT: Early September, October.
Scores typically take three weeks to report. Most colleges will update scores even after their application is due, but students need to have a strong score by October if applying Early Decision or Early Action.
Colleges value the discipline inherent in time spent in performing and visual arts.
High level arts coursework can help set a student’s application apart, even if students aren’t applying as arts majors.
Students majoring in performing arts or attending conservatory go through a demanding audition process.
Students majoring in visual arts are required to complete impressive visual arts portfolios in photography, painting and drawing, ceramics, or other mediums.
Waterford performing and visual arts faculty help students convey the quality and depth of arts work completed. Waterford School Students have been accepted at and attended the following art schools and conservatories in the past five years (matriculations in bold):
California College of the ArtsCalifornia Institute of the ArtsKansas City Art InstituteMaine College of ArtPratt InstituteSan Francisco Art InstituteSavannah College of Art and DesignSchool of the Art Institute of Chicago
Johns Hopkins University Peabody InstituteJuilliard SchoolManhattan School of MusicNew England Conservatory of MusicUniversity of Cincinnati Conservatory of MusicCleveland Institute of MusicEastman School of Music, University of RochesterRoyal Academy of Music, LondonSan Francisco Conservatory of Music
The Waterford School College Counseling Office works closely with students to ensure deadlines are met and all documents are appropriately sent to colleges. SCOIR is used to manage the application process.
Where Waterford students are currently attending.
With no end to college admissions books, here are a few Waterford School college counselors have found useful for understanding the higher education landscape: