Thursday, September 29, 2016

Class of 2017: The FAFSA opens on October 1st!

What is the FAFSA? Why fill out the FAFSA? How much student financial aid will I receive? Find out more by reading below and visiting the FAFSA web site!

Applying by the Deadlines
For federal aid, submit your application as early as possible, but no earlier than October 1, 2016. We must receive your application no later than June 30, 2018. Your college must have your correct, complete information by your last day of enrollment in the 2017-2018 school year.
For state or college aid, the deadline may be as early as October 2016. See the table to the right for state deadlines. You may also need to complete additional forms. Check with your high school guidance counselor or a financial aid administrator at your college about state and college sources of student aid and deadlines. If you are filing close to one of these deadlines, we recommend you file online at www.fafsa.gov. This is the fastest and easiest way to apply for aid.

Using Your Tax Return
We recommend that you complete and submit your FAFSA as soon as possible on or after October 1, 2016. The easiest way to complete or correct your FAFSA with accurate tax information is by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool through www.fafsa.gov. In a few simple steps, most students and parents who filed a 2015 tax return can view and transfer their tax return information directly into their FAFSA. If you (or your parents) have missed the 2015 tax filing deadline of April 2016, and still need to file a 2015 income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you should submit your FAFSA now using estimated tax information, and then you must correct that information after you file your return. Note: Both parents or both the student and spouse may need to report income information on the FAFSA if they did not file a joint tax return for 2015. For assistance with answering the income information questions in this situation, call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Filling Out the FAFSA®
If you or your family experienced significant changes to your financial situation (such as loss of employment), or other unusual circumstances (such as high unreimbursed medical or dental expenses), complete this form to the extent you can and submit it as instructed. Consult with the financial aid office at the college(s) you applied to or plan to attend. For help in filling out the FAFSA, go to www.StudentAid.gov/completefafsa or call 1-800-433-3243. TTY users (for the hearing impaired) may call 1-800-730-8913. Fill the answer fields directly on your screen or print the form and complete it by hand.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be found here
How to fill out the FAFSA video

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Admission Essay 2.0: From #NACAC16

Admission Essay 2.0:  Learn How to Think Like A Writer to Guide Your Students 



Attending NACAC's (National Association for College Admission Counseling) 72nd annual conference in Columbus, Ohio was very informative! Not only was it a wonderful time of reigniting our purpose for the profession(s) that we have chosen, but it was an opportunity to share best practices, sharpen one another, and build relationships between colleagues on both sides of the desk. 

We will share more from the conference at our #NACACreads Post Oak book club when we discuss There is Life After College on October 25th at 8:30 a.m. in the kitchen at the high school! We had the privilege of getting to know best selling author Jeffrey Selingo this week as well! After extensive research, he has gathered wonderful tips on what he thinks you should know about navigating school to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow!

The topic of this blog entry focuses on one particular session regarding the College Admission Essay. Below you will find several points from the Deans of Admission at Cornell University, University of California, Berkeley and Amherst College. The session was run by WOW writing workshop, which we will also connect you to for additional resources at the bottom of this blog. Enjoy these nuggets of wisdom from the professionals in the field of Higher Education!

Thoughts from: 
Cornell University, Shawn Felton
Amherst College, Katie Fretwell
UC Berkeley, Amy Jarich
Kim Lifton, WOW writing

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly; that’s why it’s so hard.” -David McCullough

Amherst College:
Myth 1: The essay has to be sophisticated; adolescence is not typically a time of sophistication. 1.Essays should be revealing and authentic.
2. Don’t try to be “The Pleaser”...essays fall flat!
3. “The Packrat” essay is a terrible approach! Do not try to stuff too many things in the essay. Do not 
repeat anything already listed in the application.
4. The essay is a controlled space w/ no interview... utilize it wisely! Thoughtfulness; authenticity!
5. Amherst actually uses the essays during the orientation week to produce a song/jingle about the
incoming class!
6. There are no right answers, there are no wrong answers, there are only good answers that are true.

Cornell University:
Myth 2: Students need to find an impressive topic.
1. Topic should actually be about the student and his/her life.
2. Impressive should not be the goal.
3. Don’t over think or overlook.

Myth 4: Secret Essay Formula
1. There is none!
2. Forget the essay structure from your English class. You do not need a super polished intro or conclusion!
3. There is no code to crack; there is no magic formula.
4. Colleges do know when a student gets too much help.
5. Admissions officers read thousands of essays with the 17 or 18 year old voice. They can   
DISTINCTIVELY detect when they hear the 40 year old voice.
6. Admissions officers are not looking for a writing sample from English class, they are looking for 
your thought process.
7. Don’t waste too much time on intro. 
8. Essay should be fluid, more storytelling!!!
9. Don’t let the essay turn into an artificial space or an unauthentic voice!
10. Not looking for big works or big ideas!
11. Actually, answer the questions!!!!

UC, Berkeley:
Myth 3: Admissions officers don’t really read essays and short answers.
1. They read the application and essays many times, at least three times at Berkeley! Berkeley
received 83,000 applications last year… that is a lot of reading!
2. In the essay, they are looking for leadership, ambition and desire to achieve success.
3. Everyone has some type of challenge, speak to that. What calls you to make a change?
4. If you think that you are “normal” or “boring” look through your social media... what stands out?
5. Admissions officers read all of the “gold standard” essays on the Internet and in books… DON’T 
plagiarize or borrow other people's ideas. 




WOW Writing Workshop information: www.WowWritingWorkshop.com






Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bullet points to remember from Junior/Senior Meetings!

In the event that you need a refresh from our initial group meeting (or the donut did not wake you up enough), here are a few items to keep in mind as we journey together this year:

Class of 2017 College Connection Meeting
September 7th, 2016

  • Post Oak College Counseling Philosophy: 
    • The Post Oak High School Office of College Counseling bases its work on the Montessori philosophy and the individuality of each student. Our mission is to support the natural development from adolecent into adulthood, guiding students through self-exploration in order to live a peaceful and productive life. Our goal is to foster independent thinking and high personal expectation, providing a high-touch, self-motivated platform. Our hope is to not only prepare students for college, but for life, as they utilize a multifaceted approcah to self discovery. We respect and embrace the unique gifts, talents and interests of each student and our desire is to find the best fit college or university that will result in the perfect match and a joyful transition for the student. Every student meets with the college counselor each semester. In every phase of the college admission process, we provide guidance, while at the same time, setting a tone for students that it is their responsibility to remain in the driver’s seat of the college counseling journey. In allignment with our school mission, ultimately, our intention is to prepare an outstanding Montessori environment that fosters collaboration, cooperation and peace, and to provide experiences that promote curiosity, inquiry and engagement. Designed according to the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual characteristics and needs of the learner, our methods guide and nurture each individual from infancy to adulthood. The school’s approach is grounded in the principles of AMI Montessori education.
  • Naviance account: http://connection.naviance.com/postoakhs
    • Log-in
    • About me: Profile… is it correct? Verify e-mail addresses, names, phone numbers, etc. Add any additional info.
    • Colleges: Colleges I’m Applying to 
    • Delivery type in all applications (CA? Coalition? Otherwise…) 
    • CA Ferpa waiver prior to Naviance CA Sync
    • Careers: Roadtrip Nation
    • About Me: Resume
    • DI E-mails
    • College Fairs
    • College Application Process: Dates Apps open, ways to apply (review) ED?
  • Testing: ACT/SAT (ensure that your name is the exact same across every facet of your educational journey, i.e., POHS Transcript & records, Naviance, PSAT, SAT, ACT, Common Application, ApplyTexas, etc.) 
  • Individual Family Meeting scheduled for September
  • College Tours?
  • College Rep Student Ambassadors: Sign up
  • 2 LOR (+1 outside)
  • Essays: ideas, tips, a time of sharing
  • Herff Jones: Graduation regalia, class ring and announcement order forms will go home the week on October 17th. Herff Jones will be at Post Oak to take orders on November 3rd from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.! All seniors must purchase graduation regalia; additional items are optional. To see ring samples and get sized for a ring, please see Mrs. Smith. 
Class of 2018 College Connection Meeting
September 7th, 2016

  • Post Oak College Counseling Philosophy: 
    • The Post Oak High School Office of College Counseling bases its work on the Montessori philosophy and the individuality of each student. Our mission is to support the natural development from adolecent into adulthood, guiding students through self-exploration in order to live a peaceful and productive life. Our goal is to foster independent thinking and high personal expectation, providing a high-touch, self-motivated platform. Our hope is to not only prepare students for college, but for life, as they utilize a multifaceted approcah to self discovery. We respect and embrace the unique gifts, talents and interests of each student and our desire is to find the best fit college or university that will result in the perfect match and a joyful transition for the student. Every student meets with the college counselor each semester. In every phase of the college admission process, we provide guidance, while at the same time, setting a tone for students that it is their responsibility to remain in the driver’s seat of the college counseling journey. In allignment with our school mission, ultimately, our intention is to prepare an outstanding Montessori environment that fosters collaboration, cooperation and peace, and to provide experiences that promote curiosity, inquiry and engagement. Designed according to the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual characteristics and needs of the learner, our methods guide and nurture each individual from infancy to adulthood. The school’s approach is grounded in the principles of AMI Montessori education.
  • Naviance account: http://connection.naviance.com/postoakhs
    • Log-in
    • About me: Profile… is it correct? Verify e-mail addresses, names, phone numbers, etc. Add any additional info.
    • Colleges: Colleges I’m thinking about
    • Colleges: Enrichment Programs
    • Colleges: College Search, Save by date and abbreviation. 
    • Careers: Do What You Are
    • Careers: Roadtrip Nation
    • About Me: Resume
    • DI E-mails
    • College Fairs
    • College Application Process: Dates Apps open, ways to apply
  • Testing: ACT/SAT (ensure that your name is the exact same across every facet of your enducaitonal journey, i.e., POHS Transcript & records, Naviance, PSAT, SAT, ACT, Common Application, ApplyTexas, etc.) 
  • Herff Jones: Class ring and announcement order forms will go home the week on October 17th. Herff Jones will be at Post Oak to take orders on November 3rd from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.! To see ring samples and get sized for a ring, please see Mrs. Smith. 
  • Individual Family Meetings scheduled for first semester
  • College Tours
  • 2 Letters of recommendation (ask in March 2017 via Naviance and in person)

*PSAT/SAT Reasoning/SAT Subject/ACT preparation booklets were distributed to all students.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

PSAT/NMSQT: October 19th, 2016 and related items!

I hope that you are doing well! I have a few dates that I would like to make you aware of, with hopes of getting the logistical info out on the table from the onset in order to  provide you with reading material and information regarding what’s trending in higher education and college admissions as we move forward.

1. September 7th: Information presented by our Herff Jones rep (Dalas Dale) regarding Class Ring orders for the Class of 2017 & 2018 and graduation order information (Regalia/Announcements/etc.) for the Class of 2017. Students will bring home all information presented; however, parents are welcome to attend. The Class of 2018 meeting will be at 8:00 a.m. and the Class of 2017 will be at 8:30 a.m.!

2. September 17th @10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: IB College and University Fair at Awty International School. Parents are encouraged to attend with students.

3. October 19th, 2016 @8:00 a.m.: P/SAT for all 9th-11th grade students. What is the P/SAT and why is it important? The P/SAT is a nationwide, multiple-choice test taken by about 3.4 million high school students every year–mostly sophomores and juniors. At Post Oak, we test all 9th-11th graders. A great primer for the SAT and even the ACT, the P/SAT  is shorter than the SAT and ACT. The P/SAT/NMSQT does not count towards college admissions; however, it is the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarships (11th grade only). That means that the highest scoring students may win scholarship money. If you believe that your son/daughter is eligible to qualify for extended time due to a disability, please read the SSD Eligibility information and contact AmandaSmith@PostOakSchool.org at your earliest convenience. Read more about the P/SAT! All students have individualized test prep in their Naviance account, tailored to their readiness level! If you need help accessing this tool, please contact the college counselor.

4. October 25th @8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.: NACACreads Book Club for Post Oak school parents!

5. Ongoing College Visits: Please check the College Visit list on the blog, or your internal POHS calendar for the updated list of college visits. All students and parents are invited to attend college admission representative visits! 100+ visits expected.

6. Let’s set a meeting date! The College Counselor would like to meet with all senior families by September 29th! All 9th-11th grade families are welcome to e-mail availability in order to secure a meeting date for October or November. We look forward to partnering with you as we help your son/daughter pursue their dreams!

7. December 8th @11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m., HARN College Fair at POHS. The Houston Area Recruiter’s Network is a community of professional college and university representatives from a variety of non-profit, accredited, academic institutions who serve Houston area high school students and their families with integrity. HARN is committed to collaborating with high school and college counselors to provide educational access and resources tailored for each student and their needs for future endeavors. This website is intended as a resource for college counselors and students who would like more information about the various universities represented in the HARN network.


Happy exploring!