The College Counseling Office at Berkshire has tremendous success finding colleges and universities that best match each student’s talents, interests, and aspirations. College counselors are intently focused on knowing their students well and placing them in a position of strength to choose the school that is the best fit for them.
College counseling at Berkshire is rooted in an effective partnership between each student, his or her parents, and the college counselor. Berkshire provides a level of expertise and service in the college process far surpassing schools of similar and larger size. Each college counselor works with an average of 22 students, giving Berkshire’s students a distinct competitive edge in the college process. This effective ratio allows our students to spend more time with their college counselors providing them with greater guidance and resources to prepare them for their college application and selection process.
All Fifth Formers and their parents are auto-registered for Naviance Student the summer before the student’s Fifth Form year. Parents receive an email which includes your username and initial password.
To access Naviance Student, click Naviance Student and follow these steps:
On the home page, enter your email (username) and password and click “Log In”
Select the child (if more than one at Berkshire), and click “Go”
Select one of the two tabs, “About me” or “Colleges”
These are sections you will find most useful on the About Me Home page:
Biographical and contact information for each parent.
If you would like to change your password, you can do so here.
Berkshire School Spring Survey
An archive of all “Journal Entries” emailed from college counselor to student and parents as updates throughout each stage of the college process.
Search for colleges
Enter the name of any college or university. This will direct you to a list of schools under “college lookup” with each school linked to admissions information and an application history from previous Berkshire candidates. We encourage students and parents to visit a college’s individual website via the link next to the school’s name. The top ten overlaps for previous Berkshire applicants are available via “College Overlaps” which can help to expand a college list by considering similar schools.
Colleges I’m thinking about
To add a college to your list: Click the heart icon next to the school’s name. Students, parents, and counselors can build a list of colleges and universities to explore and research. Each school is linked to the same information as outlined above, and the application type and deadlines are easily organized and accessed here.
In addition to the required summer reading for all students, our Class of 2022 is required to return to campus in September with a completed draft of their Common App college essay. The pace and expectations at the beginning of the sixth-form year can make it challenging for Sixth Formers to find the time to write their most thoughtful and effective college essay. Therefore, in order to encourage each student's best effort with this critical component of the college application process, we require every Sixth Former to deliver a college essay to his or her college counselor at registration.
This essay should not be an initial draft, but rather a polished draft that reflects significant effort and considerable revision. The relative quiet of summer provides time to consider and determine the essay topic and to begin the lengthy and essential process of drafting and revision. While each Sixth Former will work with a college counselor (and other trusted readers) to revise and finalize the essay before including it with his or her applications, the essay submitted in September should be close to a final draft. Our college meetings with students during April and May of the fifth-form year include discussions about appropriate and effective essay topics.
With most colleges and universities accepting the Common Application, Sixth Formers can usually submit one essay with all their college applications. Most colleges, however, will also require additional school-specific short essays or responses (supplements), making it even more important for students to devote time over the summer to completing their primary essay. The college essay is a central component of each student's application, and it remains the one place in an application for a student to truly highlight his or her unique and distinctive personal qualities. Writing an effective college essay should be a deeply reflective exercise. The essay should provide a clear window into who each student is as a person and what values, experiences, and qualities he or she will bring to a college or university community.
The essay is also regarded as a writing sample that allows college admission officers to assess each applicant's skills and talents as a writer and critical thinker. We encourage our Sixth Formers to embrace the challenge of writing an effective college essay and to use it to celebrate their unique talents, interests, and aspirations while also showcasing their strongest writing.
The final version of your college essay should be between one to two pages (250-650 words) in length and is typically formatted in 12-point font with 1" margins. Students should always include their full name at the top of the essay in the event that their application materials are temporarily (and rarely) misplaced within a college admission office.
We encourage Sixth Formers to follow up with their college counselors with any questions or for advice at any step in this process. Good luck!
2021-2022 COMMON APPLICATION PERSONAL ESSAY
Please write an essay on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed on the Common App website, click here. This personal essay helps us to become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself.
2021-2022 Common Application Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE COLLEGE ESSAY
Less is more. Write with a clear, concise, and easy-to-follow style. Use specific and vivid examples. Always remember that the best writers spend most of their time editing the words they can do without.
Be true to yourself. A personal essay is a window into your unique qualities. Be authentic. Write with your true self in mind, not an idealized version of whom you'd like to be.
Don't make a big deal out of nothing. Choose a significant experience and talk persuasively but appropriately about its impact on you.
Tell a story. The most successful college essays are simply stories well told. It's not an academic piece of writing. It's a creative piece of writing. Write with a voice that's conversational and welcoming.
Set the hook. Your first sentence and first paragraph need to sing. Remember that your essay is sitting in a stack of a hundred others. Make the admission officer "sit up" at the start of reading yours.
The brutally honest question: Could anyone else have written this essay? If the answer is yes, start over.
Greetings from the College Office! Please make time over the summer to complete the tasks listed below. These tasks will ensure a smooth transition back to campus in the fall and will set you up for successful completion of your application process. Most of you will be applying to college in October for a November 1 deadline, and those dates arrive only a few weeks after your return to Berkshire. If you have any questions over the summer please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com.
Teacher Recommendation Request (Required)
If you have not done so, please email two teachers to ask if they would be willing to write a recommendation for you. Once the teacher has agreed, you must fill out the Teacher Recommendation Request form for each teacher.
Naviance Student Survey (Required)
If you haven’t done so already, please complete the student survey (Class of 2023 Spring Survey) by July 1. Only your college counselor will have access to this survey. Please be thorough and very specific with your answers. This survey will help your counselor represent you to colleges and universities.
College Essay/Personal Statement (Required)
Every student MUST return to campus with a complete draft of their college essay to be turned in to your college counselor during orientation.
Campus Visits (In Person or Virtual)
If possible, we encourage you to schedule visits to colleges during the summer months. Most campuses have reopened for in-person visits and will continue to host virtual events. In addition to being a helpful tool in the decision process, visits are also an important way of expressing interest in a college. Students should be sure to visit schools across the full range of their list, not just their “reach” schools. It’s a great idea to make copies of your (or your child’s) transcript to take to interviews. When visiting campuses, be sure to call ahead of time to schedule a tour, information session, and interview (if they are offered). Take photos and jot notes down on the way home from the visit. Impressions can begin to blur together after visiting a few schools!
If you drop by a campus without an appointment, be sure to complete an inquiry card in the admission office so they know you were there. These visits can also help narrow your initial college list. It is meant to be a working list and, in most cases, will change over the summer.
If these college visits cannot be made during summer, please make arrangements to visit schools during the scheduled Berkshire breaks in October, November, and December.
Sixth Form/Post Graduate Testing Plan
Standardized tests taken during the Sixth Form year will vary by individual. Please be aware that the August SAT, September ACT, and October SAT and ACT test dates below have very early registration deadlines. You should consider signing up online before arriving on campus at www.collegeboard.org (for SATs) or www.actstudent.org (for ACTs). A credit card is required. College Board registration opens the second week of June; ACT opens the first week of July. Students who have been approved by the College Board or ACT for accommodations can also register online. If you have questions about which test(s) to take, please be in touch with us over the summer.
- If students plan to take the ACT, they should register for the September 10th and/or October 22nd test dates. Berkshire will once again be a closed test center and you will need the code 195110 to register.
- Students taking the SAT should register for August 28th at an off-campus testing center or October 12th on campus. October 12th is a school-day test and students will register during a form meeting in September.
If your family plans to apply for financial aid in college, it is essential that all financial aid forms be carefully completed. You should visit each college’s website to see the specific financial aid formulas they use and to get a cost estimate using the school’s Net Price Calculator. Please note that different institutions require different forms for financial aid evaluation. Below are the forms most often required.
- FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is required by all colleges and universities. Online filing is available, but not required.
- CSS Profile: This is required by many private institutions and some state schools.
- Institutional Forms: These are individual institutional forms sent to you by a college or university or found on an institution’s website. You will also need to submit copies of your family’s and your child’s tax forms.
- The CSS Profile should be done during the fall term, ideally by Oct. 1. The FAFSA is available on Oct. 1 and should be submitted before November 15 for early applications. These forms take some time to complete. We highly recommend doing them as early as possible. It is essential that you meet each school's filing deadline to receive full consideration for aid.
- International students will, in many cases, need to submit original bank statements and an original Certification of Finances form with each college application even if they are not applying for Financial Aid. If possible, students should bring these forms with them to school in September.
- Students whose first language is not English must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. Students should take the TOEFL over the summer if at all possible. In the fall, Berkshire will offer transportation to take the test off campus at an official testing center.
- The FinAid website has helpful financial aid information. Fastweb is a valuable resource for locating scholarship opportunities.
REVOLUTION PREPClick on the link above to schedule a meeting with Revolution Prep, a partner of Berkshire School. Revolution Prep helps parents review and interpret score reports, answers questions, and offers courses to prepare students for standardized testing.
Click on the link above to sign-up with High-End Test Prep, or for more information, including a test prep schedule.