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.
- FIFTH FORM YEAR
- SIXTH FORM YEAR
- PARENT GUIDE TO NAVIANCE STUDENT
- SUMMER COLLEGE ESSAY REQUIREMENT
- SUMMER & FALL COLLEGE CHECKLIST
Students meet with their advisor and Fifth Form Dean to ensure the most challenging and appropriate course of study.
PSAT is administered at Berkshire for all Fifth Formers.
College counselors are assigned to Fifth Formers.
Initial meetings with college counselor to discuss interests and goals, to review PSAT results, and to confirm each student’s standardized testing schedule through spring and fall.
College counselors assist all Fifth Formers in registering for the May SAT and April ACT.
Fifth Form Parents College Program for students and parents, with visiting college and university admissions representatives. All Fifth Formers are required to attend.
College meetings with counselor to draft an initial list of colleges to consider and research.
Practice SAT at Berkshire for students enrolled in SAT Tutorial Program.
College and university visits and interviews strongly recommended during March vacation.
Interested Fifth Formers have the option of taking the March SAT at a test site near home; review and confirm this decision with your college counselor.
ACT is administered at Berkshire for all Fifth Formers.
SAT is administered at Berkshire for all Fifth Formers.
SAT Subject Tests available to select students in AP courses just prior to/after the AP Exam; review and confirm this decision with your subject teacher and college counselor.
Register with NCAA Eligibility Center if an aspiring Division I or II athlete.
Students make formal requests for two teacher recommendations.
Finalize your preliminary college list.
Complete College Essay
Complete a draft of the Common Application form
SAT Subject Test(s) for Fifth Formers as appropriate. These tests are taken at a test site near home since Berkshire is not in session. Recommended for students planning to apply to colleges or universities which require SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT or ACT. Review and confirm this decision with your subject teacher and college counselor.
ACT is available for interested students at a test site near home.
Additional college visits and interviews are strongly recommended before students return to school in September. Students continue to refine college list.
Students are encouraged to prepare for the fall SAT and/or ACT
Individual meetings with your college counselor to recap summer visits and to review applications, essay, and any required supplements.
Sixth Form students meet regularly with their college counselor throughout the fall.
Meetings with college admissions reps who visit campus.
ACT is available at a test site near home or Berkshire.
SAT (or SAT Subject Tests) is administered at Berkshire for all Sixth Formers.
ACT is administered at Berkshire for all Sixth Formers.
CSS Financial Aid PROFILE is completed by students/families likely to request financial aid.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens online and is available to parents requesting financial aid for college.
FALL LONG WEEKEND
Additional college visits are recommended, especially to confirm an upcoming ED/EA application.
Final revisions and updates to college applications and supplements.
Deadline for most Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA) applications, and all University of California applications.
SAT (or SAT Subject Tests) is administered at Berkshire for all interested Sixth Formers. Note: Only test date for Language with Listening Subject Tests.
Final college visits are encouraged during Thanksgiving Recess.
SAT (or SAT Subject Tests) is administered at Berkshire for all interested Sixth Formers.
ACT is administered at Berkshire for all interested Sixth Formers.
Early Decision and Early Action decisions returned from colleges and universities.
Many Regular Decision (RD) applications submitted.
First semester grades mailed out to colleges.
Remaining Regular Decision (RD) applications are submitted.
Deadine for most Early Decision 2 (ED2) applications.
Decision notifications from all remaining colleges and universities.
College and university revisit programs for accepted students.
May 1st reply date for Sixth Formers to confirm matriculation. Enrollment deposit due.
Final grades and transcripts mailed to colleges.
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 2021 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!
2020-2021 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.
2020-2021 COMMON APPLICATION ESSAY PROMPTS
- 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.
- 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- 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?
- 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.
VIRTUAL CAMPUS VISITS
If possible, we encourage you to visit the websites of many colleges during the summer months and participate in as many virtual “tours” and “information sessions” as make sense for your family. Students should be sure to check out a variety of schools across the full range of their list, not just their “reach” schools. It’s a great idea to have a digital copy of your (or your student’s) transcript (in PDF format) to share with admissions officers and coaches if they request to see one.
Reaching out to students who attend the schools that you are interested in attending is also a way to get more information about a school. Your college counselor may be able to assist you in identifying Berkshire Alumni at many of the schools across the country and globe.
As colleges and universities begin opening their campuses to visitors in the fall, we will keep students updated as to the best ways to visit and explore the colleges that they are interested in attending.
BERKSHIRE CAMPUS COLLEGE ADMISSION VISITORS & COLLEGE FAIRS
More than 100 college representatives visit Berkshire each fall. These visits provide another opportunity for our students to learn more about certain colleges and to make a connection with admission officers. We anticipate that many of these visits will be virtual this year and will work hard to update students as to the availability and access to these “visits.” The status of our series of college fairs with Hotchkiss is currently unclear, but will mostly likely be modified so that it can continue to happen while also fitting the needs of this year.
FIRST SIXTH FORM/POST GRADUATE MEETING WITH BERKSHIRE COLLEGE COUNSELOR
Sixth Form and Post Graduates should make appointments with their college counselors soon after the opening of school to review their college list and to discuss plans for the fall term. Students should not file any application without consulting their counselor, as we need to assure that a school report is sent for each application filed. Students should also not drop or adjust their fall courses without first discussing the impact on the college process with their Counselor.
SIXTH FORM/POST GRADUATE TESTING PLAN
Standardized tests taken during the Sixth Form year will vary by individual. Changes to Berkshire’s SAT offerings:
● Berkshire will be offering the September 23rd and October 14th School Day testing.
● Students do not need to register for School Day testing and Berkshire will not be listed as a test site online. Berkshire will order the tests and students will be charged after the test.
● Berkshire will not be offering the September 26th and October 3rd national test dates. If students have already registered elsewhere for the September or October test they can contact the College Board for a refund.
● For now, we are still offering the November National test date for students who are interested in taking SAT subject tests.
Changes to Berkshire’s ACT offerings:
● Berkshire will continue to offer the September 12th and October 24th ACT.
● Berkshire will be a closed test center and will not be open to outside test takers.
● Students will still need to register themselves online at www.actstudent.org before the registration deadline.
● The deadline to register for the September test is August 14th (and with a late fee until August 28th).
● The deadline to register for the October test is September 18th (and with a late fee until October 2nd).
● The registration for September is not open yet, but we will keep you up to date when that happens.
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.
Additional fall and winter testing availability will be shared as soon as it is available.
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. 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.
CCS 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 student's tax forms.
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 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.
FinAid website has helpful financial aid information.
Fastweb is a valuable resource for locating scholarship opportunities.
Our Fifth Form College Counseling Program kicks off @ 3pm today! College Admission professionals from @BowdoinCollege @LafCol, @Northeastern, @TCU, & @UMassAmherst are our featured guests. Families are arriving from all over. Our panel streams live at 7pm. https://t.co/zKKZOhYRm2 pic.twitter.com/eNRsER5LVy— Berkshire School (@BerkshireSchool) February 5, 2020