College SignDear Senior:

“Senior…” I like the sound of that, and I hope you do, too. I trust you are having a relaxing, yet productive, summer vacation. I am contacting you in hopes of an early start on some matters related to your college applications. Time passes quickly in the fall; you will find this especially true since you will probably be busier and more industrious regarding your academic work than ever before. You should write for information from the schools that you are currently interested in attending. Hopefully you are also visiting colleges and have an interview at some of your possible college choices. Frequent contact with admissions offices demonstrates interest in the school and may improve your prospect for admission.

Returning students, log in to your Family Connection account often because once there you’ll find a list of tasks assigned to you, your updated GPA and test scores, a résumé-writing tool and dozens of tools to research colleges on your list. To log in, go to; your username is your Northwood email address and you chose your password during the spring. Please keep your list of “Colleges I’m Thinking About” up-to-date. Add schools you’re considering and delete schools no longer under consideration. If you’re new to Northwood, you’ll soon receive instructions for logging into Family Connection. Email me ( if you have trouble logging in.

There is one SAT scheduled for August 24, and you should register for and take that test, if you have been doing test prep this summer. The registration deadline for the August SAT is July 28. There is an ACT on September 9 in Plattsburgh (test center code: 155940), and you should register for that test, if you have been doing test prep this summer. The registration deadline for the September ACT is August 4. I will drive students to Plattsburgh for the ACT.

Download these three recommendation forms, which are to be given to adults who know you well through academics, sports, employment or community work. Give them a form plus a stamped envelope addressed to me at Northwood (John Spear, Director of College Counseling, Northwood School, 92 Northwood Rd., Lake Placid, NY 12946). It is important to give the forms to people who have had a chance to closely evaluate you as a student, athlete or employee. These letters are important to your college counselor as aids in writing your official school recommendation. Letters from family friends or local hotshots are usually worthless. All people who respond will receive a thank you note from me, and they should receive one from you as well.

Family discussion of your college choices over the summer is vital and might well be aided by a book like the Fiske Guide to Colleges, which also has an outstanding iPad app. You should write or email to any school whose program looks attractive to you. The New Rules of College Admissions edited by Stephen Kramer and Michael London is an excellent overview of the college search and application process. Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, by Frank Bruni is an outstanding read for students and parents. If you enjoy listening to podcasts, I recommend the “Getting In” podcast from Slate. It’s outstanding.

All returning seniors (and many new seniors and PGs) already have Common Application accounts. Be sure to “Roll Over” your Common App account. The Common App has a video with simple instructions: Do not create a second Common Application account.

You may have heard about the new “The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success,” also called the “Coalition Application.” More than 90 colleges will begin accepting this new application platform this school year, many in addition to the Common Application or their own application. Because it is brand new and untested, we strongly encourage students to not used the Coalition App, and instead use the Common Application. We’ll support students who use the Coalition Application . By applying on the Common App, students ensure faster delivery of their materials.

You may hear about ZeeMe (, a free web-based service designed to help students market themselves to colleges and universities. Some colleges and universities are using ZeeMe, but none require it. Feel free to check it out and use it if you’d like. We’ve also heard good things about, a new micro-scholarship service that is brand new and getting good reviews.

If you are a postgraduate and were accepted at any colleges/universities or were in contact with any college coaches last year, you should write them and tell them you will be at Northwood and are still interested in their program.

Visit the College Counseling section of the web site; find it under “Academics.” There you will have links to the college counseling blog, Family Connection and the College Counseling at Northwood Facebook page. Please follow us on Facebook.

Do not submit any applications this summer. All applications must be reviewed by your college counselor before being submitted. No essay is to be submitted unless a Northwood college counselor reads it first. See the enclosed “What Students and Parents Need to Know about Senior Year and the College Application Process” for more important information.

Please note that there will be an administrative charge of $10.00 for each transcript package mailed or faxed to a college after the student’s year of graduation.

If you have any questions regarding these matters, email me ( I look forward to working with you in September toward acceptance at your first choice college.

Best Wishes,

John Spear
Director of College Counseling



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