VVS College Counseling Program
Jennifer Warren, the Director of College Counseling, understands how to help students identify the criteria they want in a college and how to present themselves confidently and fully in an application. The VVS college counseling process is individualized, deliberate and comprehensive. Jennifer meets individually with students, as well as with the entire senior class, guiding them in the process from their initial exploration to the final application. While students will be guided and supported throughout the process, they will also be equipped to assume responsibility for a large part of the process themselves. By playing an active role in the selection of schools and the application process, students are far more likely to enroll at colleges that are good matches for them.
While the student’s preparation for college begins as soon as he or she arrives at VVS, the formal process begins in earnest in January of junior year with “The Road to College” workshops. Juniors and their parents are asked to complete questionnaires that help the counselor learn more about each student's ambitions, strengths, weaknesses, and possible areas of academic interest. Some of the topics covered in these weekly workshops include essay writing, financial aid, scholarships and the tools needed to understand just what a student is looking for in a college. This gives juniors and their parents a clearer idea of the kind of school each student may be interested in: big/small, urban/rural, East Coast/West Coast and helps families decide which schools to visit or research more fully. At this time students are given access to Family Connection, a web-based college counseling tool that helps students search for colleges and assesses suitability. Juniors then meet individually with Jennifer at least twice in the spring. The goal by the end of junior year is for each student to have developed a list of appropriate colleges and universities that meet his or her goals and abilities so that summer visits may be made. Workshops, weekly group meetings and individual meetings continue in the fall and winter of senior year. Parents stay in regular contact with the college counselor and are encouraged to meet with her during Parents' Weekends, as well as at any other convenient time. E-mail newsletters keep students and parents updated on important tips and deadlines throughout the process. Over the course of the year, many college admission representatives visit VVS to describe their colleges and meet prospective students. The counselor strongly encourages students to meet with these representatives to learn not only more about the schools they represent, but also so the student can learn more about what they are looking for in a college or university. The college counseling office also has an extensive library of college catalogs and access to a database of nearly 3,000 colleges. Students can complete all of the necessary PSAT, IB, SAT I and SAT II exams on campus. VVS sophomores, juniors and seniors attend the NACAC Greater Phoenix College Fair held in September each year. Here students have access to representatives from hundreds of colleges and universities. Preparing the final applications is the student's responsibility, but there are many ways for them to receive support for the process. Seniors can seek individual help from the Jennifer and other faculty on writing their autobiographical essays, and essay workshops are presented twice a year. The faculty is also intimately involved in each student's college application process through the writing of the letters of recommendation. The college counselor ensures that the recommendations convey a thorough, well-balanced and personalized sense of the strengths of each student. The counselor recommendation is also a vital component of the application, and serves to illuminate aspects of the student’s character by going beyond the transcript to show personality, interests and talents outside the classroom, give context to the application, and distinguish one applicant from another.