The Compass

The college search process should not be the first time students think in a meaningful way about who they are.

The PCD COMPASS program offers unique grade level experiences to help students prepare for future success—in high school, college, and beyond. Through a series of activities and initiatives starting in grade 9 and concluding in grade 12, the program empowers students to start to visualize the course of their lives through high school, college and into the years of their careers as working adults.

The goal is to equip students with tools for self-discovery in order to identify unique strengths and see the power of their own potential.

9th Grade

This is a year to consider what the future might hold. It is too early for students to think specifically about college admissions, but not too early to think about themselves and their future. This is a time to make a positive transition to high school, achieve in an appropriately demanding academic curriculum, pursue interests outside of the classroom, and start to understand one's own unique attributes and learning style.

  • Students create a four-year academic plan and set goals with advisors
  • Students begin working with the software system, Naviance. This includes an introduction to the program and registration.
  • Using Naviance, students complete the Do What You Are survey and review the results with their advisors. DWYA uses a personality inventory analysis to create a customized report for each student, identifying individual traits, areas of apparent interest, and suggested areas for further exploration.

10th Grade

Tenth grade marks the first specifically college related activity, when students take the pre-ACT in April of the sophomore year. Detailed analysis will give students a sense of how they perform on standardized tests and suggest strategies for skill building. This is also the time to encourage students to develop a more thorough understanding of their learning styles so they can address their areas of strength and those that would benefit from additional development. As students identify favorite subjects and lean toward specific disciplines, they should consider a job shadowing experience: spending from three days to two weeks working in a professional setting that is of interest.

  • Students continue to fulfill their curricular plans. Special attention should be paid to sequential subjects (math, science, foreign language) to ensure that each student will meet his/her four year goals. If the arts are an interest and a strength, students should be sure to take relevant courses.
  • Students complete the pre-ACT in the spring and receive a detailed analysis of their results.
  • Students write a "This I Believe" essay in which they discuss an issue of particular interest. This is completed through the English Department, where it is also a graded assignment. Selected essays are submitted for possible publication on the WPRI program of the same name.
  • Students should take advantage of the summer between 10th and 11th grades to pursue a serious interest or interests. Think of the summer as a great opportunity to enjoy something you really like.

11th Grade

By the end of the junior year, the college admissions process is in full swing. We start the year with SAT/ACT preparation, and the taking of the PSAT in the fall. Formal college counseling begins in the winter. Ideally the spring vacation of the junior year is used to begin visiting colleges. Students should continue to pursue an appropriately challenging curriculum as well as pursue interests through extra-curricular activities. Taking advantage of leadership opportunities in those areas is a good way to explore interests at a higher level.

  • Junior year academic performance is especially important, so students should put their best academic foot forward.
  • Students should pursue leadership opportunities in areas of interest.
  • SAT/ACT test preparation is offered throughout the year.
  • All students take the PSAT in mid-October. Score reports are available in early December and should be reviewed carefully to discern strengths and weaknesses on college admission tests.
  • Students complete the Career Interest Profiler and review the results with the Director of College Counseling and their advisors.
  • Students have individual meetings with the Director of College Counseling before spring break and meetings with parents and the Director of College Counseling after the break. In preparation for those meetings, students and parents fill out informational questionnaires.
  • Students take the SAT in March or May. They take the SAT2 tests in June.
  • Students should consider taking the ACT in February or April of the junior year. The objective is that by taking both the ACT and the SAT in the junior year, students will know which test suits them best and be able to focus on that test in the senior year.
  • Families should consider visiting colleges over spring break, with an eye toward determining what kind of college (not so much which specific college) will suit the student best.
  • All juniors complete a Common Application essay by May 1.
  • At the end of the junior year, the Director of College Counseling provides a preliminary list of colleges to consider that is tailored to each student's interests and abilities.
  • Over the summer, students should pursue their interests in stimulating summer experiences, continue to visit colleges, study for standardized tests, and work on college essays. The summer between the junior and senior year is a busy one.

12th Grade

It goes without saying that the college counseling process is all consuming for seniors, so the checklist of activities is a long one. Listed below are some of the benchmarks of the senior year college counseling process. A full to-do list, developed with the college counseling office and through the Naviance software, is available in the parent portal.

  • Seniors begin the year with a college counseling retreat day to get the year going and accomplish a number of important tasks right off the bat.
  • Students should pursue college admissions testing as needed throughout the first part of the year. The first testing opportunity for the class of 2018 comes with the SAT in late August; the last SAT is in December. The ACT is available September–December.
  • Students must declare their intention to apply early action or early decision no later than October 15.
  • Students must have all early decision and early action applications completed by November.
  • Students will need to reply to all offers of admission no later than May 1 (earlier of course for early decision acceptances). If a student wants to remain on a college waitlist the student should consult with college counseling about next steps.
  • In the spring of the senior year students meet in small groups for college preparedness seminars. These are discussion-based meetings with speakers to help prepare students for success in an undergraduate setting.