In the largest sense, CCA students prepare for college every day, by taking challenging, college-preparatory courses and working hard.
Formal exploration of colleges begins by February, when juniors begin to meet individually with their college counselor to examine possible academic and career interests as well as size, type, and location of suitable college choices. During the third trimester small groups meet weekly to discuss the components of a successful college search: selecting colleges, visiting, interviewing, writing essays and exploring sources of funding. Individually, juniors should research colleges using our print and video library and/or one of the computer search programs. Students have the opportunity to attend two college fairs, one on Cape Cod in the fall and one in Boston in the spring. April vacation provides an excellent opportunity to start visiting colleges while they are still in session. By June we have developed a long list of about 15 colleges for further exploration over the summer.
Juniors have been well prepared for the spring SAT test by taking the PSAT here in both 10th and 11th grade, and by the preparation course options offered at CCA. Most students take the SAT twice, and several Subject Tests as well.
By the time seniors return in September, they should have completed the majority of their college visits. The optimum time for summer visiting and interviewing is in late August or early September, when students have returned to their college campuses. Larger schools can be visited any time, for they usually have summer programs so one can get a feel for the school.
In the fall, college representatives visit CCA to meet with interested juniors and seniors. Seniors meet individually at least once a month during the fall trimester with their college counselor to review their progress. Any remaining college visits and interviews should be scheduled during holidays, professional days and vacation periods so as not to conflict with academic work during the very-important first trimester. Seniors have two days during the winter trimester to complete college visits. Seniors contemplating Early Decision or Early Action applications must get organized quickly, as deadlines fall as early as November 1st.
The winter term of senior year is when most application materials are actually sent out. Though seniors usually mail their own applications, we are happy to look them over (especially the essays) and offer comments and suggestions. Parents file financial aid forms during this term.
During the spring term, students receive notification from colleges and make a choice by May 1st. Our work at this time includes helping to plan visits to schools where a student has been admitted, and offering assistance with wait lists and financial aid. We encourage parental involvement. Most parents meet with us in the spring of the junior year, and perhaps again in the fall of the senior year, but meetings can be scheduled at any time. And, of course, phone calls are always welcome!