Connecting a student's head, heart, hands education to an inspired life beyond LWHS.
Welcome to Lick-Wilmerding High School! We—the college counseling team of Alayne Haggerty, Krista Klein, and Gabriela Mejia—sincerely hope that students’ four years at LWHS will be filled with inspiring experiences: learning, making lasting friendships, and finding the path through the LWHS curriculum and community that students will find meaningful and fulfilling.
Be assured that if students wholeheartedly embrace the opportunities that come their way, finding the right college fit will come naturally to them, and will probably be much easier than the high school application experience. Students will discover many options and a variety of colleges that will meet their aspirations.
Students will build a foundation in ninth grade, develop habits of “head, heart, and hands” that will, in great measure, contribute to and influence their success over the next four years. It may not happen overnight; students may find their academic stride as the year goes by. Students will use this first year at LWHS to explore the curriculum, to get to know themselves better as learners, to discover what most engages their interest and enthusiasm and sharpen the skills that will ensure a meaningful four years.
That’s a tall order, but students won’t need much help from the college counseling team to get off to a great start. Stay focused on the here and now—"life at Lick." It’s the best way for students to get the most from their high school years, and to become the most compelling college applicant they can be. College counselors will stay in touch, but from a respectful distance for the time being.
Again, welcome, and best wishes for a terrific high school journey!
Students who find within themselves the enthusiasm and commitment to do two things during high school—taking full advantage of what the school has to offer and, in turn, enriching the school and community with their talents and generosity—will find themselves not only prepared for college, but also recognized for their efforts and accomplishments. It seems much more effective, from our point of view, to “bloom where we are planted,” as the saying goes, rather than to go to exaggerated lengths to become “eligible” for admission to college.
The college counseling team looks forward to meeting students and beginning this exciting and fulfilling adventure next year. In the meantime, have a fun and engaging sophomore year!
Sophomores may get tired of hearing people tell them that “grades count now,” but that’s the case, so best not to ignore reality. Colleges are usually more patient and flexible about ninth grade academic achievement, but they often begin calculating grade point averages (GPA) quite precisely with tenth grade. It would be misleading not to point this out, especially here in California, where the University of California and the California State University determine an applicant's GPA based on sophomore and junior year grades in approved “A-G” classes.
Students don’t have to become focused on grades alone because of this; colleges are just as interested in a student's accomplishments outside of the classroom, and the character and commitment a student brings to school work and community engagement.
If students do their “personal best” (a phrase that deserves close attention in our hectic and demanding lives) and stay focused on getting the most they can out of each class, team, organization, performance, and creation they undertake, grades will most likely take care of themselves. LWHS still believes sincerely that character and commitment are the keys – that the comments from a student's teachers are as important as their grades, and that the team concept applies as much to learning as it does in theatre and sports.
The world of college—and specifically college preparation—comes more into focus this year as well. Sophomores can choose to take a PSAT at home to give them experience taking the SAT, which is one of the two standardized tests students may take for admission to college. The other option is the ACT; students may take a practice ACT or SAT as a junior to help them decide which testing path to follow.
The college counseling team also invites sophomores and their parents/guardians to attend an evening presentation in October – “Finding the Right College Fit.” A panel of college admission officers and recent LWHS graduates will discuss the prospect of exploring interests, searching for “the right college fit,” and understanding how colleges review applications. LWHS hopes to find a balance between a student's need to focus primarily on their work and involvement in this community, and the evolving need to discuss and look ahead to college applications. If we err on the side of the here and now, especially for frosh and sophomore students, it is because we believe that students deserve to live in the present for all it is worth. Having said this, however, the college counseling team always welcomes questions from students and parents/guardians about college preparation.
In the spring, sophomores will be deciding which classes they will take next year. The range of options will be much broader than it was during frosh and sophomore years, and students are encouraged to take a step back and take the longer view of the curriculum they are building at LWHS. What will the completed arc of a student's four years look like? How do students wish to shape their curriculum, both in core academic classes and in elective options? Where might students best find opportunities for leadership and service?
Students can’t do everything, of course, but LWHS hopes they will continue to reflect on these questions – discuss them with parents/guardians, advisors, teachers, a college counselor, and friends – so that they will get the most out of their time at LWHS.
- More Challenge and More Opportunities
- Standardized Testing
- College Admissions Representatives at LWHS
- Nuts & Bolts of College Admissions
- Meeting with Your College Counselor
As a junior, students also know that applying to college is just around the corner!
Students may realize that their college application journey began when they chose their courses, perhaps took a PSAT at home sophomore year, and attended the LWHS ”Finding the Right College Fit” program.
The journey continues, as juniors will take the PSAT at LWHS in October; this time their score could qualify them for a National Merit Scholarship. (Students don’t need to register or pay for the PSAT; LWHS takes care of that.)
Each fall, approximately 90 college admissions representatives visit LWHS (sometimes virtually). Though these info sessions are primarily for seniors, If juniors are free, we encourage them to attend these valuable opportunities to learn about a college and ask questions in a casual, small environment.
We don’t intend to overload juniors with information, especially if they’re not ready to think about college just yet. But knowing what’s in store for senior year can help students plan ahead.
Along these lines, we require juniors and their parent(s)/guardian(s) to attend the Nuts & Bolts of College Admissions program in November, a presentation that officially kicks off the juniors’ college research and application process
- When to Visit
- Visit Local Colleges
- Planning College Visits
- What to do during College Visits
- After College Visits
Some students visit colleges during the spring, summer, or winter break, while others wait until all of their options are known before visiting (i.e., only visiting schools to which they’re admitted). If students visit colleges in the summer, they may be able to get to more campuses, but probably will not see the students and campus life “in action." However, visiting in the summer is far better than not visiting at all.
While it’s not easy to travel great distances to visit colleges, we’re fortunate to live in an area with many nearby colleges and universities. Visiting these relatively local schools can give students a good sense of the variety of institutions and help them decide what they may like: a large university, a small private school, an urban location or something more rural.
Go to a college’s admissions website to make appointments for a tour at least three weeks in advance.
- Plan to be on a campus for at least half a day. Therefore, don’t visit more than two schools in one day.
- Find out the distance between the schools and time needed to get from place to place.
- Ask to have college information and a campus map sent before making the trip. The college’s website will likely have this information too, so it can be printed beforehand.
- Ask if it is possible to spend the night in a dormitory and/or visit classes. If students contact LWHS alumni in advance, they may even have the benefit of a "private, behind-the-scenes tour!"
- Take a tour; know when and where the tour group will meet.
- Ask lots of questions that can’t easily be answered by reading the college’s website.
- Eat in a dining hall to see who attends the college; chat with students!
- Wander around the campus and observe activities.
- Read the student newspaper to find out the big issues on campus.
- Visit a class of interest, if there is time.
- Creating College Applications
- Workshop Series for Seniors
- College Admissions Representatives at LWHS
Through one-on-one meetings with an LWHS college counselor, as well as during the College Counseling Workshop Series for Seniors, topics students will cover include:
Identifying personal priorities, values, colleges of interest
Creating a well-balanced and exciting list of colleges
Obtaining letters of recommendation
Writing college application essays
Preparing for an interview or audition
Creating a portfolio
Paying for college
Creating college applications takes a lot of time, a bit of humor, and planning ahead so students can keep track of what needs to be done by when.
Students should use Scoir, a website that shares LWHS historical college admissions data, keeps track of college lists, and more. If seniors or their parents/guardians don’t already have a password, please contact an LWHS college counselor.
Each fall, the college counseling team presents timely, hands-on workshops in a small class format that allows individual attention and gives students opportunities to ask questions. These productive workshops help students manage their time, meet their deadlines, and create applications that are meaningful, personal, and compelling.
Please note that these fall workshops will be scheduled for seniors; they are not optional. Workshop topics include:
Introducing the Work Ahead: Timeline, Recommendations & Making the Most of Scoir
Telling Your Story: The College Application Essay
Applying to Private (and some public!) Colleges: The Common Application
Applying to California’s Public Universities: University of California and California State University
Making a Positive Impression: The College Interview
Meeting College Costs: Need- and Merit-Based Financial Aid
Our model of college counseling is designed to be an organic, mission-aligned extension of a student’s overall education at LWHS. As our students reflect and prepare for life beyond high school, our program continues to develop their heads, hearts and hands while also imparting meaningful lessons that are applicable beyond the college admissions process.