Elgin Academy

Preschool through grade 12 on the hill in downtown Elgin.

College Counseling

At Elgin Academy taking learning personally defines our commitment to every student’s college search. In the 2017-2018 academic year our college counseling ratio is 2 to 31. Our two counselors help students identify and apply to colleges and universities that best match their needs and aspirations.

Elgin Academy graduates make discerning college choices based not only on prestige, but also on personal fit. They enroll at a diverse array of colleges and universities nationwide and worldwide, equipped with the know-how and self-confidence that stems from coming of age in this individually attuned community. They go forth as productive, conscientious, and mindful young people who continue to hone their understanding of world and self—a lifelong process that stands as the abiding gift of an Elgin Academy education.

“Elgin Academy college counseling challenges our students to look beyond the obvious and find a college that is really right for them. Our graduates go off to many different types of colleges, nationally and internationally--big universities, small colleges, liberal arts schools, engineering schools, conservatories, and so on. I know of high schools where it seems all students go to the same two or three in-state schools. ”

Rhonda Dwyer, parent

Program Overview

The foundation of our program is always the healthy relationships in our learning community that unites all students, teachers, parents, staff, and administrators. Students and their families get to know the college counseling team well as they go about their other roles in the Upper School. Our intentionally small-scaled class size means that teachers personally know their students, so they are in a position to write strong letters of recommendation for colleges and scholarships. Trust and rapport are at the heart of all these relationships.

Mr. Raffety and Mr. Sept took the stress out of applying to college. They took what could have been a complicated process and made it simple.

Diego Medina ‘17

College counselors work with students and their families in an informal way during freshman and sophomore years to help students make class choices and to discuss potential colleges and careers. However, the college search truly takes off in February of junior year with an event called College Night for Juniors. Following this informative overview of the application process, counseling becomes very individualized. The counselors, working as a team, schedule an hour long meeting with each student and family to develop key criteria for the search, discuss college visits, and develop plans for testing, summer experiences and senior curriculum.

It was so helpful to have Mr. Raffety and Mr. Sept be honest with me and help me determine if the colleges I was applying to were reach schools or safety schools or somewhere in between. That helped me know what was realistic for me in terms of acceptances.

Leila Li ‘17, international Student

A weekly college counseling workshop for students begins in February of junior year and continues into the senior year. During this time, students are supported as they complete applications, write essay responses, determine testing timelines, and finalize other application related tasks. The college counselors serve as advocates, empowering students to drive their own college search as well as develop vital decision making and communication skills.

Most of my success during the college application process can be attributed to the dedication and precision of my college counsellors, Mr. Sept and Mr. Raffety. They knew my career goals and my college aspirations, and they helped determine the right college-preparatory curriculum for me so I might achieve those goals.

Mustafa Alimumal ‘15, Northwestern University '19

Elgin Academy’s College Counseling Team


Doug Sept

Director of College Counseling
Upper School Director

dsept@elginacademy.org

Professional groups:

  • National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
  • Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC)

Noteworthy conferences:

  • The Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS)
  • National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)

Dan Raffety

Upper School Faculty College Counselor

draffety@elginacademy.org

Professional groups:

  • National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
  • Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC)

Noteworthy Conferences:

  • NACAC National Conference
  • IACAC State Conference
  • Decemberfest 2016 (CalTech, Occidental College, Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, Scripps College, Whittier College, University of Redlands)
  • Coast to Coast Counselor’s Breakfast (Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown, Duke, University of Pennsylvania)
  • Great Lakes College Association, Associated Colleges of the Midwest.

Kelley Fluegel

Registrar, Upper School Administrative Assistant

kfluegel@elginacademy.org

Four-Year College Counseling Timeline

Freshman Year

  • Perform to the fullest of your abilities in your classes. Your cumulative GPA will be calculated and reported on your transcript at the end of the first and second semesters.
  • Begin to build good relationships and cultivate good character traits with your teachers and advisor.
  • Explore a variety of co-curricular activities but be sure to strike a good balance between your academics, activities, and family life.
  • Take the PSAT 9 exam in October in order to create a baseline for future standardized testing.
  • Choose courses for your sophomore year that are challenging and fit your goals.

Sophomore Year 


  • Perform to the fullest of your abilities in your classes. Your cumulative GPA will be calculated and reported on your transcript at the end of the third and fourth semesters.
  • Continue to build good relationships and cultivate good character traits with your teachers and advisor.
  • Meet with several college representatives when they visit EA in the fall so that you can begin to learn more about colleges and how to interact with admissions officers.
  • Explore a variety of co-curricular activities but be sure to strike a good balance between your academics, activities, and family life. Consider pursuing leadership roles as they become available this year or in future years.
  • Take the PSAT at EA in October, and the pre-ACT at EA in March. No additional standardized testing is necessary during this year.
  • Choose courses for your junior year that are challenging and fit your goals.

Junior Year

Fall Semester

  • Perform to the fullest of your abilities in your classes. Your cumulative GPA will be calculated and report on your transcript at the end of this fifth semester.
  • Meet with numerous college representatives when they visit EA.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT at EA in October.
  • Attend local college fairs (Lake Forest Academy, Elgin Community College, Navy Pier).
  • Register to take the ACT (with writing) and SAT sometime after Winter Break.

Spring Semester

  • Perform to the fullest of your abilities in your classes. Your cumulative GPA will be calculated and reported on your transcript at the end of this sixth semester. Note that this set of grades is often the most recent that colleges will see on your applications, so they are the most important set to date.
  • Take the ACT (with writing) and SAT at least once. Consult with college counselors regarding registration procedures and deadlines. It is not recommended that you send these scores to colleges at this time, but you should report them to EA (code 141760).
  • Items during the remainder of the timeline marked with an asterisk (*) are included in the College Counseling Seminar curriculum. Students will work on these tasks during our weekly sessions that begin in the second semester.

January

  • Meet with college counselors to discuss your standardized test results (PSAT / pre-ACT) and to prepare for ACT/SAT/SAT Subject Tests. Develop strategies to meet your goal scores by considering test preparation work this coming summer.
  • Begin the Junior College Counseling Seminar.*
  • Access your Naviance account.*
  • Research summer academic experiences, volunteer work, employment, etc. so that you can plan the summer between junior and senior years with intentionality in mind.

February

  • Complete Naviance personality profile / career interest surveys.*
  • Attend EA College Night for Juniors with your parents.
  • Schedule an individual college conference with your parents and college counselors.
  • Begin creating a list of potential colleges.*
  • Select senior year courses, consulting with your advisor, college counselors, and parents to ensure that you are challenging yourself to meet your goals.

March

  • Begin developing your “long list” of college choices.*
  • Register for Advanced Placement exams through the Upper School office.
  • If possible, visit colleges during spring break. Consult with the College Counseling Team if you need assistance in planning an itinerary.

April

  • With the assistance of the college counselors, invite two teacher recommenders.*
  • Meet with college representatives who visit EA.
  • Create a comprehensive resume of your in-school and out-of-school activities.*
  • Begin thinking about your college essays.*
  • Create your Common Application account, and if applicable your Coalition Application account.*

May

  • Take Advanced Placement exams.
  • Finish your sixth semester strongly!

Summer between Junior and Senior year

  • Consult with college counselors if you receive any ACT or SAT scores after the school year has ended.
  • Continue researching colleges and requesting information.
  • Plan summer and/or fall college visits.
  • Begin summer reading.
  • Continue refining college list.
  • Share your Trip Week college visit itinerary with EA college counselors. Keep a journal of your visits.
  • Begin working on a draft of a college essay or personal statement.
  • Consult with college counselors about your fall testing plans (ACT/SAT/SAT Subject Tests). Each senior should take either the ACT (with writing) or SAT at least once during the fall.

Senior Year

  • Perform to the fullest of your abilities in your classes. Your cumulative GPA will be calculated and reported on your transcript at the end of the seventh and eighth semesters. Some of your colleges may not make acceptance decisions until after they have viewed your seventh semester. All colleges will want to see your progress remain consistent through the end of your senior year.

September

  • Resume the College Counseling Seminar.*
  • Review your personal records with your school counselor to ensure they are accurate.*
  • Meet with your college counselor to review your list of colleges, and to update your Naviance account accordingly.*
  • Consider your deadlines (early decision / early action / regular).*
  • Inform your teacher recommenders of your deadlines, and provide them necessary information to write your recommendations.*
  • Submit registration to NCAA Clearinghouse, if appropriate.*
  • Begin scholarship search through services such as FastWeb.*
  • Meet with college representatives that visit EA (especially for colleges where you will be applying).
  • Attend local college fairs, receptions, and college nights in order to connect with college admissions officers (Lake Forest Academy, ECC, Navy Pier).

October

  • Work with your family to complete the FAFSA (Federal Application for Free Student Aid) and, where necessary, the CSS Profile in order to qualify for need-based and some merit-based aid programs. Different colleges have different deadlines, so work with the college counselors to identify and adhere to these timelines.
  • By mid-October, complete all applications with November 1 deadlines. Notify college counselors and the registrar of your submissions. Send your standardized test scores directly from ACT/SAT to your colleges. Request that the Registrar send your transcript and letters to colleges where you are applying.*

November

  • Continue completing applications with a goal of besting each deadline by at least two weeks. Send standardized test scores directly from ACT/SAT to your colleges, and request that the Registrar send your transcript and letters to colleges where you are applying.*
  • Write thank-you notes to teachers, coaches, and others who wrote recommendation letters for you.

December

  • Continue completing applications with a goal of besting each deadline by at least two weeks, and submitting all applications by Winter Break. Send standardized test scores directly from ACT/SAT to your colleges, and request that the Registrar send your transcript and letters to colleges where you are applying.*
  • Provide the college counselors with copies of college decision letters (acceptance/deferral/denial) along with copies of any merit-based award letters.
  • January, February, and March
  • Continue scholarship search and complete applications.
  • Plan campus visits for colleges you’ve not seen or would like to see again before making your final matriculation decision.
  • Register for Advanced Placement exams through the Upper School office.
  • Provide the college counselors with copies of college decision letters (acceptance/deferral/denial) along with copies of any merit-based award letters.

April

  • Meet with college counselors to discuss college application outcomes and your college plan.
  • Provide the college counselors with copies of college decision letters (acceptance/deferral/denial) as well as copies of merit-aid award letters.

By May 1

  • Decide on the one college that you will attend. Send in your tuition deposit . Write to the other colleges that accepted you and notify them that you have selected another college. Please do not double-deposit (commit to two or more colleges).

May/June

  • Take Advanced Placement Exams; when you complete the preadministration process with Mr. Sept, have your scores sent for free to the college where you plan to matriculate.
  • Finish your senior year in a strong fashion!
  • Graduate from EA!
  • The EA Registrar will automatically send a copy of your final EA transcript to the college where you plan to matriculate.
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