School and College Counseling
Bergen County Academies is fortunate to attract students with a multitude of talents and interests. The School Counseling Department provides a safe, supportive and nurturing environment for students to learn and grow in an academically challenging institution. Our mission is to provide academic, social, career and emotional support at each grade level in order for students to reach and surpass their individual potential. Partnering with teachers, administrators, parents, and community members, we provide the essential support that students require during their adolescent years.
Through a developmental school counseling program, our counselors work with students every step of the way throughout their high school career. The process begins first trimester of freshmen year with the seminar course "Freshmen Exploration for Social, Emotional and Academic Success." Knowing it can be difficult adjusting to the high school culture, this course enables students to become comfortable with their school counselors as well as peers while also exploring typical adolescent issues. Counselors also meet individually with freshman to assess and provide guidance with their transition. By providing freshmen with the necessary academic, social and emotional skills for personal growth and development, students begin to understand their role in creating a positive school climate and making informed choices.
During sophomore year, students again work hand in hand with their school counselors individually and in "Sophomore Seminar," a course which addresses important issues related to academic, career and college planning. At this time, counselors administer career inventories and discuss AP/IB course selection, the value of enrolling in meaningful summer programs and activities, standardized testing options, and methods of finding colleges that will be a "good fit." This seminar is designed to reduce the stress and anxiety students often encounter as they move forward toward their postsecondary goals.
During sophomore and junior years, students have the opportunity to attend optional multi-day overnight college tours. Students visit college campuses where they attend information sessions with admissions staff and tour each school. By eating in college dining halls and attending evening activities, students acquire a first-hand feel for a school's environment. These tours allow students to sample a wide variety of colleges in the company of their peers while under the supervision of their school counselors.
As students enter junior year, the School Counseling Department recognizes that the college selection process and career readiness become a major focus. Understanding its importance, counselors work with students to ensure a smooth, confident approach for this sometimes daunting task. Junior Seminar not only provides students with college planning support but with the career tools and training (resume writing, cover letters and interview skills) essential for Senior Internship. Junior College Night is held every year in the winter of junior year for parents and students to understand the entirety of the college process. Immediately after this important night, counselors conduct college planning conferences with students and their families to demystify the college process, suggest appropriate collegiate prospects, and guide students through testing and application procedures. Each year, the School Counseling Department hosts numerous college visits, professional speakers, financial aid nights, and our annual spring college expo, which attracts approximately 100 prestigious college and universities.
As junior year comes to an end, students are invited to attend our annual College Exploration Experience (CEE), a three day, two-night program that serves as an intensive look at the college admission process. Students will attend seminars on topics such as How Colleges Select Students, How to Write Your College Essay, and The College Interview. They will be given a mentor who will meet with them in a small group or individual setting to answer questions, refine their essays, and help create a custom list of colleges to consider. Our mentors are both college admissions officers and experienced independent school counselors. They represent selective colleges and universities as well as some of the most prestigious independent schools in the country. While this program is not required, it is highly recommended by our School Counseling Department and previous attendees.
Fall of senior year is an especially busy time in the school counseling office. Counselors assist students with applications, essay critiques and college lists. Although applying to college can be a stressful time in a student's and family's life, counselors provide ongoing support and resources to navigate through these challenging times.
Throughout high school, our students utilize Naviance, an online career and college portal. This excellent tool allows students, parents and counselors to communicate about the college process, research what majors are offered at different colleges and maintain a working list of college prospects. With Naviance, the college process becomes far less daunting and students are able to truly assess which colleges are best for their personal goals and abilities. Parents are able to access Naviance as well, so that they can be fully involved and active in the college process.
Although a student's needs vary at each grade level, our commitment to each student's success remains the same. From encouraging students to reach out when they need a helping hand or supporting them through tough times, the School Counseling Department is committed to helping students reach and surpass their academic, social, and emotional potential.