Becoming College-Ready

The 2014-2015 school year is winding down, and members of the Class of 2015 have already received their acceptance letters to some of the top regional and national colleges and universities, including Boston College, Clemson University, colleges of the State University of New York, Duke University, Northeastern University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, and the University of Virginia.

Acceptance to any higher educational institution takes work, and the district has set in place a number of key programs and courses to ready students and their parents for the important educational milestone of applying to college.        

Advanced Placement and College Credit Courses
Over the past two decades, there has been a consistent expansion of Advanced Placement courses, senior high school Principal Dr. Ellice Vassallo explained. The senior high school currently offers 17 AP courses and is adding AP European History to its course catalog for the 2015-2016 school year. In order to prepare younger students for more rigorous learning and offer a wider range of courses, the high school allows ninth-grade students to take AP Biology and the first part of AP World History. Tenth-grade students can enroll in AP World History, AP Chemistry and AP Statistics, while juniors are offered enrollment opportunities in AP U.S. History and AP Literature.  

Assistant Principal Stephen O’Leary reported that in 2014, 251 students took a total of 502 AP exams, with 175 students receiving a passing score or greater. This represents a passing rate of 69.7 percent, which exceeds the New York State passing rate by 2.6 percent and the global average by 8.4 percent.

Recommended students who satisfy both university and departmental requirements may also enroll in college credit courses either at SUNY Farmingdale or St. John’s University. SUNY Farmingdale offers calculus, principals of engineering, college marketing, business law and college accounting. In addition, St. John’s University offers Spanish, Italian, criminal justice and forensics for students who want to get a jump-start on their college credits while still in high school.  

PSAT and SAT Test Preparation
O’Leary explained that the district also readies students for college with PSAT and SAT preparatory programs and testing. In fact, the Board of Education has continually funded all students to take college preparatory exams in grades 9-11.  The goal of this testing is to prepare students for exams such as the SAT and ACT.

The Ready Step program is offered to students in ninth grade, and there is an incline in the number of students enrolling to take the ACT each year. The district is also reviewing the American College Testing practice test, which is currently being redesigned, O’Leary explained.

Naviance Program
Today, high schools send out student transcripts, scores and recommendations through the Naviance Program. This online tool assists students with their college search and the guidance department in gathering pertinent pre-college information.

Linked to the guidance department’s web page, Family Connection, Naviance allows students and their parents to research credentials needed for admittance to target colleges. Graphics also allow the student to see if they are suited to a particular college or university program.

“The Naviance Program empowers the student,” guidance counselor Paul Satriano said. “Students can find out if they have a shot of getting into their top choice college based on their transcripts.”

Satriano explained that there are individualized planning meetings with juniors and their parents to start the college application process. During the meeting, the student receives a rundown of his or her preliminary GPA and class rank and discusses ways to strengthen his or her resume.

Satriano also noted that mini-college fairs in the fall and spring are excellent ways for students in grades 10-12 to learn more about the colleges they are interested in by speaking with the representatives on hand. In addition, these fairs serve as a starting point for students who need the extra push to begin the college application process.