Advice for Students in Grade 11

All students in Grade 11 have a class (meeting three days each month from August through January) to help them prepare for the college admission process. They learn the fundamentals of higher education, become familiar with various university systems in eight different countries and world regions, research individual colleges and universities, and decide on a preliminary list of between 10 and 20 colleges that particularly interest them. In addition to classes, they have individual interviews in the spring with the college counselors to discuss their interests, goals, and future plans.

Every week in the autumn and spring, representative from colleges around the world visit Saint Maur. Grade 11 students meet them to find out about their programs to help them decide which type of college is best for each individual student. Students also have the chance to go to college fairs in Tōkyō in the autumn of Grades 11 and 12, to learn about many different universities from the U.S., Britain, Canada, and Australia. One college fair is hosted by Saint Maur each November, focusing on Japanese universities with international programs taught in English.

Below are descriptions of the four units of the Guidance course in Grade 11.

Unit 1: Introduction to Higher Education (August through October)
All students will learn the basic structure of higher education around the world (particularly English-speaking countries), including undergraduate and post-graduate opportunities. They will study the concepts, requirements, and commonly-used terminology of the college entrance process. A written test will evaluate how successfully they have learned these ideas. Students will also take the PSAT test for the second time and learn how to register for SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests and for the TOEFL test.

Unit 2: University Systems around the World (November through December)
During each class, students will learn about the higher education system in one of the countries from amongst which they can choose when they apply: the United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and English-medium universities in Japan and continental Europe. They will consult with their parents to decide which countries they want to research further.

Unit 3: College Research (January through March)
Students will begin to construct a preliminary list of colleges and universities where they might apply, and they will research each of them. They will learn about the Advanced Placement (AP) tests and choose whether or not to take them in May of Grade 11.

Unit 4: Individual Planning (April through June)
Having completed the preliminary college list, each student will meet individually with one of the counselors to help decide on plans for SAT and other tests, for summer study, and for campus visits. A final meeting after the June exams will help students focus on their immediate future.

In Semester I of Grade 11, all students are introduced to the structure and terminology of higher education, and to the national university systems of the major English-speaking countries of the world. They reflect on their own values and priorities and identified their most important Selection Criteria, to distinguish between various institutions and narrow them down to a manageable number. They also discuss with their parents which countries and regions of the world they should pursue in further research. They learn the tools and methods of investigating colleges and universities around the world. They become familiar with the three sources of information about colleges: (a) electronic resources (including websites and search engines), (b) print resources (in the catalogs found on the shelves outside the College Admissions Office), and (c) human resources (in the form of parents, teachers, counselors, visiting representatives, and other adults).

During February and March of Grade 11, students use all of this information and methodology in their own individual research. Their goal is to identify about ten to twenty colleges which meet all of their most important Selection Criteria. They look candidly at their own academic profile and begin sorting colleges into four categories: Match, Reach, Dream, and Safety. This will result in a Preliminary College Selection List (with the important information for each institution), which must be completed by early April. This allows them to use the spring vacation to finalize this list.

During these months, each student has an individual interview (of about 25 minutes) with Mr Scoggins, Dr Ueda, or Mr Rucci. They discuss how they chose the colleges on their Preliminary College Selection List; which Selection Criteria are most important to them, and why; what plans they have made for the summer; when they plan to take standardized admission tests such as SAT and TOEFL; and other factors important to their path to university.

In June of Grade 11, after final exams are over, all juniors meet together with Mr Scoggins and Dr Ueda for some advice on how best to use the summer vacation between Grades 11 and 12. Students write down their plans and goals—academic, personal, and otherwise—which they will evaluate at the end of the summer. The summer provides valuable opportunities of which students should take full advantage, as their choice of how to fill these months will affect the college application process but also possibly the future course of their lives!