College Counseling


The RPS College Counseling Team is pleased to partner with students and families in one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life. Rutgers Prep counselors advise and assist students in identifying colleges that match their potential, and creating applications that showcase their strengths.

Beginning with educational programming for students and families in the 7th grade, our highly individualized approach encourages students to be thoughtfully engaged in the college search process as they make choices that fit their passions. We are dedicated to staying current with the latest trends in an ever-changing admissions landscape. We maintain close relationships with colleges; each year we travel across the country, networking with college and university admission officers and reminding them of all that our amazing RPS students can bring to their campuses. Last year, more than 130 college representatives met with both interested students and a member of our team here at Rutgers Prep!

100% of our graduates go on to attend four-year college, and their choices are reflective of their strong preparation. We believe that the college process is an opportunity for our students to identify their interests, define their goals, and shine.

Meet the Team

Team Overview

Welcome from the College Counseling Team at Rutgers Prep! We have the best jobs on campus, because we get to partner with students and their families at such an exciting point in their life.

We have more than 25 years experience in the field of selective higher education admissions, at such diverse institutions as The University of Pennsylvania, The College of New Jersey, Seton Hall University, Bucknell University and Stevens Institute of Technology.

We are proud to have been selected to present at both the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) annual conferences.

Sherry M. Riggi

Co-Director of College Counseling
Member of 3 college advisory boards, coordinator of professional workshops, mom of twins = master multi-tasker

"A++++ Thank you Ms. Riggi for your help and support these past two years. Ms. Riggi's first meetings with my son helped to dispel his anxiety and helped to create a plan on starting the search process. With Ms. Riggi's guidance, Michael was able to assess schools and be able to decide if the majors offered at each filled his needs and wants. The deeper he got into the process, the more excited and independent he became. Ms. Riggi was the perfect balance of encouraging and prompting without ever taking over the process. She expected my son to discover the right fit for himself, supported him throughout the application process and cheered along with him when he was accepted to his #1 choice!"
~Parent of a recent graduate


Shelley Krause

Co-Director of College Counseling
RPS Tweet-whisperer, haiku aficionada

"Available," "approachable," and "creative" are the words I use to describe Ms. Krause. Available: last minute appointments, emails, and availability, even in the summer... Approachable: her sense of humor and caring personality created a comfort level... Creative: coming up with multiple scenarios for the process. And the final college selections were perfect fits; I could not be happier with how my children's college search journeys played out! My children were knowledgeable about their schools, well prepared by RPS, and ready to contribute to their new educational settings. Thank you, Ms. Krause, for your guidance with this very important life decision!
~Parent of recent graduates

Jill Cooper

Associate Director of College Counseling
AP psychology teacher, travel blogger, and Disney planning guru

"Dr. Cooper by far exceeded our expectations. She provided us all with the support we needed to help make this process less stressful. She was extremely patient and always available to answer questions, guide us through difficult decisions, and to just talk when we needed to. We felt she was as committed to this process as we were and that she genuinely cared about the outcome and what was best for Joe. We could not have asked for a better college counseling experience!"
~ Parent of a recent graduate

David Wise

Associate Director of College Counseling

AP Statistics teacher, cross country coach, ultramarathoner = runs 50+ miles at a time... for fun

"We appreciated Mr. Wise's help in general. However, his help was most useful when it came to helping out with essay questions. The input was invaluable to our daughter and us. He was able to stress the importance of meeting the deadlines effectively. Also, Mr. Wise was key to the actual selection process as he provided an objective opinion to help with the selection process."

~ Parent of a recent graduate

Rosa Irizarry

College Counseling Program Assistant
Making sure that nothing falls through the cracks since 1999.

She helps to coordinate college representative visits, processes applications for seniors, and handles transcript requests from alumni. Mrs. Irizarry is always there to provide a ready smile and supportive word.

Counseling Timeline

Middle School

Students and Parents will be invited to an evening where they will hear from an Upper School College Counselor and a panel of professionals from college admissions and student life. The focus of the panel will include areas students can be focusing on now to get the most out of middle school and prepare for high school as well as learn how course selection and extracurricular activities play a role in the college process.

9th & 10th Grade

Although Upper School students won't enter into the formal portion of our college counseling curriculum until their junior year, we know that students and families may have college-related questions well before that. As a veteran of the College Counseling department and a former admissions officer at a highly selective university, Dr. Cooper is uniquely well-qualified to offer advice and insight as well as address any questions that underclassmen and/or their parents may have. Prior to the all-class "college kickoff" meeting junior year, Upper School students and their parents who have questions about summer opportunities, future course selections, and/or strategic approaches to standardized testing are encouraged to reach out to Dr. Cooper to schedule an appointment. In addition, college admissions planning events and programs will be announced throughout the school year.

Dr. Cooper's approach is to provide information while encouraging students to remain engaged and active in their high school experience. Participating in a new club, sport or community service opportunity are just a few examples of how students can develop new skills and grow as a leader within our community.

11th Grade

JUNIOR YEAR

Beginning in mid-March of their junior year, all Rutgers Prep students are assigned to a section of Junior Seminar, a course which is specifically designed to support them as they engage with the college search process. The curriculum includes information that will help students get the most out of a college visit, design an impressive college résumé and learn the best way to choose teachers to approach about writing letters of recommendation in the fall. Students also receive their “point person” assignments in college counseling, develop preliminary college lists, and begin learning about the application process. In general, this is a time for juniors to reflect on their goals, touch base with friends and family, and think about who they are and why they want to go to college.

In general:

  • Speak with current seniors about their plans.
  • Think about who you are and why you want to go to college.

October

  • Take the PSAT.

December

  • Receive results of the PSAT shortly before winter break.

January – March (includes College Kickoff in early February!)

  • If planning to take the ACT on Feb. 11, register by Jan. 13.If planning to take the SAT on March 11, register by Feb. 10.
  • If planning to take the ACT on April 8, register by March 3.
  • Explore summer opportunities. See Dr. Cooper and/or the RPS college counseling website for materials and suggestions.

Spring

  • After completing student and parent questionnaires, meet with your college counselor to discuss goals and to establish draft list of colleges to investigate.
  • Discuss senior schedule with your advisor and/or a member of the college counseling staff.
  • If at all possible, visit some colleges during Spring Break. Keep a journal of your impressions, ask questions, and take pictures.
  • Students, meet your college counselor for a mock interview; this gives you practice, and offers your college counselor an opportunity to gather information for your recommendation letter.
  • Attend Junior Seminar. Keep up with homework and ask good questions.
  • SAT is on March 11; ACT is on February 11 and April 8.

April

  • If planning to take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests on May 6, register by April 7th.
  • IAttend regional College Fairs

May

  • If planning to take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests on June 3, register by May 9. If planning to take ACT on June 10, register by May 5.
  • SAT/SAT Subject test date is May 6.
  • Advanced Placement Exams are in the first half of May.
  • Develop a list of colleges to visit during summer. Sign up online to request information. Set up visits and schedule interviews.
  • Ask two teachers to sign the form which commits them to supporting your college applications by writing letters of recommendations.

June

  • SAT/SAT Subject test date is June 3; ACT is June 10.

July/August

  • V I S I T C O L L E G E S ! ! Update journal, compare colleges, discuss your reactions and opinions with family and trusted friends.
  • Narrow list to about 10 colleges. Be sure to include a range of selectivity.
  • Plan to draft application essays; the Common App goes "live" over the summer; create an account and begin working on your first applications.
  • Plan fall visits (campus interviews, events, tours) & your testing schedule, e.g. register by July 28 if planning to take August 26 SAT.
  • Sign up for email lists & campus visits if you have not already done so.
  • End-of-summer SAT is on August 26th.
  • Watch for announcements re: summer essay workshops

12th Grade

SENIOR YEAR

Through the first semester of their senior year, students continue to meet in groups as their Senior Seminar course gives them scheduled opportunities to focus on essay writing, gather information on completing applications, and receive assistance in preparing for college interviews. Students also receive individual feedback on drafts of their essays and are encouraged to participate in a mock interview in anticipation of the college interviews to come.

In the spring of the senior year, students will meet for several seminars to address the issues related to leaving home and establishing independence as they begin a "new life" in college. Outside professionally trained speakers come to campus to address potential "pitfalls" that students will face in their residence halls and around campus.

Fall

  • Sign up for email lists and & campus visits if you have not already done so.
  • Attend the Senior Retreat and Senior Seminar.

September

  • Meet with college representatives who visit RPS. (A full list of scheduled visits will be accessible via the Family Connection site.)
  • Meet with your college counselor to finalize your college list.
  • Begin writing application essays if you haven't already done so.
  • No Sept. SAT; ACT exam is Sept. 9. Register by Sept. 8 for Oct. 7 SAT.
  • Review transcript for accuracy; see "Mrs. I" to approve information or request additions or corrections.
  • Confirm with the teachers you spoke with in May that they will write your recommendations; provide them with your first application deadline.

October

  • If planning to take SAT's on November 4, register by Oct 6. (Nov. is typically the last acceptable test date for ED/EA applications.)
  • Begin to activate applications to colleges with rolling admissions.
  • All applications with a college deadline of Oct 15 must be activated with a member of the college counseling staff no later than October 2nd.
  • The fall SAT test date is October 7; ACT is offered Sept. 9 and Oct. 28.
  • All applications with a college deadline of November 1 must be activated with a member of the college counseling staff no later than October 16.
  • If planning to take an SAT on Nov. 4 or Dec. 2, register in October.
  • All applications with a college deadline of November 15 must be activated with a member of the college counseling staff no later than November 1.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Profile (if required) if planning to apply for financial aid. International students should check their colleges' websites for Certification of Finances forms applicable to them.

November

  • Review final list of colleges with your college counselor.
  • The November SAT I/SAT Subject Test date is November 4.
  • Applications with a deadline of December 1 must be submitted to a member of the college counseling staff no later than November 15.

December

  • Applications with a deadline of December 15 must be activated in the Upper School Office no later than December 1.
  • Applications with a deadline anytime in January must be activated in the Upper School Office no later than December 1.
  • The SAT I/SAT Subject Test date is Dec. 2; the ACT test date is Dec. 9.
  • We strongly encourage students to complete all applications before the winter break in order to avoid a conflict with exams in January.

January

  • Applications with a deadline of February 1 must be activated with a member of the college counseling staff by Friday, January 12. All remaining applications must also be activated at this time.
  • There will be no SAT I/SAT II offered in January of 2018.

February

  • REMINDER: Seniors' mid-year grades are sent by the College Counseling Office to all colleges to which each student has applied.
  • Colleges will notify students of their decisions.

April

  • Students may want to visit schools where they've been accepted.

May

  • Make a final college choice. Inform only one college that you plan to attend. Send your regrets to the rest. In general, students should plan to notify colleges of their decision no later than May 1.
  • Advanced Placement Exams take place in early May.

Events and Reminders

Events

Sat Oct 21
ACT Bootcamp Sign-in
Upper School
9:00 am

Sun, Oct 22
ACT Bootcamp Sign-in
Upper School
9:00 am

Wed. Oct. 25
“Getting from where you are to where you want to be” (for sophomores & their parents)
Dining Commons
7:00 pm


Wed. Feb 7
College Kick-Off
Dining Commons
7:00 pm

Wed. Feb 28
PSAT-10
Lower Gym
8:00 am

Wed, March 7
The Road Map: from interests to college
9th grade parents and students
Dining Commons
7:00 pm

Wed, April 4
Athletic College Night
Music-Choir Room
7:00 pm

Thurs, April 12
PRE-ACT-10
Lower Gym
8:00 am


Activation Deadlines

Class of 2018 College Application Activation Deadlines

Please use the following guidelines for activation deadlines as they relate to college application deadlines:

College application deadline: Oct. 15
Activation deadline: Oct. 2

College application deadline: Nov. 1
Activation deadline: Oct. 16

College application deadline: Nov. 15
Activation deadline: Nov. 1

College application deadline: Dec. 1
Activation deadline: Nov. 15

College application deadline: Dec. 15
Activation deadline: Dec. 1

If the deadline is any day in January, it must be activated by Dec. 1

*ACTIVATION is the term we use at RPS for the process by which students formally inform the College Counseling Team that you have completed and submitted your part of an application (or applications), so that we can start working on sending the transcript, teacher recommendations, and school letter of support. Your part comes first, and should be reviewed by your point person in College Counseling before you hit “submit”!

EARLIER IS BETTER. If you can complete and activate an application before the required deadline, do so! Submitting your materials early gives your teachers more time to polish their recommendations, and also gives the counseling staff more time to review your work for errors and finish their letter of recommendation. Submitting materials early also helps give college admissions officers with the impression that you are focused and “on the ball.”

TESTING IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. RPS does NOT report standardized test scores to colleges/ universities. Colleges will only accept scores that come directly from the testing agencies, so please make sure to send your scores via the College Board and/or ACT.

ALSO, PLEASE NOTE: We strongly recommend that EVERY student apply to at least one school that offers an “early action” admissions option or releases its application decisions on a “rolling” basis. There are many schools that will fulfill this requirement… students, please see your counselor if you need some help brainstorming!

College Counseling Forms

Resources

College Search


Testing

SAT test registration
ACT test registration
TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language) testing
Free online test prep (more SAT prep is available via RPS Family Connection)
Information on testing-optional schools
Wake Forest's admissions director explains talks about their decision to go test-optional

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Paying for College; A financial Aid Presentation by Rutgers Prep
Information on sources of aid, financial aid calculator, scholarship scam warnings

What You'll Actually Pay At 1,550 Colleges
Financial Aid News
One of the most comprehensive databases of scholarship information
Information about available merit-based awards
Project on Student Debt
FAFSA on the Web
FAFSA help
CSS Profile
Student loan comparison tool
Explanation of financial aid awards using real award letters as samples


Career Info


www.bls.gov/oco
Occupational Handbook (for hundreds of types of jobs, the handbook tells you: the training and education needed, expected earnings, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job, and working conditions

www.careervoyages.gov/students-main.cfm

Projections about demand across various fields; US Dept. of Labor site

www.njnextstop.org
Njnextstop.org tells you what skills you will need to be in-demand in New Jersey industries, including health care, finance, construction, utilities, manufacturing, tourism, transportation and information technology

mymajors.com
Provides a short free quiz to help students focus on a possible major or majors

Athletic Info

NCAA eligibility center
Searchable database of DIII colleges
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

Miscellaneous

National Portfolio Day information
Summer program opportunities
Gap or service year information
National Collegiate Honors Council (schools with honors programs or colleges)
7-year medical programs
AP credit information
Colleges with programs for students with learning disabilities

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