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Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15, 2013

PSAT Registration Begins This Week

Registration for the PSAT begins this week. The PSAT is a practice SAT that is highly recommended for juniors and for sophomores as well who have already completed Geometry. The reason for the latter is that a portion of the math on the PSAT includes Geometry.

The test date is Wednesday, October 16th, and will be administered between 8-11:30 AM.  For 11th-graders, there is no cost for the test.  Tenth-graders who wish to take the PSAT will be charged $15 and may do so with cash or a check made out to EOSHS. Registration takes place in the Guidance Office. The window for test registration will remain open until Friday, October 11th. A late fee of $10 will be assessed after that date, provided room remains available for additional test-takers.

Juniors are eligible for National Merit Scholarships. Those students who score in the top half of the 99th percentile are typically selected as candidates for these scholarships. Their value has been $2500 and likely will remain so in the next year. Aside from eligibility for these scholarships, the PSAT provides a testing experience that resembles the SAT, and students who complete the PSAT receive in early December a detailed summary of their test performances. This summary may be very useful when preparing for the SAT.
If you're wondering, there are two designated test dates offered each year and schools are only allowed to select one of these dates.  EOSHS has selected the PSAT date given on a school day in order to increase student participation in the testing experience.

Contact your counselor if you have questions about the PSAT.
Adding/Dropping Courses
With two weeks of school already in the books, students may still be weighing their course loads and determining what's appropriate to carry. Anyone wishing to make a schedule change will need to complete a "Schedule Change Request Form" that is available in the Guidance Office. This form will require both a teacher signature (course being dropped) and a parent signature before the change can be processed. The completed form should be brought to the student's counselor.

For the record, you should know that semester courses (designated by S1 or S2) and year-long courses (designated by YR) have different time lines for adding/dropping classes and how these changes are depicted on transcripts. For first semester courses, students have twenty (20) school days to decide before changes are reflected on transcripts. In other words, any changes made before the 20-day window will NOT be reflected on transcripts. Changes after the 20-day period but before the end of the first marking period will show a "W" (withdrawal) on the transcript. For year-long courses, the timeline is doubled.
Counselors Scheduled to Visit English 12 Classes
Counselors will be visiting English 12 classes and reviewing pertinent post secondary information with seniors. Seniors are encouraged to make appointments with their counselors to continue discussions about plans for life after high school.

Seniors should also log on to Naviance and check the schedule for visits to EOSHS that are being made by college admissions representatives from several colleges and universities. These visits are typically made during the school day and seniors will need to get permission from teachers if the former will be missing class to attend a session.

What's Naviance and Why Should You Be Interested In It?

The EOS Guidance Department has been using Naviance for several years now, adding features along the way when they become available to subscribers and when we feel they're useful to our school community. Naviance is a web-based program that offers a full range of services. You'll find course descriptions on classes offered at EOS, four-year plans of study that match the various post secondary goals that students may have, data on student outcomes specific to colleges and universities to which EOS students have applied over the past several years, links to the vast majority of post secondary institutions throughout the country, links to financial aid web sites, a link to The College Board, career information, results of surveys we administer to students, Success Planner that holds electronic portfolios we're building with students, and an SAT prep program that is extensive - and free to students. There is even more. The link to Naviance may be found in the upper right corner of this page (Naviance Family Connection).   You may also wish to follow a tutorial video that we put together. This may be found to the right under "Tutorials" or you can simply open the link here.

Part Two is available as well. It's not Hollywood calibre, but it suffices in terms of providing an overview. Should you have questions about the program, do not hesitate to contact the Guidance Office at guidance@eosmith.org.

Use Course Planner to Set Your GPS
As you know (if you don't, you really should), Naviance is a relatively comprehensive web-based program that the Guidance Department uses in addressing issues related to the three components of a developmental guidance program - social/emotional, academic, and post secondary issues. Students complete surveys on-line, conduct research on career and college options, prepare for the SAT, and plan for their futures in a variety of ways.  Regarding the latter, one such way is through a component of Naviance called "Course Planner". Here's how it works.

Students (and parents) can access "Course Planner" by logging in to their accounts and clicking on the "Courses" tab in the menu bar. From there, four-year plans of study may be reviewed simply by clicking on course plans. Several plans are available and each is based upon the kind of schools - defined by competitiveness (how difficult it is to be accepted - the lower the percentage of students accepted, the more competitive it is) - that a student may wish to pursue. By clicking on any one of the plans, you will see the types of courses available to choose from that will comprise a four-year plan of study compatible with the kinds of competitive schools for that particular category. For example, a student interested in attending a highly competitive school would click on that plan and see that the vast majority of courses from which to choose would be at the "A" level. What is not taken into consideration are the grades that a student earns in these courses. Rather, the strength of the four-year plan is based upon the rigor of one's course selections.

A design flaw that Naviance has not yet corrected relates to the schools of interest that are listed below the "meter" that measures rigor. A plan that may be appropriate for admission to ECSU may not be sufficient for acceptance to UConn, even though Naviance is indicating otherwise. For more accurate feedback, students should speak with their counselors. Still, Course Planner may be very useful in the course selection process when taking into consideration post secondary aspirations.
State of Connecticut Scholarships Available
 The Connecticut State Treasurer has announced a new scholarship opportunity available to current seniors this year.  Called CHET Advance, this new program will award 200 scholarships worth $2500 each to students across the state.  The application period is September 16 to October 4.  For more information, go to ChetAdvance.
 Early Opportunity Scholarships Available
Here's how students can earn scholarships of a different sort by taking on the challenges offered right at EOSHS.

EOSHS has been, for several years now, offering University of Connecticut (UC) courses through the Early College Experience (ECE) Program. The ECE Program, formerly known as the Cooperative Extension Program, offers several UC courses to high schools in CT provided that instructors teaching these courses are certified by the UC department offering the course(s). For example, Advanced Economics at EOS is the equivalent of Economics 1201 on campus and is taught by an instructor (Mr. David O’Connor) who has been approved – based upon academic credentials – by the Economics Department at UC. With twenty-six UC courses in the EOS curriculum (the most offered among all high schools in CT – the average for CT high schools is 5.7 courses), eligible students are granted the opportunity to earn college credits while simultaneously fulfilling high school graduation requirements. An additional point worth mentioning is that EOSHS ranks #1 in the state among all high schools when comparing the number of ECE courses offered that fulfill the four general content areas in the UC requirements for graduation. It’s not uncommon for students to complete 10 college credits while enrolled at EOSHS. Many earn more than 20 credits, and some have acquired as many as sixty.

To put this in perspective, a typical yearly course load in college is thirty credits. At UC, a year’s tuition and fees are about $12000. So, performing the math, thirty credits equal $12000. For EOS students, the cost is $0. This is, in effect, a $12000 scholarship (excluding the costs of books which are provided for free to students – an additional $1500 in approximate savings) for any EOS student who earns 30 credits prior to graduation. The savings could potentially triple to $36000 or more when these credits transfer to a private college or university. There are on average about 25 students who earn at least this many before receiving their EOS diplomas. Also not included, by the way, is the money saved on room and board expenses. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a student would have to complete college in three years instead of four. Rather, the fourth year could be spent on graduate studies.

Most all of these courses are transferable to all of the in-state public institutions and to most out-of-state public institutions as well. Several private colleges and universities will also accept these credits, depending upon each school’s transfer credit policy. For more information about the ECE Program, click on Early College Experience The link is also listed at the bottom of this page.

There has been some debate about the relative merits of ECE courses when compared to Advanced Placement (AP) courses.   EOSHS does offer four AP courses (AP U.S. History, AP Statistics, AP Studio Art, and AP Computer Science).  The first two AP courses mentioned are also offered as ECE courses. So, students may still earn college credits without needing to take the AP exams. Credits are awarded in AP courses solely on the basis of performance on the three-hour AP exams administered in May while credits for ECE courses are given based upon final grades earned in the courses (students must earn at least a "C"). Although the most highly selective colleges do not cast an unfavorable view upon schools with few AP courses (EOSHS, for many years, had none in its curriculum, choosing instead to offer the ECE courses), these schools do expect applicants to enroll in at least one or two and take the AP exam(s) if schools do offer them. AP courses have been the subject of much debate in recent years as critics have felt that these courses cover content that is "a mile wide and an inch deep", and the pace of the course does not offer in-depth, inquiry-based learning.  The College Board has actually responded to this criticism and has revised curricula in a few courses already, with more revisions on the way.  These revisions reflect less content covered and more opportunities for inquiry-based learning.

Anyway, AP courses or not, students at EOSHS have several opportunities to start college while still enrolled in high school. And, in many cases, the courses offered at the school are much smaller than the large introductory classes offered on the UC campus. The Region 19 School District has made an investment in this program. It makes sense that students consider making an investment of their own time and energy in pursuit of these early opportunity scholarships.

In another post, I will describe the opportunities available to students through the partnership that EOSHS has with Manchester Community College. 
If You Have Received an ECE Billing Statement...
Do not pay it.  EOS students receive ECE credits for free by virtue of an agreement forged with UConn several years ago.  Contact the ECE Office at 860.486.5100 if you happen to inadvertently receive a billing statement.
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