Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Guidance Strategy Sends More to College

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Guidance Strategy Sends More to College

Article excerpt

In an era of meticulous planning for college applications, Lakeland Regional High School takes an extra step: long-range personal strategy sessions for every student as soon as ninth grade.

High schools often have guidance counselors meet individually with students and their parents in junior year to talk about the high-pressure world of college admissions. But Lakeland's counseling office starts extra early, with some of these hourlong meetings taking place in the summer before freshman year. Counselors meet individually with families to map out likely courses, activities and community services requirements for the next four years.

"We believe in goal-setting here," said Timothy Conway, director of the counseling office. "Parents want to hit the ground running. It relieves a lot of anxiety on students and parents."

This fall marks the fourth year of these of these "four-year planning" sessions. Conway credits this approach with helping to boost the percentage of seniors heading to college to 92 percent in the Class of 2012, up from 74 percent three years earlier. (That includes two-year and four-year colleges.) He said setting clear expectations helped students focus.

Including students pursuing career and technical training, as well as apprenticeships, 96 percent of the Class of 2012 went on to postsecondary education.

Such growth helped the school's counseling office win a national award from the American School Counseling Association this year for its commitment. Lakeland, which serves students from Wanaque and Ringwood, is the first New Jersey school to win the so-called RAMP award, for "Recognized ASCA Program Model."

Several parents said they appreciated the chance to meet with counselors at the start of freshman year. They got an advance look at the alphabet soup of standardized tests - SAT, ACT, AP - and the Naviance software program that helps match students' scores with colleges' demands.

Michael Shockley had a long-range planning meeting with his son, Scott, in late August. …

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