The College Office provides students with a safe space to research, discuss, plan, and navigate life after graduation. Your College Counselors provide a range of support with regard to choosing a college and a major, visiting campuses, registering for SAT or ACT exams, writing college essays, filling out college and program applications, applying for scholarships, filling out financial aid (including loan, grant, and tax information), meeting with your families, scheduling (and training for!) interviews, creating resumes and cover letters, and, finally, making connections on campus. And, while we, of course, encourage college for all, we've also helped students enter cosmetology programs, automotive engineering programs, cooking classes, military programs, and the work force. Simply put, the College Office exists to help you transition into a successful life outside of BAL, one where you still feel as secure and supported as you did when you were in our building.
Tips and resources
At the Bronx Academy of Letters, we strive to help students understand the college search, selection, and application process and to assist them through it successfully. Since no one college or group of colleges is right for every student, our college counselor helps students to clarify their educational and personal goals, match them with colleges that help them reach those goals, and guide students through the application and financial-aid process.
The college-counseling process begins during the sixth grade year when students are introduced to the college success timeline. This timeline helps students understand the importance of getting and maintaining good grades, getting involved in extracurricular activities, doing community service, and improving their writing skills throughout their middle and high school years. Field trips, advisory projects, and Q&A sessions during seventh and eighth grade help students monitor their initial progress on that timeline, and prepare for the intensive college planning they’ll do in high school.
As high school freshman, students graders have the opportunity to take a practice PSAT test, which gives them exposure to the SAT, an important college access exam. In addition to this, students have the opportunity to visit local NYC colleges where they are exposed to different college choices that are available to them.
During their sophomore year, students continue on their college success timelines and delve even deeper into the world of college. Tenth graders are invited to meet with college representatives who visit the school, attend citywide college fairs outside of school, and take the official PSAT test. Sophomores also have the opportunity to attend a gradewide overnight college trip where they are exposed to a variety of colleges and universities outside of New York City.
Junior year is the most important year for college planning. Students meet with college representatives, attend college fairs, take day trips to colleges in the tri-state area, and participate in an out-of-state overnight college trip. Students are also required to take an SAT preparation class for the official SAT in the spring. Additionally, students meet individually with their college counselor to develop a list of appropriate college choices and learn how and where to apply for scholarships and financial aid.
Finally, seniors apply to their college choices, fill out scholarship and financial aid forms, and visit their potential college choices. If they are unhappy with their SAT scores, they can take them again in the fall. Students also attend various workshops to learn about the transition from high school to college.
Parents are highly encouraged to get involved in all aspects of the college planning process. The more involved parents are, the easier the time students have in the college selection process. If parents have any questions, or would like to volunteers to help out in the college office, please contact Desiree Battaglia or Kate Carberry, the college counselors.
Helpful college websites for parents and students:
www.collegeboard.com - everything college related in English and Spanish
www.learningleaders.org - excellent college planning manual
www.fastweb.com - scholarship search
www.fafsa.gov.edu - financial aid forms that every student must fill out
www.collegenet.com - source for all things college
** Please note: NO college based, scholarship, or financial aid websites should cost money to use. If a website is asking you to pay a fee, be aware that it is probably a SCAM. Call the college counselor if you have questions or concerns about any web sites.
The Bronx Academy of Letters has compiled a full college access library for student and parent use. The books available are college directories, major searches, financial aid and scholarship guides, guides for parents, and college information on over 500 colleges. If you are interested in borrowing books from the library, please contact Desiree Battaglia or Kate Carberry.