Juniors attend College Night hosted by counselors


Kevin Zhu

AV Counselor Winter Jones aided juniors and their families in building a constructive college list.

Kevin Zhu, Senior Staff Writer

The virtual college night for juniors on February 3 lasted for a full hour and half, as many concerned parents and juniors alike tuned in to listen to some much needed information as they began their college application journey early.

“As a parent, I want my son to go to the best college he can. I attended the Zoom and so did he as well, and it was very helpful to get to know our counselors and be introduced to the whole scary process of college,” said parent Sarah Maxwell.

Hosted by Amador Valley’s college counselors, Audrey Zarrinkhat and Winter Jones gave the soon to be seniors and their parents a brief and very encompassing overview of not only the college application process, but also the many options available after high school graduation.

“I tuned in to check it out — I know the college application season is still a long time away, but I want to make sure that there isn’t something huge I’m missing out. Getting an early start and knowing more information is always a good idea,” said Handson Li (‘23).

While most aim for a four year college or university, trade school or a gap year is a possible option as well. In reality, these are perfectly normal and healthy routes for anyone. 

“To be honest, I had never even thought there were other things you could do after graduation besides college. That was an eye opener for me,” said Li.

As for options for college, Zarrinkhat heavily stressed the importance of building a college list based on personal fit and circumstances. For websites that allow students and parents to explore potential colleges, Jones recommends Xello, a matchmaker site. More resources are available in the slide deck.

“These circumstances seem silly, but things like weather, geography, distance from home, conservative or liberal, campus culture, learning style also matter when building a college list,” said Jones.

Jones introduces the concept of a “holistic” view in the application process. It entails that colleges will look at nearly everything a student has achieved over their academic career, from extracurriculars to transcripts, awards, family background, majors of interest, essays, letters of recommendation, and many more topics. 

The presentation shows the statistics of the acceptance percentages that colleges have for Freshman students. (Kevin Zhu)

“Colleges look at many things when considering applications. Transcripts, extracurriculars, electives, and a lot of things matter. These are all things that you have built over the years,” said Jones

What many don’t know is the college rejection process. Part of this holistic approach means that highly selective colleges such as Stanford and Harvard are constantly changing what they look for every year due to institutional priorities. They can shrink or widen the admissions gap depending on what they need, and look for characters or qualities that they need most at that time.

“Rejection isn’t necessarily personal. These top universities like UCLA and Stanford should always be considered reach schools — this doesn’t mean you won’t get in, just that the chance of not getting in is always possible. They constantly are changing their requirements every year,” said Jones.

To the parents in the meeting, counselors also recommended that they let their kids apply for colleges themselves. Their decision in choosing what colleges they want as well as other skills is important. 

“For the parents, try to let kids have a say in what the ‘list’ [referring to choice colleges]. Ask them what they think, even little things like the weather, or the campus, or how far it is from home,” said Jones.

With the scheduling window open on Q, juniors have to choose the courses that will best benefit them and their extracurricular schedule. (Kevin Zhu)

 With scheduling for the next year coming up soon, juniors have a huge range of electives to choose from in their senior year, as most are close to all the necessary credits for graduation. Avoiding burnout and seeking balance is a huge priority in course selections. For more information on scheduling, check out the counseling newsletter

“Course loads and grades are both important. We have to balance this. There’s no magic number of APs… you want to match rigor from previous years. Ask yourself what type of person you are, and find what you like and don’t like,” said Jones

If any juniors or even sophomores were unable to attend the Zoom conference, a fully recorded video of the seminar, complete with the Q&A, will be posted to the AV Counseling site within the following week. 

“Don’t worry about missing information right now, next year during the application process counselors will be there to help as well,” said Jones.

A further link is provided as well for the slides used in the presentation. For more, visit the AV Counseling website.