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Welcome to College Guidance at AFS!

The  College Guidance Team at AFS assists our Upper School students in every step of the journey from our Grade 9 course selection to our Grade 12 college admission process. We have a few goals in our work with students. We advise faculty and students on course selection that provides each student with the best conditions for learning. We also help families assess academic, social, and financial needs to identify colleges that fit each student well. We are experts at the application and discernment process that comes with choosing the next level of education after AFS.  We’re here for students. We’re here for families. From the complicated questions to the simple assurance that there is someone who understands the growth and evolution of your high school student. We are working on your behalf and we’re happy to guide you on this intellectual adventure. 

College Guidance Events and Details

Upcoming Events

Calendar of Events 2021 – 2022 School Year

  • Virtual Parent/Guardian Webinar: Standardized Testing, hosted by Compass Education Group

    • Tuesday, November 9 @ 7 – 8pm

    • Open to 9th-11th grade families

  • In- Person 11th Grade College Night: An overview of the college process

    • Tuesday, November 30 @ 7 – 8pm in the Muller Auditorium

    • Open to 11th grade families only

  • Virtual Parent/Guardian Webinar: College 101

    • Tuesday, December 7 @ 7 – 8pm

    • Open to all Upper School families, geared toward parents and guardians of 9th and 10th grade students

  • Virtual Parent/Guardian Webinar: Reading Your Financial Aid Award Letter

    • Thursday, December 3 @ 7– 8pm

    • Open to 12th grade families only

  • Virtual Parent/Guardian Webinar: Athletic Recruitment

    • Monday, March 7 @ 7 – 8pm

    • Open to 9th-11th grade families

  • Virtual Parent/Guardian Webinar: Studying in the Arts

    • Thursday, April 14 @ 7– 8pm

    • Open to 9th-11th grade families

Contact Us

Here’s how to reach us:

Mal Goss, Director of College Guidance and Director of Studies, 215.576.3066


Joanna Upmeyer, Associate Director of College Guidance, 215-881-7686


Maryann Cummiskey, College Guidance, Administrative Assistant and Registrar, 215-576-3955



College Guidance Timeline for Grade 9 through 12

Grade 9 

September – December
Students continue to build strong critical thinking, writing, and math/science skills by taking courses that appropriately challenge each student academically. Intentionally pursue activities that spark interest and excitement.
There is a focus on understanding the new expectations of Upper School. Skills such as time and stress management, note-taking, and study skills are important. 

January – March
Students are encouraged to think about summer plans: camps, summer jobs, pre-college programs, community service opportunities. These opportunities will help you as you “tell your story.” The Center for Experiential Learning along with the Office of College Guidance are strong AFS resources to connect students to programs of interest. 

April – May
Students will work with advisor sand parents/guardians to plan an appropriately challenging schedule for 10th grade.

It is important to read widely. This is the best long-term plan to prepare students for standardized testing. Students are to relax, but also to participate in summer programs, camps, or community service events.

Grade 10

September – December
Sophomore year starts off by building on top of the academic skills developed in 9th grade. Students develop relationships with advisors, teachers, and peers as resources to navigate the newness of 10th grade. Students are not told to create a long list of activities, but to focus on the activities that interest you. Discover a deeper understanding of a particular club or cause. The
 depth of involvement, commitment, and leadership roles are the aspects of involvement that colleges review. 

It’s time to take a Practice SAT and a Practice ACT. AFS provides an opportunity to take the PSAT on campus, but there are many test prep companies that will proctor a free Practice ACT for you. Taking practice tests introduces the format of each test.

January – March
Start thinking about  summer plans that build on  interests, and provide opportunities for challenge and skill building: athletic and arts camps, summer jobs, community service events, academic programs abroad. Many programs may offer summer financial aid and scholarships. Our office and the Center for Experiential Learning are able to help match students with mentors and programs. 

April – May
Students are to spend substantive time talking with their school advisor and parents/guardians about the preferred courses for the next school year. This is crucial step in students taking on more independence in their path of learning, there are many more opportunities to customize your course roster in 11th grade. 

AFS provides summer reading suggestions and requirements through our central library. It is important to balance summer relaxing and participation in academic programs, camps, or work. 

Grade 11

The 11th grade year gathers momentum, with testing, planning, researching, self-reflection, and schoolwork. Students  continue to stay focused on classes and developing relationships with support resources like advisors and teachers. 

It’s time to take the
PSAT. This test is still a practice for the SAT, but very high scorers may be eligible for entering the National Merit Scholarship competition. Families need to plan to take a Practice ACT through one of the test prep companies.

AFS hosts the 11th grade college night for students and at least one parent/guardian. There is a  student and parent/guardian college questionnaire to guide us in our guidance process. 

The PSAT and Practice ACT results are released and this is a great guide to determine which test is a better fit for you. Some questions to discuss after a review of the results: Is additional preparation for the SAT or ACT needed?
Students need to register for your first test (we strongly recommend students not take their first official testing until the December sittings for both tests)

The Topics in College Admissions course is offered in order to help students determine what factors to consider in making a college the right fit for you. The  student and parent/guardian college questionnaire should be finished and submitted. 

January – February
College Counselor assignments are made and students are introduced to
Scoir. We invited students for one-on-one meetings with your assigned college counselor.
It it time to register for a spring sitting of the SAT or ACT.
Plan a college tour (tours don’t need to be extensive or require you to travel far; there are numerous colleges and universities in the
state of Pennsylvania that can introduce you to city, suburban, rural, large, medium, and small campuses). 

Colleges provide some much information online now! Use research skills to discover the elements of colleges that appeal to you. Take notes about what stands out on virtual and in-person college tours. 

April – May
Students work with their advisor and parents/guardians to choose appropriately challenging courses. Senior year course selection and semester grades count with colleges! This is also the time to request t
wo letters of recommendation from previous teachers. Recommendations should come from a teacher in English, History, World Language, Math, or Science. Our office will help students choose the right teacher for their recommendation letter. 

It’s time to start drafting the college essay! There are many resources available online, including examples of previous student essays. Students need to plan another sitting of the SAT or ACT Continue to visit college campuses, attend school Open Houses and Information sessions (virtual or in-person), and continue to specify which colleges may be a right fit. 

Grade 12

This is a month for planning with
your college guidance counselor. Students will receive instructions on entering college choices into Scoir.  There is a checklist for all the items that are needed for admission and financial aid deadlines, application supplement requirements, and testing requirements.  Email Communication is encouraged each day. (colleges will be communicating with you, as will the College Guidance Office) The grades from senior year are reviewed by colleges, (Early Action/Early Decision colleges may see your first quarter grades; Regular Decision colleges will see your first semester grades).

FAFSA application opens. Families should work together to complete the FAFSA.  Some colleges may also require the CSS Profile. Many schools many have additional scholarship or grant information on their websites. Families can access the  Net Price Calculator for each college you intend to apply to. Communication between students, families and college guidance should be often and open to navigate this busy college application season. 

September – October
AFS welcomes college admissions representatives to campus or on virtual visit platforms.  These meetings can be schedules on 
Scoir. Time management is an important conversation at this time because some college essays and application deadlines are approaching in November.

October – November
By mid-October, it is time to confirm which colleges to apply to in an early round. In early November, confirm what colleges you will be applying to for regular decision.

Most Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are November 1 and November 15. Submit your applications 24-48 hours before the deadline. Tech glitches happen!

Many Early Decision and Early Action decisions will come out in early to mid-December. Prepare to submit Regular Decision applications

January – February
January 1 and 15 are application deadlines for most Regular Decision colleges

April 1
This is the national deadline for colleges to release decisions.  Financial aid packages are typically release by schools by now and the pros and cons of which college may be the most optimal is a thorough discussion with families and the college counselor.  

May 1
This is the national deadline for students to submit an enrollment deposit at the college they intend to matriculate to in the fall. Respond to waiting list offers and decline other offers of admission
Take a deep breath and celebrate that you made it through the college process!

College Application Resources

We realize that much of the work students and families will do in the college application process will be outside of regular school-day hours. We have compiled a brief list of online resources that we frequently reference in our college meetings and evening programs so that you can easily access them when necessary.  

Comprehensive Guide:

NACAC Guide to the College Admissions Process

The College Search:

Big Future
College Scorecard


The Common Application

The Coalition Application

Test Prep/Tutoring:
(the AFS College Guidance Office doesn’t promote one test prep/tutoring company over another; this list is merely a small selection of reputable companies that we are familiar with)

Rocket Prep

Katherine Miller Education

Compass Education Group

A+ Tutoring

Standardized Testing:
Test Optional Schools

Financial Aid:

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA)
CSS Profile
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA)