College Counseling

The Process


What is Naviance?

Naviance is a web-based, college counseling software package that enables students to research prospective universities.  Naviance also catalogs admissions trends for Heights graduates.

Within Naviance, there is also a test-preparation program for the SAT and ACT to which students have access.

In what way are parents/students to utilize Naviance?

Parents and students should use Naviance to research schools and determine the likelihood of admission to those schools.

Naviance has profiles for every university.  The profiles provide application deadlines, as well as other admissions information, including the GPA, test score, and admissions decision for previous Heights applicants.

How do I access my Naviance account?

Students must provide their email address to a college counselor to get an account.  An enrollment email message will then be sent with a temporary, auto-generated password for the account.  Upon logging in for the first time, students will be prompted to create their own personal password.

Parents of 11th Graders are also enrolled automatically each Fall.

Do parents/students need to input data, including GPA and test scores?

Parents/students are asked not to input the GPA or test scores.  The college counselors will continually update these statistics as they receive new test scores, grades, etc.

Standardized Tests (PSAT, SAT, ACT)

When should these tests be taken?

Heights students have the option to complete the PSAT during their sophomore and junior years in October on campus during school hours.  The PSAT taken junior year is the one that can result in a student qualifying as a National Merit Scholar.

Students are encouraged to complete an SAT or ACT test their junior year.  Colleges that require a standardized test accept both the SAT and ACT equally.

Does The Heights offer preparatory programs for these tests?

The Heights has purchased access to Naviance Test Prep, a web-based test-preparation software package.  Students can utilize this program with a $300 deposit.  If a student completes the program, the deposit is fully refunded.

Naviance Test Prep can be used to prepare either for the SAT or ACT.  Initial diagnostic tests allow the program to tailor an individualized regimen for students based on their specific areas of strength/weakness.

Mr. Sushinsky and Mr. Maxham also offer an SAT preparation class on Saturdays from October to January. Please contact David Maxham ( for more information.


Students can take either test; colleges accept both. Some students perform better on the SAT; others on the ACT. Students are encouraged early in their high school years to make a determination about which test is a better fit so that they have more time to prepare for that specific test.  The best way to make this determination is to take full-length practice tests of each toward the end of their 10th-grade year.  The Heights offers opportunities to complete these practice tests during the academic year.

There are a few local test-preparation companies who also provide resources that help to make this determination.  If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities, please see one of the college counselors.

Application Essays

When should students write their essays?

Students should start writing their essays in the summer before senior year.  The Heights hosts a College Workshop in June to help students get started on their writing.  The more summer-time that can be used for completing the essays, the better.  Students who wait to write their essays in the Fall often find themselves over-extended, and usually either the applications or grades suffer.

What is most important in a college essay?

The college essay is meant to reveal your writing skills, but it is also a window into who you are.  Proper grammar and syntax are crucial.  Also crucial are thoughtfulness, passion, and specificity.


Whom should I choose to write a letter of recommendation?

Teachers with whom you have had recent courses are the best choices.  In general, teachers from the junior year are the best choices.

How do I go about asking for this letter of recommendation?

Make sure to ask teachers who have positive things to say about you.  The more specific and detailed they are, the better.

Approach a teacher right away when senior year begins, providing him at least 30 days notice.

Can I have my coach or mentor write the letter, instead of a teacher?

A letter from a mentor or coach can be a good thing—as a secondary or “other” recommendation.  The teacher recommendation, though, should come from someone who had to go on the record, as it were, and give you an official grade on your transcript.

Transcript Requests

How do I have The Heights send my prospective school an official transcript?

Students must submit a Secondary School Report form (or SSR) for each school to which they are applying at least 30 days prior to their respective application due date.

These forms are available outside the counselors’ offices.

Does my official transcript show my weighted GPA?

While The Heights does not weight their GPAs, for the purposes of scholarships and those schools that are interested, we do also include a footnoted, weighted GPA on the transcript.

General Questions

What is the difference between Early Action and Early Decision?

Early Decision is binding; Early Action is non-binding.  If you are accepted Early Decision, you must withdraw all applications to other schools.

You can only apply Early Decision to one school; you can apply Early Action (generally speaking) to multiple schools.

Should I apply Early Decision?

You should apply Early Decision if and only if:

  • the school is absolutely your first choice and
  • the financial aid package is acceptable.

Applying Early Decision shows a college that you are willing to commit to them; consequently, they are more likely to accept you.

While official financial aid packages are sent out after you have been accepted, families can get a clear estimate of a school’s cost (prior to applying) by completing the Net Price Calculator on a university’s website.