College & Career Planning

Counselors work with students throughout their high school years to offer a framework for college and career planning. Through classroom lessons (called GATE) and individual or small group meetings, students learn about key elements of the college process, including the importance of grades and a strong transcript; the value of researching a wide range of colleges; recommended timing for the tests required for admission; financial aid; and the application process itself.

Please browse through the links below to read about college and career planning in more detail.

College Process FAQ

9th Grade: My son is a freshman and I keep hearing about the Biology SAT. I have no idea what that is and I feel like I'm missing something. Help!

This test is actually called the Biology Subject Test, and it is created by the College Board, the same company that produces the SAT test. Subject Tests used to be known as SAT IIs or, years ago, as Achievement Tests. Some colleges request applicants to submit one or two Subject Test scores along with their SAT test score.

In terms of the Biology Subject Test, some freshmen take it in June after completing Honors Biology. Similarly, some LM students take the Chemistry Subject Test in June of 10th grade, and many 11th graders take Subject Tests in Math, History or other subjects. Read more below.

What are SAT Subject Tests and when should my child take them?

Even if your student is in 9th grade, looking forward to college application time, there are some colleges that require subject tests for admission purposes. The College Board, maker of the SAT and SAT subject tests, recommends that students register and take the subject test(s) in English, history, languages, math or science right after they have finished the course. So, if that sounds like your student, please read the following information in order to register for the next date available.

A common date chosen to take the SAT subject tests is the first Saturday in June. The registration deadline for those tests is usually in early May. Each subject exam costs approximately $50 and lasts one hour. Students will need to put in their SAT CEEB Code and for Harriton (394290) or for Lower Merion (390105). The following exams are typically offered in early June:

  • US History
  • World History
  • Literature
  • Chemistry
  • Biology E/M
  • Physics
  • Latin
  • Hebrew
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Math 1
  • Math 2

While neither Harriton nor Lower Merion are test sites for the subject test in June, there are many in the area. They include the following schools: Abington, Conestoga, Delaware County Christian School, Garnet Valley, Great Valley, Malvern Prep, Marple Newtown, Overbrook, Radnor, Roxborough, St. Joseph's Prep, Strath Haven, Temple University, The Episcopal Academy, University of Pennsylvania, Upper Darby and Upper Merion. Read more at the College Board website. With any questions regarding this process, please see your school counselor.

10th Grade: My daughter is a sophomore and was very stressed about the PSAT. I thought the PSAT was only a practice test. Am I wrong?

Our district administers the PSAT to 10th and 11th grade students every year in October. In 10th grade, the purpose of the PSAT is to give students an exposure to standardized tests. It is a 2 hour and 10 minute test with five sections: two critical reading, two math, and one writing skills. Many educators feel it is best if 10th grade students take the test without practicing beforehand.
PSAT scores of 10th graders are reported only to the students themselves. In 11th grade, students retake the test and often perform better because they have had an additional year of learning and developing reading, writing and math skills. The scores of 11th graders can be used to qualify for National Merit Scholarship recognition, but they are not reported to colleges.

Counselors advise that the most important thing parents can do is to keep a relaxed attitude about the test. For more information, plan to attend the session "The PSAT, You Took Them, Now What?" at Harriton on Thursday, 1/23 from 7 to 8:30 pm. You'll learn how to interpret the PSAT score report and gather more information about college admissions tests.

My 10th grader will take the PSAT for the first time at school on 10/17. What does the test involve?

Our District administers the PSAT to 10th and 11th grade students every year in October. In 10th grade, the purpose of the PSAT is to give students an exposure to standardized tests. It is a 2 hour and 10 minute test with five sections: two critical reading, two math, and one writing skills. Many educators feel it is best if 10th grade students take the test without practicing beforehand.
PSAT scores of 10th graders are reported only to the students themselves. In 11th grade, students retake the test and often perform better because they have had an additional year of learning and developing reading, writing and math skills. The scores of 11th graders can be used to qualify for National Merit Scholarship recognition, but they are not reported to colleges.

Counselors advise that the most important thing parents can do is to keep a relaxed attitude about the test. For more information, plan to attend the session "The PSAT, You Took Them, Now What?" at Harriton on Thursday, 1/23 from 7 to 8:30 pm. You'll learn how to interpret the PSAT score report and gather more information about college admissions tests.

11th Grade: My student is a junior and I don't know what's involved with the college process. When will we start to receive information?

Students have already received some information from counselors during classroom programs (called GATE programs). It is important to note that each year, the early fall months are devoted to assisting seniors with their college applications, as well as helping freshmen transition to high school. Beginning in November, the time demands for freshmen and seniors begin to decrease, and counselors increase their time spent with sophomore and junior students.

Students typically begin to think seriously about the college process around the middle of the 11th grade year. An important source of information is LMSD's junior handbook that will be distributed on Wednesday, 11/20 during the evening program for families called The College Process for Juniors. The handbook is also available online here.

12th Grade: My senior is confused about the steps involved in submitting college applications. Is there someplace I can look for instructions in order to help him understand what to do?

We suggest that students and families read three LMSD documents that lay out the college process. If you haven't yet read it, start with Beginning the College Process, which is intended for 11th grade families. Then read through A Framework for Thinking about College Applications, and finally How to Submit College Applications. The last document lays out a step-by-step guide for submitting applications.