St. Thomas More High School offers a college preparatory curriculum that academically prepares its students for success in universities across the world. The Student Services Department delivers a comprehensive counseling program that enables students to develop the necessary soft skills that will serve them in future careers. College and career counseling begins freshman year and continues throughout the four years of high school. Students are introduced to various career assessments and college research tools to encourage the creation and implementation of postsecondary goals. Each school year allows for students to explore and modify these goals, as interests change and new skills are learned. Graduation Day is an important benchmark that signifies the commencement of the journey to college and career pursuits. St. Thomas More High School believes that each student has a unique personal mission, and therefore, all college and career pathways are celebrated.
Ms. Peñaflor earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from St. Norbert College in 2004, as well as a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009. Before coming to St. Thomas More High School in 2014, Ms. Peñaflor was the Director of Graduate Support at Notre Dame School of Milwaukee for 10 years where she supported first-generation girls throughout middle school, high school and college. Ms. Peñaflor now serves as our Dean of College and Career Advancement, helping students create and achieve postsecondary college and career goals.
College Prep Timeline
Freshman Guidance (grade 9): At the beginning of the school year, students engage in an orientation to high school. The transitional phase may be difficult, and counselors are on-hand to help students acclimate to the new school environment. The first semester is devoted to this process, and counselors deliver the Study Skills curriculum, which includes note-taking techniques, study tips, and test-taking strategies. At the beginning of second semester, students are introduced to Naviance, an online research and planning platform for students, which includes self-discovery assessments, goal-setting, college and scholarship research tools and career exploration resources. Goal setting is highlighted throughout the year at various checkpoints with the students, documenting their participation in extracurricular activities and academic successes.
Sophomore Guidance (grade 10): During the sophomore year, students explore the world of work, aptitudes, and interests. The focus is on college and career entrance requirements and preparation. Classroom guidance sessions focus on test scores analysis and the continuum of college prep courses. Students take various inventories and assessments to discover learning style, personality type, and work values. Students are encouraged to continuously set learning goals, assess progress on their four-year plan, and set their sights on independent post-secondary prospects. The PreACT is administered this year to encourage planning and the analysis of academic strengths and weaknesses, allowing students to better prepare for college entrance exams.
Junior Guidance (grade 11): During the junior year, research on colleges, apprenticeships, the military, and exploration of post-high school options begins in earnest. This is accomplished through college entrance exam administration, informational meetings, and classroom interventions.
Students are encouraged to research colleges by taking advantage of visits from college representatives, ¬information on Naviance Student, and by touring college campuses. A parent meeting explores post-high school options and offers information on public and private colleges, tips on the selection process, and information on financial aid and scholarships. ACT Test Prep activities are incorporated into the school day, throughout first semester, leading up to the schoolwide state test in February.
In Spring students take the ACT, create resumes and write college essays or personal statements. Each junior has the opportunity to meet with the college counselor to discuss ACT results and create an outline for the college application process that will occur senior year. Students are asked to identify chosen colleges, majors and career goals.
Senior Guidance (grade 12): In the first semester, individual and group meetings are held with seniors to review the college application process, discuss transcripts, and make decisions regarding post-high school plans. A parent meeting provides information on college financial aid and scholarships.
Students pursuing any type of postsecondary education are asked to submit applications by Dec. 1st. Many competitive colleges and universities have earlier deadlines, such as Nov. 1st. We encourage timely application so that our students will have the best chance for acceptance, along with the greatest possibility to receive financial aid.
Families who desire to make college more affordable must submit a FAFSA, which is an acronym for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The application becomes available on fafsa.gov on October 1st and requires tax returns from the previous year. We recommend that all eligible college-bound students apply. Even if you do not qualify for grants, this is how you get student loans, and it is oftentimes a prerequisite for scholarship applications.
College applicants will generally get acceptance letters as early as October and as late as March, depending on when they apply. Schools with “rolling admissions” accept applications year-round and look at applications as soon as they are submitted and send a response within 2-4 weeks. Schools with a deadline have “pooled admissions” and look at all applications at the same time, after the deadline. Seventh and eighth semester (senior year) transcripts will be requested by colleges/universities and can affect admission status. Therefore, it is important to remain diligent with school performance.
College-bound students must have made a final decision by May 1st and should make a deposit to the chosen college/university. Simultaneously, they should inform all other institutions to which they were accepted that they are respectfully declining the offer.