College Counselor: Jennifer Breneiser, Ph.D.
Phone: (505) 992-8284, ext. 28
Fax: (505) 992-8270
Desert Academy supports our graduates who go in many varied directions. Over the past five years, approximately 93% of the students have gone to four-year colleges and universities. Another 3% have gone to two-year colleges. Of the students attending four-year institutions, 6% have attended art schools or conservatories, 10.5% percent stay in New Mexico for college, and 3% study abroad.
See our Class of 2018 Acceptances list here.
Students in the classes of 2013-2017 have attended these four-year colleges: Amherst, Barnard, Bates, Beloit, Bennington, Brown (2), Bryn Mawr, California Maritime Academy, Carleton, Champlain, Claremont McKenna, Colorado College (4), Colorado State (4), Columbia College (Chicago) (2), Columbia U/Sciences Po, Connecticut College, Cornell College, Cornish College of the Arts, Dartmouth, Drew, Duke, Eckerd (2), Fort Lewis (2), George Washington (2), Goucher, Hampshire, Humboldt State, Indiana U, Lehigh, Lewis & Clark (3), Loyola U (NO), Loyola Marymount, MICA, McDaniel, Middlebury (3), Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Mount Holyoke (2), New Mexico Tech, New York U (2), Northeastern U (4), Occidental (3), Ontario College of Art & Design, Parsons School of Design, Pitzer, Prescott, Princeton, Purdue, Reed, Regis (2), RPI, Richmond (London), St. Mary’s, San Diego State, Santa Clara, Sarah Lawrence (2), Savannah College of Art & Design, Skidmore (2), Southwestern, Stanford, Stevens Institute of Technology, Syracuse, Tufts. Tulane, Universities of: Arizona, California/Irvine (2), California/LA, California/San Diego, California/Santa Barbara, California/Santa Cruz, Chicago (2), Colorado, Mississippi, New Mexico (14), Oregon (2), Rochester, St. Andrews (Scotland) (2), San Francisco, Southern California (4); and Vassar (2), Washington U (St. Louis), Western Washington U (3), and Whitman (2), Whittier and Yale.
The goal of College Counseling at Desert Academy is to empower students by providing them with the information and support necessary to make independent and informed decisions in the college application process, with an emphasis on seeking out and identifying colleges that are the best possible fit for each student’s academic profile and personality. This is a student-led process in which students are approached as individuals and their choices are respected. During this process, the role of the College Counselor is to provide guidance, support, counsel, and information relevant to each student’s individual search, as well as to give parents the tools necessary to similarly support their child. The College Counselor assists the student in researching schools and their admissions requirements, tracking deadlines, filling out applications, and writing the required essays.
While we begin the formal college counseling process in the junior year, we believe that preparation and the development of necessary skills for both college and the application process begins as soon as a student steps through our doors. Students of all grade levels, and their parents, are encouraged to contact the college counselor. The formal process, however, generally starts with a College Information Night in January of each year, targeted at parents of 11th graders (though sophomore families are invited as well), during which the available college counseling and financial aid services and the college application process are described in detail.
We have time set-aside during the regular school week (approximately one hour each week for second semester Juniors and first semester Seniors) for both group and individual college planning and placement meetings. During these meetings, students work, with the help of a college counselor, on researching and identifying “fit” in developing an appropriate list of colleges to which they intend to apply, completing the Common Application and other applications, writing their college essay(s), finding financial aid and scholarship opportunities, and keeping organized throughout the process.
We also provide ACT preparation classes during school hours in the spring semester of the Junior year.
We track our students’ college lists, recommendations, and applications using Naviance, a web-based college database for schools, students, and parents. We provide access to Naviance for all juniors, seniors, and their parents, and we do a training during our College Information Night.
In addition to our internal efforts, we also welcome representatives of over 60 colleges and universities into our school each year to present to our students. We also host a range of events throughout the year which bring in outside speakers to address both students and parents on the subjects of writing college essays, financial aid, the college admission process, and interview protocols.
The general schedule for college counseling beginning in 9th grade is as follows:
9th Grade: Students consult with the College Counselor/Registrar and their advisors to ensure that their academic schedules meet college requirements. The College Counselor addresses incoming freshmen to emphasize the importance of the high school transcript and extracurricular activities in the college application process.
10th Grade: Many sophomores take the PSAT (practice SAT) since the results indicate their strengths and weaknesses and allow them time to improve their scores when they retake this test as juniors. Students continue to be advised and monitored in their academic progress.
11th Grade: The official college counseling process begins in October when all juniors take the PSAT (and this time it counts as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) as well as a practice ACT. An ACT preparation course is required for all Juniors in the the spring. Students take the ACT in April at Desert Academy, and many take the SAT in May. A few colleges (mostly highly selective ones) require the SAT II Subject Tests, and students are advised if they need to take them. Juniors are actively encouraged to attend presentations by visiting representatives, primarily in the fall semester, in addition to attending the NM College Fair in October at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Parents attend College Night in January which includes the college financial aid workshop. Students begin to create their “college lists” in January or February during individual college counseling meetings with both students and parents. They are also encouraged and assisted in planning college visits during spring break and the summer.
12th Grade: Students re-take the ACT and the SAT exams and take/retake the SAT II Subject Area Tests if necessary. Seniors and parents meet with the College Counselor. Students continue work on revising their college list, writing and revising their essays, and organizing and tracking their application requirements. Students meet visiting college admissions officers, and attend the NM College Fair as well as various Desert-sponsored college counseling events. The college research and selection process comes to a close, and the application process begins. Students also research and apply for scholarship opportunities. Parents begin filling out the CSS and the FAFSA.
College Search/ Application Resources:
Colleges That Change Lives
NY Times: The Choice Blog
Financial Aid Facts
College Board (SAT)