For seniors, college deadline decision looms

Counselor and member of the Class of ’22 offer their advice


Karstyn Ward

When seniors make their final college choice, they ring the bell in the counseling office.

Karstyn Ward, Reporter

As they approach their last few weeks of school, most seniors have made their college decision. However, this process is not as easy as it may seem.

Ms. Kathy Pivonka, college and school counselor, explained how she helped to best prepare her students to commit to the best college for them. She said, “Because Cathedral is a college preparatory school, everything we do in and out of the classroom has the underlying theme of preparing for college. The counseling office has early discussions with students regarding college, careers, extracurricular activities and leadership. 

“We work with students (starting) in the ninth grade to help them think through a four-year course plan and continue to adjust the plan as they develop deeper career and college interests.”

The process continues all the way up to the very last minute of a commitment, Pivonka said, “As students decide their career paths and develop their college lists, some earlier than others, it is important to make course selections that will improve their chances of success in the college application process.”

For example, students who want to go into engineering should take physics and a strong math sequence. It is also important to know what their colleges will require as colleges vary in their admit rate, requirements and what they consider important in a college application. We work with students in all of these areas,” Pivonka said.

Many steps are required before a student makes that final decision. Pivonka said, “Be organized. It is very important to know requirements and deadlines and be very detailed. If students take advantage of our early college workshops held in June and they stay on top of things as they begin their senior year, the process can go very smoothly. 

“All students have the support of their counselor and have mandatory meetings, but those who check in regularly and utilize the support of our office tend to have an experience that is not overly stressful. The key is not waiting until the last minute.”

With the May 1 deadline approaching, seniors find themselves in the process of choosing their best option. “Once a student has all their decisions, they will need to determine their best fit. I always ask students to consider four things when determining the best fit: academically how the school is, environmental (distance from home, size of school and city, climate), social (activities, things to do) and financial. When a student makes a decision, they will need to submit their deposit, housing contract and sign up for an orientation program,” Pivonka said.

This process is straightforward if a student is paying attention. Pivonka said, “If students have utilized the tools and support offered in the counseling office, the process is fairly easy. I have always had a rule that I will not pick a school for a student. I always tell them that I am not going with them and not paying for it, so that is not my role. I do ask them a lot of questions to encourage them to think about what is most important in the process.

“Since I am not their parent, best friend, family member or coach, I can be unbiased in the discussion. I also encourage seniors to put a pros/cons list together to sort out all of their thoughts. Sometimes it is very clear after they organize all of their thoughts on paper.”

Senior Elle Lewis made her final decision committing to DePauw University to continue her academic and athletic career. This decision took a lot of thought and effort, but there were several reasons she chose this school. Lewis said, “I loved the soccer team, the school and everything they both had to offer.”

Lewis made it clear it’s important to keep in touch with a school whether it is for a sport or just the school itself. She said, “I reached out to the coach junior year, then went to a one-day camp during junior year. After I met and talked to the coach in person there, she recommended I come back for the overnight soccer and leadership camp they have in the summer, so I went to that three-day leadership camp before my senior year,” Lewis said.

When choosing a college, it is vital to pick the school that best fits you. Lewis said, “I chose DePauw because I liked the feeling of family there and I loved the soccer team and the coach and knew it would be a good fit for me. I also loved the size of the campus and classrooms because I feel like the smaller size is more my style, and I like the more one-on-one teaching style with small class sizes,” Lewis said.

“The only advice I would have is to reach out early and introduce yourselves to schools. Keep your options open by looking at different types of schools to see what kind of school would work best for you,” Lewis said.