Helping you get into a U


Rachel Leff
Staff Writer

Wisconsin, Michigan, Tulane, Arizona, USC, SMC, UCSB, NYU… Which one is right? The search for college is a stressful and complicated process. Fortunately, the college counselors and academic planners help prepare students for their post high school experiences. The Milken counselors Mr. Ross Mankuta, Mrs. Shelley Kierman, Dr. Mari Oropeza, and Ms. Samantha Schreiber help students make a smooth transition from high school to the next chapter of their lives. Many of Milken’s 9th and early 10th-grade students don’t fully understand this process and the differences between academic and college counseling. Mr. Mankuta was generous enough to take the time to answer some questions about the key differences regarding academic versus college counseling, and what their jobs are to help insure that students reach their collegiate goals.

The college process actually starts in 9th grade, when students meet with a counselor, though this counselor won’t necessarily be their college counselor the rest of their high school career. Mankuta explained that academic planning is based on helping students figure out classes that they will be interested in taking in 10th grade. Though many 9th and 10th graders don’t necessarily know what they will want to study in college, the ones who do can inform their counselor. With this information, the academic counselor has the necessary information to help students request classes that coincide with their interest in a major.

Another job of academic counselors is to make sure that students find their passion, not necessarily in school, but outside of school, or even during the summer. It is important for the “post 2:30 student” to be doing something that puts them in a position to be an attractive applicant to universities. The college counselors used to not be in charge of academic planning, and that this was the responsibility of advisors. Now that the college counselors also do academic planning, they are able to do so while looking through the lense of a college counselor, helping students become more attractive and qualified college applicants. Though academic planning starts in the 9th grade, it continues through 10th grade. Additionally, the academic planner assigned in 10th grade becomes your college counselor in 11th and 12th grade, allowing students to build a stronger relationship with their college counselors.  

The transition from students’ academic counselors turning into their college counselors begins the first week of 11th grade. During Kehilla, there is a designated time where students meet with all the other students who share the same college counselor. Students who share a college counselor are known as “college counseling cohorts.” Meetings with college counseling cohorts occur throughout all of 11th grade and the first semester of senior year. In these cohorts, students are given assignments that are not graded. Mr. Mankuta explains that though the assignments are not graded, the counselors are taking note of who turns in assignments on time. Knowing who follows the assignments helps strengthen the relationship that is being created between the student and the college counselor.

The first semester of 11th grade is spent doing research on topics such as types of applications, college process terms, what constitutes a student’s GPA, and different types of testing options. One assignment that juniors are given is that they must attend a college information session at Milken. As seniors, students are allowed to miss certain classes in order to attend information sessions at at Milken. Furthermore, Mr. Mankuta noted that college counseling is a time where students figure out the differences between certain colleges. For example, students will research colleges in order to see if they are interested in a big or small school, urban or rural school, and if they are interested in joining fraternities or sororities.

Another tool useful to 11th and 12th graders for researching colleges is Naviance. Naviance is a great resource that allows students learn how many past students from Milken applied to certain colleges, how many students got accepted into the college, and the average grades and test scores of all accepted students from Milken.

Academic planning and college counseling are both helpful and essential to any student who is applying to college. Although the college application process can be very nerve-wracking and stressful, the college counselors and academic planners do everything they can to ensure that this process will go as smoothly as possible.