College Counseling Program

A strong academic advising and college counseling program in Middle and Upper School is essential to preparing our graduates for college. Academic scheduling that ensures a strong path toward the right fit college begins in the sixth grade. College Counseling begins in the eighth grade and proceeds through group and individual counseling with increasing individual attention to the application process in the senior year.

Rivermont’s curriculum prepares students for success at competitive colleges and universities. The college counseling program includes support in exploring college/university choices, applying for scholarships, engaging in challenging summer programs, choosing recommenders, and meeting all deadlines for regular and special programs. The program is structured and thorough. Both students and parents receive extensive personalized attention throughout the sometimes complicated college application process. The goal is to have all pieces of the application process in place by the fall of the senior year to ensure a smooth application process and diminish anxiety. Advising and counseling continue through college acceptance, Rivermont graduation, and even throughout life as an alumni. 100% of Rivermont graduates are accepted to 4-year colleges and universities.

Progression by Grade

  • 6th and 7th grade: Begin career exploration.
  • 8th grade: Spring meeting – understanding the transcript, exploring majors and colleges, exploring summer program options
  • 9th grade: Fall and spring meetings – beginning the résumé, exploring summer programs, taking and reviewing the PSAT 9 (April), selecting the most appropriate and rigorous course options for 9-12th grades
  • 10th grade: Fall and spring meetings – continue building the résumé through school and community engagement, taking and reviewing the PSAT 10 (April), possible summer program selection, consider completing the Rivermont Junior Project over the summer
  • 11th grade: Fall and spring meetings – PSAT workshop for October exam and completing a college questionnaire in preparation for spring junior level college conference -preparing an Excel spreadsheet of colleges with information and deadlines, polishing the résumé, choosing recommending teachers, writing essay prompts (the Common Application prompts, the Yale prompt, the University of Chicago prompt, the personal essay) understanding the Common Application through two workshops, exploring a challenging summer program, internship or research program.
  • 12th grade: Fall meetings – individual guidance through the college application based on the preliminary work done in the junior year. A minimum of six college applications is required: two safe, two target, two reach schools. Guidance in early action and/or early decision applications, pre-med combined program guidance, gap year information, merit-based and financial need-based scholarship advice.

Testing Program:

A suite of tests acts to track progress and pinpoint needs as students prepare for the SAT and ACT with Writing taken in the spring of the junior year: PSAT 9, PSAT 10, PSAT (juniors), SAT, and SAT Subject tests. Workshops preceding each test offer practice, and all students open a Khan Academy account for free test preparation.


Individual conferences meet individual needs. Each year begins with an individual college conference. The conference gives an overview of the year, and timelines for the year, and provides a one-to-one opportunity to ask questions and share individual concerns.

Students and parents have unparalleled access to the college counselors; all juniors and seniors may text, email, or phone the college counselor with questions relating to scholarships, summer programs, and applications.


In the holistic approach to college applications which includes consideration of more than grades, tests, and rankings, teacher and counselor recommendations play a vital role. Teachers at Rivermont know their students, understand their students and thus are able to write supportive, individually crafted and detailed recommendations that speak to students’ strengths.

College Admissions Visits and College Fairs:

All juniors attend informational college admission representative visits to Rivermont from small and large schools. Students and parents are encouraged to attend consortium visits from East and West coast schools as well as Midwest area college fairs.

Financial Aid:

Our FAFSA/Financial Aid Night in the spring prepares both parents and students to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in October and to explore scholarships. Scholarship information for juniors and seniors is regularly shared as received throughout the year. Free information and individual help in filing the FAFSA is available through ICAN- the Iowa College Access Network.

Parent support:

Throughout the College Counseling program, individual family meetings and information sharing relevant to each grade level is an ongoing offering. Parents are encouraged to call, visit, text, and email the college counselor. Information sent to students is copied to parents through emails and information from group sessions is summarized and shared with parents.

International student support:

Rivermont Collegiate is an approved Student Visitor and Exchange Program school.  Both the college counselor and the Director of Admissions are certified by the Department of Homeland Security to initiate and produce the Form I-20 through the SEVIS Student and Exchange and Visitor Information System.

College Counseling guides international students and their parents through the special college application procedures for international students.