Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Changes to College Counseling Blog and Website

We will be updating the FPD website and the link to College Counseling.  In doing so, the blog you are on right now will not be updated on a regular basis and may even be taken down at some point in the future.  We hope streamlining information to students through Naviance and to parents through the FPD website will make it easier for them.

Please visit for more information.  The website should be up in mid-August.


Brad Thompson
College Counselor
First Presbyterian Day School

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Comments from Rising 11th and 12th Grade Parent Meeting

Summary of Comments

2015 Rising 11th and 12th Grade Parents Meeting

February 9, 2015


Opening Comments from Brad Thompson


*Make a folder for the college process…keep everything (test date, community service, awards, communication from colleges, etc.) all in one place.  You will need it when it is time to apply.


*Make sure your child is using Naviance!  It is an incredible tool to assist in the process.


*Have your child take ownership of the process.  Your child drives the process and we are in the car to assist.


College Representative:                                         Email Addresses:

Andrew McGill – Auburn University                             

Bryan Smith – Georgia College & State University      

Emory Dunn – Mercer University                                 

Meg Tereniak – Georgia Southern University              

Josh Motta – Samford University                                 

Rissa Wolff – Wesleyan College                                   


*Additional comments from College Counseling Office in italics*



Q: (For Josh from Samford) We have been advised to tour college campuses and plan college visits during our junior and seniors years. Why is it good for the student and the college? How do we plan a visit?


A:         The number 1 piece of advice I can give is to get on campus.

                        -Helps to let you feel what it would be like to be a student at that school

                        -You can sign up for tours on the school’s website

            Demonstrated interest is big

-College reps want to know you and your family. Help to show them that you are very interested in their school and are more than simply a piece of paper.

GSU – We just started offering departmental tours as well


*The college visit is huge! Pick one and go (even if it is not the top choice).  You can begin to narrow down by distance from home, size, cost, and size of town.  A follow-up visit is great.  Try to meet with professors, spend the night or sit in on a class.  Plan accordingly…the bad news is that the best time to visit (fall/spring) can be your child’s busiest time of year.  Visit days and Open Houses are great but make sure to see the campus on a regular day.

Q: (For Andrew from Auburn) If you were a high school senior today, what 3 factors would you consider as the most important to the selection process?


A:         1) Look at rankings (majors, placement rates, etc.)

            2) Where do you feel at home? (Comfort factor)

            3) Look at involvement, clubs, and extracurricular on campus


*Fit is essential.  Where would you fit in and could see yourself for the next 4 years.  Also, look at retention rates from freshman to sophomore year. 


Q: (For Bryan from Georgia College) What are the qualifications for the HOPE Scholarship? What does Hope cover at the college level?


*Preface the question with how a college factors a GPA?

                        FPD Grading Scale

                        90-100             A          A=4 pts.

                        80-89               B          B=3 pts.

                        74-79               C          C=2 pts.

                        70-73               D          D=1 pt.

                        Below 70         F          F=0 pts.


A:         Looking for that 3.0 “B” average

                        -Students will now need rigorous courses to be eligible

-This will cover about 87% of tuition costs at GCSU, but varies between other universities

Students are eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship when they have a 3.7 in core classes (as calculated by HOPE) and 1200 SAT or 26 ACT on a single test day (no superscoring).

-Eligible students for the Zell Miller Scholarship will receive 100% of tuition costs to in-state public universities


*Note: Hope removes 2 points for honors classes and 3 points for AP class in core subjects (including Comparative Religion and AP Computer Science). For AP classes, they will add back in 0.5 for classes that receive a grade of B or below (example: a 92 in AP Physics will become an 89, which would normally be a 3.0 for a “B”, but is considered a 3.5 under the HOPE calculation).

Also, as an advanced college preparatory school, the FPD curriculum requires that the student complete enough classes to satisfy the HOPE rigor standards in order to graduate. By simply graduating from FPD, your student will have taken the necessary classes to satisfy this new addition to the HOPE process.


Q: (For Emory from Mercer) How do you apply for scholarships other than HOPE at your school?


A:         Students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships when they submit their admission application at Mercer.

                        -The FAFSA will try to match eligible students to any endowed money available


Andrew from Auburn

            Students can use the AUSOM portal on the Auburn website to apply for scholarships

-Andrew’s ranking of scholarships: academic come first, then general, and finally departmental.

-Academic are the ones to shoot for first because they normally have the biggest impact on total cost and can be stacked with other awarded scholarships.


*All schools can be different!  Always check with the college.


Q: (For Meg from Georgia Southern) The two tests used for college admissions are the SAT and the ACT. When is it recommended to take one test over the other? Does your institution accept both?


A:         Take both the ACT and SAT at least one time.

                        -The ACT and SAT measure different things and can give very different results

GSU takes the composite (one test day) score for the ACT, but will superscore the SAT across multiple test dates

Andrew from Auburn
Auburn does not superscore any tests.

Rissa from Wesleyan

            Wesleyan will superscore both the ACT and SAT for admission purposes.


*Note: The redesigned SAT will begin in March of 2016. Juniors will most likely only take the “old” SAT. Sophomores will want to make sure they attempt the “old” and new SAT. Sophomores will also take the redesigned PSAT next year. FYI…FPD students typically take 4 tests on the average.  Plan well!  We are here to advise. 



Q: (For Rissa from Wesleyan) How important is the high school rigor of classes? Are AP classes and honors classes given additional weight when calculating the student’s GPA at your institution?


A:         Wesleyan uses an unweighted GPA.

            You can earn up to 30 hours at Wesleyan before setting foot on campus.

            Rigor shows motivation and academic drive to the college.

            Allows for preparation for college level courses.


*FPD does not put a GPA on the transcript.  We defer to the college to calculate the GPA.  Some colleges look at unweighted (honors/AP pts. removed) and some use weighted.  Some do all classes (cumulative) and some just do the 5 core classes.  Instead of trying to put multiple GPA’s on the transcript, we simply let the college calculate.  Rigor of classes is a huge factor.  Simple rule of thumb…the more competitive the school then the more rigor they want.  Look up what your school of interest typically looks for in rigor.


Q: How does a student apply to your college? Does anyone use GA College 411 or the Common Application?


A:         GSU- Uses GA College 411 – Only $30 to apply – Should only take about 30 minutes to complete

            Wesleyan- Uses a free online application on their website – There are optional personal statements – Should take less than an hour to complete

            GCSU- Uses GA College 411 – Only $35 to apply – Includes two personal essays

            Auburn- Application can be found at – The application is available starting September 1st – No essays, but four short answer questions

            Samford- Can use their website application or the Common Application – $40 to apply – Application opens September 1st

            Mercer- Can use their website application or the Common Application to apply


*Our office can provide more guidance as your child enters their senior year.  Just to eliminate confusion, your child’s Naviance account has a component to track applications but is not the application to a school in itself. 


Q: (For Meg from Georgia Southern) When should students apply for admission to college? Does your school have Early Action or Early Decision? Would someone explain those terms?


A:         At Southern, students can begin applying July 1st, but will not be notified until the first batch in December. Georgia Southern uses a rolling admission process. They also use a very number-based approach to admissions. If you meet the minimum, you are admitted. A computer does all of the admissions screening (except for the appeals process).


            Early Decision (ED) is largely found at your highly competitive schools (Ivy League, Vanderbilt, Duke, etc.). If you are accepted ED, you must retract all other applications and attend this institution (depending on financial aid). This is a binding agreement.


            Early Action (EA) simply states that if you apply by a certain (early) date, you will hear a decision by a certain date. This normally a quicker review of a student’s numbers, rather than a holistic review of the individual.  Schools such as Georgia College, Auburn, and UGA have EA.


*Apply early!  We recommend that all applications be completed by Dec. 1st!



Q: (For Bryan from Georgia College) Describe the importance of extracurricular activities (including community service).


A:         Georgia College uses a holistic review for the admission process. This includes community service, involvement, and sports.

-They want to know the details of your involvement. Tell what you got out of it and how it impacted you. Do not simply make a list of activities.


Wesleyan- Please tell us your activities, leadership, and awards. There are many scholarships at the school that require these types of attributes. The admissions and financial aid departments do not know if you have these requirements unless you tell them!


*Everything you do helps!  It prepares you to list on application, gives you possible essay and interview material, and allows you to separate yourself from other applicants.


Q: (For Josh from Samford) Does your institution look at teacher recommendations from teachers or the school?


A:         Samford requires one academic recommendation from teachers or administrators at the school. Your recommender should have a good understanding of your academic proficiency.


Note: Some schools list recommendations as an optional addition to the application (and

some require them). If it is an option, send in a recommendation. Optional means yes. 


Q: (For Andrew from Auburn) Are freshman required to live on campus? How are rooms and roommates chosen?


A:         At Auburn, freshman housing is not guaranteed. Students are encouraged to live on campus, but it is not required.

-Spending your first year on campus helps to build relationships and get you more involved on campus.

            You can either put a friend on the application or you can let the college pair you up.

-The school will ask you a series of questions on your housing forms to try and find a roommate that has similar tendencies and interests.


Q: (For Emory from Mercer) What do I need to do if I am an athlete who is interested in playing in college? How do I let the school and coaches know I am interested?


A:         1) Have a heart-to-heart with your high school coach

                        -Ask if he/she thinks you are a college-level athlete (and at what level)

            2) Narrow down which division is best for you

                        -Division 1 and 2 can award scholarships

            3) Get aggressive

                        -Send in film to coaches (coaches have a narrow timeframe to come watch you)

            4) Get on campus

                        -Let coaches see you and show your interest to the school


*Dream big but also be realistic. Coaches love strong academic student athletes.  They might be able to give some academic (merit) money along with some athletic money.  They also do not want to waste their time on an athlete who might not be able to make it academically.


Q: (For Rissa from Wesleyan) If you were a parent of a college bound student, what information, in addition to cost, would you want to consider when comparing colleges?


A:         Numbers are not the only important information

                        -Get on campus – See if you can picture yourself there

                        -Each student has individual preferences to different types of schools

-Do you want a large school that has a lot of funding for research or a small “pond” of people that you can stand out in and get to know your teachers?

College is an investment. Make sure the college is investing in your student as much as you are investing in it.


Q: Please comment on the cost of attending your institution and what financial aid is available. If possible, include how many freshman are typically on financial aid and an average amount.


A:         Mercer: Total direct costs = $44,500 (90%-95% are on financial aid of some sort)

            Samford: Total costs = $36,336 (95% are on financial aid. Average of $12,000)

            Auburn: Fixed cost $27,000 (tuition) (about 70% are on financial aid)

            GCSU: Around $20,000 (about 80% are on financial aid)

            Wesleyan: Tuition = $19,750 (Room and Board = $8,800) (97% get financial aid)

            GSU: All costs = about $18,400


*Don’t rule anything out!  Our kids go to all types of colleges.  Trust the process and be patient.  Private schools know to be generous in order to compete with HOPE and in-state tuition.


Q: Any last advice you have for our students as they enter the admissions process?


A:         GSU: Start the financial process early

            Wesleyan:       1) Optional means yes

2) Write the person statements

3) Proofread

4) All interaction matters with college reps

5) Check you Facebook and other social media (college may as well)

GSCU: You are you own best advocate – Students should talk admissions reps rather than parents

Auburn: Brag on yourself on your application. Pay attention to deadlines.

Samford:         -Use reps, get to know the school

                        -Talk to the alumni and current students

                        -Take SAT and ACT

                        -Don’t overly stress. God is in control of the process.

Mercer: Don’t apply to 15 colleges because it makes the decision process to difficult. Do your research ahead of time. Apply to 5 colleges (1 stretch, 1 guarantee, 3 possible).


*We totally agree with the last statement.  Apply to at least 3 schools or 3 types of schools.  Stretch schools, those that are possible, and at least one you know you can get into.  Make sure the one you know you can get into is one you are excited about.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Valdosta State

Valdosta State information below….Please come and learn more about Valdosta State if you are interested.


  • VSU is coming to Bibb County! Please encourage all interested students and families to register and join us for V-State Experience Macon (road show) on Wednesday, January 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Healy Point Country Club (293 River North Boulevard | Macon, GA 31211). You’re invited as well to learn more about Valdosta State without having to make a two hour trip to South Georgia! Register today! Light refreshments will be served.

Monday, December 15, 2014

This was an email I sent last year and wanted to pass along!  Have a great week!


While listening to Dr. McCoy’s sermon last Sunday (from Nov. 2013), I was reminded of our seniors and the desire for wisdom as you make decisions.  The sermon was titled “Inquiring of the Lord: How to Seek God’s Guidance Today” and was based on his messages on the life of David.  In the sermon, Dr. McCoy contrasted how Saul and David sought out guidance in their lives.


At the end of the sermon, he posed this question: What are the practical ways God gives us wisdom (in the circumstances where there is no specific command revealed in scripture)?

The words in black are off the outline…the words in orange are some thoughts I had for you.


He gives us wisdom through…


  1. The “wisdom books” of the Bible…read these books…Dr. McCoy suggested reading a Proverb a day

Proverbs, Ecc., Job, Song of Solomon, Psalms

  1. The principles revealed in the Bible...listen to the principles of the scriptures…they are crucial in our day and age and always have been
  2. The examples revealed in the Bible…learn from the examples of those in scripture (that is why those examples are in the Bible)
  3. Our parents…listen to the advice of your parents

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” Prov. 1:8

  1. Regular association with wise people….place yourself among the wise; you know who they are and you also know who the unwise are….

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” Prov. 13:20

  1. Seeking out wise counsel…seek and listen, talk to teachers, administrators, youth pastors, parents, and wise friends

Is this person godly? Is this person experienced? Does this person have expertise? Does this person have a track record of success? Does this person have a personal stake in my decision (are they impacted either way)?

  1. Personal study and learning…stay in the word and pray for wisdom

“Wise people treasure knowledge” Prov. 10:14

  1. The experiences of life…look back at previous times of needing wisdom and know you are training yourself for future times also

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” Heb. 5:14


Please remember to keep us posted on all decisions!


We will be off campus tomorrow morning touring a college but should be back around lunch.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Before Thanksgiving Thoughts

About this time of year, some seniors might get a little more anxious about college.  I know that a lot of this is due to some admissions decisions that have been made, that are about to be made, and will be made in the future.  Please understand that choosing a college is truly a process, and we are still in the process.  There are times when God is ready for us to make decisions, and there are times God wants us to be patient.  There are times when God closes doors, and there are times when God leaves doors open.  As a Christian, I can truly see by looking back how in control of my life God has always been.  I would not want it any other way, and you find that perspective by submitting to his will for your life.  God is not only using the college process to show you where he wants you to be next year; he is using it to show you how to trust him.  He is using it to give you confidence for the next big decision in your life, and trust me there will be many more to come.  You guys are a joy to be around and to help in the process.  Please know that Mr. Latimer and I are here to assist.  We will be glad to provide insight, help you think through pros and cons of choices, and even pray for you.  Please keep us posted.

 At a time of the unknown (and not a bad idea since next week is Thanksgiving), remember to thank/praise God for how good he is….

 “Praise the Lord.  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  Psalm 106:1

 Great verse about anxiety….

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation (choosing college maybe?), by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Phil. 4:6

 In seeking wisdom….

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  James 1:5

 My favorite verse and for the future…

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

 Have a great Thanksgiving….I am also attaching the list of private scholarships to this email.  I figured that since you might have a little extra time then you could look over this next week.

Stay safe and have a good break!

Coach Thompson

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

SAT Prep

SAT Prep


We still have some spots open for the SAT prep class with Kevin Schilbrack over the weekend of October 3rd-6th.  Cost is $300. 


Right now, I have deposits/total money for 16 students.  We need to get to 20 students.


Please bring me a deposit (or total) if you are interested. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

College Visits

September 2014


Tuesday, September 2 – Sewanee, 8:30 a.m.

Wednesday, September 3 – Vanderbilt, 9:00 a.m.; UGA (Honors Program), 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 11 – Mercer University, 9:45 a.m.

Tuesday, September 16 – Georgia Regents, 9:00 a.m.; Furman University, 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 18 – College of Charleston, 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 23 – Berry College, 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 24 – Wofford, 9:00 a.m.

Thursday, September 25 – Georgia College, 9:30 a.m.

Monday, September 29 – Georgia Southern, 11:00 a.m.; Kennesaw State, 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 30 – Birmingham-Southern, 1:30 p.m.; LSU at 2:00; U of Tennessee 2:30


October 2014


Wednesday, October 1- Presbyterian College, 8:50 a.m.

Tuesday, October 14 – Valdosta State, 9:00 a.m.

Tuesday, October 21 – Auburn, 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 22 – Hollins, 9:00 a.m.

Thursday, October 23 – Samford, 9:45 a.m.