Middle School Counseling
Education and Process
We are a preparatory school.
We prepare students for entrance into and success within Houston’s finest middle and upper schools. We believe our students are capable of reaching their full potential as we nurture each child and encourage individual success. Our students thrive in Middle School and they do so with a strength of character and self-earnest that serves them for a lifetime.
Our first core value clearly illustrates the expectation that students attend The Fay School to prepare for and attend Houston’s finest schools. Wherever our graduates enroll, they will find themselves notably able to handle the work and they distinguish themselves as campus leaders. However, getting to Middle School is a big job and is a longitudinal process with several steps. Of course, we partner with our families every step of this journey.
How does The Fay School help?
A multi-year education process beginning in Second Grade and culminating in direct support and counseling in Fourth and Fifth Grade
Knowledgeable assessment of a student’s competitive position in relation to schools.
Assistance and guidance in selecting potential schools and support through the application process.
Individual attention and availability – especially after the choice and application process has begun.
Advocacy and information through direct contact with admissions officers when appropriate and useful.
What to Expect: A Timeline of Planning
Spring Semester: Second Grade
In the spring semester, we invite all families for a general session about the move from Lower Elementary (K – 2) to Upper Elementary (3 – 5). During this session, we discuss the following topics:
- How the Third through Fifth Grade day is different than Second Grade
- Standardized testing begins in Third Grade – Why do we do this, how do we use the data, and how do these scores impact the Middle School application process.
- What is a Stanine?
- What can families expect in terms of Middle School counseling support for the next 3 years?
The best preparation for school applications during this time is simply to take full advantage of The Fay School program, the community, and your family.
- Students should develop as real learners and endeavor to present themselves as such. Learn to take pleasure in new ideas, to develop knowledge, skills, and judgment as opposed to working for a grade. Be introspective – discover and utilize strengths while identifying and addressing stretches.
- Read, read, and read! Nothing speaks more of one’s intelligence than an active and discerning mind. Study after study has proven that reading is the most effective skill to foster analytical intellect.
- Develop a non-academic life that has some substance to it. Athletics, performing arts, community service, church activism, and various other activities demonstrate initiative, leadership, character, and creativity. In short, our children should not be professional students. They should explore their interests!
- Be an honest, ethical, positive community member.
Fall Semester: Third Grade
Prior to the students’ first standardized exam (CTP-4), we will meet with all families in more detail regarding this assessment.
- What does the test measure?
- Can students prepare for it?
- What does the scoring look like and what does it mean?
- Who sees these scores and how do they use them?
Spring Semester: Third Grade
At this time, we introduce families to the formal process they will begin to navigate in the fall next year. We will present and discuss:
- A detailed 18 month outline of the formal counseling and support process
- Essential questions to ask as families visit and interview schools
- What constitutes the student profile and what will schools see
Fall Semester: Fourth Grade
A group meeting will be held in the fall to present the Middle School Counseling Handbook, review the timeline, share important dates and events, and begin to discuss application strategies. Topics include:
- Interview questions you might be asked
- Interview questions your family should ask
- Factors to consider in selecting a Middle School
- Developing a list of schools to which you may apply and any specific strategies
Spring Semester: Fourth Grade
An individual meeting is held with each family. During this time, we will review the student profile to date and discuss formal applications. Much of this work will focus upon developing a list comprised of 3 different categories of schools. For most families, a productive application strategy is to choose between 4 and 6 schools to which to apply. In this group, there should be 1 or 2 “reach” schools, 2 or 3 “match” schools, and 1 to 2 “safety” schools.
- “Reach” schools are the most selective on a student’s list. For a given student, this will mean that the average profile of the current student body is higher than that of the applicant. In other words, the school accepts a low percentage of students with similar profiles. The most selective schools are reach schools for everyone, regardless of brilliance, achievement, and/or success.
- “Match” schools are those for whom the student’s academic and extracurricular record is a good match. Match schools are institutions that accept a significant proportion of applicants with a similar profile.
- “Safety” schools are those schools that accept a large percentage of students with similar profiles. Safety schools should be chosen very carefully even if they are less selective. Should a student need to attend one of his/her safety choices, it should still be a positive experience. Therefore, much thought should go into the selection of the safety schools.
Fall Semester: Fifth Grade
Fall Fifth Grade is indeed a busy time.
- We will review the student’s profile once again, this time taking into account any significant changes. We will then make any additions and/or deletions to the list of schools and work to classify each school in one of three distinct areas: safety, match, or reach.
- Applications should be completed during this time
- Mock interviews with Allison Teare, Director of Admissions, will be scheduled in early October to prepare students for their individual visitations to schools.
Spring Semester: Fifth Grade
This is the home stretch! Student will sit for 2 standardized tests to complete their profile with applicant schools.
- The Fay School is a closed testing site for our students to take the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT). A practice examination will be administered in the days leading up to the OLSAT
- The Fay School is a closed testing site for our students to take the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE).
Additionally, Fifth Grade families will receive a monthly email providing reminders, suggestions, and strategies to complete the process and make sure the school and family are working in concert.
Our 4 year focus to support families and find success for our students’ future is one we take very seriously. The result is an outstanding record of families attending the best schools the city of Houston has to offer. The vast majority of graduates attend the following schools: Annunciation Orthodox School, The Awty International School, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, The Emery/Weiner School, First Baptist Academy, The Kinkaid School, Presbyterian School, Regis School of the Sacred Heart, River Oaks Baptist School, Second Baptist School, St. Francis Episcopal Day School, and St. John’s School.
Several years ago, the Director of Admissions for the Stanford Graduate School of Business was asked how he could possibly discern from among so many talented and qualified applicants to pick the incoming class. His answer was striking. He said that the individuals who distinguished themselves were the ones who learned something about themselves in the process, who participated in introspection, and discovered why the school would be a good match and why it might not be a good match. He went on to say that level of thought and discovery was easily detectable in the application and interview process.
I encourage each of our families to approach Middle School in the same manner. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful number and range of independent schools available for our children. Rather than approaching the process as external –what school do I want to get into, we should ask ourselves what school is right for me, will celebrate my talents and who I am as a person, while nurturing and improving my growth areas.
If we can each approach Middle School from this vantage point, we will always make the right school decision – whatever that decision might be.