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SAAS College Advising Letter to 12th Grade

Dear 12th grader and family:


We write with best wishes from College Advising. We are proud of 12th graders’ communication with us and effort during this complex time. As we do each year at this time, we wish to provide details about next steps.

By Tuesday, December 6, College Advising will have sent all first trimester grades to all colleges on all 12th graders’ MaiaLearning lists. These serve as “mid-year grades” which colleges expect. Should you realize you need to add a school to MaiaLearning, please email your College Advisor directly. While we have announced previously that College Advising is always closed for winter break (this year Friday, December 16 through Tuesday, January 3), your College Advisor can send materials to additional schools before or immediately after break. You can apply to one or more additional colleges during break, communicating them to us via email. If you add schools with deadlines during break, as long as the student portion of the application is on time, it is fine for College Advising to send support materials in January. 

If students would like feedback on applications or written responses for colleges with deadlines that fall anytime over break, students must submit that work for review no later than Monday, December 12, regardless of whether the student awaits “early” news. By Friday, 12/16, College Advising will return anything received by the 12th. When we return from break, we will return anything received after break begins.  

Other details to be sure to handle/remember:

  • Decisions for Early Decision (ED) applications may be released once SAAS is closed for winter break. If it is important to you and your family to prepare for all possible scenarios, schedule a meeting with your college advisor before winter break to discuss options. At the end of the school day on December 16, College Advising will be closed and we will be unavailable for conversation or by email until after break. 

  • Students and families should continue to check portals provided by or emails sent by their colleges to see if anything requires follow-up. 

  • Sometimes colleges “auto-send” reminders about so-called “missing” materials while their staffs and computer systems work to process documents, something that can take time for colleges especially when volume is high. If you hear something is “missing,” please email your College Advisor and they will investigate. Ultimately it is the student’s responsibility to confirm their application is complete.  

  • Each family should be clear on all deadlines and specific materials required to apply for financial aid at each college on a student’s list. The best and easiest place to find this is on the financial aid homepage of each college. While the FAFSA is always required of financial aid applicants, there can be other required forms as well. If you are wondering about scholarship seeking, students should revisit our weekly emails, archived in the Resources section of MaiaLearning, for additional information. 

  • If there is any chance you will play Division I or Division II college sports and have not done so already, please register with the NCAA on its website. If applicable, you also need to send your standardized test scores to NCAA through SAT and/or ACT. Please keep your College Advisor in the loop.  

Every year, December is a time of mixed feelings. Everyone processes admission decisions and holidays differently. While we look forward to 12th graders enjoying current and future admission decisions, we ask that everyone please be mindful of others during this time. The following positive, concrete steps can help. 

  • Applicants learn of admission decisions various ways. Some colleges issue login credentials to portals, others send emails with information, others snail mail information, and some do more than one of the above. You should be monitoring email and mail from the colleges to which you applied. 

  • This time of year, admission decisions generally fall into three camps:  admit, defer, and deny. Students admitted under “binding” early decision plans are expected to commit fairly soon after the offer (see further information below about early decision). Students admitted under non-binding early action plans generally have until May 1 to commit once they learn the rest of their admission offers. Separate housing deadlines can occur earlier than May 1. Students who are deferred are considered alongside others in the regular admission pool. Information about deferrals follows in this letter. Regardless of outcome, please be sure to email your College Advisor all admission and scholarship details. 

  • When you learn of a positive decision, remember that your classmates may also hear mixed news. We share your excitement, but we also appreciate sensitive celebrations keeping others in mind.

  • Please respect classmates who do not wish to discuss their processes/outcomes as well as colleges to which classmates have applied. Even though you think you might, you never know another’s full story, whether certain colleges had been dreams of theirs, and/or if certain colleges are part of an important strategy for financing and scholarships. 

  • If disappointed in an admission decision, please resist the urge to 1) broadcast this on social media (colleges may see this) and 2) rework your application. In many cases, especially now, the intense selectivity of a college is the reason for bad news, not that anything was wrong with you or with your work. It is also important to resist comparing your “stats,” if you will, with a classmate who received different news. Not only will our office not share the strengths and challenges of another applicant (as we are confidential and sensitive with your information), we also know from experience that comparisons between candidates are unproductive generally and in moving forward. 

  • Sometimes a college issuing disappointing news becomes disproportionate in its appeal. Suddenly that college can seem more important than ever, an object of renewed attention. Grieving bad news is normal, and you should take a moment for yourself. At some point, however, you will need to redirect interest and energy to other schools on your list. 

  • If a college “defers” you, it generally wants to consider you in the context of the regular decision pool. While it is usually best and most strategic to shift your interests to other colleges on your list, you can also stay in touch with the college offering the deferral by providing meaningful updates at key points (your choice of senior project and good second trimester grades are two possibilities). 

  • Ultimately, hearing you have been deferred (or ultimately wait-listed) can test character, something colleges appreciate. Even if you don’t currently feel thankful for the hard work of an admission committee, a little understanding, patience, and appreciation can go a long way in how colleges continue to work with your application. Note that sometimes when deferred you need to affirm officially you want to remain in consideration. Then, refocus your energy on completing with care the applications or supplements for schools generally “safer” than the college that delivered the disappointing news, and you should have choices. 

  • Please do not eliminate any colleges from your plans without talking to your family and to College Advising. We expect 12th graders will complete applications to all colleges on their Maia lists. If you need to cut anything, please do not eliminate schools which are so-called “likelies” and “targets” on MaiaLearning. Generally, it is best to stick to your existing plan. Exceptions include if you are admitted under a binding Early Decision plan and certain of an acceptable financial aid package OR admitted to an Early Action college that the applicant and family confirm is affordable. If you have eliminated some schools from your planning and not discussed this with your College Advisor, please reach out. 

  • If you were admitted under a binding Early Decision plan and you are certain the financing works for your family, you are expected (by the college offering admission, by other colleges on your list, and by us) to withdraw outstanding applications from the other places you have applied. You do this by emailing something short and appreciative to each admission office. This can feel odd, but colleges expect and require this communication. 

While soon College Advising turns some of its attention to the 11th grade and its process, as College Advising did with you last year, we remain available. We will also talk about the above with 12th graders as part of their Senior Days, December 8-9. Again, please report all college outcomes, positive or otherwise, as well as any scholarship details. Please keep us posted on college preferences as we have future opportunities to communicate with colleges as we have already. While there are no guarantees, subsequent positive grades can have real impact. When in doubt, please return to the messages in this letter. 

Though break means different things to different people, especially this year, we know that in any year 12th graders often seek rest and renewal during this time. Thank you for support of students, of one another, and of College Advising as we look ahead to the new year and to students’ exciting graduation from Seattle Academy. The Class of 2023 holds a special place in our hearts. We wish 12th graders and families all the best at this time and always, 


Seattle Academy College Advising

Visit our College Advising for 12th Grade Resource Online


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