Programs & Presentations

Madison High School provides a variety of programs and presentations. Below you will find the recordings and slides from these events.


Academic Awards Presentation (3/22/22): Recording

College Planning for Juniors, Part II (3/21/22): Slides | Recording

College Planning Night for Sophomores (3/14/22): Slides | Information Packet

Preparing for College Opportunities Booklets: English Version | Spanish Version

College Planning Night for Juniors (1/12/22): Recording | Q & A (see below)


Q & A: College Planning Night for Juniors (1/12/22)

Do you envision any changes to the admissions process with the ongoing pandemic?

Changes happen all the time, so it is very possible. Just know that the colleges will keep in touch every step of the way by posting updated information on their websites and social media pages.

With the pandemic situation, are the requirements for community service, sports, and extra curricular activities still expected?

No, not at all. We just want to know how you spend your time when you are not in classes. Are you helping out at home? Do you have a part-time job? Are you editing videos? These are just a few examples I have seen beyond being a part of formal organizations or participating in other activities.

Do you know what will happen around SAT scores for the Class of 2023? I know a lot of colleges had waived them for 2020.

It depends on the specific college. I would recommend reaching out to colleges you are interested in for SAT/ACT requirements. This information should also be available on the college website. A lot of colleges have started to reevaluate their use of SAT/ACT scores. At WPI we actually moved to test blind and will no longer use SAT and ACT scores as part of the review process.

Do you anticipate colleges going back to requiring SAT/ACT scores for applications submitted for Fall 2023?

This is probably going to depend on the specific college. I have heard that many colleges have viewed the past couple years as an "opportunity" to evaluate their use of SAT/ACT scores in their admissions decisions. I would encourage you (or your student) to ask this question of the colleges in which they are interested in attending.

I am still confused about what test optional means. I understand the optional part in terms of choosing not to test. However, if a student does choose to take the ACT or SAT, how is that choice factored in to the total application...grades, activities, es

Colleges are going to consider all information that a student provides in their application, including if they submit a score. It does not advantage a student to submit scores, nor does it disadvantage a student to not submit scores. I usually advise my students to take a look at the test score ranges at each college, and if their scores fall within those ranges, I think it's helpful to share those scores with the college. Hope this helps!

How do students sign up for the SAT? The March SAT is being offered at Madison.

Through College Board. and for the ACT

I know that a lot of colleges value good extracurriculars over academics and standardized tests. Would a high SAT and GPA affect admissions positively, especially now that many colleges are now test optional?

Actually, when colleges report what they value most in the admissions process, academics and test scores tend to rank higher than extracurricular activities. What is often of greatest value is the student's transcript, what courses they have taken, how they have performed in those classes, and if they take the SAT and submit scores.

How does one judge specific departments or lines of study when deciding where to go?

This will depend on what is most important to your student. Ask yourself the following questions when researching your major:  What is the class size once a student gets in their major? What internships and hands on experiences are offered by the college? Are graduating seniors getting jobs in their fields after graduation? Does the college host job fairs in that major? Are students working with professors and not teacher assistants once in your major? Is your major one that has a state exam? How does the college/university help prepare students for the exam, and what is the passing rate for the exam?

What is the most reliable source for admission criteria? Are online sources such as Niche fairly accurate in this regard?

Most colleges publish a document called the Common Data Set. Section C has a table where the different components of an application are labeled as important, considered, or not considered at all. Just google a college name with "Common Data Set" and you'll find the document.  Also, take a look at College Navigator 

This would be for Ms. Wesley from Ole Miss. Can she talk about the Academic Common Market and how one would apply.

Yes, Ole Miss is a part of the ACM and typically it's a major that is not offered at a VA college but is offered at Ole Miss. That particular major for VA is Geological Engineering. Here is the website for ACM:  where you can search for participating states/colleges and majors.

Is NOVA Community College a path into UVA?

All the colleges in Virginia have agreements with the community college system!

We have heard that it's harder to get into UVA from Madison than other areas of schools. Is there any truth to this?

That is incorrect.

So it's exactly the same criteria/chance coming from Fairfax County than other areas of the state?

Students are reviewed in the context of their specific high school. Admission officers everywhere (not just at UVA) look at what is available at Madison and what the student opted to do with those opportunities.

When is a good time for juniors to get started with the process?

No time like the present! You are here tonight and that's perfect. Juniors can start now by thinking about their interests and that will help get the list started. Meeting with the school counselor will also be very helpful to provide some guidance to get started. Naviance ( has a Career Cluster Finder and a Career Interest Profiler for students. The results will suggest career fields, related college majors, and colleges that offer those majors. Definitely something to explore.

How soon should I start doing research?

Students are asked to have their list of colleges determined by the time they start senior year, so you have time. Spring Break is a great time to start touring!

I do not see many options to search for the right college. Google, internet, friend? What about asking to the school counselor? Will they help?

All of these are options, but school counselors will meet with juniors to help them think through what they are looking for and what criteria/tools they are using to choose schools. This will start in our junior meetings in February and March.  We also encourage students to utilize Naviance.…

What are good times to visit colleges?

Students are encouraged to visit campuses when classes are in session. It helps to get a feel for what the campus is like when it's "alive."  Spring Break is a great time to schedule some campus tours. Schedule tours during the week, as opposed to weekends is preferred and college visits are considered excused absences.

Could you walk us through the process of setting up a college tour? Do we contact the colleges' admission office or is there a set schedule of tours that we register for?

Most colleges actually have calendars on their admissions websites that allow you to see when they offer tours and you can sign up that way. If they don't have a calendar, you should call and ask about the campus tours.

Who do I email for questions?

I would encourage you to reach out to your child's counselor.

Do the school counselors automatically meet with students to discuss the college application process or do they need to make an appointment?

School counselors will start discussing the college application process with rising seniors during the Academic Advising meetings starting in February. Later in the spring, if students would like to make an appointment to discuss college applications, they can reach out to schedule an additional meeting.

When can my 11th grader start talking to their counselor about the college process?

School counselors will start discussing the college process with rising seniors during their Academic Advising meetings which will begin in late February. Later in the spring, if students would like to make an appointment to discuss college applications, they can reach out to schedule an additional meeting. 

What's the best time frame to apply to colleges to take advantage of best acceptance rate. And ability to get scholarships, be admitted to Honors Programs, etc.

Typically, students should apply when they can present their strongest application. Some students should wait for the later deadlines because they'll have first semester grades from senior year on their transcripts.

If a student who is going into the arts doesn't take a math class their senior year but has finished calculus in junior year, is this looked down on by colleges?

College admissions officers do consider strength of schedule, and will look carefully at your senior schedule. Not taking a math may matter more at College A versus College B, depending on the selectivity of the college. They will consider what else you are taking as a senior. Assuming you are going to be focused on the arts, it is probably less important for you to take math as a senior, especially since you have taken through calculus. This will be a good conversation to have with your school counselor during your academic advising meeting.

My student is on track for an honors diploma but will likely not take any AP courses. Will that put them at a disadvantage?

We encourage students to find the balance of challenging themselves while maintaining positive achievement. They do not have to take AP courses to be competitive to most colleges.

Is it difficult to transfer into a program if you apply as a general admission unsure of a major?

From my experience, this is going to depend on the college, but more so on the major. Some majors are going to be more difficult to enter later on, but this is a really great question to pose to specific colleges of interest. A great way to pose the question, "How does your college support undecided students once they get to campus in selecting their major?"

How are weighted grades (from honors and AP classes) calculated outside of Virginia or outside of the U.S.? Are weighted GPAs accepted internationally or only locally?

College usually take away FCPS weights and apply their own weight when it comes to honors, AP, or DE courses. However, it depends on the college, so check with the particular colleges you are applying to. 

How do college admission officers use, evaluate and weight student portfolios e.g. portfolio of academic assignments/projects in their decisions?

The colleges that you will apply to will evaluate your academic performance and types of courses you have taken the last 3 years. Has the student challenged themselves academically? Has the student taken Honors/ AP Courses, etc.

Do only final end of year grades count, or do quarterly/semester grades also show up on your high school transcript? If so, do admissions officers account for rolling gradebook policies?

The final end of year grades for grades 9-11 will show on your high school transcript. For senior year, colleges may request to see 1st quarter or 1st semester for their review process.

Does Early Decision put you at a disadvantage for receiving merit based aid?

No, not at all. However; it is a binding agreement, so a student is committing to going without knowing their financial package. If how much aid the student receives is a deciding factor, I would encourage the student to NOT apply ED.

If you want to apply Early Decision, but you don't know if you can afford that college -- how do you navigate financial aid in those situations? If you apply early decision, are you basically agreeing to pay full fare?

Early decision is a binding agreement, therefore if a student's ability to attend a specific college is going to depend on the financial aid package, I would encourage the student to NOT apply ED.

When should you start applying for FASFA?

Its important to start the process when the FAFSA opens the process in October. The earlier the better. You will need your parent's tax information to complete this form. College Access Fairfax Opportunities Booklet English Opportunities Booklet Spanish

I also will apply for FAFSA, well I am not sure if FAFSA goes first, then application for college and then application for scholarship in the college? I do not know which one goes first and second. Thanks.

The college and financial aid process will take place simultaneously, and Madison will have a college planning program in the fall for seniors. FAFSA opens up on October 1st. and should be completed as soon as possible. College Access Fairfax is very helpful in assisting students with the FAFSA application:

What's the best place to look for outside scholarships?

A good place to start would be in Naviance. Through Naviance, you will be able to see scholarships that are out there and you can even apply as current junior for some.  Also,… And definitley check out College Access Fairfax There is a Money for College section is this Quick Guide with additional scholarship information,…

When should I apply for scholarships? Do I apply for scholarships only at the college my student will attend?

Scholarships are available at colleges and outside of colleges that students can apply to. However, students should be applying to scholarships at the same time as they are applying for colleges. If the student waits until the spring, that student will miss many scholarship opportunities. Colleges will also have a specific deadline to be considered for scholarships. There are many scholarship databases out there. Be sure to look at the Financial Aid websites at the particular colleges your student is applying to.…

Do colleges know if students have accommodations/a 504 plan? Does that factor into admittance?

No, Madison does not disclose on transcripts if a student has a 504 plan or an IEP. Students have the option to disclose their status, but it is not required. After accepted, if a student decides to attend that college, they can work with the student support/disability support office, if they choose to put accommodations in place.

How important is narrowing down a major before applying?

It really depends on the college you are applying to. Some colleges require students to apply to specific majors or programs while others do not look at the intended major. At WPI specifically it doesn't matter what you put as your intended major.

May 1 is application deadline?

No, May 1st is the deadline to tell a college you are attending and to put down a deposit.

How would taking a gap year affect the application process/timeline, and what are the pros/cons to this?

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Can you please describe how you can get into a college Honors program? And what are the benefits of getting into the Honors Program?

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Do universities look at unweighted or weighted GPA? What would be better, a B in a AP / honors class, or an A in a normal class?

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