College Guidance

“I am deeply grateful for my Golda Och education. Golda Och gave me a profound and unconditional love and appreciation for Israel, and strengthened my Jewish identity. It also instilled in me the importance of community and gave me the opportunity to develop friendships that I know will last throughout my lifetime.”
—Jessica Antiles '15
The Office of College Counseling provides comprehensive college services to students and their parents beginning in 9th grade and continuing through the senior year. Since planning for college begins well before the application process, the Director of College Counseling offers High School families guidelines for course, testing and activities selection. Several programs take place throughout High School. The following list highlights some of these offerings.

  1. The director meets with the entire 9th grade to conduct an interactive program that introduces them to the world of college admissions. 
  2. A college planning program for sophomores is offered to all 10th grade families in the spring of their sophomore year.  
  3. Eleventh grade students and their parents attend an evening program that offers a step-by-step description of the college selection process. 
  4. A financial aid program takes place in the fall, where experts in the field of financial aid guide families in ways to pay for college.
  5. Throughout the academic year, a College and High School Guidance Forum is offered to parents during the school day. Each forum begins with a short presentation on a specific theme related to applying to college and making the most of their child’s high school experience. A Q&A session follows.

During the junior year, individual meetings between the director and each student and his or her parents takes place. The director works with each family to develop an appropriate college selection list. Following those meetings, the director writes a college recommendation letter for each rising senior and ensures that each student’s academic transcript is complete and correct before it is sent out. Also during the junior year, the director conducts a college essay workshop.

During the fall of the senior year, the director conducts a college-prep class to help seniors complete their applications, write essays, develop resumes, practice interviews, submit test scores, and more. One-on-one meetings with seniors also occur throughout the fall to assist them with different components of their college applications.

In addition to providing personal attention to students and parents, the director hosts a college evening in the spring for 10th and 11th grade families. Representatives from different colleges and universities join our families for the evening to talk about their schools and the admissions process. In addition, college representatives and families are divided into one of several admission committees where they review “sample” applications. Transcripts, rigor of courses, test scores, essays, recommendations, demonstrated interest, and other factors are discussed as each committee works to reach a decision. The director also maintains strong relationships with admissions representatives from many colleges, who visit with students throughout the fall.
We strive to help our students make a successful transition to their post-High School life.
—Dr. Denise Kanrich

Student Resources

List of 11 items.

  • The College Guidance Program

    The goal of Golda Och Academy’s College Guidance program is to assist each student in discovering and building upon the many options that exist throughout and beyond the college admissions process. Toward this end, we provide a comprehensive college counseling program where the focus is on each student’s unique qualities and their academic and non-academic preparation. 

    The college search has many facets, but first and foremost, it must be a partnership between students, parents and the college counselor. The Golda Och Academy college counselor is available to help students determine which schools are good “fits;” to empower students to take ownership of this important process; and to provide support and guidance to students and parents along the way. In this role, the college counselor maintains strong relationships with a number of colleges and universities and advocates for students during the application process. 

    A partnership is fostered through regular communications between the college counselor and Golda Och Academy families. This includes several presentations and programs throughout our students’ high school journey.

    • 9th Grade Assembly – Introduction to the World of College Admissions.  During a class period in the early spring, an interactive program with the students addresses college admission factors, strategies for improving grades (the single most important factor in college admissions), becoming a strong college applicant, the  importance of achieving balance, finding a college that is the right fit, standardized testing and understanding the transcript.  

    • 10th Grade Evening Program – College Planning for Sophomores.  In the fall of the sophomore year, students have the opportunity to take the PSAT and the PreACT. Then, during a one hour session with parents and students, participants will learn how to interpret the results of the PSAT (the standardized practice test for the SAT) and the PreACT (the standardized practice test for the ACT).  Also included is a detailed presentation on standardized testing, how to use SCOIR (a web-based college planning tool), and tools for researching colleges.

    • 11th Grade College Kick-Off for Juniors – At this meeting, the emphasis is on providing families with a comprehensive review of the college application process.  Topics covered includes: the application calendar, general college terminology, the GOA transcript, trends in college admissions, the Common Application, the Coalition Application, the college essay, teacher recommendations, college visits, and financial aid. Additionally, families are encouraged to log on to the Golda Och Academy website to access the College Guidance Handbook.

    • Writing the College Essay – College guidance collaborates with the English department by offering workshops to students in their junior year on how to find the right topic and the elements of a successful, reflective college essay.   

    • Annual College Night – Each October, college representatives from over 25 universities and colleges gather at Golda Och so our families can learn about specific college programs and the admissions process.

    • Visits to Golda Och Academy by College Representatives - Visits to the school by college admissions officers take place throughout the fall.  Whenever possible, these visits are scheduled during the lunch period so that students can attend without missing class.

    • College Planning and Funding Workshop – All high school families are invited to this November program to learn effective strategies and ways of financing their child’s college education. 

    • Family College Conference Meetings – In the winter of the junior year, the college counselor has individual meetings with each family.  The student’s goals, strengths and interests are addressed so that those colleges that best fit the student are identified.

    • Weekly Newsletters- Beginning in January of the junior year, a weekly email identifies where students should be in the application process, news articles, scholarship information, colleges visiting Golda Och, and general updates on college admissions.

    • Individual Student Meetings – In the fall of the senior year, student essays are critiqued, applications are reviewed and individual college lists are discussed and prioritized.

    • College-Prep Meetings – In the fall of the senior year, the director conducts a weekly senior class college prep meeting.   In these weekly meetings, students learn to: 1) complete the Common App, 2) complete the Coalition Application, 3) use SCOIR to request transcripts, teacher recommendations, and track the status of their supporting documents (recommendation, transcript, school profile, Secondary School Report), 4) prepare a resume, 5) complete appications that are not part of the Common App or Coalition, 6) submit forms needed to apply early decision, 7) interview with college admission represenettives and alumni, and 8) select a college destination that is the best fit and prepare for freshman year. 
  • GOA's College Guidance Policies

    The GOA college counselor conducts weekly classes in the fall of the senior year to assist students with each facet of the application process, and reviews and comments on any draft of an application or essay. The general procedure for the application process follows:
    1. Students are responsible for the submission of their own applications and for meeting deadlines. This includes taking responsibility for submitting all parts of the application (common app or college-specific application, supplement, payment and any additional items) by the college deadline.
    2. Students must request all transcripts through Naviance. If a college does not accept transcripts through Naviance, then the student must bring a hard copy of the school’s secondary school report/counselor form, to College Guidance at least two weeks prior to the deadline. If the college does not have a required form, then the student will need to email College Guidance with the admission’s address for sending all supporting documents.
    3. Golda Och Academy will send the counselor’s report/recommendation, official transcript, and school profile and teacher recommendations. The school letter of recommendation (or counselor recommendation), which is sent to colleges as part of the Secondary School Report, is written by the Director of College Counseling. The letter provides colleges with the school’s overview of a student’s overall profile and offers biographical and anecdotal information that helps college admissions officers get to know each student. School letters are not released to parents or students as they are considered a confidential communication between Golda Och Academy and the colleges.
    4. Students ask teachers in person and on Naviance for a recommendation. If the college uses the Common Application or accepts the submission of recommendations through SCOIR, then the request through Naviance will suffice. If they do not, then the student provides the teacher with the college’s required recommendation form and a stamped, addressed envelope. Then, the teacher can send their letters to those colleges that do not accept electronic submission. Letters of recommendation written by teachers are not regularly reviewed or read by the Director of College Counseling. These are considered confidential communication between the teacher and the college admissions office.
    5. Students will send standardized test scores to each college directly from the testing agency. To send SAT scores, go to To send ACT scores, go to
  • College Matriculation 2020-2023

    Albert A. List/Barnard
    American University*
    Arizona State University
    Binghamton University**
    Brandeis University*
    Brown University*
    Case Western Reserve University
    Colgate University
    College of Staten Island CUNY
    Cornell University*
    CUNY Brooklyn College
    Drexel University*
    Elon University
    Emory University*
    Florida State University
    Haverford College*
    High Point University
    Hofstra University*
    Indiana University (Bloomington)*
    Ithaca College*
    James Madison University
    Johns Hopkins University
    Lafayette College
    Macalester College
    Michigan State University
    Muhlenberg College*
    New York University
    Northeastern University*
    Northwestern University*
    Penn State University (University Park)
    Princeton University
    Quinnipiac University
    Rutgers University (New Brunswick)**
    Skidmore College
    Syracuse University**
    Texas State University
    The College of New Jersey
    The Ohio State University*
    Tulane University*
    University of Central Florida
    University of Colorado Boulder
    University of Delaware*
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    University of Maryland (College Park)**
    University of Massachusetts (Amherst)**
    University of Michigan*
    University of Oregon
    University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh)
    University of Rhode Island*
    University of South Florida (Main Campus)
    University of Southern California
    University of Vermont*
    University of Wisconsin (Madison)*
    Washington University in St. Louis

    *More than one graduate attends
    **Five or more graduates attend
  • Glossary of Admissions Terms

    Regular Decision:  The student must apply to the college by the college’s application deadline (usually in January). The college then reviews all applications and notifies all regular decision applicants of their decision at the same time. The decision letters are usually mailed at the end of March/beginning of April.

    Early Decision: A binding early application to one college. If a student is accepted Early Decision (ED), s/he must enroll at that school and withdraw all applications from other colleges. Students can only apply to one school under the early decision plan. Early decision I application deadlines are usually in November, and the student is usually notified of the college’s decision by mid-December. Some schools, including Brandeis, Colgate, Emory, George Washington, Lehigh, NYU, Swarthmore, Tufts and Wesleyan, offer a second early decision. ED II deadlines are often in January.   Because ED limits you to only seeing one financial aid package (rather than having the opportunity to compare one school’s package to another), ED is not a good option for students for whom financial aid will be a major factor in the college selection process.

    Early Action:  This is an early application to a college which does NOT obligate the student to attend the school if accepted. Students can apply to more than one college under the early action plan. Early action application deadlines are usually in November or December, and the student is usually notified of the college’s decision in January. Schools that have Early Action include Georgetown, Tulane, UMass at Amherst, University of Miami, University of Michigan and Rutgers University. If a school has an EA program, students are STRONGLY encouraged to apply under this non-binding commitment as admission chances are generally greater than in regular decision.

    Single Choice Early Action: This option allows students to apply by a set date (usually early November) and receive an admissions decision (accept, deny, defer) well before the normal response. Students are not obligated to enroll or send a deposit if accepted. However, under Single Choice Early Action, students are NOT allowed to apply early action (unless it is a public state university) or early decision to other schools. Colleges that offer this option include Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.

    Rolling Admissions:  Colleges with rolling admissions policies review applications as they receive them and send admissions decisions letters within a few weeks after all credentials have been received. Although colleges with rolling admissions do not have set application deadlines, it is advisable to apply early as chances of being admitted are often better early on in the process. Drexel, Indiana University, Quinnipiac, University of Arizona, and University of Pittsburgh offer rolling admissions. 

    Priority Applications: Some universities have a deadline referred to as the priority date. These dates usually fall in November and December and will give priority consideration to students whose applications meet this deadline. University of Delaware and University of Maryland have priority deadlines that if met, will consider those students first for admission as well as entry into the honors program and awarding of scholarships.

    CEEB Code/School Code: This is a code number unique to Golda Och Academy that colleges and testing agencies (College Board, ACT) often require. Golda Och Academy’s code number is 311503.

    FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): This is a financial aid form that all colleges require of financial aid applicants. The earliest the form can be filed is January 1 of the student’s senior year.

    CSS Profile: Available in October, financial aid applicants are encouraged to submit this financial aid form that is required by all private institutions (and some public ones as well). Colleges that require this form typically list two deadlines: the first is the deadline by when the student should register for the CSS Profile and the second is the deadline by when the student should complete and file the Profile.
  • The SAT and ACT


    The following is a brief introduction to the SAT and the ACT. It is intended as an overview to help students do some preliminary planning for their junior and senior years.  Any such planning, however, should be tailored to the specific needs of the individual student.

    • It is generally recommended that students take the SAT once in the winter or spring of their junior year and once in the fall of their senior year. Most colleges will consider a student’s highest reading/writing and highest math score even if taken during different administrations of the SAT.

    • While many colleges to which our students apply do require the SAT (or the ACT), many colleges are test optional.

    • SAT testing takes place throughout the school year. Tests are typically administered in December, March, May, June, October and/or November.

    • Golda Och Academy students are entitled to take the test on Sunday. For more information about registering for a Sunday SAT, visit SAT Requesting Sunday Testing | SAT Suite of Assessments


    The ACT (American College Test) is a standardized test which may be taken and submitted to colleges in lieu of the SAT. Some students take both the ACT and SAT, and then choose which exam to submit. 
    The ACT is administered six times a year: September, October, December, February, April and June. For information on Sunday registration visit This four hour test consists of five sections: English, Math, Reading, Science and an optional Writing section.


    Style of TestFewer questions with a greater focus on in-depth analysis of content and problem-solving skillsMore questions, but tends to be straightforward
    • No wrong answer penalty
    • Score is based out of 1600 — 800 for Math; 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
    • Optional essay receives a separate score
    • No wrong answer penalty
    • 1-36 on each section
    • Scores from each of the four sections are averaged into composite score on a scale of 1-36
    • Optional essay receives a separate score
    • 3 hours
    • Reading: 65 minutes
    • Writing & Language: 35 minutes
    • Math with calculator: 55 minutes
    • Math without calculator: 25 minutes
    • 2 hours and 55 minutes
    • 3 hours and 35 minutes with optional essay
    • Reading: 35 minutes
    • English: 45 minutes
    • Math: 60 minutes
    • Science: 35 minutes
    • Focus on arithmetic, problem-solving and data analysis, “the heart of algebra,” geometry, and trigonometry
    • Includes student-produced response questions
    • More words/math question
    • Formulas provided
    • Calculator not permitted for all math sections
    • Focus on arithmetic, algebra I and II, functions, geometry, and trigonometry
    • All questions are multiple choice
    • Less words/question
    • Formulas are not provided
    • Calculator permitted throughout the math section
    Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
    • Focus on analyzing 5 passages: Literature (1), Social Studies (2), and Science passages (2)
    • Focus on real-world vocabulary-in-context as well as revising and editing writing in passages
    • Higher test complexity – difficult passages
    • Questions are in chronological order
    • Focus on analyzing four passages: 1 Prose Fiction or Literary Narrative, 1 Social Sci., 1 Humanities, 1 Natural Sci.
    • Lower text complexity
    • Questions are random and often there are no line numbers
    • Part of the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing Section
    • Focus on writing style and vocabulary
    • Separate section
    • Focus on sentence structure and grammar
    EssayNo essay section
    • Essay is optional
    • Assesses reading and data interpretation skills
    • No science section
    • Two passages in the reading section will address scientific topics which includes charts and/or graphs
    • Science section
    • Assesses reading and data interpretation skills
  • Developing the College List


    The primary goal of developing a college list is to encourage students to identify a reasonable set of colleges that reflect their interests and strengths, and which will provide for as much choice as possible when admissions decisions arrive in the spring.  Students are encouraged to focus on “fit” instead of the rankings, and select colleges that will meet their needs. As a student begins to clarify his or her criteria for selecting a college and creates a list of possible colleges to which he or she will apply, good communication between student, parents and Director of College Counseling is vital.

    It is recommended that a final college list include approximately eight to ten colleges. Ideally, the list of colleges should include two to three realistic “reach” schools where the student’s chance of admission is uncertain yet possible, two or three “target” schools at which the student has a more reasonable chance, and two or three “safety” schools the student really likes and where his/her admission is very likely. The Director of College Counseling provides estimates of a student’s chance of admission at each college based on her knowledge of college admissions and the past history of Och Academy applicants to that particular college.

    Criteria in Developing a College List

    The first step in developing a college list is to define the criteria by which the student will evaluate and compare the many college options available. Certain criteria are particularly important in making a college list, and the process of college selection becomes considerably less perplexing once these criteria have been defined. Before investigating any specific schools, each student must identify those features that he/she wants in a college and then prioritize these features in order of importance. This exercise encourages the student to make some often difficult decisions early on, to accept some ideas, to reject others and to slowly build a concept of what his or her ideal college will be like. Students and parents in the junior year are asked to complete a questionnaire that helps pinpoint the student’s criteria for selecting colleges.

    Some criteria to consider are the following:
    • What size college or university?
    • How important is geographical location?
    • Is a rural or urban location preferred?
    • Does the college offer the program of study in which the student has expressed an interest?
    • How much does it cost?
    • What is the Jewish life like on campus?
    • What style of instruction is most prevalent?
    • Is the academic rigor commensurate with the student’s ability/level of preparation?
    • What role does varsity/club/intramurals sports play in the everyday lives of students?
    If you have any questions, please contact , Director of College Guidance - 973-602-3676, fax: 973-669-0796.

    SCOIR is a web-based tool that supports college planning. Students access it on the web by visiting Each student and his or her parents have a unique access code that allows them to register with SCOIR. This college planning tool helps students and parents to:
    • Match colleges to preferences
    • Search & compare colleges
    • Gather specific information for each college considered.
    • Assess chances of admission at colleges where prior GOA graduates have applied (acceptances…denials…waitlists)
    • View colleges visiting GOA
    • Compare costs of colleges side-by-side
    • Request transcripts and recommendations on-line
    • Track the submission of supporting documents – transcript and recommendations
  • The Common Application

    Whenever possible, it is highly recommended that students use the Common Application, a universal application used by hundreds of schools that only needs to be filled out once. Each year, the number of schools that subscribe to the Common Application grows. For a complete and current list, click here. All schools subscribing to the Common Application will review it in lieu of their own application form. In many cases, colleges have stopped producing their own application and use ONLY the Common Application. In August of the senior year students can go to the Common Application website and open an account:

    To complete the Common Application, students will fill out the application on the computer, and submit the Common Application electronically, from the website itself, to each college that accepts it. 

    Some schools may require supplemental information or statements. Those “supplements” are on the Common Application website. The school forms on the Common Application website - teacher recommendations, counselor recommendation, and mid-year and final year school reports –are submitted to colleges through Naviance.

    NOTE: If the school is NOT a Common Application school, a student should go to the school’s website and apply online.
  • Financing a College Education

    As increasing college costs put more stress on family resources, financial aid can be a decisive factor in the college search for many families. The College Guidance Office strongly encourages students to honestly and openly discuss with their families the role of financial assistance in the college selection process. While we believe that the total cost of college should not be the primary factor which shapes the college search, availability of financial aid frequently plays a critical role in the final decision about which college a student attends. The College Guidance Office encourages parents and guardians to discuss financing higher education with their children in order to assure that college planning will reflect family circumstances and will promote the search for any and all means of supporting our students’ aspirations.
    Colleges and universities expect parents and students to assume the bulk of the costs of a college education. A combination of loans, work study, need-based grants and merit-based awards comprise a financial aid package. These packages are often provided to supplement what parents and students can contribute to the total cost of a college education. For more detailed information, Golda Och Academy will offer a College Funding Seminar in November. An overview of financial aid terms, questions to ask admission/financial aid counselors and resources follows.
  • The College Visit

    Visiting a prospective college is the best way to get the “feel” of the campus. The visit can not only tell you about the college, but in some cases the colleges can learn some important things about prospective students. Parents can help with travel arrangements but should encourage students to make their own calls and inquiries to colleges.

    Visits should not be made randomly; make some initial decisions about the type of school you are interested in before putting an itinerary together. A summer or fall visit is useful for collecting general information and interviewing. A spring visit, after acceptances are mailed, can be more thorough; (many colleges have open houses for accepted students). Visits in December/January/February/March or the first week of a semester are usually not advisable.
    Ideally, students should attend classes, stay in a dormitory and talk with current students and an admissions person. Practically, a visit most often consists of a campus tour and perhaps a group information session. Parents should try to take a back seat at these times and let the student ask questions. (Interviews are often optional or not given on campus; ask ahead of time for information and an appointment if the college offers on-campus interviews.)
    Because of the commitment expected if accepted, Golda Och Academy expects that students applying to a college or university under an Early Decision program will have visited their ED institution.
    The following suggestions can help you prepare a college visit. Don’t try to visit more than two schools a day or four or five in a week, and be sure to consult a map before you go so you can accurately gauge distances between campuses.
    • Most institutions have set times for tours and information sessions. Some schools suggest making appointments for these and others do not. Call ahead, or look on the school website for times and dates. Check to make sure that students will be on campus and not on vacation or in the midst of final exams.
    • Make arrangements in advance if an interview is requested or an overnight stay is possible.
    • Ask for directions from the nearest airport, train station, etc. if needed.
    • If you are going to several schools on a single trip, make sure that you allow for travel time between campuses.
    • Be sure that absences from school are OK’d and that work missed can be made up. Consider using PSAT test dates, parent-teacher conferences and professional days when school is closed in addition to other school breaks for travel.
    • Visit during the week, if possible, to sit in on a class.
    • Learn something about the college before your visit. Be prepared to ask smart questions about the institution - NOT “How many students do you have?” but “Can you tell me more about your program in Russia?”
    • Don’t hog the limelight. In a group interview or information session, everyone should get a chance to ask questions. You can create a more favorable impression by sharing the stage.
    • Students should be prepared to give information about themselves if they have an interview. However, unless they’ve been asked to do so specifically, they do not need to bring transcripts, portfolios, etc., especially on the initial visit.
    • Dress comfortably but neatly. Students should wear walking shoes and clothes appropriate for meetings with other students, families and admission officers, (mature and conservative, mostly, but consider where you are visiting as well).
    • Take notes either during or immediately after your visit. A video or still camera can be helpful also. (A digital camera is ideal since it automatically keeps track of dates and photos can be reviewed instantly). Keep track of what you found especially positive/negative. Pick up the school newspaper and other printed materials when you are on each campus.
    • Hand write, (don’t e-mail), thank you notes when appropriate. Good manners make good impression, and e-mail, while more convenient, isn’t as personal as a handwritten note. The extra effort is worth it!
    • Let your college counselor know what you think of the schools you visit.
    • If something goes wrong on your visit, be sure to let the college know. If your tour guide makes inappropriate remarks or there is a mix-up, send a note about it so they can try to correct the situation. Colleges want you to have a good experience and will try to remedy any problems.
    • Don’t assume that a bad tour guide or poor weather means the school is bad! It might be exam time or the guide might just be having an off day. No excuse, but remember he or she is a student, too. Try not to make snap judgments and balance everything you see and hear with all the other information you collect.
    Enjoy your trips! They can be great “family time” opportunities. Try to discuss issues that come up from college to college and compare notes. Again, parents, we recommend that you let your child take the lead.
  • Web Resources

    Admissions Testing Resources

    The ACT - American College Testing Program
    The SAT - The College Board
    ETS - Educational Testing Service

    Financial Aid Resources

    College Planning - A free scholarship search engine.
    Pay For College - Resources offered by College Board; links you to the Profile Form – Commercial search engine for scholarship programs. – College Savings Plans Network, information about 529 plans and links to state savings plans. – A commercial search engine – A commercial search engine
    Elm Resources - A commercial lender’s site – Allows one to search for and compare scholarship programs, sponsored by Citigroup, Inc. - A commercial search engine. – A search engine for scholarships; links to applications as well. - The Federal Trade Commission’s guide to scholarship scams. – Scholarship search engine, links to FAFSA, other scholarship forms like the CSS Profile form and more. – Access the FAFSA on-line at this site. – Commercial data base of scholarship programs.
    Information from Chase Bank on federal student loan programs.
    The Wells Fargo website has information about scholarships and planning for college.

    General Information – Links to college home pages and financial aid information. - Virtual tours of some college campuses – Peterson’s College Quest Career Education Guidance.
    Kaplan - A large commercial test preparation company.
    Mapping Your Future is a free resource for career, college, financial aid and money management information.
    Peterson’s well-known college guide is on-line. - Princeton Review’s home page.

    Religious Life

    Hillel Foundation - For information about Jewish student life on campuses in the U.S. and Canada.
    If you know of other links which are particularly helpful, please notify the Guidance Office so that we may add them to this list.
"The close community and small class sizes [at GOA] gave me the confidence to speak my mind within the classroom and develop long lasting and personal relationships with the teachers as well. The school really encouraged teacher-student accessibility and thus enabled me as a college student to engage in conversation with my professors."
—Leah Schwartz ’13