Eleventh grade is an important year in the college planning process. You prepare for upcoming standardized tests, create a college list, consider college majors, and investigate financial aid. You also begin to think about who will write your letters of recommendation and the extent to which your extracurricular activities (e.g., jobs, family obligations, athletics, band, etc.) indicate...

Eleventh grade is an important year in the college planning process.

You prepare for upcoming standardized tests, create a college list, consider college majors, and investigate financial aid. You also begin to think about who will write your letters of recommendation and the extent to which your extracurricular activities (e.g., jobs, family obligations, athletics, band, etc.) indicate commitment, initiative-taking and/or leadership.



HigherEd offers 1:1 private counseling to guide you through these college planning milestones.

We also offer lessons about stress management, academic skills, and the importance of a growth mindset for the college admissions process. All this plus time to be creative and develop self-regulation and leadership skills?

Join us, Juniors!

Private (1:1)


Private counseling and you design the program. Select from any of HigherEd’s lessons or create a program personalized to your needs.


Students must be currently enrolled high school juniors or have completed their sophomore year.


Any month of the year. No more than three hours of counseling (two lessons) per week. Sessions are scheduled based on student and teaching counselor availability.


Offered in-person in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo county or via videoconferencing anywhere in the United States.



College Admissions

Lesson Title and Code

Description of Lesson

College bound student self-inventory: Know thyself


The College Board believes that a self-inventory helps you plan for college and career. We agree! In this lesson, you will assess your educational aspirations, preferences and interests and learn how to apply assessment results to your college search.

My activity list and admissions profile


The extracurricular record plays an important role in the admissions process, particularly at competitive colleges and universities. In this lesson, you will develop or perfect your activity list and assess its content. No activities, no problem! We'll help you find activities. Too many activities and over-scheduled? We'll help you achieve balance. Later in the lesson, you will develop an admissions profile to see how you match up to the competition.

My college criteria


There are many qualities that create a "college match." Too often, students focus on only one or two. In this lesson, you will develop a list of your desired college qualities (e.g., large, small, urban, rural, in-state, varsity and/or intramural sports programs, student diversity, Greek life, art scene, music majors, guaranteed housing). You will then create a "My top ten college criteria" document to reference throughout your college list development process.

My college list: Part 1, Developing my initial list


There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. and almost two million results for the Google query, “college search.” We scoured the internet to find the best college search tools so you can efficiently and effectively develop your college list. This is the first of three college list development lessons. In this lesson, you consider factors such as rankings, geographic hooks and the concept of the “match.” You will then use two college search engines to begin developing your college list.

My college list: Part 2, Refining my list


This is the second of three college list development lessons. In this lesson, you (a) use search engines to refine your college list, (b) discover the “Western University Exchange,” and (c) conduct personalized college research. Throughout the lesson, your HigherEd teaching counselor will be available to assist you as needed. Students applying to large research and/or state universities will be presented with strategies to employ during their college selection process.

My college list: Part 3, My “short list”


This is the final college list development lesson. In this lesson, you will finalize your college list via a “concentric circle-short list” activity and take advantage of more than one hour of personalized college research with assistance provided by your HigherEd teaching counselor.

My standardized testing toolbox


In this lesson, you will identify what standardized tests fit your needs and review test taking and study strategies. You will also discover the ever-growing list of schools that no longer require standardized test scores for admission. Finally, you will learn (and practice) how to manage test-anxiety.

Choosing a major


“I’ll just put undecided.” Not yet! In this lesson, you will participate in a two-step assessment process to identify potential majors that fit your interests. You will also develop a plan to explore/engage 1-3 of these majors. Why do this? For two reasons. First, it doesn’t hurt to think about academic interests, especially since you’ll likely have far more academic options in college than you had in high school. Second, many colleges want to see how you’ve demonstrated interest in your proposed majors. This activity sets the table for you to do the demonstrating.

Career exploration: Self-assessment


In this lesson, you will reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, favorite activities, and crucible moments (defining life experiences). You will also participate in a brief career-oriented survey and identify career clusters and occupations that fit your interests. But you don’t stop there. Next, you identify people, agencies or companies related to your career clusters/occupations. With this information, you can arrange internships, informational interviews or shadowing opportunities.

Career exploration: Engagement


We believe you discover career matches through engagement, not just talk (or quizzes). In this lesson, you will prepare an interest statement for potential employers. Your interest statement will explain why you want to participate in an internship, summer job, shadowing or other experience. With an interest statement in hand, you will prepare a cover letter and/or a phone script. The only thing left to do is make contact!

Note: Contacting any employer, agency or organization must be done (a) independently and (b) with the permission of your parent/guardian if you are under 18 years of age.

Financial aid basics: Loans, grants, the FAFSA and beyond


In this lesson, you will learn about common college financing mechanisms: loans, grants, scholarships and work study. You will define common financial aid terms, receive tutorials on the FAFSA and CSS, and discover financial aid tips and application money saving practices. Finally, you will assess the financial fit of the schools on your college list. For instance, how generous are your schools’ financial aid packages? How many first-year students have their financial needs met? What is the average financial aid package for first-year students? Ask questions now and be happy that you won’t pay (literally) later.

Advanced financial aid: Net price calculations, financial fit, assessing my financial aid package


During this lesson, you will use your list of desired college criteria and your net price calculations to assess the academic and financial fit of the schools on your college list. You will learn how to (a) assess a financial aid package and (b) protect yourself before taking out a private loan. You may also have time to engage in research tailored to your financial aid or college application needs.

The Essay: What do I write about?


Numbers (e.g., SAT, GPA) are important to your college application, but so are stories. The college essay is the vehicle through which you tell stories that add dimension to your grades and test scores. Your GPA can’t tell a reader what you stand for, what you have experienced or what excites you. The essay can. The essay is your opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee. HigherEd’s essay lessons help you to make the most of this opportunity. In this lesson, you will (a) learn what college admissions officers look for when reading essays, (b) develop an essay-writing timeline, and (c) participate in a series of brainstorming activities to develop and refine your essay topics. By the end of the lesson, you will have two or three “favorites” at the ready.

21st Century Job Skills

Lesson Title and Code

Description of Lesson

Mindset for the high school student


Mindset, referred to as the new psychology of success, is a concept developed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. In this lesson, you will be introduced to the fixed and growth mindsets. You will evaluate different types of self-talk and create personalized growth mindset statements. Finally, you will develop a growth mindset strategic plan to guide you through whatever comes your way during the admissions process (and beyond).

21st century job skill: Creativity , part 1


Dr. Shelley Carson argues that creativity emerges through deliberate (directed) and spontaneous (undirected) pathways. In today’s standards-based and assessment-heavy education system, students often use their deliberate pathway more than their spontaneous pathway. Consequently, creative time is lost. This lesson invites ingenuity, introspection and innovation. This lesson provides you with a dose of curiosity, wonder and interest in what things are like and how they work. During this time of free play for the mind, you will participate in creative challenges that activate the creative “hot spots” of your brain (e.g., the executive center, association centers). You will have time to write, draw, develop, sketch, and/or think. Throughout the lesson, you will also have access to art supplies and Michalko’s Think Pak brainstorming cards. Classical or jazz music will serve as the backdrop. The only rules? No technology and no talking. This time is to appreciate what gets lost in the “roar.” You could end up with a poem, vision board, project proposal, design concept, blog idea, essay topic…

Note: Parts of this lesson are modified for online delivery.

21st century job skill: Self-regulation


Lou Holtz said, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it.” Your reactions are influenced by self-regulation, or the ability to monitor and control your thoughts, emotions and behaviors (McClelland, Ponitz, Messersmith, & Tominey, 2010). The goal of this lesson is to help you become a better self-regulator. In this lesson, you will become acquainted with three minds: wise mind, emotional mind, and reasonable mind. You will assess your stress, anxiety and anger triggers and learn how to use self-regulatory techniques such as positive reappraisal/reframing and self-discipline. Finally, you will use the Transactional Stress Model to evaluate your self-regulation (emotional self-regulation) skills.

21st century job skill: Self-direction


Academic success, especially in higher education settings, requires self-direction. In this lesson, you will define “self-directed learner,” examine the characteristics of a self-directed learner, and assess the extent to which you are a self-directed learner. You will also engage in a performance assessment using the principles of self-directed learning, prepare a learning journal, and develop personalized rules to facilitate better learning and studying.

21st century job skill: Leadership


John Maxwell said that a leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. With outstanding scholastic performance, you may know the way. But going the way and showing the way, whether in college or career, requires more than academic excellence. Going and showing the way requires leadership. In this lesson, you will begin (or continue) the process of learning to be a leader. After participating in a brief leadership challenge and considering your real-life leadership roles (some are more obvious than others), you will analyze your decision-making and interaction patterns through the lens of James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s five practices of exemplary leadership: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart.


Lesson Title and Code

Description of Lesson

Stress management in HS


In this lesson, you will learn about the biology of stress and discover how stress affects high school students. You will briefly explore the magic and mystery of the adolescent brain. You will then assess commonly recommended stress management techniques for teens. Finally, you design a personalized stress management practice by selecting from a menu of grounding, coping and self-care techniques.

Study skills, concentration, and memory


Knowing how to study is as important as knowing what to study! In this lesson, you will review HigherEd’s Study Skills Guide and complete assessments about your study environment, pre-studying behaviors, and concentration techniques. You will then learn about the human memory, the “Curve of Forgetting” and how you can enhance your memory skills.

Note: Assessments are for awareness-building purposes only. Assessments are not psychometrically-validated.

Reading, writing, and research for high school success


Reading and writing are key elements to academic literacy. Think of this lesson as a “reading and writing skills tune-up” before AP English, the SAT, ACT, or your first college lecture. In this lesson, you will review HigherEd’s Reading & Comprehension and Writing & Research Guides. You will practice how to compare/contrast, identify cause and effect, summarize, order, and make predictions. Finally, you will assess how you used the writing process (e.g., prewrite, draft, revise, edit, publish) in a recent writing assignment.