College Counseling FAQ

Q. Why don’t you publish your average test scores?

A. As a Montessori high school, Beacon Academy values meaningful, practical learning that instills curiosity and forms lifelong learning habits. Standardized tests do not reflect these values. Numerous studies of college entrance examinations show test results alone do not predict postsecondary success. Beacon is an effective educational environment for a wide variety of learners, not simply for those with the aptitude or resources to achieve high standardized test scores.

Q. Does the IB provide an advantage for college admissions?

A. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is an internationally recognized credential known for its rigorous curriculum, its holistic approach, and its use of both examinations and other assessments in measuring student learning. It is the international standard for advanced learning in secondary schools, and students who pursue the IB Diploma earn credentials that are highly regarded by leading universities around the globe. Domestically, the IB Diploma Programme offers an important differentiator in highly selective admissions processes, for the vast majority of domestic applicants do not pursue IB coursework. Many US colleges and universities also grant course credit and placement based on IB examination results.

Q. When does the college counseling process start at Beacon?

A. Students and families are welcome to meet with a college counselor at any time during their Beacon careers. Beacon’s college counselors meet regularly with students throughout their time with us, offering programming to students and families to educate them about the college search and selection process. College counselors offer class meetings for 9th and 10th graders, and those students also take P-ACT, PSAT, and CWRA examinations to identify strengths and areas of growth as learners. The college counseling office works closely with the Dean of Students and with faculty advisors to incorporate college and career programming into our advisory curriculum. Formal individual college counseling begins in the 11th grade year.

Q. Does Beacon rank its students?

A. Beacon’s educational philosophy is grounded in the Montessori spirit of egalitarianism. Consistent with our educational philosophy, we do not rank our students, bestow individual awards and honors, or offer elected leadership positions. Instead, we teach collaboration and community-mindedness, two skills that colleges and universities actively seek.

Q. How does Beacon's grading system affect college admission?

A. Beacon utilizes a qualitative grading system that denotes the mastery of skills, concepts, and habits of mind. We also award quantitative grades on a 100 point scale. College admissions officers praise our grading system for its transparency and ease of use.

Q. Do students take gap years at Beacon?

A. As a Montessori high school, Beacon recognizes that each student progresses at a different pace through the adolescent plane of development. We encourage all students and families to consider the value of a gap experience in their educational journeys. The vast majority of American colleges and universities support gap experiences, and the practice is common in international settings. At least one graduate in each of Beacon’s first two cohorts has engaged in some sort of gap experience between high school and college.