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College & Career Readiness Study

Final Report: RHS College & Career Readiness at RHS (June 2022)

Executive Summary

Radnor High School Counseling (RHSC) offers a robust array of mental health resources to students and their families, with a dedicated team of counselors to support them. This has been quite beneficial as the community has endeavored to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, career and college readiness resources have dwindled as the need for mental health support has grown. The complex and time intensive nature of mental health issues puts a significant strain on RHSC’s ability to effectively execute job functions not related to mental health, including career counseling. Attempting to mitigate this problem, counselors began using a variety of methods to provide the full array of student support. By building a comprehensive, but onerous, website and using “drop-ins” to student classes, counselors have been able to provide a blanket of basic career and college care. 

Unfortunately, the lack of one-on-one attention and expertise has left many students feeling underprepared, seeking outside resources for help, in their senior year. To better meet the needs of students, it is recommended that RHS proceed by adjusting the staffing and structure of the office. Adding two more staff members would create greater opportunities for direct contact with students. 

Additionally, dividing the department into two distinct sub-departments, School Counseling and College Counseling, will allow counselors to specialize and provide a higher level of experience and expertise. By making these adjustments, among others, RHSC can create an environment where students can receive expert care in mental health support, academic advising and career and college preparedness. The following report details individual aspects of the current program’s strengths and weaknesses in addition to a plan for implementation of structural changes.

Study Goals

To determine the appropriate staffing necessary to meet RTSD students’ needs for college and career planning.

To identify potential improvements to RTSD school counseling structure, processes, and supports related to college and career planning.

To identify professional development and training needs for RTSD staff.

Study Action Steps

• Assess current programming for strengths and areas of improvement
• Gather feedback from students and parents
• Examine best practices and future trends
• Discuss with college Admissions departments
• Investigate exemplar public and private high school Counseling departments
• Determine professional development needs
• Examine related student support services

Study Committee Members



William Yarnell

College and Career Readiness Study Consultant

Dan Bechtold

Committee Co-Chair, Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning

Nicole Ottaviano

Committee Co-Chair, K-12 School Counseling Coordinator

Liz Duffy

RTSD School Board Member and Parent

Nancy Monahan

RTSD School Board Member and Parent

Ryan Buterbaugh

RHS Assistant Principal of Academic Affairs

JJ Lemon

RHS School Counseling Department Chair

Jeannie Semar

RHS School Counselor

Clyde Diehl

RMS School Counselor

Maureen Ertle

RHS Special Education Teacher, K-12 Transition Coordinator

Tom Ryan

RHS Coach and Teacher

Kathy Pearsall 

RHS English Teacher

Jamie Forman

RHS Parent

John Begier

RHS Parent and Coach

Barbara Civitella

RHS Alumna and Division I Athlete

Anna Duffy

RHS Alumna

Juan-Pablo Moreland

RHS Alumnus

Nicole Aboagye

RHS ABC Student/Alumna

Avery Barber

RHS Class of 2022 and Future Division I Athlete

Sebastian Kaper-Barcelata

RHS Class of 2022

Study Timeline

Program Review

Student Meetings/Programs

Currently, Radnor High School Counseling (RHSC) does not require counselors to meet with every student on their rosters individually each year for college or career related advising. They do meet with all students regarding scheduling for courses each year. Students are serviced on an as-needed basis with attention paid to those who seek them out. There are multiple group meetings, in-class programs and walk-in times that have been created to account for any missed interaction. However, one-on-one meetings with students provide the best experience when possible. Departmental size, responsibilities, and structure make it difficult to achieve this currently. 


Staff changes to create smaller counselor/student ratios (roughly 240:1 currently) and the requirement of every student receiving a minimum of one individual meeting and one group meeting with their assigned counselor each year, in addition to scheduling. Also, the creation of virtual programming completed prior to meetings can supplement and focus the content and individuality of those meetings. For example, a Schoology module could be created in advance on how to add colleges to the college list in Naviance. When the counselors enter classes or meet with students individually, the conversation is a holistic discussion about the list itself, not strictly an administrative tutorial.

Career Planning Tech Integration

RHSC currently uses multiple technology platforms to service students in the college and career process. The programs are used with varying degrees of efficiency.

This is a multi-use platform that is a tool for students, parents, and counselors. RHSC uses the program primarily for sending transcripts, data collection and basic student college research. The transcript and data collection functions are extremely useful, specifically RHS specific college acceptance data.


Naviance could be used for tracking career and college specific meetings with students. Naviance meeting tracking care be shared with students and parents, allowing for greater transparency in the process. Perhaps the greatest unused function is the ability for counselors to search colleges while helping students build their college lists. While RHS is transitioning to Smart Futures for career readiness and Chapter 339 compliance, RHSC should not discontinue the use of the career interest profilers in Naviance. Using these profiles connect directly to colleges that can be added to student lists and can be used to supplement any Smart Futures work.

Visits from College Admissions Representatives
Web-based program currently used to schedule college admissions representatives visiting RHS. This program is used predominantly by the office administrative staff. It is the most common platform used by colleges and puts RHS in a good position for visit access.

NCAA Clearinghouse 
The official website of the NCAA, where students are directed to complete an academic profile to ensure they meet minimum academic (grades and test scores) requirements of the NCAA. RHSC also updates information on any curriculum changes on an annual basis. 

College Board
Organization responsible for offering the PSAT, SAT and SAT Subject Tests. Currently, the site is used primarily for test sign-up and scores reporting. RHSC does not provide any instruction on the use of Khan Academy’s test prep program that works in unison with the PSAT and SAT.


More emphasis placed on the use of Khan Academy’s program. Because Khan Academy customizes the program based on individual student scores, the program can be used in conjunction with any additional test preparation. Students should be walked through the program after receiving their initial PSAT results.

Smart Futures
RHS is transitioning to the use of this program to collect articles for Chapter 339 requirements in Pennsylvania. In grades 9-12, there are nine activities that must be completed to meet state requirements. The program is online and allows students to complete activities at home and in school. There is potential in this program, along with Schoology and Naviance, creating positive counseling outcome using virtual programming. However, more time is needed to understand how it will connect to student outcomes and determine future integration and implementation.

Platform is only used for accessing basic student data. Student names, addresses, schedule, grades, health records, and other personal data is contained within this program. However, RHSC does not use any of its functions for department specific efforts or collect any data themselves. 


RHSC does not currently track meetings with students beyond personal notes from counselors. eSchool could be used for tracking student meetings and basic interactions. This data, like basic health records and schedules, is very useful when multiple parties (social workers, school psychologists, other counselors) are working with certain students on a regular basis. It also can help identify student needs, while cutting down on students taking advantage of resources to avoid class or other activities.

Schoology Learning Management System
A content and teaching platform not currently used in any significant capacity by RHSC. 


Schoology could be used in numerous ways to help build a college, career, and mental health curriculum at RHS. Plans had been in the works (via Department Chair) to use Schoology to share basic department programming and communicate with students electronically. However, Schoology could be used more efficiently as a teaching platform for a 9-12 RHSC Virtual Curriculum. 

Counselors could, for example, record videos on multiple aspects of the career and colleges process to engage students. Course work and information currently executed as Health Class “drop-ins” and individual meetings could be pushed out to students virtually in advance. This would allow for more focused work and discussion during “drop-ins” and individual student meetings. There is a large resource of currently untapped potential with this program.

Career Outcomes and Options Outside of Four-Year College

During counselor “drop-in” classes, counselors teach a lesson on career and college options to juniors. While the program is somewhat limited in depth regarding college admissions, it does address career and training options outside of four-year college. There are several slides dedicated to this topic. RHS also offers a partnership with Delaware County Technical Schools for its students and counselors recommend options for students within this program.


RHS has 90% of students currently seeking college placement for their post-secondary plans. Given this statistic, the current resources are not unreasonable. However, it is noted that there seems to be a trend in the district with more students interested in options other than college each year. As a result, RHSC is encouraged to build relationships with vocational schools, military branches, trade unions and community colleges to have viable options for these students. In addition to building relationships, it is advised that RHSC create a virtual curriculum for students choosing options other than college. This curriculum could run parallel to the college counseling curriculum. Both options would be available to students when materials are pushed out to them. This would not only provide information and materials to students on non-college options, but also help to limit alienation of those students. In addition, staffing changes mentioned throughout would also have a significant impact on the level and quality of non-college advising. Finally, staffing adjustments would also help with support for students with special needs considering both college and non-college options. This group needs a high level of attention and counselors with the time to research options for students, making connections and vetting possible outcomes. When considering special needs, this goes beyond learning support and encompasses a wide array of unique circumstances. This could mean first-generation college, English Language Learners, Learning Support, and many more diverse needs in an ever-changing student population.

Parent Meetings/Programs

There are multiple evening programs directed towards freshman, junior, and senior parents. There is currently no programming for the parents of sophomores. The freshman program does not occur until mid-January, which is problematic when considering the transition to high school. The junior program consists of several break-out sessions hosted by local college and university admissions officers. While the response to this program has been positive, the break-out format seems to create gaps in knowledge of attendees. The senior program is dedicated to application processing. It covers mostly information on submitting applications, requesting transcripts, and sending test scores. There is also a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion evening program.  


Each grade should have one parent focused program each year. The lack of a sophomore program is problematic. It creates a lack of continuity of information to families. Opportunities for advising on standardized testing and academics advising are missed and should be addressed. The junior program is beneficial but is far from comprehensive. Creating two separate junior programs is a possible solution. One in the fall semester that provides a comprehensive overview would give parents a foundation of information while also addressing timeliness of the information. A second program can be offered in the spring that follows the current format. 

The senior program is beneficial from a processing standpoint, educating parents on the release of integral materials from the school. This format should be continued in some capacity. It ensures that information is released correctly, which is vital. However, it lacks depth of content, specifically regarding Financial Aid. Creating a separate Financial Aid Night that goes beyond simply completing the FAFSA would be highly recommended. More information is provided regarding creating a more substantial Financial Aid program later in the review.

Student Guidance

Regarding college and career placement, RHSC provides advising to students through in class lessons, as needed one-on-one meetings and evening programs. Supplementing these programs is a significant amount of detailed and thorough content on the RHSC website, as well as a printed packet of information similar to the site. While delivering the content in this way does “cover the bases” of what is needed for this process, there is a significant lack in individual attention given to students and their parents.

Counselors use PowerPoint presentations during Health Class “drop-ins” to explain the process of applying to college and the different forms of applications to students. A similar format is used to explain the process to parents in evening programs. Currently, there is no class or other program for assisting the students in filling out the applications and explaining each section of the application itself and its importance. 

College List Building (Academic and Financial)
 RHSC does not currently provide support for student college list creation and development beyond student initiated, individual requests. As a result, there is a significant disparity in the level of support students have with this specific function. Additionally, many of the counselors do not feel adequately prepared to provide this kind of advice to students. They feel they lack the content specific knowledge necessary to help students build their lists or simply do not have an interest is this aspect of career counseling.

College Essay Writing 
There is decentralized support regarding college essays provided within some English classes at RHS. The support is teacher dependent and not necessarily rooted in college admission essay practice. There is content provided to students as part of the “drop-ins” to Health classes and evening programs, but they are limited to PowerPoint slides. Aside from specific student requests, counselors do not provide significant one-on-one support for essay writing. 

Letters of Recommendation 
The process of selecting individuals to write letters and having the letters uploaded to Naviance is provided to students and parents thoroughly. Counselors collect information from students and write letters for all students on their rosters who have requested them. This is done through brag sheets and other data collecting mechanisms. Counselors also discuss these letters in one-on-one meetings when requested. However, there is limited support to RHSC on best practices in letter writing. Additionally, RHSC does not provide support for teachers, administrators, and coaches on best practices.

There is currently no information provided to students or parents on building a resume for college. It is not addressed in “drop-in” classes, evening programs or covered in web-based materials. This is a significant and noticeably missing component of the curriculum. Also of note, is emphasizing the differences between a work resume and a college resume/activity list. Often, students use these interchangeably. This can be problematic because colleges review activities differently than places of work.

College Contacts
Students can interact with admissions officers from colleges and universities when they visit the RHS campus, as well as through virtual meetings created by RHSC. These visits are scheduled by the counseling support staff and give students dedicated time with colleges. 


A common theme seems to be that counselors lack the time and resources to adequately provide depth of content to students universally. Measures have been taken to patch together a process that meets basic needs and covers basic content for all students. However, the content provided lacks depth, is not individualized and often there are gaps in knowledge base among counselors. Dividing the RHSC department into two separate groups (College/Career and Mental Health/Academic) while also adding additional staff members could provide a solution to these problems. Additionally, adding a dedicated class taught by the RHSC staff on college and career placement would significantly improve the depth of content provided. A course could be offered in a variety of ways to meet student needs. However, based on best practices among private and affluent high schools, courses offered as a requirement or as an elective during the school day are much more effective than after school or summer options. There is also significant opportunity to offer this content or supplement classroom content virtually through programs like Schoology. 

Staff Professional Development & Networking

The counseling staff at RHS are members of professional organizations and attend events when possible. Their choice of organizations and the events they attend are notable. The American School Counseling Association (ASCA) and the Pennsylvania School Counseling Association (PASCA) are the organizations chosen by the department. These two organizations, while necessary and important, do not dedicate as much of their resources towards career and college counseling as some other organizations. Additionally, counselors often do not attend off-campus events due to negative stigma regarding missing days in the office and the lengthy and complex approval process to attend conferences. 


There must be counselors who are members of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) and the Pennsylvania Association of College Admissions Counselors (PACAC).  These organizations are as vital for college and career networking as ASCA and PASCA are for mental health. In addition, the approval process for conferences and other events could be budgeted and approved in advance of the year. This would encourage counselors to take advantage of conferences and other networking opportunities. Finally, encouraging counselors to enroll in post-master’s programs dedicated to career and college readiness will also increase skill levels in this subject area.

Standardized Testing

RHS currently offers the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT); the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Subjects Tests; and Advanced Placement (AP) Exams to students. There are currently no American College Test (ACT) dates provided on-campus. While use of Kahn Academy’s SAT Prep Program is encouraged by counselors, there is a lack of knowledge among parents and students regarding its existence. There is also limited content provided to parents and students regarding test optional colleges and universities, which have increased significantly due to Covid-19. Finally, advising on AP scores, their relation to college applications and advice on reporting is limited at best.


Incorporating more ACT content into the school’s current College and Career Curriculum can create more options for students both academically and financially. Offering the test on-campus is a starting point as it adds validation to the test. In addition, offering an SAT/ACT Practice Test to sophomores and juniors can help students discover which test is best for them before beginning the test preparation process. This service is offered by many testing organizations (such as Kaplan and Princeton Review) for free and can be held on the RHS campus. 

Test-optional schools ( are growing in number each year. Advising for students on which schools are test optional can easily be accessed. However, advice on when to and not to send scores is increasingly complicated. One-on-one counselor/student meetings are the only way to adequately address these concerns and are reliant on adequate counselor/student ratios at RHS. Similar questions regarding AP course selection, testing and score reporting are also dependent on this ratio. 

College Visit Process

Colleges and universities currently visit RHS on an annual basis. During the Covid-19 pandemic, most of these visits were conducted virtually. Going forward, visits will most likely be a blend of in-person and virtual visits by admissions representatives. Currently, these visits are scheduled through Rep Visits by the administrative support staff. When possible, school counselors attempt to meet with each admissions representative for a few minutes. These meetings are brief, and counselors do not attend most of the meetings or meeting times. Often, counselors must cancel their time with the representatives to attend to other needs that day.

In addition to visits by colleges to RHS, some of the counselors have spent time visiting colleges campuses on behalf of RHS. These visits have been limited in number and are not conducted by all staff members. Several reasons account for a lack of regular visits to campuses, even local ones. Not all counselors in the office are as interested in career and college counseling. They prefer to attend mental health based professional development instead. Tasks on-campus limit counselor ability to leave for off-campus visits. College based events may be timed during off hours, weekends, or summers.


The process for setting up visits by colleges as it currently stands is sound. Using rep visits is among best practices across the country and the process seems to be easy for students to follow. However, counseling staff members should be attending many, if not all, visits by colleges in some capacity. At the very least, an additional 15-20 minutes should be built into each visit to allow the counselor to have the admissions representative meet with them specifically. Changes to staffing and structure of RHSC would allow for more opportunities for counselors to network with colleges. 

Additionally, counselors should be attempting to visit the campuses of several colleges each year, or at the very least attend a local counselor event. Many colleges will band together and go on a tour of the region with a panel of admissions representatives from each school. Counselors for RHS should be attending these events in addition to visiting the colleges themselves. Every year, colleges change and tweak their requirements based on the previous year. 

By networking and building relationships with colleges through visits and events, RHS counselors can make sure that RHS students have the most up-to-date information available. The factors inhibiting the ability of counselors to do this is, again, staffing and interest. Changes to the number of counselors and their specific roles will have the largest impact on this function. 

Athletic Recruitment & NCAA Guidelines

Students and parents are provided with basic content on the athletic recruitment process in “drop-in” classes and evening programs. The information provided is limited to websites and basic requirements. Counselors do not provide significant advising on different college programs or differences among divisions. There is also little, if any, coordination between coaches and counselors regarding student recruitment, aside from occasional, individual requests. 


Athletic recruitment can take on a variety of forms. It can be scholarship driven, academic entry or a reliable support system. The variety and selectivity of this group prohibit significant content coverage for many students. Response should be two-fold: First, counselors should be trained in the college athletic recruitment process, through professional organizations and continuing education. Secondly, counselors need to have the resources of time and access to meet student needs individually.

Scholarship Nomination & Advising, FAFSA & CSS Profile

RHSC provides a FAFSA application completion night. This evening program walks parents and students through and answers questions regarding the FAFSA application. This program, along with information on the website, College Admissions Packet and other evening events covers most information regarding outside scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options. Limited information, however, is provided on the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile. Given the socioeconomic demographics and student college choices of RHS students, many families will be required to complete this application as well. The CSS Profile is significantly more complex and tied directly to institutional funds and many colleges and universities. Limited information, specifically a link to the application itself, is provided on the RHSC website as well. There is also a one sentence description of the CSS Profile in the College Admissions Packet provided to students from RHSC.

Regarding special scholarship nominations, RHSC does not identify students to named or special scholarships (Morehead-Cain, Jefferson, etc.). Students typically seek out the scholarships themselves and then ask the RHSC department for their consent and help with the applications. Counselors are very helpful in advising students once this occurs but are often limited in knowledge of the scholarships and their administrators. Limited, if any, college list building is done while taking scholarships into consideration as well. 


While the FAFSA evening program is helpful to parents and students, information regarding the CSS Profile is a necessity. This information could easily be added to all the Financial Aid related programming, websites, and packets. Speakers from college Financial Aid Offices should be added to events with speakers from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). Providing greater detail on the CSS Profile and explaining its strengths and weaknesses will significantly help families.

RHS Counselors should be identifying students each year for a variety of named scholarships around the country. The quality of students at RHS guarantees there will be several students in each senior class eligible to compete for these scholarships. Some of these scholarships require that nominating schools register with the colleges to nominate students. Others have complex processes that require significant counselor involvement and student preparation. Additionally, all merit-based scholarships offered by colleges should be used to help students select institutions during their list-building process. Often, students may add a college based solely on scholarships but ultimately end up loving it in the end. For RHS counselors to provide this level of service, again staffing and changes in counseling roles would be required. This would allow counselors the time to dedicate to this subject, among others. 

Stakeholder Feedback

Stakeholders were asked to participate in a series of focus groups regarding the college counseling process at RHS. 

Recommendations for Organizational Structure & Roles

Glossary of Terms