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Graduation Ceremony

May College Success Newsletter

Welcome Spring!

Can you feel that summer vibe in the air?

For those of you heading into your senior year, the college search process is really kicking into high gear. And if you're a graduating senior, this is the home stretch before you take that exciting next step.


In this month's newsletter, you can learn about Honors, AP, and Dual Enrollment, majoring in Art and Design,  Payment Options for College, Fostering Success, and about Mitchell College which offers some unique support programs for students with learning disabilities.

Enjoy the latest edition!


Topic of the Month
AP, Honors, & Dual Enrollement


The age-old debate over taking AP or regular classes rages on. With admissions growing more competitive, choosing the right level of coursework feels daunting.

a photo realistic pink piggy bank next to a college graduation cap and some dollar bills n

Money Matters
Tuition Payment Options


College tuition bills are looming for the fall semester. It's wise to explore all payment options from plans to loans


Image by Leon Wu

College Spotlight
Mitchell College


A coastal Connecticut gem i fostering inclusive learning. Its innovative model provides transformative, student-centered education.

an hourglass next to to a college diploma and a book.jpg

Now is the Time
Fostering Teen Success


Academic readiness doesn't guarantee college success for teens. Their emotional and social maturity are equally crucial factors.

Image by Matt Ragland

Major Spotlight
Art & Design


Unleash your creativity by majoring in art and design. This hands-on field lets you explore artistic passions while building marketable skills. 


Support Corner
College Accommodations


For teens with disabilities, obtaining college accommodations can be challenging. Learn about what is commonly granted and what to expect.

Topic of the Month
Honors, AP classes and Dual Enrollment

At every college information session, a parent will ask, “Is it better to get a “B” in an AP class or an “A” in a regular class?” The admissions officer answers, “It’s better to get an “A” in an AP class,” and everyone moans. With an increasingly intense admissions process, decisions about what higher-level classes to register for can feel daunting. Honors, Advanced Placement (AP), and Dual Enrollment all offer a competitive edge to applicants; however, there are differences between the levels of rigor, work, impact on GPA, and attainment of college credit.  

A student’s curriculum is evaluated in the context of their high school, so if ten AP courses are offered, and a student has only taken one, admissions officers at competitive colleges will wonder why. But if a high school only offers a couple of AP courses, students can’t be expected to take classes that don’t exist, and they would not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. 

While students in honor classes usually cover the same material as their regular counterparts, honors provides a rigorous study of each subject, requiring more projects, tests, and time. Honors courses follow a teacher-designed curriculum. Honors are valued in the admissions process. However, unlike APs, they don’t offer any college credit and are not as highly regarded. 

APs are designed to give students a college-level course experience within a high school setting. With a high score on the AP exam, a student could potentially earn college credit and save money on tuition in the future. AP exams are scored on a system from 1 to 5, with anything above 3 considered to be passing. While every university has a different policy, most colleges award credit for scores of 4 or 5 on an AP exam, and some for a score of 3. If they don’t give credit, APs can be used to place out of introductory courses, have the flexibility to double-major, or even to help you have a lighter class schedule while doing an internship. 

In dual enrollment classes, high school students can take actual college courses taught by college professors or a high school teacher who has been trained and approved by the university. Programs, pricing, and course schedules vary by school and state. Classes are graded based on a combination of assignments and tests, so unlike they AP system, one exam does not determine the outcome. However, it’s not a guarantee that all dual enrollment classes will be accepted for college credit. 

Taking higher-level classes prepares students for a more successful future in college, while simultaneously giving them an extra nudge on the admissions table. Preparing for college is important, but so is preserving mental health and not overloading the plate with challenging classes. This might involve opting for AP classes in one’s stronger subjects or selecting a handful of APs to spread out throughout high school. Admissions officers, of course, like to see intellectual curiosity, but they also like students who will contribute to the college community. Students who also spend time discovering and pursuing their passions outside the classroom will be attractive applicants. This means that finding a healthy balance between scholarly pursuits and extracurricular activities, community service, or other interests is just as important. Colleges are searching for dynamic individuals with various talents and perspectives who will diversify their campuses. 

College Spotlight
Mitchell College 
New London, CT

Nestled along the picturesque coastline of New London, Connecticut, Mitchell College is a private liberal arts institution renowned for its transformative educational experience and inclusive learning community. For over 85 years, the college has been dedicated to supporting students with diverse learning needs, fostering an environment that celebrates individuality and empowers personal growth.


Mitchell College's distinct educational approach, the Mitchell Ability Model, sets it apart. This innovative model seamlessly integrates a tradition of mentorship with expertise in teaching diverse learning styles. Through this holistic approach, students embark on a journey of self-discovery, developing adaptability and essential career skills. The college's commitment to inclusivity and support for diverse learners has earned it a reputation as a leader in promoting academic excellence and personal growth.

By the Numbers

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 682

  • Women: 44%

  • Men: 56%

  • Admission rate: 74%

  • Student Faculty Ratio: 13:1

  • Campus Type: Small Town

Student Quotes

(ref. Unigo)

  • “I like that everyone knows everyone. All the kids know each other and it's a great sense of community”

  • “The best thing about my school is the support that students receive. The campus faculty and staff are extremely friendly and take the time to get to know the students. They take pride in their work and always go the extra mile to help the students reach their goals.”

  • “Mitchell is a loving, small private school, it is a great learning experience”


Mitchell College offers a range of undergraduate programs, including liberal arts, business, education, and human services. The college's curriculum is designed to provide a well-rounded education that combines theoretical knowledge with practical, hands-on experiences.


Learning Support Programs



The Self-Advocacy and Interpersonal Life-Skills Support (SAILS) Program is a comprehensive initiative grounded in the CASEL Framework. It employs a cohort learning model to help students develop five core competencies: self-awareness, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, social awareness, and self-management. The program involves weekly check-ins, social events, outings, shared meals, and workshops covering topics related to the core competencies. With approximately 4-5 hours of programming per week, SAILS aims to enhance students' learning and development by fostering essential life skills in a supportive environment.


Bentsen Learning Center

The Bentsen Learning Center (BLC) provides a comprehensive, fee-based academic support program for students with diagnosed learning differences and attention deficit disorders. The program takes a holistic, individualized approach to help students develop effective study and self-advocacy strategies for success in the college environment. Through collaborative relationships with learning specialists, students receive personalized assistance in areas such as time management, organization, writing, research, and test preparation. The BLC employs a three-tier model, offering varying levels of support to foster independence and empowerment as students progress. With a focus on multimodal techniques and technology integration, the program aims to equip students with the skills and strategies necessary to thrive academically while promoting self-advocacy and lifelong learning.

Thames at Mitchell

Thames at Mitchell is a comprehensive transition program designed to prepare students for post-high school success. Tailored for students with learning differences, ADHD, or those seeking additional preparation before college, Thames offers a supportive environment focused on developing independence, self-confidence, and leadership skills. Through personalized courses, campus life experiences, and individualized advising, students build executive functioning abilities, earn college credits, and learn strategies for academic and social success. The program provides a holistic approach, integrating academic and social learning opportunities while allowing students to experience living away from home and participate in activities that foster personal growth. With its innovative support services and focus on celebrating unique minds, Thames at Mitchell aims to equip students with the tools and confidence needed to confidently navigate future educational or life transitions.

Student Life

Mitchell College offers a vibrant athletic program with 12 varsity teams competing at the NCAA Division III level. Over 38% of students participate in varsity sports, fostering a close-knit community of scholar-athletes. The college has achieved notable success, winning 16 conference championships in recent years across sports like basketball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, and volleyball for women, and baseball, basketball, golf, lacrosse, and soccer for men. In addition to varsity teams, Mitchell provides opportunities for recreational sports through club and intramural offerings such as saltwater kayaking, paddleboarding, dance/cheer, and rugby. The athletic department prioritizes personal growth, with coaches dedicated to building relationships and supporting student-athletes' success both on the field and in the classroom.

Random Things

The Mitchell Woods: Mitchell College is home to a 20-acre wooded area known as the Mitchell Woods, which serves as an outdoor classroom and recreational space for students. The woods feature hiking trails, a pond, and opportunities for environmental research and exploration.

Mitchell Beach: The beach on campus provides opportunities for marine biology classes, waterfront sports classes, and recreational activities like kayaking and paddleboarding

Ecological Discovery: In 2017, Mitchell College student Zachary Marmo discovered a non-native species at the Mitchell Docks while studying the Ecology of Long Island Sound with Dr. Christine Ramsay. This species had never been reported in Long Island Sound before

Major Spotlight
Art & Design

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I enjoy being creative and finding unusual solutions to visual problems?” Or, “When I see a blank page, I’m compelled to draw on it?” Or even, “Making art is the one thing I am passionate about?”. If you have these thoughts or ones similar, then majoring in the arts may be for you.


The power of art is its versatility. Students are not limited in what they are able to study and can specialize in a wide variety of options, such as, painting, photography, film, animation, architecture, ceramics and more. Art is a field that allows students to explore different cultures and perspectives while also equipping them with 21st century skills needed for the rapidly changing workforce of the future. Artists create value for everyone in society by producing forms of entertainment that can be enjoyed by all. However, an artist’s creative expertise plays a lesser-known but equally essential role in many other career fields. Artists do crucial work as innovators, merging the fields of science, education, and art. For instance, artists are key to revitalizing communities through developing civic infrastructure and city beautification projects.


Regardless of the programs or type of degree, studying art prepares students for a career through developing and blending skills including creativity, visual literacy, critical thinking, and project management. Here are some potential pathways within the art field:

Fine Arts comprises many different areas of study and courses depending on the specific field. Students will learn about history, skills, and methodologies in their artistic field. There are five main fine arts categories: visual arts, theater and dance, film and photography, music and creative writing. Application for fine arts programs usually requires a portfolio, which is dependent on the type of concentration a student is entering. 

Design majors gain a variety of skills with practical applications through their studies. It is a blend of critical thinking, innovating, and teamwork.  Classes in the design field can range from exhibition or product design to fashion to illustration and even computer programming. Graduating with a degree in design can open a huge number of career paths spanning multiple fields. 

Media Arts involves the study of film and videos. Students can focus on media history and visual aspects of film and photography but can also study production.  Through media arts programs, students will learn versatile skills that build a foundation for a successful future. Graduates with a degree in media arts often enter the entertainment or communication industry, including advertising, film, or public relations. 

An art institute is appropriate for those individuals who truly wish to immerse themselves in art.  For visual artists they generally award a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree and often require a portfolio, or a collection of a student’s art pieces, as part of the admission process. B.F.A. programs train their constituents for art-based careers; students may prepare for a future in fashion, auto or interior design, video game development, animation, or the graphic arts. At an art institute, students will generally start with foundation courses such as basic design and history of art, then focus on an area of concentration during the later part of their studies. 

It’s important to consider, however, that studio art classes require hours of hard work and students at art institutes have little time or opportunity to get the breadth of education that is possible at a liberal arts college. Additionally, most art institutes do not offer the variety of extracurricular clubs, sports, and activities many college students seek. Therefore, if you’re interested in focusing on art but would also like to explore other interests, pursuing an art major at a liberal arts college is another great option.  Although students in Bachelor of Arts programs do not get the intensity of experience that B.F.A graduates do, they benefit from the more rounded college-life experience available at a comprehensive institution. Both the B.F.A. and B.A. programs prepare students for graduate programs in the arts. A master’s degree is generally required for those hoping for employment in museums and galleries or for teaching at the high school level. Museum curators, directors, and college professors often have Ph.D.s.

Careers for Art & Design Majors

Fortunately, the notion of “the poor starving artist” no longer rings true today.  The arts and culture sector is a key area in state-level economic growth, and 80% of working creatives are poly-occupational, meaning many hold more than one job at a time. All art majors should seek out internships to gain real-world experience. Art majors may go on to work in a variety of art-related fields. You can learn more about careers in the visual arts by using the Occupational Outlook Handbook.


Career Paths for Art and Design

  • Motion Graphics Designer

  • Visual Effects Artist

  • Video Game Artist

  • Virtual Reality Artist

  • Augmented Reality Artist

  • Art/Creative Director

  • Fashion/Costume Designer

  • Film/Commercial Director

  • Graphic Designer

  • Interior Designer

  • Photographer

  • Industrial Designer

  • Production Designer

  • Matte Painter

  • Look Development Artist

  • Craft or Fine Artist

Money Matters
Payment Options for College

Students who will begin college in the fall semester should receive their tuition bill a few months before the term begins. If you need more information, contact the bursar’s office or student financial services. Check the bill carefully to make sure you (if applicable) received awarded financial aid. Some schools require you to accept the financial aid offer, which is found in the student’s portal.

Tuition Payment Plans: Tuition payment plans provide you with the option to spread out tuition payments. Plans vary among colleges. Some allow multiple installments, while others require that you pay one lump sum per semester. A possible advantage to most tuition payment plans is that you might not incur the interest and finance charges that come with loans and borrowed money. Contact your college for more information about their tuition payment plan options.

Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit: An alternative or additional measure to pay for college is to use the equity in your home to help fund a college education. There are both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit. The difference between a loan and a line of credit is that loan proceeds are received in one lump sum. Although each person’s financial situation is different, you and your family may decide that one of these options is right for you.


Parent PLUS Loan: Parent PLUS loans are Federal loans designed to help parents pay for college costs. To apply for a PLUS loan, your family must complete the FAFSA financial aid application. Some colleges require additional paperwork. Parents may borrow up to the total cost of attendance, minus any other financial assistance received by the student.  Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is disbursed, although some parents may qualify to defer payments until after the student leaves college (note—interest continues to accrue during deferment). The current interest rate on PLUS loans is 8.05%, which is fixed for the life of the loan. There’s also a loan origination fee of 4.228% of the amount borrowed. If you request a deferment, you don’t make payments if your child is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after the student graduates. You can speak with your loan officer about the deferment of payment. All borrowers must complete credit counseling for parent PLUS loan borrowers. Loans are typically paid back in 10-25 years.


Credit Cards: About 85% of colleges now accept credit cards for tuition and fees. On the surface, this seems like an easy way to pay for college and perhaps rack up some rewards points at the same time. On the downside, many colleges charge additional fees for using this option.

According to, two-thirds of colleges charge a service fee - 2.75% is the most common – for this option.  Charging $10,000 in tuition to your card could add an extra $275 to your cost.  Add in the higher interest rates generally charged by credit card companies, and the added benefit of those “rewards” start to shrink pretty quickly.

Now is the Time
Fostering Teen Success

Your teen may be academically ready to move on to college, but are they mature emotionally and psychologically? At home, they are surrounded by their family and friends. Once they leave their support system, will they still be able to thrive in their new surroundings?

In the book, The Stressed Years of Their Lives, authors, Hibbs and Rostain identify eight key components of social maturity that are considered predictors of college success:

Conscientiousness: Is your teen ready to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions? For example, if they are caught cheating on a test, do they own it and understand why there are consequences, or do they make up excuses?


Self-management: Are they ready to take over routine tasks? Can they wake up on their own? Can they complete their chores and make and keep appointments? Do they know how to rearrange their schedule, if needed? Are they able to demonstrate these skills in different environments?

Interpersonal skills: Are your teens ready to make friends, deal with roommates, and find healthy social activities? One of the biggest challenges at college is navigating friendships and dealing with roommate conflicts and romantic relationships. Young adults with learning differences or social-interaction difficulties add another level of challenges. The impact of social media further complicates social relationships.

Self-control: Can your teens resist temptation? Going off to college can feel like a free-for-all. They can stay up late, go out with friends, eat whatever they want, and play video games all night. Sounds simple, but do they know when and how to say no to staying out late, when there is a paper due the next day?

Grit: Are they ready to cope with frustration, disappointment, and failure? Can your teen tolerate distress and find their motivation after a setback? Learning how to “hang in there” helps develop inner strength.

Risk management: Can they have fun without taking too many risks? Remember that the immature development of the late adolescent brain contributes to “risky decision-making and reward-seeking drives.” Keeping communication open with your teen is essential in helping them navigate the decisions they make or want to make.

Self-acceptance: Can your teen accept their faults and tolerate their mistakes without too much guilt or shame?

Open mindset/Help-seeking- Often teens see setbacks or failure as shameful. Asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity.  Encourage your teen to ask for help - whether from a friend, teacher, or parent - since it is an important life skill. Maturity in adolescence is a work in progress that takes time and patience. 

These eight points should be developed over time and used as a framework for giving teens the skills to navigate the road towards adulthood.


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