An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Ari Worthman, director of college counseling

Last spring, I wrote about the rapidly changing college admissions landscape. Last month, I wrote about how Lakeside has responded to those changes by restructuring the college counseling office to best support our students and families, including three talented counselors with college admissions experience and the addition of a new role: college testing coordinator.

Here’s another way we’re shifting to support our students and families during these times of change: Beginning this fall, Lakeside will offer the ACT and SAT on campus and during the school day. Testing will start this fall for seniors and continue in the spring for juniors. This will ensure that every Lakesider can take the ACT or SAT at least twice before applying to college.

Previously, Lakeside students took these exams on Saturdays at off-campus locations. But as our region’s population has grown, the number of test centers has not. Prior to the pandemic, Lakesiders sometimes traveled as far as Bremerton, Olympia, or the other side of the Cascades to take these exams because Seattle-area centers were full. The pandemic has made this problem even worse: Many test centers closed, making opportunities for students to test locally even more limited. By early September, some test sites were already filled for this spring.

While most colleges remain test optional because of COVID-19, we want our students to have as many options as possible open to them. Offering these tests at Lakeside, during the school day, guarantees that all students can submit test scores to colleges if they choose. This reflects Lakeside’s commitment to helping every student present the strongest possible college applications and to reducing barriers for all students in accessing these exams.

Feedback about this change from students and families has been overwhelmingly positive. It lifts a significant burden from families, not only trying to schedule a slot to take the test but the travel involved. We have received some questions about why these tests won’t be offered prior to spring of 11th grade. Because critical content knowledge for the tests is covered in junior-year classes, we recommend that most students begin testing winter of junior year, at the earliest. Waiting until that point, when most 11th graders have been exposed to the full content of both tests, will best set them up for success. Additionally, we want to prioritize the testing slots for our seniors and second-semester juniors, who are working to meet college admissions deadlines.

Emily Aktepy is our new college testing coordinator. Since 2014, Aktepy has worked in our admissions office, most recently as assistant director of admissions. Known for her unparalleled organization and her care for students, she is the perfect person to launch school-day testing. She will also coordinate the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) tests, which we have been offering students for years. In addition to her work with college counseling, Aktepy will work with the student support team on other exciting changes.

As the college admissions landscape continues to evolve, Lakeside’s college counseling team remains committed to exploring opportunities to support students in being top-notch college applicants. Establishing a school-day testing program is only one example. Stay tuned for others over time.

Ari Worthman is Lakeside’s director of college counseling. Reach him and other members of the team at collegecounseling@lakesideschool.org.