College Counseling

A Tailor-Made Experience for Every Student

St. Bernard Preparatory School’s Guidance Office presents to all Bernardians a personalized experience that empowers all of our students to actively and intentionally research and ultimately select the college or university that is the right fit for their talents, interests, needs, and personalities.

No matter the stage at which a student begins their St. Bernard career, Bernardians enter the world well-equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve and excel in their academic and professional careers as they attend many of the nation’s best colleges and universities. 

The Guidance Office is here to assist in the education and formation of the whole student by providing large group, small group, and individual guidance. Our office assists the students in selecting an institution of higher education that matches their academic strengths and interests. St. Bernard students are encouraged to assume responsibility for the college admission process and scholarship procurement by setting goals and using the resources available to them. Open communication between the student, parent, and counselor is essential during this educational process.

Working diligently to advance the school’s mission, the Guidance Office engages our students in personalized college research. We further aim to inspire our students to know their true self, to feed their curiosity about the world, be inquisitive, and keep an open mind, all while making this work applicable to their college searches.

The St. Bernard Way

Middle School

We believe it is never too early to begin preparing for your collegiate career. Starting in 8th Grade, we will be available to meet with students and their families to talk about entry into the Upper School and the importance of being college-focused as a rising freshman.

Upper School

Upper School students become recipients of a highly customized, uniquely tailored college counseling experience as we:

  • Meet with and gain feedback from students to better understand their collegiate goals and interests.
  • Work with students to help further assist in developing their leadership, organizational, and time management skills.
  • Guide students navigating the often-overwhelming areas of financial aid, essay writing, and other matters related to college admissions applications.
  • Host representatives from top colleges and universities from across the U.S. to speak about their offerings to our students.
  • Assist students in conducting strategic college research based on their needs, including academics, affordability, athletics, location, student life, and beyond — ultimately finding the right fit for every student.
  • Provide logistical support during the college admission processes, including coordinating site visits and standardized test prep and registrations.
  • Remain accessible to all students and their parents/guardians via telephone, by email, at school events (Parents’ Weekend) and by appointment for in-person and virtual meetings and consultations.

College Prep Pipeline

8th Grade

Eighth graders and their families are formally introduced to the Upper School in the fall semester during Parents’ Weekend (October 15-16, 2021).

Discussion around curriculum choices and services offered by the Guidance Office for rising freshmen are covered.

9th Grade
Freshmen should be focused on building the strongest academic foundation possible. This includes successfully completing core academic courses and selecting school activities they enjoy or would like to try. The college prep work pipeline for them right now is broad. Examples of activities at this stage include:
  • A group meeting in 9th grade discussing the importance of starting college prep work now, making and keeping up good academic habits now while getting involved in extracurricular activities, etc. This meeting will also allow freshmen to get questions answered about college and the college search process.
  • During Parents’ Weekend and throughout the year, in-person and virtual meetings, consultations, and calls with freshmen and their parents can be scheduled to answer and questions in regards to the college application process.

Students and parents are invited to meet with the Guidance Office anytime. In the fall semester during Parents Weekend (October 15-16, 2021), students and parents are invited to meet with the Guidance Office, review the college counseling timeline, and learn about the college prep work needing to be done as a rising sophomore.

10th Grade
Sophomores should be focused on continuing to build a strong academic foundation while selecting courses and electives that challenge them. School activities should be balanced with standardized test prep. The college prep work pipeline for them right now is broad. Examples of activities at this stage include:
  • Group meetings in 10th grade with the Guidance Office will reinforce messaging around maintaining good academic habits, to answer student questions about the college search, and offer enhanced assistance to students desiring to start college research.
  • Students encouraged to think proactively about their summer. The Guidance Office will help students find and match to activities that will make them stand out to college admissions review committees (e.g. HOBY, youth leadership, community service, church/charity activities).
  • Working with students to make intentional course selections with college applications in mind for the junior year while balancing the core class workload with elective courses and extracurricular activities.
  • Students scheduling individual meetings with the Guidance Counselor to discuss any standardized test results received while actively making plans to register for and take future standardized tests, requesting assistance with standardized test prep as needed.

Students and parents are invited to meet with the Guidance Office anytime. In the fall semester during Parents Weekend (October 15-16, 2021), students and parents are invited to meet with the Guidance Office, review the next steps of the college counseling pipeline, and learn about the college prep work needing to be done as a rising junior.

11th Grade
Juniors begin receiving more dedicated college counseling as the college research process intensifies. They have the capability to begin to assess themselves and focus in on what they expect from a college education. Financial aid resources, including scholarships, are introduced in the junior year. Examples of activities at this stage include:
  • Group meetings in the fall and spring highlighting the details of college counseling curriculum and processes.
  • Students offered in-depth standardized test prep courses taught by St. Bernard’s English, math, and science faculty.
  • Meeting individually with the Guidance Office beginning in the fall to being a deep dive into self-assessments, course selection for the senior year, continued practicing and registering for standardized tests, and continued building of a list of potential colleges.
  • Students encouraged to think proactively about their summer. The Guidance Office will help students find and match to activities that will make them stand out to college admissions review committees (e.g. Governor’s School, community service, church/charity activities, internships).
  • Hosting college representatives on campus for College Days, open to juniors and seniors, throughout the fall and spring.
  • Students working with the Guidance Office throughout the year on essay-writing, practice interviews, and other relevant topics.
  • Coordination of college site visits by the Guidance Office.

Students and parents are invited to meet with the Guidance Office anytime. In the fall semester during Parents Weekend (October 15-16, 2021), students and parents are invited to meet with the Guidance Office, review the next steps of the college counseling pipeline, and learn about the most important stages of college prep work needing to be done as a rising senior.

12th Grade

Seniors receive a very enhanced level of service from the Guidance Office as they see the results of their hard work when finalizing college selection lists and completing applications and essays in the fall semester. Seniors will also have access to resources for coaching and support on interviewing, professional etiquette skills, and essay writing tips. Examples of activities at this stage include:

  • Summer availability for meetings, consultations, and calls by the Guidance Office for rising seniors and their families to strategize final college prep work.
  • Group meetings in the fall and spring highlighting the final details of college counseling curriculum and processes.
  • Students offered continued in-depth standardized test prep courses taught by St. Bernard’s English, math, and science faculty.
  • Frequent individual meetings with the Guidance Office to solidify the college selection list, work through applications, review deadlines, essays and other written materials, as well as strategize how to complete remaining college prep work in an efficient way.
  • Meeting individually with the Guidance Office beginning in the fall to review standardized test scores with continued practicing and registering for standardized tests.
  • Hosting college representatives on campus for College Days, open to juniors and seniors, throughout the fall and spring.
  • Students working with the Guidance Office throughout the year on essay-writing, practice interviews, and other relevant topics.
  • Continued coordination of college site visits by the Guidance Office.

Students and parents/guardians are invited to meet with the Guidance Office anytime. In the fall semester during Parents’ Weekend (October 15-16, 2021), students and parents are invited to meet with the Guidance Office and review the final steps of the college counseling pipeline while also being able to strategize about the approaches to take on most critical stages of college prep work before graduation.

College Financial Aid

We know one of the biggest questions families and students have when preparing for college is, “How do you pay for a college education?” Luckily, there are a myriad of financial aid resources available and a variety of aid options.

  • Need-based financial aid is given by completing need-based financial aid applications and meeting qualifying financial parameters. These awards usually come from the federal or state level, depending on the school and a student’s residency.
  • Merit-based aid is given based upon academic and other extracurricular activities, usually given as scholarship awards, and may require meeting certain requirements. These awards can come directly from the school or from charitable foundations, corporations, faith-based organizations — the list goes on.
  • Talent-based aid is given in the areas of athletics, music arts, performing arts, visual arts, etc., generally given as scholarship awards. Some awards may require meeting certain requirements (e.g. auditions or tryouts).

Click on the buttons below to learn more about available financial aid opportunities and resources. Contact the Guidance Office to request help in developing a list of tailored financial aids suited to meet your education and financial needs.

Standardized Testing

Click on the buttons below to register for the ACT and SAT standardized tests. You can also learn more about the tests, take practice tests, check scores, and more. Contact the Guidance Office to learn more about St. Bernard’s standardized test prep class offerings.

Next Test Date:
Saturday, October 23, 2021

Nearest Test Center to SBP: Cullman, AL

Register By:
Friday, September 17, 2021
Next Test Date:
Saturday, October 2, 2021

Nearest Test Center to SBP: Madison, AL

Register By:
Friday, September 21, 2021

Note: $30 Late Fee Applies

College Fairs

Register for and learn more about U.S. and international colleges and universities’ admissions processes, course offerings, student life, and more at virtual college fairs by clicking the button below. You can customize your search by location, institution type, degrees offered, school size, and more. Fairs are hosted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). In-person fairs hosted by the NACAC are currently postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

College Athletics Resources

Click on the buttons below to learn more about eligibility requirements to play collegiate sports at schools that are members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

College Representatives

St. Bernard is happy to welcome college admissions representatives from across the country to meet with our junior and senior classes. This fall, St. Bernard is offering both in-person and virtual visits for college representatives.

To schedule a visit with us, please contact Guidance Counselor Mary Mayo. More information and details about your visit will be outlined in correspondence with you as your time to visit us approaches.

 

Directions to St. Bernard Preparatory School

Address for GPS:

St. Bernard Abbey and Preparatory School / Ave Maria Grotto
1600 St. Bernard Dr. SE
Cullman, AL 35055

Following all signs to “Ave Maria Grotto” will also help guide you to our campus as you arrive in Cullman.

The College Counseling Office is located in the Swisher Building. As you arrive on our campus, follow all directional signs to the Prep School. Parking is available in front of the Swisher Building and please plan to check in with Reception upon arrival. We thank you for including St. Bernard in your travel plans.

Contact Us

Mary Mayo

Guidance Counselor

mmayo@stbernardprep.com

(256) 255-5870

Tyler Hooper (PS ’07)

Chief Development, Alumni & Student Success Officer

thooper@stbernardprep.com

(256) 255-5857