University School of Jackson

College Preparation

Preparation for college at USJ begins at the Lower and Middle School level with a strong math and literature-based curriculum. Curriculum rigor continues in the Upper School as students participate actively in academics, athletics, and the arts. The goal of our College Advising Team is to provide individualized attention and support to our students as they participate in the college search and selection process. There are many colleges that will be a good ‘fit’ for each student and we guide our students as they research colleges, meet deadlines, and plan for the future.

We are proud that 100 percent of USJ graduates meet college admission requirements. Their USJ education makes them competitive applicants at the most academic selective schools.


What to expect each year at USJ: 

Freshmen and sophomores: 

  • College advising begins working with your student in the spring of the eight grade year in making appropriate course selections. 
  • Through classroom visits USJ college advisors educate the freshmen on the importance of maintaining or improving their GPAs and finding extracurricular activities that support their interests. 
  • One-on-one family meetings each year regarding individual college aspirations,  resume planning, and preliminary discussions regarding college placement tests. 
  • Each student has his/her own Naviance account for college planning. In your individual college advising meeting, you will learn how to use the college search tools to discover and compare colleges and universities. Students create a resume using Naviance. 
  • College advising monitors academic progress and make sure students remain on track for graduation. 
  • Freshmen take the Aspire test and the PSAT in preparation for college entrance exams. 
  • Sophomores take the PreACT and the PSAT
  • Parents will be invited to College & Coffee morning meetings throughout the year on a variety of topics regarding the college process. 


  • In the fall semester of junior year, College Advising hosts a Kick-Off to College evening meeting for juniors and their parents in which a college exploration and application preparation timeline is presented as well as information on pursuing financial aid. 
  • In the fall of the junior year, students will be given the opportunity to take the ACT on campus at USJ. This ACT test is used to make plans for ACT preparation and strategies on future tests. 
  • Juniors and their parents will have a college advising meeting to strategize the necessary steps for a stress-free college application season. 
  • In the spring semester of the junior year, College Advising hosts the Junior Seminar at which college admissions professionals from throughout the Southeast present information on the latest trends in college admissions and financial aid. 
  • College advising will work with the junior English teacher on writing rough drafts of college admissions essays. 
  • Juniors will continue targeted practice for the ACT and, if necessary, will select the test preparation option that best suits individual needs and extracurricular schedules. 
  • College admissions representatives will make campus visits to introduce students to their institution. 
  • Plan college visit days.  


  • College Advising will assist seniors with updating the Naviance resume, college application list, and give direction on requesting transcripts and teacher recommendation letters. 
  • In August, College Advising hosts an evening meeting presenting an updated senior year timeline for application and scholarship deadlines as well as federal, state, and institutional financial aid information. 
  • Continue taking the ACT and the SAT. 
  • Assists students with the college essay and scholarship applications. 
  • College Advising works with Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation to insure students and their families are meeting the deadlines for state and federal financial aid. 
  • College Advising prepares a highly individualized counselor recommendation letter for admissions and scholarships.
  • College advising sends transcripts, recommendation letters, and any required school forms as needed to the college or university. 



ACT & SAT Schedule

College Credit Options

College Prep Workshop Series

College Profile

College Reps On Campus

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Summer Study Opportunities

Forms & Transcripts

College Visits

For More Information

Carol Ryan
Director of College Advising

[email protected]

Shannon Whisenant
Assistant Director of College Advising

swhisen[email protected]

Lori Howell
College Advising Assistant

[email protected]



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