College Preparatory School for Girls Grades 3-12

College Counseling

Holton’s rigorous curriculum and many extracurricular opportunities support and promote the "education of the mind, soul and spirit" of each individual student and prepare her to continue her academic growth at the college level.

Two full-time counselors work closely with each girl and her family to guide her through the college search and application process. We want her to:

  • Understand her interests
  • Be empowered to make confident and constructive decisions about her academic and personal goals
  • Present herself honestly and confidently to college admissions offices

Although our ultimate objective is to help students achieve admission to institutions of higher education, self-development and self-awareness are also important outcomes of the process.

2017-2018 School Profile (PDF)

Freshman Year

The goal in ninth grade is for students to adjust to the rigors of high school, to learn more about themselves, and to become involved in the life of Holton-Arms School and the larger world around them.

Though this list may not sound like preparation for applying to college, girls develop the skills and goals that set the stage for a successful high school career and a smooth college application process. The objectives listed below reflect Holton's mission and school philosophy.

  • Learn time management skills. Learn to balance academic demands, social interests, and extracurricular passions.
  • Get involved! Explore the extracurricular life of Holton-Arms School. Try out for plays, join a club to explore your interests or hobbies, play an instrument, sing, write for one of our publications, paint.
  • Play a sport or exercise regularly.
  • Expand your friendship circle. Reach out to new students.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to meet with your teachers outside of class when you have questions or want to explore a topic further.
  • Get to know at least one adult (advisor, coach, teacher) in the community well to help you navigate the Upper School.
  • Make time to read for pleasure. Read a novel. Read the newspaper.
  • Explore Washington, D.C. Bike the Capital Crescent Trail. Hike the Billy Goat Trail.
  • Work hard in school.
  • Be kind and respectful to your parents and siblings.
  • Do community service. Make a plan to fulfill the community service requirement.
  • Select your academic courses for 10th grade with the help of your advisor. You should seek appropriate challenges and balance. You need to enjoy your classes and do well, and still have time for other aspects of life.
  • Plan ahead for standardized testing.
  • Take the SAT subject test in Biology - if appropriate. Speak to your biology teacher.
  • During the summer or as a sidelight on a family trip, swing by a college campus or two to begin to get a feeling for the types of schools that you find appealing - large, small, urban, rural, strong campus feeling, etc.
  • Use your summer to continue to expand your horizons. Find a job, take a class, continue with your art or music, attend sports camp, volunteer.

Sophomore Year

In the sophomore year students should continue to take advantage of the opportunities that Holton-Arms School presents. Strong academic and extracurricular involvement continues to be the keys to thriving in high school and beyond.

The college process gently begins when the sophomores take the PSAT for practice in the fall of the sophomore year. This marks the beginning of taking the standardized tests. Although the scores from the PSATs are NOT used for admissions, scores do help students begin to gauge testing strengths and weaknesses.

As students head into the junior year, they should continue to strive for balance in their academic, extracurricular, social and family lives. Eating well and getting enough sleep are also very important.

  • Keep goals from the freshman year!
  • Develop a passion.
  • Get and stay involved - drama, music, sports, art, service, etc. You still have time to explore new activities.
  • Stay balanced. Don't feel that you must do it all; do what you do well.
  • Work hard in school.
  • Be kind and respectful to your parents and siblings.
  • Take the PSAT in October. Prepare by closely reading the practice materials distributed by Holton-Arms and by taking and scoring the sample test. If you have questions about some of your errors, speak to your math or English teacher.
    Review your scores from the PSAT when you receive them in December. If your selection index is over 200, you might consider preparing for the exam in 11th grade as you could qualify for the National Merit program. Discuss this with one of the college counselors.
  • Give back to your community. Feel free to go beyond the service requirement!
  • Select your academic courses for 11th grade with the help of your advisor. You should seek appropriate challenges and balance. You need to enjoy your classes, do well in your classes and have time for other aspects of life. The college counselors, grade deans and advisors are in close contact regarding course selection as well.
  • Begin reading college guide books.
  • Consider taking an SAT subject test (in math, foreign language, chemistry) at the end of the year - but only if appropriate; speak with your teachers and college counselors for guidance.
  • Visit college campuses, if time permits. You are still in the early research phase of choosing what types of schools you prefer.
  • Again, use your summer to continue to expand your horizons. Find a job, take a class, continue with your art or music, attend sports camp, do a language immersion program, find and internship, volunteer.

Junior & Senior Years

College Admission Options

Types of Application Options Offered by U.S. Colleges and Universities.

Regular Admission:

These colleges have a firm application deadline and notify the applicant of her admissions decision in late March/early April. Admissions decisions fall into three responses: admit, deny, or wait list. This acceptance decision is NON-binding - the student may choose whether or not to attend. Admitted applicants have until May 1st to decide whether they will submit an enrollment deposit.

Rolling Admission:

These colleges accept and reject applicants until their freshman classes are full. They usually publish a final deadline by which all applications are due, or they may have a priority deadline for scholarship consideration. It is best to apply to universities with rolling decision fairly early, as they may deny competitive applicants who apply late in the admissions cycle. Admitted applicants have until May 1st to decide whether they will enroll. This acceptance decision is NON-binding.

Priority Deadline:

Many state universities have established a priority deadline in October or November, and students whose applications are received by that date are considered for admission as a group. Decisions of admit, deny or defer and usually released in December or January. Students applying after the priority deadline may have diminished chances of admission if many spaces in the freshman class have already been filled.

Early Action:

These colleges typically require application by early November to mid-December with an admit, deny, or defer response by late December, January or February. Admitted applicants have until May 1st to decide on enrollment. This acceptance decision is NON-binding.

Early Action Single Choice:

A few colleges have chosen to restrict their early action applicants from concurrently applying to any other college's early action or early decision program. This program is NON-binding. Students admitted under Single Choice Early could still apply under the Regular Decision plan to other colleges.

Early Decision I:

These colleges typically require application in early November, with notification of the admissions decision by the end of December. The decision may be to admit, defer, or deny. In exchange for being considered early, the student agrees to withdraw all other college applications and commit to attend that college if admitted at early decision. This decision is BINDING*.

Early Decision II:

A relatively new option, these college typically require application in December or January and notify students of their decision in February or March. At this point, the student is usually admitted or denied. Upon acceptance, a student needs to withdraw all other college applications as this decision is BINDING*.

*BINDING means a student makes a commitment to go to the college if they accept her. Applications to all other colleges MUST be withdrawn.

The enrollment deposit deadline of May 1 is shared by U.S. colleges and universities. Students may only deposit at one institution, and violation of this policy can result in both institutions withdrawing their offers of admission. "Double-depositing" is also a violation of the Principles of Good Practice of the National Association of College Counseling (of which Holton-Arms is a member) and therefore can not be supported by the school.

Financing College

No matter what your financial resources, do not allow the cost of a college education to cut short your daughter's educational plans. Financial aid to attend college is available from a variety of sources - grant aid (institutional and/or outside scholarships) and self-help (loans and work-study funds). Once you submit information about your family's financial status, college and university financial aid administrators will take many factors into consideration to prepare a financial aid package for your daughter.

Although some of the college price tags can be quite daunting -- many colleges are more affordable than one might think. Recent information sent by various institutions indicates that even families with substantial incomes may qualify. After financial aid or merit scholarships are taken into consideration, the net price the average undergraduate pays for a college education is significantly lower than the published tuition and fees.

Talk with your college counselor about information sources in the College Resource Room or public library. Many websites will assist you in locating relevant information about the different types of financial aid, including state and private sources, and what colleges may offer. We hope this information will be helpful as you begin your college search. For more information, contact the web site of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).


College Resource Room

  • Guidebooks on both need-based and merit-based scholarship materials offered by colleges or other private and public sponsors

Financial Aid Workshop for Senior Parents

  • Held in January to assist with the completion of the FAFSA application- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is available online after January 1 of senior year and is required for ALL need-based aid.

CSS (College Scholarship Service) PROFILE

  • This financial aid form is available online beignning October 1 of senior year and is required in addtion to the FAFSA at many private colleges and by some scholarship organizations.


Frequently Requested Telephone Numbers

  • General information about the Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs, assistance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): 1.800.433.3243
  • To check on the processing of your FAFSA or request a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR): 1.319.337.5665
  • TDD number for hearing-impaired individuals to call with any federal student aid questions: 1.800.730.8913
  • To order FAFSA Express on diskette: 1.800.801.0576
  • To report fraud, waste, or abuse involving federal student aid funds: 1.800.647.8733
  • FAFSA on the Web (general information and technical assistance): 1.800.801.0576


The college and career online Family Connection for Holton Juniors and Seniors and their families. (Juniors will receive username and password during fall semester.)

Ten Strategies for Parents

Help Your Child Find a Good College Match
1. Emphasize inherent value of college education versus prestige value of particular colleges.

2. Be open from the start regarding your expectations, biases, and geographic or financial restrictions.

3. Seek balance between under-involvement and over-involvement as parent. Your role is supportive; child's role is central.

4. Assist your daughter with a preliminary investigation of colleges and admissions requirements; she will focus attention during spring of junior year and narrow a list of colleges during the summer of eleventh grade and fall of twelfth grade.

5. Provide a role model of open-mindedness, curiosity and discovery throughout the college search process. (Thoughtful questions vs. quick answers and assumptions).

6. Encourage your daughter's self-appraisal (interests, abilities, social needs, values) as the key to finding a good fit. (Larger school or smaller; more urban or more rural; spirited or quieter; more intellectual or social; more liberal or conservative; etc.).

7. Discuss your daughter's course selection, standardized test results, and initial college interests with her college counselor. Then encourage your daughter to work closely with the college counselor throughout the process, informing her of any changing needs or concerns.

8. Be sure your daughter visits campuses - if possible while colleges are in session and before applying. Spring vacation of junior year is a great time. Summer visits can be good for interviews.

9. Try to reduce pressure about college admission rather than add to it. Do not make college choice the daily dinner topic.

10. Remember that highly selective colleges look for:
  • Rigorous curriculum in secondary school
  • Strong motivation and performance (grades, class standing, teacher recommendations)
  • Test scores "in range" of their enrolled students
  • Special talents, service to others, personal qualities, potential for growth.

Candidates will be compared within the applicant pool and the number admitted will depend on the ratio of applicants to spaces in the freshman class, even if most candidates are "qualified."


Each girl is encouraged to pursue admission to a college that provides an appropriate match for her unique intellectual abilities, passions, talents, and personal values.

Throughout the Upper School sequence, students are guided by academic deans and advisors to maximize their learning experience and pursue choices that match their interests and abilities.

A college counseling curriculum aimed at developing self-awareness, maximizing academic and leadership opportunities, and exploring college options takes place in group meetings during freshman and sophomore years.

During junior year our efforts become more focused on the skills that girls will need to create a resume, fill out applications, and undertake research to identify colleges of possible interest. Each girl and her parents meet with a college counselor to initiate an examination of the family’s priorities, and with help from the counseling staff, she will explore specific colleges and universities that may be a good match for her.

Speakers & Workshops

As part of an ongoing series, we sponsor speakers and workshops on aspects of the college application process such as planning campus visits, interviewing skills, essay writing, and financial aid, to be attended by students, parents, or both.

College Visitors

Each year during the fall semester, Holton’s College Counseling Office hosts visits from approximately 100 prominent colleges, which allow girls to gather first-hand impressions from admissions officers. The college counselor uses these appointments to cultivate professional relationships and rapport with the representatives, and to further educate them about Holton’s distinctive strengths and rigorous academic offerings.

By expanding their understanding of the Holton mission and curriculum, we seek to ensure the fullest and fairest assessment of our applicants during the admissions selection by the college representatives and their colleagues.

College Visit - Boston College
Upper School Conference Room
College Visit - University of Virginia
College Resource Room
College Visit - Furman University
Della Robbia Gallery
College Visit - Ohio Wesleyan University
Della Robbia Gallery
US Gr. 10 and Gr. 11 PSAT
US Classrooms
College Visit - Pomona College
Della Robbia Gallery
College Visit - University of Rochester
Della Robbia Gallery
College Visit - Virginia Commonwealth University
Della Robbia Gallery
College Visit - University of Michigan
College Resource Room
College Visit - Mercer University
Della Robbia Gallery

For College Admission Officers

Founded in 1901, Holton-Arms is a college-preparatory school for girls grades 3-12 dedicated to the “education not only of the mind, but of the soul and spirit.*”

The School provides rigorous and dynamic programs in the traditional academic areas, the fine and performing arts, and athletics. Here, young women of diverse backgrounds can take risks, learn from mistakes, pursue opportunities for leadership, and build lifelong friendships. Holton-Arms is a vibrant community that values consistency and order as well as creativity and freedom.

Whether you are just learning about Holton or are already familiar with the school, we invite you to explore our website, visit our campus, or to contact us with any questions you might have.

Other resources:

    Visit Policy

    We welcome college representatives to visit our campus and spend time getting to know us. With approximately 120 college visitors each fall, we have found that most girls are not able to miss class for longer meetings. In order to provide more student accessibility to our college visitors, Holton offers a mini-fair setting from 1-1:30 p.m. on most weekdays. Up to five college representatives are located in an attractive gallery space at a time when students have a free lunch/clubs period. All Upper School students are encouraged to circulate and chat with the college visitors.

    For colleges which we anticipate will receive a larger audience (12-20 girls), we can arrange for a private visit at a separate time of day. Only seniors (and juniors with a free period) will be permitted to attend those meetings.

    Please contact Tish Peterson or Katie McEnroe to schedule a visit.


    To 7303 River Road Bethesda, MD 20817

    From the Capital Beltway
    Take Exit 39; head east on River Road (toward Washington); at the second traffic light, turn left onto the School grounds, and then immediately right onto Mary Happer Drive.

    From Washington, D.C.
    Head west on River Road, turn right at Royal Dominion Drive onto the School grounds and then immediately turn right onto Mary Happer Drive.

    By Metro bus:
    T-2 Route stops directly in front of the School.

    Parking on campus:
    Visitor parking spaces are available in the main parking lot; handicapped parking is available on the front circle.

    View Google Map | View campus map

    In the Area

    Nearby schools (grouped with closest neighbors):

    • Landon School
      6101 Wilson Ln, Bethesda, MD 20817 1.65 mi
    • Walt Whitman High School
      7100 Whittier Blvd, Bethesda, MD 20817 1.97 mi

    • Connelly School of the Holy Child
      9029 Bradley Blvd. Potomac, MD 20854 2.35 mi
    • Deutsche Schule/German School Washington, DC
      8617 Chateau Dr, Potomac, MD 20854 3.08 mi
    • Bullis School
      10601 Falls Rd, Potomac, MD 20854 4.7 mi
    • Winston Churchill High School
      11300 Gainsborough Rd, Potomac, MD 20854 5.08 mi
    • St. Andrews Episcopal School
      8804 Postoak Rd, Potomac, MD 20854 5.56 mi

    • Washington Waldorf School
      4800 Sangamore Rd, Bethesda, MD 20816 3.94 mi

    • Walter Johnson High School
      6400 Rock Spring Dr, Bethesda, MD 20814 4.06 mi
    • Lycee Rochambeau/The French International School
      9600 Forest Rd Bethesda, MD 4.54 mi

    Nearby restaurants/food stores:

    Whole Foods, Georgetown Bagelry, Ledo's Pizza, Hunan Kitchen Kenwood Station Shopping Center 5241 River Rd Bethesda MD

    Fish Taco, Wild Tomato, The Market On the Boulevard, Indigo House 7945 MacArthur Blvd Cabin John, MD (Intersection of MacArthur Blvd and Seven Locks Rd)

    Bethesda Food Co-op 6500 Seven Locks Rd, Cabin John, MD (Intersection of MacArthur Blvd and Seven Locks Rd)

    Irish Inn at Glen Echo 6119 Tulane Ave, Glen Echo MD (faces MacArthur Blvd)

    Safeway, Starbucks, Vie de France (and other shopping options like CVS) Potomac Village Shopping Center, 10104 River Rd, Potomac MD

Summer Programs

Summer College Programs for High School Students

Dates and deadlines vary so do your research now!

Duke Summer Program

Take courses and earn academic credit

Yale Young Global Scholars

Description: programs in Politics, Law & the Economy; Applied Science & Engineering; Technology, Innovation & Entrepreneurship and more

Middlebury Interactive Languages

Description: Speak the target language for 24/7 at language immersion programs in Vermont (on the Middlebury campus) and abroad.

UVM Summer Academy

High school students or graduates may earn college credit in one or more courses alongside peers and undergraduates. UVM offers entry level courses both on campus and online year round in a variety of subject areas.

American University--Community of Scholars at AU's School of International Service.

The 3-week hybrid program offers rising junior and senior high school students the opportunity to take a 3-credit college class in international relations taught by highly regarded members of the AU faculty

MICA , Pre College Program

Earn College Credit in programs located in Baltimore and Tuscany! Build a college admission portfolio and take courses in art, design and art history.

Summer Session at UChicago

Enroll in a variety of college courses running 3 to 5 weeks.

Summer on Stage at CUA (Catholic University of America)

Train with theatre professionals in the nation’s capital.

Boston University, Tanglewood Institute (BUTI)

BUTI is recognized as a premier summer training program for aspiring young musicians.

Oxbridge Academic Program, The Oxford Summer Seminar

A week-long academic program for students in grades 10-12, held in Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Pratt Institute, Pre College Program

Immerse yourself in Art, Design, Architecture, Creative Writing or Cultural Studies

Snow Farm Summer

Snow Farm: The New England Craft Program is a non-Profit organization whose mission is providing exceptional studio craft and Fine Art Education in a historical New England setting

Phillips Academy Andover, Summer Session

The Summer Session is an academically intense experience.

Spoleto Study Abroad, Summer Program

Located in historic town of Spoleto, Italy, Spoleto Study Abroad provides students with the tools to enhance their area of artistic expertise by working closely with talented faculty and motivated peers from around the world.

Where there be Dragons, Summer Program and Gap Years

Global Citizenship & Leadership Programs in the developing world

Yale, Young Global Scholars Program

An intensive academic summer program designed to provide talented high school students with interdisciplinary insight, global awareness, and critical skills for becoming leaders inside and outside the classroom.

University of Southern California, USC Summer Program

USC Summer Programs extends a tradition of excellence to outstanding high school students through unique 4 and 2 week summer courses. Accepted students to the USC Summer Programs will balance academic and campus life as they prepare for college in the nation’s entertainment center – Los Angeles, California

Wheaton College, Discover@Wheaton Summer

Discover@Wheaton is a young and vibrant program that brings students from across the country (and world) for a personal and in-depth pre-college experience. But what makes this program unique is just that—the experience.

Experience Summer with This Summer with Brown University

This summer, talented students will choose Brown University Pre-College Programs to prepare for college success. It's a chance to challenge themselves with Ivy League academics and meet exceptional students from around the world.

Rutgers Pre-Engineering Summer Academy, Rutgers University- New Brunswick

Rutgers University-New Brunswick is excited to announce a new opportunity for students interested in engineering.

PREFACE Summer Program

2 week residential summer experience for talented high school sophomores and juniors who will enter 11th and 12 grade in September.

Pre- College Stage Design Program, Emerson College

This five-week program is for high school students with a passion for the arts and a desire to hone their skills as designers and artists

Forsight Prep, Oberlin

College and career preparatory summer seminar for motivated high school students concerned about social equity and the environment.

Leadership and the American Presidency

Come join us as we learn the foundations to becoming a successful leader through the lens of the Presidency with Washington DC as our classroom!

Summer Study for High School Students, Babson Entrepreneurial Development Experience.

This program gives students the opportunity to focus on entrepreneurial ventures that create social, economic, and environmental value.

Terp Young Scholars, University of Maryland

For rising high school seniors, juniors and sophomores, the summer is your opportunity to experience college life at the University of Maryland and earn three university credits.

Salisbury Summer School, Salisbury School

Come to the Berkshires to experience an unforgettable summer of challenge and fun!

Pre-College Programs, Boston University

Experience college life and academic at an internationally top-ranked university.

Pre-College Programs, Barnard College/Columbia University

The Barnard Programs provide a wonderful opportunity for student sto enjoy a pre-college experience while exploring New York City.

Summer of Art, Otis College of Art and Design

Pre-College Programs in various art disciplines in Los Angeles, CA.

High School Summer Scholar Program, Washington University in St. Louis

Summer Experiences in Academic Programs for Middle and High School Students

Traveling Players Ensemble

Instruction in classical theatre in a close supportive community. Auditions are necessary!

Feminist Camps

Soapbox is launching two new (and one classic) Feminist Camp programs this year for young feminists and we would love for you to share this info with any of your young people who might be a good fit!

Pre-College Field Studies Experience, University of the South, Sewanee

Your students can pursue environmental studies while exploring the Domain of the University of the South—13,000 acres of forests, lakes, caves, and rock outcrops—at the Sewanee Environmental Institute’s Pre-College Field Studies Experience ("SEI" for short).

July Experience, Davidson College

Spend three weeks at Davidson College, located just north of Charlotte, N.C., being challenged by courses taught by Davidson Faculty.

Summer Studio Art Program, Skidmore College

Two 5- week sessions of college art classes. Creative thoughts matter!


Global Education & skill-building summer adventures for middle, high school and college students

Cornell Engineering, Cornell University

Our culture encourages students to break rules to take intellectual risks. An exciting world of discovery is waiting for you. This summer come to Cornell University and find out for yourself!

Grammy Camp, Gammy Foundation

Go to Summer Camp with Grammy Pros! Train with the professionals!

Summer College, Ithaca College

Experience a summer at Ithaca with this residential pre-college programs for high school students.

Pre-College Program, Adelphi University

Experience Life as a college student during your participation in Adelphi’s summer pre-college programs. Pursue credit bearing and non credit courses.

Leadership Arlington Youth Program (LAYP)

For two weeks at the beginning of August, approximately 30 rising juniors and seniors from across Arlington County gather for eight days of experiential learning on leadership development, civic awareness and community involvement.

American Collegiate Adventures

Pre-College Enrichment for High School Students held at various colleges and universities. Locations of programs held in, Madison Wisconsin, Barcelona Spain, Florence Italy, Tour Europe, Washington D.C., Amalfi Coast Italy, London English.

Carleton Liberal Arts Experience

Pre-college program held at Carleton

Gettysburg Academic Summer Camp

Gettysburg College is excited to offer several opportunities for high school juniors and sophomores to attend academic camps over the summer months. Subjects include psychology, American government, creative writing, or information technology.

Engineering for Girls at Sweet Briar College

Explore Engineering for high school sophomore, junior, and senior girls at Sweet Briar College

Johns Hopkins Pre-College Summer Engineering Program

The Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation Summer Program is looking for motivated students interested in learning more about a career in engineering.

Abbey Road Summer Programs

Specializing in Language and Cultural immersion, we’ve expanded our experiential programs to include Art, History, Film, Fashion, Photography, SAT/ACT prep, College Prep, International Relations, and Community Service, and other subjects, all of which take place across eight different nations in some of Europe and North America’s most beautiful cities & regions

Reynolds Young Writers Workshop, Denison College

This is your students' chance to work with award-winning authors whose work has appeared in publications like the New Yorker, The Atlantic, and SB Nation; who have published books; who care deeply about storytelling; and who love to teach.

McGill Summer Academy

Unfolding over two weeks of classes, workshops, activities, and trips, this experience will introduce your students to university life and is sure to make their summer memorable!

BU Summer Investigative Journalism Workshop

Kaitlyn (Katie) A. McEnroe
Associate Director of College Counseling
p 301.767.2397
f 301.767.2697

Letitia (Tish) W. Peterson
Director of College Counseling
p 301.365.6041
f 301.365.6073


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