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.
2020-2021 School Profile (PDF)
- Freshman Year
- Sophomore Year
- Junior & Senior Years
- Standardized Testing
- Speakers & Workshops
- College Visitors
- For College Admission Officers
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.
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 a pre-ACT in the winter and a PSAT in the spring. This marks the beginning of taking the standardized tests. Although the scores from these tests 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-10 in the spring. If your selection index is over 200, you might consider preparing for the SAT in 11th grade as you could qualify for the National Merit program. Discuss this with one of the college counselors.
- Take the pre-ACT in December.
- 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.
Types of Application Options Offered by U.S. Colleges and Universities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Funding Your Education
- Scholarship/Financial Aid Search
- Scholarship Search/College Search
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- World's largest scholarship database, GoodCall
- College Board
- Sallie Mae
- College View
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
Help Your Child Find a Good College Match
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.
Many factors (such as course history, learning differences, recruitment opportunities, etc.) influence the timeline a student will follow when taking standardized tests. Below is general information regarding the various standardized tests a student will want to consider.
SAT vs ACT:
In grade 10, students will have the opportunity to take both the PSAT-10 and the Pre-ACT at Holton. After having the opportunity to experience both, students will start thinking about whether they prefer the SAT or ACT. Every college will accept either with equal consideration. The College Counselors have created a “Student Roadmap to College Admissions Testing” to help each girl individually with this decision process.
For whichever test a student intends to pursue, she should:
- Begin to determine how she will prepare: buy test prep books, use online resources, find individual tutoring, join group classes, etc.
- Pursue accommodations with ACT or SAT if applicable. If a student qualifies for accommodations, she must make sure to apply now as the process takes several months. She should speak with the Learning Specialist for more information.
- Study and prepare.
- An individual testing plan will be discussed in a family meeting with the student’s College Counselor.
- Test when ready. Students should make sure to leave time for additional test dates should they want to retake a test.
Tests taken too close to college deadlines might not be considered, so students should complete any final testing in the first couple test dates of their senior year.
Holton’s courses do not teach to the AP exams. However, juniors and seniors may wish to prepare on their own for AP exams in order to earn college credit or to strengthen their applications to international universities.
Students who wish to have an AP exam ordered for them must work with Holton’s AP Coordinator. Information about deadlines and the process will be shared early in the school year.
- AP Ordering Deadline: Mid-November (set by College Board)
- AP Exams: First two weeks of May, take place at Holton
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.
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.
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.
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.
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