Our Philosophy

Navigating through the college search process is a personal journey that the school and faculty support from the very day that a student enrolls into the Andrews Osborne Academy program. Through each and every step along the way, a student is prepared to make college decisions as a result of their unique academic and extra-curricular experiences in and out of the classroom at AOA.

Our approach to college counseling is to guide students in the college search, the application, and the selection process. At AOA, we have a 4-year college counseling advisory curriculum. By starting the college process at the beginning of high school, it is our belief that our students will be better prepared to make well informed and thought-out choices regarding their college fit and major.  By the spring of their junior year, when the formal college search process begins, our students will start this phase of their life feeling confident and well informed.
We will support our students in researching and identifying a range of colleges well suited to their interests, needs, and abilities. It is expected that the student will take an active role in the process of discovery in their own way and to find avenues to challenge themselves in their efforts of selection. It is important to note that there is no singular “right” college for a student. A number of colleges would be wonderful matches, and our collective goal is to identify a good student-college match.

While there are multiple resources available to our students to assist them in the college process, they are not intended to replace the personal advising they will receive from their academic advisor and the college counselor. We are available to support the student in every way we can, and we encourage and invite students and their parents to work collaboratively with us to ensure that all parties are well- supported in the college search, application, and decision process.

To view our school profile, please click HERE.
To view a Junior/Senior college application checklist, click HERE.


List of 4 items.

  • 9th grade Freshman Year

    • Build strong academic, language, mathematics, and critical thinking skills by taking challenging courses
    • Take the PSAT in October/ the results will not be used for college admission
    • Study hard and get good grades
    • Learn time management and study skills
    • Strengthen your vocabulary by READING
    • Participate in the classroom
    • Become involved in extra-curricular activities
    • Begin to browse through college literature
    • Check out what courses colleges require
    • Know your NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) requirements to play sports in college
    • Keep an academic portfolio and co-curricular record
    • Begin saving money
    • Register with Naviance and complete the assigned tasks
    • Create virtual portfolio and continue to add to it
  • 10th grade Sophomore Year

    • Concentrate on academic preparation and continue to develop basic skills and co-curricular interests
    • Take the practice ACT in October/ the results will not be used for college admission
    • Take NCAA approved courses if you want to play sports in college
    • Sign up for co-curricular activities that interest you/the level of involvement is important not the number of activities
    • Keep a record of your activities, volunteer work, and employment
    • Meet with your advisor in the spring to schedule classes
    • Develop a relationship with your teachers (you may need to ask them for a recommendation) Be productive over the summer by getting a job, taking a class, or engage in community service
    • Complete the assigned tasks on Naviance
    • Continue to add to your virtual portfolio
  • 11th grade Junior Year

    • Continue to focus on your classes- your junior grades are very important for the college admissions process
    • Continue with your extra-curricular activities and be consistent
    • Make time for a formal meeting with your college counselor
    • Continue to develop solid relationships with your teachers
    • Schedule the SAT, ACT and TOEFL tests and SAT subject tests if required by the end of the junior year
    • Develop a relationship with your teachers (you may need to ask them for a recommendation)
    • Be productive over the summer
    • Attend college fairs, college visits and general informational sessions
    • Make sure you are NCAA compliant if you want to play Division I or II in college
    • Complete the assigned tasks on Naviance
    • Continue to add to your virtual portfolio

    Important Events for the Year

    • Attend meetings with college representatives visiting the school
    • Begin meeting 1:1 with college counselor
    • Take the PSAT. These scores do not go to colleges but are considered for National Merit recognition
    • NCAA review for student athletes
    • Attend meetings with college representatives visiting the school
    • Attend meetings with college representatives visiting the school
    • Plan to register for the March SAT and April ACT
    • Begin Advisory meetings about College Counseling
    • Naviance, college research, career testing, and questionnaires
    • Schedule College Visits
    • Schedule College Visits
    • Optional Parent meetings
    • Case studies and College Fair
    • FINAL SAT and ACT test for the school year
    • Ask your teachers for recommendation letters
    • Complete teacher and counselor questionnaire
  • 12th grade Senior Year & PG

    Your senior year grades are reported to colleges, so be sure to continue working hard

    Important Events for the Year


    • Optional Meetings for seniors and parents
    • Confirm that you have added your teacher recommenders to Naviance
    • Link Naviance with the Common Application
    • Begin the Common Application

    • Solidify a list of colleges to which you will be apply under Early Decision, Early Action, Rolling, or any other Fall deadline admissions program
    • Optional Meetings for seniors and parents
    • Attend meetings with college representatives visiting the school
    • Attend Financial Aid night
    • Senior College Counseling Boot Camp
    • Optional: Arrange interviews, auditions, portfolio reviews, campus visits, overnight visits
    • Work with your counselor on applications and essays

    • Early Applications are due
    • Optional: Arrange interviews, auditions, portfolio reviews, campus visits, overnight visits
    • Check application portals and email accounts regularly to make sure none of your materials are missing or need to be resent
    • SAT and ACT testing
    • Work with your counselor on applications and essays

    • Decisions for most fall applications are released
    • Work with your counselor on applications and essays
    • Regular Decision and Early Decision II applications are due

    • Check application portals and email accounts regularly to make sure none of your materials are missing or need to be resent
    • Final admissions decisions will be released by early April

    • Attend admitted student programs and receptions!

    • May 1 is the national deadline for depositing. Choose one school and submit your enrollment deposit
    • Advanced Placement Examinations

Explaining the College Counseling Process with Frequently Asked Questions

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: What is the goal of college counseling?

    College counseling success occurs when all parties work collaboratively to find the best college match for the student. Students will be encouraged to take advantage of the wide range of choices available to them.

    During the early years of their journey into high school, students will work informally and in partnership with the advisory system. Topics such as self-assessment, course planning, balancing an extra-curricular life, and standardized testing will be discussed. Formal college counseling begins in the winter of the junior year and continues up through your final college decision.

    During the 4th quarter of the 2020 school year, student learning went virtual per the orders of the Governor of OH. The virtual learning experience for AOA students was both synchronous and asynchronous. Students still received letter grades. Students did not take final exams so the 3rd and 4th quarter grades were averaged together to award the second semester grade and for full year courses, the first and second semester grades were averaged to make the final grade.   
  • Q: Do colleges know about us and do they understand our curriculum?

    An important part of a college counselors job is to establish relationships with college admissions and to explain to them what AOA is all about.  We attend many regional and national conferences, visit colleges, and work hard to establish a connection with the colleges in order for them to understand AOA and our student population.

    Each year we have colleges and universities visiting the AOA campus to meet with students and to learn about our school. We provide an overview and a
    school profile that describes our admissions process, our academic programming and graduation requirements.

    Our academics go beyond the traditional at AOA. Our Creative Thinking Initiative(CTI) encourages and allows students to think not just critically but also forces them to think creatively.  Students bend, break, and blend traditional knowledge in order to explore concepts at a deeper level.Students are encouraged to think, act, take risks, and
    from not being afraid to take risks, and perhaps fail, learn beyond the typical academics taught in the classroom. They develop the ability to be both creative and critical. These two components come together to set our students up for success in any future endeavor.
  • Q: How did AOA award grades spring semester of 2020?

    During the 4th quarter of the 2020 school year, student learning went virtual per the orders of the Governor of OH. The virtual learning experience for AOA students was both synchronous and asynchronous. Students still received letter grades. Students did not take final exams so the 3rd and 4th quarter grades were averaged together to award the second semester grade and for full year courses, the first and second semester grades were averaged to make the final grade.    
  • Q: Does AOA rank its graduating class?

    AOA does not rank its students; our class size is too small and this statistic would be misleading. Most independent schools do not rank their graduates, so this is a practice colleges are familiar with.
  • Q: Test Prep? Should I take it?

    AOA actively supports test prep through our decision to have 9th and 11th graders take the PSAT and the 10th graders take a practice ACT. The results from the PSAT will help a student identify their areas of weakness and allow them to proactively strive to improve their experience and knowledge in those areas. Formal test prep is not encouraged prior to the junior year PSAT.

    It is less likely that a student will improve significantly in subsequent testing if their initial test score is high. Students are encouraged to read…read…read…as this has proven to help improve verbal scores. The library at AOA has a number of practice books available for student use and the college counselor can provide additional resources for the student to use. AOA has SAT and ACT prep available on campus through a test prep academy.
  • Q: What are the most important components to a college application?

    Colleges will evaluate applicants in many different ways and place emphasis on different aspects of each application based on the school’s admission criteria and policies. Some schools are very holistic in their evaluation process while other schools will place more emphasis on standardized test scores and GPA. For all colleges, there is one area that holds true in terms of importance. The strength of a student’s academic record, the rigor of courses taken, the quality of the work completed, and the consistency and pattern of improvement from year to year are very important factors for any college application.
  • Q: Are recommendations or personal references important?

    Recommendations from the college counselor and from teachers are considered important pieces to the college application. Student recommendations are written to provide a perspective that is unique to the student and as a valuable tool in the evaluation process.
  • Q: What factors is financial aid based upon?

    There is money available to students for college and it is awarded in different ways. The FAFSA is a tool that is used by most colleges to determine if you qualify for aid based on parent income. Other forms of aid like a merit scholarship could be awarded based upon a strong high school transcript and /or standardized test scores. Each institution determines financial assistance on an individual basis.

List of 4 items.

  • Grades 10-12 & PG Parent/Guardian Meetings

    Beginning in the Fall, the College Counseling Office will conduct informal meetings with parents/guardians that are designed to give an overview of the college application process and to answer questions. The college timeline, curricular selections, extra-curricular opportunities, standardized testing, athletic recruitment, and college resources will be discussed. The groundwork for the college application process will be set up to help parents/guardians understand what is expected of the students and the ways they can support them.

    Although a great deal of information is conveyed during the one on one meetings with students, in both their junior and senior year, the college counselor has set aside time to meet individually with parents starting in the junior year. These meetings typically lay the groundwork for college visits, testing schedules, financial aid, and other detailed information.
  • Case Studies and College Fair

    Andrews Osborne Academy, along with the other CCIS (Cleveland Council of Independent Schools), offer many opportunities for parents and students to learn more about the college process. We invite college and university admissions representatives from around the country to meet with parents and students. Participants are given mock applications, complete with essays, recommendations, interview evaluations, and activities. The admissions officers lead the small groups through the application review process and conduct mock admission committee meetings using parents and students as their committee. The mock applications will provide information for good conversation in order to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate. This exercise, under the guidance of an expert admissions officer is a great opportunity for our families. Following the session, a college fair is held, allowing students and families the opportunity to learn about schools and to talk with admissions officers. In addition, AOA and the CCIS will have a financial aid night in the fall and an event focused on how to navigate the college process in the winter.
  • College Tours

    Each year students in grades 9-11 participate in a class trip. An informal college tour is part of the itinerary during the class trip. The schools represent a variety of different sizes, locations, and selectivity levels. Through our Residential Life program, a variety of college tours will be scheduled as well. All students are welcome to sign up for these events. We also encourage students and their families to make travel opportunities during spring break and in the summer to visit colleges. Campus tours are an important part of the college process.
  • Athletic Recruitment

    Andrews Osborne Academy routinely has a number of athletes who pursue the opportunity to be student athletes at the collegiate level. Our students have gone on to play Division I, II and II levels as well as NAIA. We will work with our student athletes to help educate them about college athletics and the role they may have in the college process for the student. The College Counselor works closely with the Athletic Director and Coaches during this process. Students seriously considering the playing a Division I. II, or III sport in college need to check out the student athlete recruiting information at www.ncaa.org before proceeding with recruiting efforts.

Welcome College Representatives

Andrews Osborne Academy welcomes visits from college admission representatives. To schedule a visit, please log into RepVisits. You will need to create an account if you do not have one. Select Andrews Osborne Academy and select the time that works best for you. Please contact Melissa Nipper at mnipper@andrewsosborne.org or 440-942-3600 ext. 117 if you have any questions.

A note when traveling to Andrews Osborne Academy: the College Counseling office is located in the Lee Building in the Upper School office. Please use 38588 Mentor Avenue, Willoughby, OH 44094 when using GPS.

What is Naviance?

Naviance is a web-based college research and planning tool for students, parents and school counselors. The website manages individual students through the entire college planning, application, and decision process. Students can search for scholarships, explore careers, track admission data for colleges across the United States and also gauge their chances of acceptance by comparing personal GPA/ACT/SAT statistics with those of recent AOA successful applicants. All students and parents, beginning in the freshman year, will have access to Naviance.
What does Naviance do?

  • Naviance Curriculum provides sequential lessons and activities involving the following themes: self discovery, success skills, support network, career planning, college planning, and financial planning
  • Searches and matches colleges by specific data
  • Compares colleges
  • Displays scatter grams and application statistics from AOA giving students an idea of how their numbers compare to those of past students accepted
  • Compiles college plans
  • Tracks application deadlines
  • Details the list of colleges visiting AOA
  • Lists scholarship opportunities
Click HERE to access Naviance Student.

Meet the College Counselors

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Melissa Nipper

    Mrs. Melissa Nipper 

    Director of College Counseling
  • Photo of Rudy Kirbus

    Rudy Kirbus 

    Assistant Director of College Counseling

Visit the NACAA Virtual College Fair

September 13
Students Fall Kickoff
October 12
October 18
November 8

September 10, 2020
Cleveland Institute of Art
High Point University
Johns Hopkins
Lakeland Community College 
Notre Dame

September 11, 2020
Ringling College of Art and Design
Vanderbilt University

September 14, 2020
Ohio Wesleyan
University of Rochester

September 15, 2020
College of Creative Studies
Sarah Lawrence College
Skidmore College 

September 16, 2020
Niagara University
Shenandoah University

September 17, 2020
United States Air Force Academy
Wright State University

September 18, 2020
University of San Francisco
September 22, 2020
Carroll University
Lehigh University

September 24, 2020
Lake Forest College 
Marietta College
Ohio State University
UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz

September 25, 2020
Oberlin College
Ursinus College

September 28, 2020
Allegheny College 
Ohio Northern University
University of Akron

September 29, 2020
Marist College
Providence College
University of Findlay
University College Of Dublin (Ireland)

September 30, 2020
Macalester College
Transylvania University
University of Mount Union

October 1, 2020
Ohio University
University of Chicago
Xavier University

October 2, 2020
Bard College
Pennsylvania State University

October 5, 2020
John Carroll University
Moravian College
Reed College

October 6, 2020
Florida A and M University 

October 7, 2020
Verto Education

October 8, 2020
Canisius College
University of Toronto 

October 13, 2020
Kenyon College
University of Cincinnati

October 15, 2020
The American University of Paris
Heidelberg University
Ohio Dominican University

October 16, 2020
Clark University
Seaton Hill

October 21, 2020
Savannah College of Art and Design

October 23, 2020
University of Connecticut 

October 26, 2020
Mercyhurst University 

November 4, 2020
Gannon University

November 12, 2020
Wittenberg University

December 2, 2020
Art Academy of Cincinnati







Testing Dates 2020-2021

*TOEFL testing dates for International Boarding students are ongoing throughout the year and should only be scheduled for Saturday testing in either Willoughby or Mentor, OH. Please complete an official transportation request at least 48 hours prior to the exam to ensure transportation availability.

For the class of 2021: 

SAT School Day: September 23 and October 14
ACT: October 6th

PSAT: October 14th for 9th and 11th grade
Practice ACT: October 14th for 10th grade

2020-21 SAT Test Dates

Andrews Osborne Academy

Grades PK - 12, PG
PHONE (440) 942-3600
AX (440) 942-3660
Located In Willoughby, OH, Andrews Osborne Academy is a Private Co-ed Day & Boarding College Preparatory School For Grades PK - 12, PG. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.