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College Counseling

“Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit.”

– Pope Francis

Welcome to the St. Ambrose college counseling page! At St. Ambrose, we believe that God has a special plan for every child. The four years of high school are a journey of discernment guiding the student closer to their role in God’s plan. We are here to accompany each student on that journey and help them discern their vocation. 

One of the most exciting parts of my job as Dean of Students is to be on the front line in the work of guiding students towards what comes next, after high school. Most Ambrosians choose to continue their journey in college, so I meet with each class about once a month for 30 minutes to discuss career exploration and college readiness. Our Senior / Parent Retreat, offered during orientation week, brings together reflections on the college application process, college financing, and vocation.

I look forward to working with your student in their search for the path God has designed for them.

– Dr. Mary Skemp, Dean of Students

College Counseling Calendar


  • Session 1: Student / Parent Half-Day Retreat (orientation week)
  • Session 2: Senior Year Calendar / FAFSA
  • Session 3: AP Exams: Should I Take Them? / How Do I Sign Up for Them?
  • Session 4: Applying for Scholarships
  • Session 5: Who am I? / Careers
  • Session 6: Getting Involved / Majors
  • Session 7: SMART Goals and Next Steps
  • Session 8: Post-Graduation Plans


  • Session 1: Junior Year Calendar
  • Session 2: PSAT, AP, ACT, SAT, CLT: Standardized Tests and You!
  • Session 3: PrinciplesYou; 1-on-1 counseling with Dr. Skemp
  • Session 4: PrinciplesYou; 1-on-1 counseling with Dr. Skemp
  • Session 5: PrinciplesYou; 1-on-1 counseling with Dr. Skemp
  • Session 6: Next Year’s Courses
  • Session 7: Tools for Writing a College Application Essay
  • Session 8: The Summer Before Senior Year


  • Session 1: What’s new now that you’re a Sophomore?
  • Session 2: PrinciplesYou in SCOIR
  • Session 3: PrinciplesYou in SCOIR
  • Session 4: PrinciplesYou in SCOIR
  • Session 5: PrinciplesYou in SCOIR
  • Session 6: Post high school options
  • Session 7: What to do this summer / Next year is a big year!


  • Session 1: So now that I’m in high school, . . .
  • Session 2: Freshmen 101: Introduction to GPA and Transcripts
  • Session 3: The GPA College Planning Game
  • Session 4: What can I major in when I get to college?
  • Session 5: Discuss research of college majors; why continue to study Latin?; Participation and why it’s important in preparing for college
  • Session 6: Choosing Courses for 10th Grade and Beyond
  • Session 7: What can I do this summer to enhance my college applications?

College Checklist

We encourage Juniors and Seniors to begin their planning for college through regular meetings throughout the year. Click here to see our checklists for Juniors and Seniors to get a sense of this process and to prepare your own student for what lies ahead!

Standardized Exams

Although we try to minimize the number of standardized exams that our students take, there are three exams that we administer to help students prepare for their college applications. 

  1. PSAT: The Preliminary SAT is an exam designed to prepare students for college entrance exams (SAT and ACT). We offer the exam in October of each year to the Sophomores and the Juniors for two reasons. First, we want students to have experience taking standardized tests before having to do so for their college applications. Secondly, the scores of students in their junior year are entered into competition for National Merit Scholarships. Becoming a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship is a great accomplishment and we want to offer that possibility to our students.
  2. ACT: Most colleges and universities require submission of college entrance exam scores. Most of our students choose to take the ACT. We administer the exam on-site once a year to facilitate that requirement for our students.
  3. CLT: The Classical Learning Test is designed to better evaluate students who have been educated in a Classical school. Students who are interested in taking this exam should speak with Dr. Skemp.

Advanced Placement Exams

Although we do not offer advanced placement courses at St. Ambrose, many of our courses prepare students well to take the AP test. We administer the following exams in May to those students who choose to take them:

  • AP English Literature and Composition (for Seniors)
  • AP English Language and Composition (for Juniors)
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Physics
  • AP Biology
  • AP Calculus AB (for students who have completed Calculus)
  • AP Calculus BC (for students who have completed Calculus II)
  • AP Latin (for students who have completed Latin V)

Is my child ready to take the AP exam?

Below are descriptions of AP exams and links to practices exams for you to discuss with your child and assess if they feel prepared to take the exam. More information about when students should consider taking the exam and the details of each can be found in the linked documents.