NOCCA College Counseling

NOCCA’s Guiding Principles of College Counseling

  • Artists and intellectuals are vitally important in the world.
  • College is a primary path toward achieving your artistic, educational, and professional goals.
  • A career in the arts is a viable option and a worthy pursuit.
  • Your college and career readiness is a collaborative and caring endeavor that involves the entire NOCCA community.
  • You have a right to personalized and equitable support, resources, and advocacy.
  • Your talent, potential, and future are not defined by an admissions decision.
  • The “best” school is the school that’s best for you.

College planning isn’t something you suddenly begin; it’s an extension of all your other pursuits, activities, successes, failures, dreams, and goals. Your future grows from your “now.”

The single most important thing you can do as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior is to be true to yourself and your talent. That will look different on different days, but you’ll be consistently focused on living up to your creative and intellectual potential, pursuing your civic interests, and expressing your gifts and talents in ways that only you can. That is undeniably appealing to colleges.

College and career planning is a process:

Freshmen: Dive in to school. Develop positive learning habits. Ask for help when you need it. Stay curious. Do your best in all your classes. Practice self-care. Observe the students around you who are applying to college, but don’t become obsessed with doing the “right” thing to impress schools. Do your thing and do it well; nothing is more impressive.

Sophomores:  Everything above, plus: Focus steadily on your arts and academics, striving to do your absolute best. Speak with faculty, family members, and people in your community network about careers that seem interesting to you. Pursue interests within or beyond NOCCA. Take practice ACT tests to become familiar with the questions and how the test is structured. Plan to use summer toward your growth and development through arts programs, internships, volunteering, and/or employment. NOCCA student-artists often travel to summer programs around the country for intensive work in their field, many with the help of summer scholarships from the NOCCA Institute. Practice stepping out of your comfort zone enough so that you make new discoveries. Learn about yourself.

Juniors: Everything above, plus: Focus intensively on your arts and academics; your junior year transcript is a primary element of your college application. Explore colleges by talking to people about schools they’re familiar with, visiting college websites, and attending college fairs. Take the ACT. Now is the time to practice personal essay topics, and to meet with your college counselor to get a head start on next year’s application season. Use your summer for personal and artistic growth. Ask yourself: If I were to go for it, what is “it”?  Then take steps to do it!

Seniors: Everything above, plus: Narrow the list of schools that you consider to be an artistic, academic, financial, cultural, and geographic match for you. Make a list of requirements and deadlines for each school (including audition or portfolio requirements). Plan to apply by the priority deadline, if possible. Talk with your parent/guardian about your goals for your future, and consider their input. Request letters of recommendation. Finalize your personal essays. Prepare audition and portfolio materials. Meet with faculty and your college counselor for guidance and support. Work with your parent/guardian to fill out the FAFSA and CSS forms for financial aid purposes. Remember that while college is important, your life is much larger than an admission decision.

Please note: NOCCA uses SCOIR, a college search and application platform. All full- and half-day students will register with SCOIR their junior year. Once a student has registered they can invite their parent to register for a parent account on SCOIR.

Every member of NOCCA’s faculty and staff is committed to supporting and encouraging you as you work to reach your goals. We’re in this together.

Students and parents can find links to these events in SCOIR.

Lara Naughton,
[email protected]
504-940-2821

College Counselor


Ideally, college planning is a student-driven family process supported by the school
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Student: intrinsic motivation
Family: positive and active support of student’s goals
School: guidance and facilitation of the process


Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania (2015). Frank Bruni


Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools that Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges (2006). Loren Pope


Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You (2007). Loren Pope


Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite & the Way to a Meaningful Life (2014). William Deresiewicz.


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