College Counseling

An Oakwood education is intended to guide students in their academic, artistic, and athletic pursuits; to spark passion, and to help students gain self-knowledge. These guiding principles, along with recognizing our students as multi-faceted young people, are the foundations of our college counseling practice.
Through our personalized approach, we seek to connect with every student by encouraging them to lead their own unique college search with parents and counselors in a supporting role. We believe in the importance of acknowledging and stimulating an authentic sense of self in our students, which will allow them to find the college that matches their academic and personal pursuits. Our partnership with students enables us to curate a pragmatic list of schools based on their academic and co-curricular interests. We believe and practice the idea that students should find the college that best fits them not only academically, but also socially and financially. This emphasis on “fit” gives students the best opportunity to be transformed by the power of education. We also believe and appreciate that the pathway to college is not always linear and are here to support students where they are, welcoming all students into the college process as they are.

College Counseling Timeline

List of 3 items.

  • 9th & 10th Grades

    In the first half of high school, we want students to revel in their experiences in and out of the classroom. With college applications far off on the horizon, students should invest themselves fully in Oakwood’s community by working hard in their classes, participating in extracurricular activities and perhaps even sampling some new ones.

    College programming at this stage is broad and offered to both students and parents. We teach the basics on topics such as standardized testing and college affordability. In 10th grade, students will take the PSAT. They are also matched with a college counselor who will serve as an excellent resource for course planning.
  • 11th Grade

    In 11th grade, the college counseling process begins in earnest. Students and their families meet one-on-one with their college counselor to begin crafting their standardized testing plan and college list. Students attend college counseling classes where they learn college researching skills, and application and essay tips. Individual meetings continue throughout the spring, as juniors use their counselors as sounding boards to debrief campus tours and plan their senior year curriculum. Families also have the opportunity to participate in the Los Angeles Case Studies program - an admission committee simulation staffed by admission officers from around the country.
  • 12th Grade

    For Oakwood seniors, the work of the college application process begins before school even starts with our Essay and Application Week. Students work on their applications, draft personal statements, and receive expert advice from admission officers. Throughout the fall, college counselors work one-on-one with seniors to assist with essay feedback, application review, and interview practice. The counselors offer numerous workshops on the Common Application and the UC/Cal State Application in order to provide detailed support. Additionally, Oakwood’s college counseling department welcomes admission officers from around the country who come to meet with our students. 

Standardized Testing & Affording College

List of 2 items.

  • Standardized Testing

    The ACT and SAT are similar tests, and colleges that accept these exams value them equally.  It’s important to note that some colleges (like the University of California and California State systems) are test-free, meaning that they will not accept test scores from students unless for course placement purposes after a student has been admitted.  

    For students who would like to prepare for college admission testing, Oakwood offers PSAT and mock ACT opportunities to both 10th and 11th graders.  Practice scores can help a student and their college counselor determine if testing is likely to be strong enough to be additive to a college application (and therefore part of a student’s application process) and/or to determine which test to prepare for, ACT or SAT.  

    To learn more about the current state of standardized testing in the college admission process, we highly recommend reading the blogs written by Compass Test Prep (particularly Keeping Options Open).  If you’re interested in the growing movement away from standardized testing, please consult for articles about the current state of college admission testing as well as an up-to-the-minute list of test-optional schools.

    Oakwood does not teach the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum, so we do not offer AP exams on our campus. 

    Helpful links:
  • Affording College

    Affordability is among the most important factors in determining a college’s “fit” for a student. In support of Oakwood families considering affordability, we offer annual programming in support of Oakwood families considering affordability. By collaborating with experts from college financial aid offices, we are able to provide families with an overview of how "need-based" (determined by income and assets) and "merit-based" (awards given by individual colleges to attract talented students) financial assistance is awarded. We also help families walk line by line through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, as it is commonly known. Our partnership with SmartTrack College Funding equips families with resources for finding the most cost-effective ways of deploying assets towards college.

    If college affordability is on your mind, it’s never too early to begin researching college costs and getting a sense of your eligibility for need-based assistance. 
    • is an award-winning website that provides an excellent overview of need and merit-based aid.
    • MyinTuition shows the projected cost of college once financial aid is factored in, helping families understand and plan for what college will actually cost.  
    • Every college is required to have a Net Price Calculator on their website. Very often, a simple Google search typing in the name of a college + “net price calculator” will take you to the right place.


Thank you for your interest in visiting Oakwood School. We welcome you to our campus and are currently scheduling visits through Scoir. Please note we are requiring proof of vaccination for all in-person visits. 

Parking is available behind North Campus (formerly St. David’s church) in the spaces marked “Visitor” or in the neighborhood (be mindful of street signs). Once parked, security will check you in. We look forward to your visit!

If you have any questions, please email Diane Wymer.


Oakwood Alumni: please complete the Alumni Transcript Request Form.

Oakwood Transfer Students: Please complete the Transfer Student Transcript Request Form. This form is for students who withdraw from Oakwood before they graduated.

The Oakwood Registrar is not responsible for incomplete or inaccurate information provided. Please allow up to one week for processing from the time of request.


Melissa Palmer
Co-Director of College Counseling

I am a huge fan of the annual Arts Festival.  It’s a daylong celebration of performing and visual arts at Oakwood featuring a tie-dye station, a giant potluck lunch, and brave and brilliant music performances, just to name a few of the highlights.  I used to get super into the Silent Disco event (everyone’s favorite) until my daughters announced that it was too embarrassing to watch me dance.  When my youngest graduates soon, I plan to disco hard again.

Fun Fact: I was raised on a cattle ranch in rural Alberta, Canada, just 30 minutes from Glacier National Park.
Steffany Perez
Co-Director of College Counseling

Oakwood’s commencement ceremony is my absolute favorite. In any given year, our graduates might perform an original composition, choreograph a dance routine, or deliver a compelling speech on climate change. It’s a true celebration of our students’ creativity and convictions.

Fun Fact: On the weekends, you might find me at hip-hop class or eating dumplings with my family.
Carolyn Starks
Associate Director of College Counseling

My knowledge of the kinship that comes with being a member of the Oakwood community was what preceded my time at Oakwood and it’s lived up to the hype! Every person on this campus is happy to be here and does what they can to support each other while keeping the Statement of Philosophy at the forefront. 

Fun Fact: I’m on a mission to find the best bean and cheese burrito in LA County. 
Diane Wymer

One of my favorite Oakwood memories is getting crowned prom queen…. in my 40's!  Yes, you read it right! I accepted the "promposal" when asked to be the faculty prom advisor because relationships between students and adults at Oakwood are so fundamental to our community that it was another significant way I could have an impact in a student's life and get to know them outside of the college process. It's an important piece to my continued love for the work I do.   

Fun Fact: every winter, you can find me enjoying raclette with family and friends.