Discovery, Confidence, Self-Reflection, Competency
O’Dowd’s comprehensive and individualized counseling program encompasses every element of the student experience. Our robust team of diverse counselors build strong personal relationships with each incoming 9th grader and guide them all the way through graduation, supporting students to navigate their social, emotional, and academic journey, as well as their dreams and goals for the future. We understand that every student has their own unique background, needs, and aspirations, and we offer a developmentally focused curriculum that aids students in discovering their interests, strengths, purpose and goals, so they leave O’Dowd equipped to become the best version of themselves, and make the greatest contribution to their communities.
“Before O’Dowd, I didn’t see myself as a leader. But now I know how important it is to be part of something bigger than myself, how it feels to help others. In college, I’m going to study economics and political science. I want to be a progressive politician and give back to my community.”
- Sam, 12th Grade
Our Counseling Department offers a number of informative and educational programs for parents and guardians, supporting the whole family in navigating the college application process and future planning. We also partner closely with our Health and Wellness and Academic Support Departments, to ensure that every student receives the emotional and academic assistance they need to thrive at O’Dowd.
Documented Learning Differences & ADHD
We have specialized services and targeted accommodations for students from a broad spectrum of learning profiles. Our team-based approach ensures relevant referrals and consultations, accomodation for standardized tests, guidance for the college application/transition process, and additional study-skills, organization, and self-advocacy support as needed.
Guiding Students To the Best College For Them
Explore, Engage, Research, Apply
9th Grade - Discover and ExploreWhen students enter O’Dowd, our counselors help them adjust to high school, begin goal setting, and become self-advocates. Students also begin the important process of resume building: recording the narrative journey of their experience which they update through all four year at O’Dowd.
10th Grade - Explore and EngageCounselors guide students in a self-reflective process that asks: Who do I want to be? What do I want to explore? To support future planning, students attend our “Getting Ready for College'' and “College Fair” events. In addition, students learn time management and stress reduction strategies, and prepare for the PSAT.
11th Grade - Engage, Research, and PlanAs students enter their junior year, our counselors lead them through still deeper futures planning. Students in this phase start to differentiate themselves, asking: Who AM I? Who do I want to become? Throughout the year, our counselors support students to understand the college admissions process (including financial aid), begin to research colleges of interest, attend “Career Day,” and also engage in other key preparation, including taking the PSAT and creating a comprehensive high school resume.
12th Grade - Plan, Apply, Choose and CelebrateWhen they reach their senior year, students work closely with their counselors to discern which next steps are right for them, which could range from traditional college to alternative pathways, including a gap year. Counselors guide students in their college applications, including advising on essays, financial aid, gathering letters of recommendation, and NCAA registration. In addition, the Counseling Department hosts a series of programs just for seniors, including a series of required College Flex Supports, our Essay Writing Workshop, Senior and Family College Night, and drop-in Flex Supports.
Anto Sweeney, Interim Director of Counseling and Wellness
Anto grew up in the Bay Area, earning her BA from Cal State Hayward and her MA/PPS in Counseling from Saint Mary’s College of California. She has worked as a counselor for nearly 20 years and is continually inspired by the passion and fortitude of each generation of students.