ייעוץ ללימודים אקדמיים
Director of College Counseling
Ms. Darling Cerna joined JLA as our Director of College Counseling from Princeton Day School in New Jersey, where she served as the Assistant Director of College Counseling.
PDS is ranked by Niche.com as one of top 50 K-12 private schools in the country and is widely known for its extraordinary success in college admissions.
A proud alum of Muhlenberg College, Ms. Darling Cerna holds a BA in French and Public Health, as well as a MA in Counseling from Villanova University. As a first generation college student herself, she is excited at the prospect of making a difference throughout this pivotal process for juniors and seniors.
She loves being a support system for students, helping them find their passions, and encouraging them to enjoy their high school years as much as possible. She cares deeply about all students and their families, and hopes to bring together her work to support students of all needs and backgrounds.
When she isn’t working, she loves to spend time with her family and enjoys going on walks with her two dogs. As a native Spanish speaker, she loves learning about different cultures, practicing her French and listening to music in different languages when she goes for runs.
Here at JLA, our college counseling mission aligns with that of our school’s mission. Our seniors will be equipped with the right skills, ambition and curiosity as they embark on their next academic journey. Our college program is designed to help students think deeply about who they are and what their values are, all while reflecting on what gives their life purpose and meaning.
Director of College Counseling
Thank you for taking the time to look at the college counseling section within our JLA website. If you are reading this, it is because you are curious about what kind of college process awaits your child should you choose to enroll at JLA. The saying, “Do what you love and love what you do” is a saying that transcends into so many aspects of my own life, both professionally and personally. If you read my bio, you know that I am coming from Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey. What you might not know is that I have been in New Jersey for almost the entirety of my life. If you’d asked me back in 2018 where I saw myself in five years, I would’ve never guessed I’d be in Miami, Florida. However, JLA’s commitment to families and students, as well as the intentionality behind everything that the school has to offer, provided me with the opportunity to do what I love. I am here because I love what I do: guiding families and students through the college process. While there is certainly a vast amount of knowledge that I can provide, what I enjoy most is getting to know students and parents alike during this process. It is a process that will require self-reflection, transparency, and compromise. I feel incredibly fortunate to be JLA’s Director of College Counseling and I am intentional in the way that I am shaping our college counseling program.
Freshmen should be immersing themselves in academics and building relationships with teachers. Our students should be taking the time to develop friendships, establish routines, learn to manage their time and discover new interests (either academic or extracurricular). Should a student want to meet with their college counselor during freshman year, they are certainly welcome to start the conversation.
Freshmen parents are welcome to reach out to the college counseling office, but please note that the majority of the fall and early winter is dedicated to working with upperclassmen families. In the winter, parents are invited to attend our Underclassmen Parent Evening, where more information about how the college counseling office works with students will be shared.
Sophomores will begin to interact with the college counseling office upon their return from Israel in September. All sophomores will complete an initial questionnaire and initial meeting with their college counselor in the fall. Through advisory lessons, our sophomores will not only learn about different college campuses and what they have to offer, but will also reflect deeply about who they are and what makes them feel a sense of purpose in life. In October, sophomores will have the opportunity to take the digital PSAT (practice SAT) for the first time. The purpose of this test is to have students undergo a standardized test under real conditions. Sophomores can expect to receive their scores by December, at which time their college counselor will meet with them to discuss test results as well as other practice opportunities in the winter/spring.
Sophomore parents will be given a parent questionnaire to complete in preparation for their initial meeting with their child’s college counselor. These meetings will take place in the fall and parents are always welcome to reach out to the college counseling office for further information and/or assistance. In the winter, parents are invited to attend our Underclassmen Parent Evening, where more information about how the college counseling office works with students will be shared.
Juniors will be receiving much more information from the college counseling office upon their return from Israel in September. Juniors and their parents will be invited to our Junior Kickoff Program in October, where they will receive a timeline with detailed information of what junior year will look like. One-on-one meetings will be mandatory beginning in October and will continue throughout the year until May. In the spring, juniors will have the opportunity to speak with college representatives at our annual college fair. Within their English classes, juniors will begin writing their main college essay, while receiving guidance from their teacher(s) and their college counselor. Additionally, juniors should aim to have an official SAT or ACT score before heading off into senior year.
Junior parents are encouraged to attend our Junior Kickoff Program in October. Parents can expect to receive monthly newsletters from the college counseling office, where we will be outlining what is happening with the junior class throughout the year. While the college counseling office will periodically reach out to parents to provide individual updates, parents should feel welcome to reach out to the college counseling office whenever they have questions and/or concerns.
Seniors will be undergoing a busy fall – with the return from Israel, celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and applying to college. While their plate will in fact be full, the college counseling office is here to support them with every step of the process. More detailed information about deadlines will be shared with seniors and their parents during our Senior Year Kickoff Program in October. Seniors will have meetings with their college counselor every other week to check in on the status of their applications. Seniors will also be offered time in advisory and during office hours to participate in application workshops – where they can ask a college counselor for feedback on their essays and/or applications. The college counseling office will be available well after the application deadlines pass, available for any follow-up needed to admission offices. Seniors will be supported and guided as they start receiving admissions decisions in the winter and spring, until they ultimately decide where they will enroll in the fall. Seniors will of course be celebrated prior to graduation and a Senior Transition Program will be held in the spring to prepare them for the transition from JLA to college.
Senior parents will undoubtedly be undergoing a busy fall too. Parents are strongly encouraged to attend our Senior Year Kickoff Program in October, where more details about the timeline and deadlines will be shared with both parents and students. Parents can expect to receive monthly newsletters from the college counseling office, where we will be outlining important action items that apply to seniors and their families. Parents of seniors are always welcome to reach out to the college counseling office with any questions and/or concerns. The college counseling office will maintain an open line of communication between students and families, ensuring that everyone is on the same page during and after the college application process. Support and guidance to seniors and their parents will be given well after the application process has ended.
For College Representatives
Please check back soon to see our school profile for the 2023-2024 school year.
JLA is looking forward to hosting college representatives for our fall visits from September – November 2024.
For visit requests or further information, please email Darling Cerna (firstname.lastname@example.org).
JLA is looking forward to hosting its first annual spring college fair in the spring of 2025.
To reserve your table, please email Darling Cerna (email@example.com).