Bright future plans begin early


College planning begins at eighth grade for Cape Fear Academy students. The school’s Director of College Planning, Becky Copenhaver, meets with all of the eighth grade classes and shows them where Cape Fear Academy students have been accepted into college around the country and abroad. It gets them excited, she said.

Starting college planning early is part of the students’ high success rate of 100 percent of college acceptance among the graduating class. At ninth grade, Copenhaver clusters the students in small groups in the computer lab where they learn how to create a resume. She introduced the web-based college and career planning program, Naviance, at Cape Fear Academy. All students can access the program to which the school subscribes.

Naviance can generate a list of colleges and universities that are a good match for a student based on a series of questions and a student’s aptitude test scores.

“You want to find a college that’s a good fit for you and a good fit for them,” she said.

In the 10th and 11th grades, she has students take the Kiersey Personality Sorter through Naviance, which helps students become more aware of their own personalities and what career choices would be a good match. She begins to talk to them about how specific majors can lead to certain careers and what courses they can take at Cape Fear Academy to be most prepared for a particular field.

Then, at the end of the year, she takes 10th grade students on a three-day college tour by bus. The itinerary includes colleges and universities that represent a variety of campuses including a large state university, a small private liberal arts college, an urban college and a mid-size university.

In 11th grade, she offers an in-depth workshop for parents and students where she walks through the college admissions process. She encourages them to visit schools and compile a list of schools the student is interested in.

In 12th grade, she meets with the students in small groups to teach them about the college application process. Many Cape Fear Academy students apply early admission by October 15. By January, many have received acceptances to Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of South Carolina, University of Georgia and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Most Cape Fear Academy graduates choose to stay in state and attend UNC Chapel Hill, NC State and UNCW, she said. Throughout the process, she meets privately with students and their parents to help them navigate it.

Last year’s graduating class received a total of $2.7 million in college financial aid awards, she said. She publishes a newsletter called “The College Collage” that features scholarship opportunities. She also encourages all students to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In this economy, she has seen colleges and universities giving more in student financial aid.

“Colleges have to do a much better job to make it attainable,” she said. “Private schools will work with students to try to pare down that tuition to be in line with in-state tuition because of the economy. The last five to 10 years have been pretty dramatic in terms of scholarships.”

Cape Fear Academy has been a leader in the educational community of southeastern North Carolina since 1967. Known for its academic excellence and outstanding college preparatory program, the pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum emphasizes hands-on learning across academic disciplines. For more information, visit or call (910) 791-0287.