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Success and Happiness in the College Search

Success and Happiness in the College Search

Beth Foulk
Associate Director of College Counseling
The Lawrenceville School

I had just wrapped up college applicant interviews at a community-based organization in Philadelphia, and a staff member and I were informally chatting about my experience. All of the students were impressive; one was participating in lab research at the University of Pennsylvania, another was learning about drinking water impurities in the Philadelphia area, and an aspiring engineer had built his own computer from scratch. It was a rather self-selecting pool of students; they had already researched my institution and each had a competitive academic profile for the admissions pool.

“It was an awesome night,” I shared. “I have to admit, one of the students really struck me as that perfect fit for my university. I can imagine him studying across colleges, probably majoring in engineering while minoring in business. He’ll love that he can participate in theater without majoring. He described wanting a campus that is highly involved and has a lot of school spirit, and we pride ourselves on that. He even described what he would do with the fully funded international internship we offer.” The staff member nodded her head, smiling. She had requested that he research my institution, already seeing how his values, goals, and personality lined up with our student body. Then she said, “He is currently stuck on just one institution, though, and I’m trying to get him to branch out. I think he would be successful at that particular college, but I worry that he won’t be happy.”

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Calming The Storm: 4 Takeaways from Harvard's Turning The Tide II Report

Calming The Storm: 4 Takeaways from Harvard's Turning The Tide II report

Lesley Klecan
Director of College Guidance
St. Mary's School 

The newest report out of Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project targets families and high schools as central to increasing sanity in college admissions.

And rightly so.

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"!Pero qué escándalo!" A College Counselor's Perspective on the College Admissions Scandal


"!Pero qué escándalo!" A College Counselor's Perspective on the College Admissions Scandal
A Diversity & Inclusion AdmitAll Post

Ashley Armato

Senior Associate Director of College Counseling
Palmer Trinity School

As a part of the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) committee, D&I blog posts endeavor to share opportunities and perspectives that will allow us to better support our students and communities, while building on our own professional growth.

“What a scandal!” That’s all I heard from parents as the news of Operation Varsity Blues hit the airwaves. This was tabloid fodder at its strongest, wrapped in prestige, intelligentsia, and privilege. By now, a plethora of articles have been written exposing the ugly underbelly of college admissions, athletic recruitment, and standardized testing procedures.

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Unwrapping the Gift of Gratitude: How High School Seniors can Show Gratitude in the College Process

Unwrapping the Gift of Gratitude: How High School Seniors can Show Gratitude in the College Process

Kait Long
Assistant Director of College Guidance
Sewickley Academy

A quick Google search of the word “gratitude” will give you countless results ranging from blog posts to TED Talks to scientific articles. It’s a popular topic in many fields, including education, and the importance of expressing gratitude has been discussed at length. But there is one thing many of these excellent pieces neglect to mention — expressing gratitude can be hard. And sometimes, it can be really hard, especially for high school seniors in the midst of the college process. It can also be uncomfortable, awkward, and make you feel incredibly vulnerable. And that’s how you know you’re doing it right. True, genuine gratitude takes time to understand and develop, and it takes even more practice to learn how to express it.

I’ll be the first to admit that expressing gratitude was not a priority when I was a senior in high school, especially in February when the days felt long and I was anxiously awaiting college decisions. Looking back, I wish I had taken the time to thoughtfully acknowledge all of the wonderful people in my life, instead of handing out quick “thank yous” and hugs during the final nostalgic days of school. I’m sure it would have felt awkward opening up to others in this way, but in hindsight, I know they deserved more than I offered.

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The Radar: An Educator's Response to the Pittsburgh Tragedy

We are honored to share this blog entry and we realize it isn’t typical for an AdmitAll post. Lauren Lieberman’s words below are deeply personal, yet also universal. She reminds us that even as school leaders, we are also human and there are times when we have to care for our school communities AND let them care for us. And sometimes seeing the adults in their lives as vulnerable allows students to grow and learn and realize that we all struggle through tragedies together. 

The Radar: An Educator’s Response to the Pittsburgh Tragedy

Lauren Lieberman
Director of College Counseling
Shady Side Academy

When I received a text message from our school counselor this past Monday evening, I showed it to my husband and said, “I’m officially on the radar.”

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Exterminating College Process Termites

Exterminating College Process Termites

Kate Peltz
Director of College Counseling
Concord Academy

My husband and I were in the midst of a home improvement project. Everything was going smoothly until we took out a large shrub, could better view a post on our porch, and discovered evidence of insect damage.  More than what I could see, what worried me was the places my imagination took me.  I had visions of swarming termites devouring my porch from the inside out. We did not see evidence of any active critters, but how could we be sure we were not facing a major issue?  My mind raced to dark places, causing me to feel both vulnerable and filled with questions.  How big was the scope of our problem?  Is there such a thing as "normal" wear and tear?  Did every very old home have some insect damage? I longed for an expert; I wanted guarantees.  Then it hit me. 

For parents of juniors in high school, worry about the impending college process is the equivalent of termites.  Instead of a manageable project that might even be fun and informative for both student and parent, learning about, preparing for and applying to college feels threatening and destabilizing.  Here are some examples of what college process termites look like when activated: 

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List-Making and Loving The Child You Have


List-Making and Loving the Child You Have

Beth Slattery
Upper School Dean
Harvard Westlake School

When my son was in 7th grade, he placed into the highest-level math group. This was a source of great pride for me…until he failed the first three tests. I distinctly remember battling in my head: do I have him move down to a more appropriate level or do I keep him where he is and hope it gets better? I wish I could say I immediately moved him down, but I did not. He stuck it out the whole year, ending with a mercy B- and having no better understanding of algebra than he had 9 months earlier.  Again, I was at a crossroads. This time, I chose the right path for my son. He repeated Algebra (meaning he was no longer in the highest-level math class) and regained his confidence in math.

This incident was about much more than math; it was about deciding to accept the child I had (one who simply didn’t belong in the highest-level course) or spend time wishing he were different, wishing he was the kind of kid who DID belong in the highest-level course. This dilemma comes up all the time for parents at independent schools and is at its worst during the college process, especially as it is time to make “the list.” How many times have kids said “My parents want me to apply to [name any school with a single digit admit rate]”?

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