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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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College Visits 101: Maximizing Your Time On Each Campus

College Visits 101: Maximizing Your Time On Each Campus 

Bekka Goldberg
Associate Director of College Counseling
The Benjamin School 

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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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Reflections on the People of Color Conference (PoCC)

Reflections on the People of Color Conference (PoCC)
A Diversity & Inclusion AdmitAll Post

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.

“The NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.” - NAIS People of Color Conference website

The 31st People of Color Conference was held in Nashville November 28 - December 1, 2018 alongside the 25th Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). Two ACCIS members and our Executive Director share their different perspectives in reflections following the conference. Gabrielle Dorsey, Veda Robinson and Emmi Harward, provide insight into the impact the conference had (and continues to have) on them.

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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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College Essay Advice Gone Wrong

College Essay Advice Gone Wrong

Tyler Sant
Director of College Counseling
Holy Innocents' Episcopal School

Recently the New York Times published an article titled “How to Write a Good College Application Essay.”  The article would have been better titled “Confusing, Out-of-Context Tips for Writing a Disjointed and Inauthentic College Essay.” 

College admission is confusing.  It’s secretive.  Few people get to see the inner workings of how an admission decision is made.  And not surprisingly when things are confusing and secretive, presumably well-meaning, so-called experts emerge to crack the code for the unwashed masses. 

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Slaying your Senior Summer: Taking Full Advantage of Your Summer Vacation

Slaying your Senior Summer: Taking Full Advantage of Your Summer Vacation

Carter Delloro
Associate Director of College Counseling
The Taft School

With roughly a month remaining in your summer vacation (your timing may vary, depending on where in the world you are), what are some of the things you can do as a rising senior and soon-to-be-college-applicant to make sure you’re making the most of your time?

First off, whether you’re working a job to earn some money, showing off your leadership skills at a summer camp, or participating in some other summer enrichment opportunities, give it your all and end with a bang. You want to live these moments to the fullest, because (as any adult in your life will tell you) you won’t get many more summers to devote to self-fulfillment. Learn as much as you can from whatever you’re doing right now, and it will make you a better person, student and employee in the future. 

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The Property Brothers as a Metaphor for the College Visit

 

The Property Brothers as a Metaphor for the College Visit

Peter Jennings
Director of College Counseling
Concord Academy

For most college counselors, the demands of school year limit TV time, but everyone needs a little escapism: mine, I’ll confess, is Property Brothers. Aided by the twin skills of negotiating real estate deals and orchestrating a renovation, Drew and Jonathan Scott help families find and furnish homes.

Maybe this show isn’t complete escapism. After all, to observe the twins listen, assess the needs, and construct a plan, mirrors much of what college counselors do with their students.

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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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Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense

Blythe Butler
Co-Director of College Counseling
Catlin Gabel School

“...and you may ask yourself, ‘How did I get here?’”  - Talking Heads 

We are all storytellers.  Some of us use literature to make sense of the world.  We put together stories or theories based on evidence and experimentation.  We tell ourselves stories to explain why people act the way they do, or how events in the past can inform our current world.  We use stories to make sense of the nonsensical.  

As my students compile their college applications, I encourage them to find their stories, pull the threads of their experiences together to identify their values, find colleges that match those values, and share themselves.  I help a student think about why their choice to learn to play the ukulele might have a connection with their interest in engineering, and which colleges might recognize what a ukulele-playing engineer will bring to their campuses.  I watch them identify the stories a college tells to help students understand its culture and learning environment.  I assist them in imagining how their qualities might fit into the class a college is building, mapping out its story for the future.  I try to help them make order out of a process that can seem disorderly.

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