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Reflections on the People of Color Conference (PoCC)

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

As a part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) committee, DE&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

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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


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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. 

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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.” 

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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'Tis the season! What to do when your early application is deferred to a regular pool.

'Tis the season! What to do when your early application is deferred to a regular pool.

Jody Sanford Sweeney
Associate Director of College Counseling
William Penn Charter School

You may be one of the many seniors who learned from your early decision or early action college that you were deferred. As a college counselor who works with many seniors every December, I know the deep disappointment that can be felt from this news – I feel it myself for my students. At a time when days are festive and bright, you may feel things are dreary and bleak.  What I do know is that everything works out and happens for a reason; it’s just not clear right now.

Take these steps in your college application process and combine some holiday activities that bring you joy as you embark on an exciting New Year. 

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It's an Amazon Prime World!

It's an Amazon Prime World! 

Matthew J. DeGreeff
Dean of College Counseling and Student Enrichment
Middlesex School

With Boston, our nearby neighbor, competing with 238 other cities to be HQ2 for Amazon, I was inspired to dust off a short essay that I started two years ago for the ACCIS blog. 

On the Friday night before a major early deadline, I received an email from one of my seniors wanting to know why her early action college had not received her SAT scores, recommendations, school forms, transcript, and school profile. She had just submitted her application, and she expected everything to be in her “admissions portal” that very instant.  Her current application status was unacceptable! I gently reminded her that it takes time to match electronic records, as well as the eye-opening fact that admissions offices do not work on Saturdays and Sundays. I gently suggested that she had to be patient and wait for everything to come together the following week, well after the November 1st deadline. After this exchange, the first of many over the weekend, it struck me that our students have a different set of expectations around timing, feedback, and deliverable goods in their relationships with websites. I call it the “Amazon Prime Effect.” 

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What Do We Teach?: The Lessons of College Counseling

What Do We Teach?: The Lessons of College Counseling

Nicholas Soodik
Associate Director of College Counseling
Pingree School

John Allman, the Head of Trinity School in Manhattan, recently made the New York Times for an unusual reason: his end-of-summer letter to families at his school. In it, Allman seeks to establish a new sense of community at Trinity, an environment that attends to both individual well-being and the common good. The letter makes a point to call out the divisive forces that cause disconnection at Trinity and independent schools more broadly. He worries that students view their schoolwork simply as a means to “set themselves on a path of lifelong superior achievement,” and he censures “consumerist families that treat teachers and the school in entirely instrumental ways.”

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On Writing That Darn Essay!

 

On Writing That Darn Essay!

Emily McDowell
Associate Director of College Counseling
The Williston Northampton School

Why is it so hard to sit down at a computer and write the dreaded college essay?  In a world of social-media-driven culture and 140 word-count-maximum postings, many students are terrified to write a two page essay because it is so daunting in nature.  Here are some tips and tricks that have helped students uncover the ease of telling a 650 word story about themselves.

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The Lowdown on Demonstrated Interest

The Lowdown on Demonstrated Interest

Jody Sweeney
Associate Director of College Counseling
William Penn Charter School

Spring in independent schools brings many alumni back to their alma maters. One of my former students was visiting me recently, telling me about his college experience. Seeing him reminded me of a conversation I had with an admissions officer over a decision on one of his college applications. The student had a solid academic profile for the institution and the institution’s acceptance rate was well into the double digits. In my mind, and supported by data, it was a “likely” or even “safety” school for him. So when he logged into his account to receive a waitlist you can imagine the surprise and disappointment – for both of us!

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Keep Calm, Consider a Gap Year

Keep Calm, Consider a Gap Year

Robert S. Clagett
St. Stephen’s Episcopal School
Austin, TX

For us college counselors, this time of year is, as Charles Dickens would say, the best of times and the worst of times. At the same moment that we are celebrating the joys of some of our seniors, we are sharing the despair of others. But it is the sad reality that most of our students’ lives in the past four to eight years have been geared towards the culmination that the past month or so represents for them.

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Now What?

Now What?

Erika Giaimo Chapin
Associate Director of College Counseling
The Hopkins School

As your college counselors, our most sincere hope is that right now, you’re happy.  You’ve spent a long time researching, visiting, writing, pondering, and waiting, and so now we hope that you’re able to look back on your experience as an applicant with great satisfaction.  No doubt you’ve earned it.  

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There Is No Wrong Way To Spend An Afternoon

There Is No Wrong Way To Spend An Afternoon

Courtney M. Skerritt
Director of College Counseling
The Hockaday School

Like many independent schools around the country, The Hockaday School recently hosted a College Admissions Deans Panel. This event serves as an opportunity for experienced admission officers to share their expertise with students and parents. While on our campus, when prompted with the question about extracurricular involvement, Kirk Brennan, Director of Admission at the University of Southern California, shared a wonderful anecdote about the joy of watching the clouds roll by. In fact, he told the audience, I wish all of the students would just take some time to do just that. I share this story to tell students that they can watch the clouds and still be admitted to college.  Why? Because there is no wrong way to spend an afternoon.

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What Have You Done For Me Lately? Advocacy in the College Process

 

What Have You Done For Me Lately? Advocacy in the College Process

Sam Bigelow
Director of College Counseling
Middlesex School

Just as dated as the Janet Jackson 1986 pop smash “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” the concept of the “college placement officer” is of a bygone era. Gone are the days of a college placement officer sitting with a dean of admission and determining who from their senior class can and will be admitted…and who won’t. The term “college counselor” is a title that far more accurately describes the role of the person who, at best, deftly guides students through the murky waters of the college admissions process and serves as an advocate, therapist, and planner as they present their students to colleges. Often, the question of what that advocacy looks like comes up this time of year, when students and their parents anxiously await college news.

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Deferred Early? Don't Fret!

Deferred Early? Don't Fret!

Barbara Tragakis Conner
Director of College Counseling
Foxcroft School

The seasons of college admission are fairly predictable. College Counselors work closely with students through the college exploration and application process in the fall as applications are completed and essays are drafted, edited, and finally submitted with great hopes of inviting admission offers. When these applications are submitted under Early Decision (binding) or Early Action (early notification) plans, admission decisions are typically expected in December or January.

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How Did Your Early Round Go? (Everyone Wants To Know)

How Did Your Early Round Go? (Everyone Wants To Know)

Lauren Lieberman
Director of College Counseling
Shady Side Academy

College counselors across the country are asked this question nearly every December, as the Early Action/Early Decision results are released. As a college counselor for more than a decade in independent schools, I’m taken aback each winter by this question. What is it that people are really asking? My answer has always been, “Great.” To which people respond, “No really, how was your early round?”

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California Dreamin': An Update on the UC

California Dreamin': An Update on the UC

Rhody Davis
Director of College Counseling
Viewpoint School

With nine undergraduate campuses throughout the state, the University of California is a higher-ed gem. Founded in 1869, the UC offers 150 academic disciplines and serves nearly 239,000 students. This past year, of the 166,000 or so students who applied, 64% were admitted, making the system accessible to a majority of applicants. 

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