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The Miracle is You

The Miracle is You
Carter Delloro, Marymount School of New York

I am a father to a toddler. And like many parents of toddlers, at some point in the last eight months or so, I was introduced to the new Disney film, Encanto. Repeatedly. Our household is currently averaging one viewing of Encanto per day. Every car ride features at least some of the soundtrack. So I’ve had a lot of time to mull over the themes that Lin-Manuel Miranda and his co-creators were addressing in their film.

Whenever I think about Encanto, and especially its songs, I can’t help but think about my students. While the whole world knows the smash hit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (which my wife and I have fashioned into a nifty duet for our bedtime routine), the songs that hit home emotionally for me are the ones that immediately precede and follow that hit. Just a fair warning: light spoilers lie ahead.

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The Waitlist: The Final Frontier

The Waitlist: The Final Frontier
Matthew DeGreeff, Middlesex School

On July 17th, 2020, I was standing in the parking lot of Drake’s Island Beach in Wells, Maine when I received a phone call from a college admissions officer with an urgent request. He wanted to offer Sam, one of our recently graduated students, a spot in the Class of 2024 for the fall semester; however, he wanted to know before the offer was made if Sam would take it. Breathlessly, I called Sam, pulling him away from his summer job to ask him the big question:  do you want to go to your dream college that deferred you in early decision, waitlisted you in regular decision, and now wants you to join their incoming class?  And by the way, they are asking you to commit on the spot in the middle of the summer!  An eternal optimist, Sam had the full range of emotions from sheer joy to momentary confusion. He had done the hard work we asked him to do. He finished his senior year brilliantly, nailing terrific scores on his APs and was recognized by the faculty for his remarkable senior leadership during the crazy spring of 2020. He fell in love with the college he deposited with, and he had found roommates, started registering for classes, and was preparing with his parents to make his first tuition payment. He was in a very good place, yet he kept hope alive for his dream school, just in case something changed. In the spring of 2020, COVID changed everything, and the world of college admissions witnessed record numbers of waitlist acceptances as deans of admissions tried to figure out what the fall of 2020 would look like on their campuses. Within an hour on that hot July day, Sam accepted the offer from his dream school, feeling a bit guilty about saying no to the college he was intending to enroll in, but knowing that he could not turn down an opportunity that he had been considering for nearly two years.   

As I reflect back on Sam’s story I wonder who benefits from the waitlist and what are the costs to the students. There is a lot to unpack. In many ways, the waitlist is the most unregulated, least watched, and emotionally loaded space in the admissions cycle. For students, the offer to remain on the waitlist means, as Jim Carrey noted in Dumb and Dumber, that “there’s a chance” that a spot might open up in the incoming class. However, for this generation of students waiting even longer cuts against the grain of their online existence and need for immediate feedback. The waitlist requires another round of “letters of continued interest” to demonstrate their unquestioned fealty to the college along with finishing senior year strongly when their classmates are thinking about attending prom and walking across the stage at graduation. The waitlist requires patience, resilience, and the strength to buckle up and ride out the process to the bitter end, and this is a tall task for students as early May turns into late June with their final notification still pending. One of my old admissions colleagues used to remind younger members on the admissions committee that “until the last acceptance letter is in the U.S. Mail truck that there was always a chance.”  As an admissions officer and a college counselor, I have always believed that if there is a chance why not pursue it with eyes wide open, knowing we gave the process our collective best effort; however, I recognize that the elongation of the process is not always healthy for teenagers who need to move forward with their lives. I have found that more and more students are done with the college process by late April. Once they have attended revisit days, felt the love from the college they deposit with, and start to feel a sense of belonging with their college, they are ready to move forward with their lives. The hardy few try to keep hope alive.       

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To Educate is to Lead: Empowering Counselors as Leaders

To Educate is to Lead: Empowering Counselors as Leaders
Timothy L. Cross, The Lawrenceville School

Two decades ago with my Classics diploma still curled into a scroll, I assured myself there was no shame in not wanting to become a Latin teacher. Nothing of note had been written in Latin in a couple millennia plus no exciting discoveries in grammar or syntax were making headlines. In reflection, I realized that teaching Classics was too slow an expedition because I didn’t see the opportunities for growth for me. I still wanted to help students develop and mature, and I thought back to how my greatest moments of personal growth during high school transpired beyond the classroom. Now, partnering with students through the ever-mutating college process has provided me the opportunity to join their journeys while ensuring that every day brought progress–both for them and for me. With all that is going on in the world, I recently needed to remind myself why I counsel students: to walk stride-for-stride with them toward their goals.

The etymology of the term “education” comes from the Latin verb ēdūcō, ēdūxī meaning “to lead forth, draw out.” The definition depicts physical movement: an educator driving a learner from one place (of not knowing) to another (learnedness). Thus, to educate is to lead. Educators must recurrently generate and sustain movement toward a shared goal among colleagues or students; I believe this because complacency begets obsolescence while the unpredictability of the world—and the college process—is constantly evolving. The etymology of “education” shows me that all educators are, by definition, leaders.

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Butterflies in Flight: Parenting and Metamorphosis in the College Process

Butterflies in Flight: Parenting and Metamorphosis in the College Process
Lauren Watson
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The other day on our drive home, my nine-year-old son blurted out, “Mom! Did you know that if you try to help a butterfly come out of its chrysalis too soon, it won’t ever be able to fly? Did you know that, Mom?” He went on to explain that his teacher shared, while imploring a group of fourth-graders not to touch their classroom visitors, that the oil from human skin can ruin a butterfly’s ability to fly before even leaving the chrysalis.

When he returned to looking out the window, I couldn’t help but think about some of the well-meaning adults who I’ve encountered in my almost twenty-year run in college counseling. Parents who, with good intentions, end up spilling their own concerns, priorities, insecurities even, onto their child’s college process. And, not unlike the curious and well-meaning fourth-grader, in doing so, risked jeopardizing their child’s opportunity for flight.

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Reflections on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Colloquium

Reflections on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Colloquium
Darling Cerna (Princeton Day School), Juan Acosta (The Westminster Schools), and Lucas Frankel (Shady Side Academy)

ACCIS held its first Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Colloquium in February and in the weeks that followed, members of our DEI Committee reflected on their experiences during the program and, more importantly, on what they took from it. As these three ACCIS members indicate, using a DEI lens while being a college counselor requires ongoing personal and professional development in order to serve all students in a meaningful way. They share the emotions, takeaways, and experiences after attending the Colloquium.


“Breathing in, be aware of your body;
Breathing out, release all tension in your body

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Feature It: Reframing the "Lost" College Visit

Feature It: Reframing the "Lost" College Visit

Kate Peltz
Director of College Counseling
Concord Academy

In a rusty, light grey station wagon, my father and I traversed New York and Pennsylvania. The year was 1995. The month was April. Our objective was to use school vacation week to help me build a college list. Certainly, my family’s thinking about college tours was informed by the environment in which I grew up: an affluent, white, suburb with college decals on SUV windows.

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The Seat in Class Next to Me Will Always Stay Open

“The Seat in Class Next to Me Will Always Stay Open”
The Obstacles Facing Students of Color Who Attend a Predominantly White Institution

Lucas Frankel
College Counselor
Shady Side Academy

You are a college counselor having an introductory meeting with a student. This student has done everything asked of them in high school. Top of the class in GPA, praised for a stellar work ethic, active in multiple passion projects, and well-respected in the community. The student is now embarking on their college process and has asked you to help identify some academically viable colleges. What strategies are you going to use to support this student?


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How An HBCU Education Stays With You Forever

How An HBCU Education Stays With You Forever

Produced by the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Blogging Subcommittee 

Darling Cerna
Assistant to College Counseling
Princeton Day School

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Calling In, Not Calling Out: How College Counselors Can Navigate Conversations Around Equity

             

Calling In, Not Calling Out: How College Counselors Can Navigate Conversations Around Equity

Frank Cabrera
Associate Director of College Counseling
Horace Mann School

               “Will the college process negatively affect me?” 
                             “Pfft. I know why that (not so subtly referring to a student of color) person got in.”
                                           “It’s unfair that someone else is taking my spot.”         



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College Counselors and their Magic Powers

College Counselors and their Magic Powers

Scottie Hill
Director of College Counseling
Annie Wright Schools

When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I knew several people who made a good living as witches and tarot card readers. Oddly, we had similar gripes about our day jobs. People come to the local witch for the same reasons they always have, but instead of a thatched hut in the woods, now they head to a fourth floor walkup. They say things like: “I want (this person who doesn't know I exist) to love me. What can you do to make that happen? I’ll do anything.” 

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Postcards from Kal: Supporting a Military Veteran in his College Process

Postcards from Kal: Supporting a Military Veteran in his College Process

Sam Bigelow
Director of College Counseling
Middlesex School

There were so many more tourists in St. Mark’s Square at 9am in the morning than the previous night. And the late June heat, my wife and I knew we were about thirty minutes ahead of Kal who was coming from his brother’s army base by train, about an hour south of Venice, so we sought the shade, found a spot, and waited. I had spoken with Kal plenty of times, emailed with him more, and yet, now that it was time to meet him (as chance would have it, we were both in Venice, Italy, of all places, at the same time), I was really nervous. 


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The Counselor Bias: Recognizing Privilege and Biases in College Counseling

The Counselor Bias: Recognizing Privilege and Biases in College Counseling
A Diversity, Equity & Inclusion AdmitAll Post

Lucas Frankel
College Counselor
Shady Side Academy

Featuring Lawrence Alexander, Carney Sandoe & Associates Search Consultant and career educator


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You are the Best You: Tips for Authentic Applications

You are the Best You: Tips for Authentic Applications

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


The best thing you can do to better your chances of admission is to be authentically yourself. 


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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.

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College Visits 101: Maximizing Your Time On Each Campus

College Visits 101: Maximizing Your Time On Each Campus 

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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.

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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, Equity & Inclusion AdmitAll Post

Ashley Armato

Senior Associate Director of College Counseling
Palmer Trinity School

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.

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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.

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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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