Whether you have a senior or preschool-aged child, the road to university has likely crossed your mind. Now in the middle of the college application process, that road is a busy, exciting, and stressful one for our seniors.
While certain college “ranking” publications focus attention primarily on the most selective colleges and universities, it is important to emphasize that we live in an age with an extraordinary abundance of high quality university choices both in the US and internationally. Our goal is to do all we can to help your children have the best chance possible to get into the colleges they aspire to. I want to share some of the structures and supports SAS offers students and families to make this possible.
Several years ago, we reorganized our high school counselors into two groups: college counselors and personal academic counselors. This structure better utilizes the different responsibilities and skill sets of our counselors. Our personal academic counselors have deep experience in providing students social-emotional counseling. Our seven college counselors, by contrast, focus wholly on supporting students and families throughout their college application experience.
Our college counselors bring decades of experience in college counseling and in some cases direct experience as college admissions officers themselves. Their backgrounds and experience are a tremendous resource and advantage for our students in this work. Our head of college counseling, Tina Forbush, was featured recently in a virtual event on college admissions with college counselors from SAS and UWC. Click here to view a recording of the session.
Our college counselors provide personalized counseling to each student. Students are paired with a college counselor in the spring of tenth grade. The counselors learn the needs, strengths, and aspirations of each student to help them understand what recommendations to make and how to help each student showcase their best self during the application process. They help students learn to ask the right questions in order to help them identify the schools that will be great fits for them. With the range of high quality choices that are available to our students both in the US and internationally, it is vital that our students have the opportunity to understand in depth these possibilities.
Additionally, our counselors help students develop and edit their essays, write counselor recommendation letters, review teacher recommendation letters, hold regular coffees and chats for parents, and ensure that SAS maintains a strong reputation among college admissions officers.
During my first semester at SAS (when travel was still possible!), I had the opportunity to visit a number of west coast US universities to meet personally with their college admissions directors. The trip included visits to big schools like UCLA, USC, and UC Berkeley, medium-sized schools like Santa Clara and Stanford, and small schools like Claremont McKenna. Admissions directors at the colleges I visited were highly knowledgeable about SAS. They spoke positively about the quality of the education at SAS, the strength of our college counseling team, and the success our graduates have experienced at their colleges. I am hoping to visit more US colleges and universities this spring to talk further about SAS.
The admissions directors emphasized how much they value the depth and quality of the experiences students have at high school, including active participation and leadership experiences outside of the classroom. At these selective colleges, admissions leads stressed how much they valued students who are not just seeming to “tick the boxes” but are demonstrating passion and excitement about what they are learning and doing. In the words of one: “Those are the kids whom our professors most want in their classes and who do best at our university.”
In that vein, the admissions officers voiced their strong support for SAS curricular opportunities that allow like Advanced Topics, Catalyst, and Quest that allow students greater opportunities to pursue their passions and to be self-directed in their learning. They noted that such opportunities are good differentiators for SAS students and help better prepare them to succeed at college. The SAS alums I met with at these colleges shared a similar theme.
Historically we have hosted over 200 college admissions representatives on campus every year to allow students to meet directly with representatives of the schools they are interested in. During Covid-19, these visits have become virtual. We encourage our students to take advantage of these visits. The more that students, with the guidance of their college counselors, educate themselves about a wide range of colleges—especially schools with which they might not be familiar—the better prepared they will be to choose and apply to colleges. Please keep an eye out in eNews for college-related information sessions that we host for parents and schedules of upcoming college visits (which at this point are mostly done for the fall).
If you have any questions about the college admissions process or how we support students in this work, please connect with your child’s college counselor.