Mapping out the College Process

Mountain Connection, December 5th, 2022

By: Jed Donnel

For seniors everywhere – and their parents – the college application process tends to be a daunting experience. Rest assured, in either grouping, that SMS students are in good hands. Our college guidance department (now composed of four adults for seventeen seniors and twenty-one juniors) works as a collaborative group to place the stressful aspects of the process into a realistic perspective. The entire puzzle for applying to college involves two paradoxical extremes: a broad expanse of mysterious, ineffable, and seemingly life-altering decisions, and the logistical minutiae of due dates, word counts, and required steps. In true SMS spirit, each member of the department adds their own personal touch to account for the whole undertaking. The captain of the ship, Gilbo states, “I love helping students figure out how to translate their big-picture dreams into realistic next steps, to identify and broaden their exposure to new places, new options, and new ideas, and then help them to comprehend the detailed work involved in seeing those abstract ideas become tangible.” During the fall, most of Gilbo’s attention is rightly on the seniors, who finish the bits and pieces of their applications during the closing months and weeks of the calendar year. Nowadays, too, applying to college can often feel like an extra, full-time undertaking, and we’re fortunate to include our Teaching Resident Sophie into the mix, who has focused on assisting seniors with their writing requirements. Sophie states, “I enjoy being a personal resource available to students, and especially getting to work one-on-one with them to edit their writing. In their essays, they get to show unique aspects of themselves, and I like helping them to communicate who they really are. The colleges need to know their honest selves, and the same process helps me to connect with the senior class, as individuals. So far I’ve met individually with over half of the class, and I’m hoping to meet with all of them.” 

      Meanwhile, the juniors have been split between classwork with Teaching Resident Hannah and Head of School Samantha, each of whom introduce and begin to problems-solve both the abstract and the minute. Hannah states, “I enjoy seeing the big picture of general counseling: helping students to develop school lists, conduct searches in Naviance and navigate that program. I want to make the whole process make sense for them.” She adds, “Samantha and I want the juniors to realize that this is really starting now. They need to take ownership, and we want to guide them through the work involved. Our intention, therefore, is to demystify the process for them, and we help them to understand the nitty-gritty aspects of everything they’ll be doing, including testing, essays, applications, and how to be honest with themselves and with schools.” The larger effect of the departments’ combined effort is to humanize the college process. Students know they have a variety of resources available to them, all of whom will assist them through the long and arduous journey of finding the school that is right for each of them. Gilbo adds, “It’s a fun process, and although it can often be stressful, there’s a magic in it, too. Colleges really know what they’re looking for, and they’re very good at finding good matches among a huge applicant pool. I especially like helping students to know how and why they are good matches while they are applying, too. I want our graduates to find schools where they’ll succeed, and where they’re happy.”

Learn more about the college process.

College Guidance

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