College Counseling

College Counseling Office

College Admission Experts

With personalized consultations and expert advice, we help students identify colleges and programs that align with their aspirations. 

The Changing Landscape

College admissions is ever changing. Hover over the images below to learn how we position students for success.

A 4 Year Curriculum


The college counseling curriculum at St. Anne’s-Belfield begins in Grade 9, progressing with greater detail and specificity by grade level. By junior year, students have the additional option of taking a one-module class that cover all aspects of the college admissions process. During this class, Grade 11 students will learn about college, work on their essays, and explore other related topics. Grade 12 students will spend time working on their applications and essays, alleviating the pressure on their extracurricular time and leveraging the expert help of our college counselors and key campus partners. Optional programming for parents/guardians also deepen a family’s knowledge of the nuances and changing landscape of the admission process so that parents/guardians may better support their students.



Expert Team


One of the distinctions of our college counseling office is the expertise we bring to the table. Together, our team of four counselors have close to 60 years of experience as college counselors and college admissions professionals. We have read nearly 100,000 applications and personal essays, attended or presented sessions at numerous conferences, and visited more than 200 colleges and universities in the US and abroad. As experts in our field, we stay abreast of changes to ensure our students and their families are positioned to present the strongest possible applications for admissions. While students and families work most often and most closely with their assigned counselor, they have access to all four college counselors. Students may draw on them for essay and application feedback, and count on their collective knowledge about specific colleges.



Track Record of Student Success


The admissions landscape is complex and ever-evolving. Today’s news is dominated by headlines about race-neutral admissions, challenges to legacy admissions, implications of the changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and updates to application essays. Our college counseling team stays on top of these changes, applying thoughtful and deliberate planning to our students’ college admissions journey. As evidenced by the Class of 2023’s successes, our five-year college acceptance and matriculation list, and the particular successes of our boarding students, our school community excels at inspiring and preparing the next generation of exemplary citizens and visionary leaders.  



22:1 Student to Counselor Ratio

With a student/counselor ratio of 22:1 compared to the Virginia average ratio of 307:1, the support we are able to offer students is unprecedented  in our industry. St. Anne’s-Belfield students benefit from individualized attention from not only their college counselor, but also the shared expertise of all four college counselors on the team. The additional coaching time each student receives is invaluable.

By the Numbers

73% first/second choice college acceptances

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70% UVA admission rate

22:1 student to counselor ratio, 408:1 national average

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52% will enroll in very selective (<25%) colleges and universities 

1304 average SAT score for the class of 2023

6.9 average number of applications submitted per student

60 years of combined experience

30 average ACT score for the class of 2023

Meet the College Counselors

Sandra Sohne-Johnston, Director of College Counseling

With 15 years of experience in college admissions, Sandra has read countless applications and counseled hundreds of students through the college search process. Serving most recently as a director of admissions recruitment and programming at Colby College, Sandra helped students find what was meaningful to them and welcomed the lifelong connections she made along the way. She advises students to “love what you do and share what you love with others,” and it was by following her own advice that led her to transition from college administration to college counseling.

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Colleen Zierk, Associate Director of College Counseling

Colleen joins St. Anne’s-Belfield School following the completion of her Master of Education in Higher Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). At HGSE, Colleen's coursework focused on students' mental health, development, and success in both secondary and higher education. Prior to HGSE, Colleen served as an associate director of admissions at the University of Chicago for five years where she managed territories throughout East and Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., including Virginia.

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Liza Rubenoff, Associate Director of College Counseling 

Liza was inspired by working alongside students pursuing their academic endeavors, and worked in the Undergraduate Admissions Office at NYU. After six years of recruiting and reading thousands of undergraduate admission applications and completing her M.A. in Higher Education & Student Affairs through NYU's Steinhardt School, Liza served as a college counselor at TASIS, The American School of England located in Surrey, England, and in 2016 started her work with the Ron Brown Scholars Program, assisting young African American students in their college application process as a college counselor. 

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Nic Bell, Associate Director of College Counseling, Head Lacrosse Coach

Nic views his work as an extension of the classroom, as the college selection process is both a science and an art, having served as a college counselor, coach, teacher, admissions person and dorm parent at schools across the country. He’s presented on a variety of topics at NYSACAC and EISSCAP regional conferences, athletic recruiting at IMLCA’s National Conference, has done liaison work with the NCAA and and is the former President of the Western New England Secondary School Lacrosse Coaches Association.

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