February 2019

Monthly Newsletter

Meetings with our juniors and their parents are well underway, and in the course of our conversations, questions often arise about the role of parents in the college process. Wouldn't it be easier and more efficient if the adults in our students' lives oversaw many of the administrative tasks associated with the admissions process? The protocols we establish in the College Counseling Office are guided by the knowledge that students are rapidly approaching the independence of college life and its many responsibilities. We believe the college search process asks students to navigate a process for which they have the requisite skills and maturity. Our expectations reflect the world they are about to enter, and our goal is to support them every step of the way, but without doing for them what they are quite capable of doing – and need to do – for themselves.


To that end, we ask students to take ownership of the many administrative tasks the process requires: scheduling appointments with their college counselor, updating Naviance, reading and following directions, checking email, meeting deadlines, registering for APs and other standardized tests, creating their Common App accounts, coordinating calendars with parents and scheduling the student/parent meeting, writing and editing essays, etc. These are but a few of the responsibilities inherent in the process, but all of them help foster the independence expected of young adults. That said, the College Counseling Office supports students by offering advice on which tests to take, shaping the college list, refining their essays, scheduling essay and interview workshops, ensuring we (counselor, student, parents) are all on the same page, reminding students to attend to details, and more, all in an effort to maximize their personal growth.


We know that as parents and educators, it is sometimes easier to take care of the "to-do" list ourselves, but every time we do so, we deprive our children and students of the opportunity to learn important skills and gain confidence in their ability to navigate in the adult world. Our desire to help can actually undermine their developing self-efficacy, so don't be surprised if we redirect your good intentions and ask that your child take care of the administrative aspects of their college search. We believe doing so empowers students, and though seemingly minor in comparison to so many other aspects of their lives, yields long-term benefits that are critical to ultimately leading independent, productive lives.


If you are ever wondering why we do what we do, please ask; we are happy to discuss the "hidden curriculum" of our work in college counseling.

- The College Counseling Team


Many seniors are awaiting college decisions scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, and the days spent waiting can feel endless. Since decisions sometimes don't play out as we wish they would, we suggest reading the following article that includes reflections by Barack Obama and six other leaders on dealing with rejection: How Barack Obama—and 6 other leaders—felt after a college rejection.

If you haven't done so recently, check your admissions portal to make sure your application is complete.


Our juniors are off to a great start. We have been impressed by their ownership of the process, their attention to detail, and their willingness to engage in self-reflection through the junior survey and in conversation with their College Counselors.
Junior student/parent meetings are scheduled following the individual student meeting between student and college counselor. Once that initial meeting has taken place, the parent/student meeting is scheduled by the student with Mrs. Sanford in our office.
The essay prompts for the 2019 Common App have been released. You can find more information here.

Tips for College Tours
College visits are on the horizon for many students, so we hope you will find "The Professor's Cheat Sheet to the Perfect College Tour" a useful reference.During college visits, we also recommend that you consider the importance of asking the following questions, "again and again," as suggested by Richard Clark, Director of Admission at Georgia Tech.

  • What makes this campus different or unique from other schools?
  • What is the most exciting thing happening on campus?
  • What question has not been asked today that should be asked?
  • What do you wish you had known before deciding to come here?
  • What has this college provided you to set you up for success and fulfillment in the future?
  • Bonus questions (for overachievers or those who want five but did not like one or two of the above): What has disappointed you? What do you wish were different? What is the most frustrating thing you've run into? Where do you see this school in five years or ten years?

Mr. Clark concludes: "Here is the bottom line: Don't take any one person's opinion as gospel truth. I am the Director of Admission at Georgia Tech. But I am not the expert on all things Georgia Tech. To be honest, I'm not the expert on much at all on campus. And the same is true for any alum, or any tour guide or someone in the Chemistry department. Neither your sister nor the school President has a corner on the market of THE REAL STORY. It is the combination of all answers, all experts, and all perspectives that will serve you the best. So use message boards and social media and read the school paper. But most of all ASK YOUR QUESTIONS. And ask them to as many people involved with each school as possible." The full article can be read here.


We will be meeting with the sophomore class in the coming weeks to share our thoughts on the value of a productive summer and the importance of regular reading, whether a news magazine, a novel, or an informative blog. Summer plans should be an extension of a student's personal interests. How we spend our time is a strong indicator of what we value or want to know more about, and to that end, we encourage students to consider using their time away from school to learn more about themselves and the communities with which their lives intersect.
We are always available to help students brainstorm how they might spend their summers, so students are encouraged to come and see us if they would like to discuss their ideas or need suggestions.   
Sophomores will be assigned to a College Counselor in late March.

Parents, the Sophomore Parent Fireside Chat is scheduled for Monday, March 18, from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Be on the lookout for more information via email in the coming weeks.

Suggested Reading

Once again, Rick Clark from Georgia Tech shares important insight into the world of college admissions – and in a popular blog from last year, he highlights the need for parents to remain open-minded to the many wonderful schools that are available. He cautions against falling into the trap of predetermined judgments about quality and admissibility at schools we think we know, judgments that in most cases are long outdated and irrelevant to the current institution, its admission landscape, and the quality academics it offers. So "change your filter," and enjoy what he has to say!


If interested in learning about the U.S. Service Academies, Senator Mark Warner is hosting a gathering on April 27 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Paramount Theater for interested students and their parents to meet with officials from all five academies, as well as representatives from ROTC programs, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Military Institute. Representatives from Virginia Congressional offices will also be available to answer questions regarding the application procedures for congressional nominations. For more information, click here.


Camp Holiday Trails is looking for summer volunteers to support their camp counselors and for their horse program. For more information and to apply, click here.


Pre-College Summer Program: Several colleges and universities offer programs to high school students over the summer and we believe cost should not prevent students from considering these opportunities. You can find a comprehensive list of pre-college programs that offer financial aid here.

St. Anne's-Belfiled School
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