College Counselors Assist Seniors in College Acceptance
Seniors everywhere are close to wrapping up their work on college applications. At St. Mary's Academy, support for this important and involved process takes programming, communication, collaboration, and, most of all, a personal touch that respects each student and family's vision.
Karlen Suga, SMA’s Director of College Counseling, shares with us how the College Counseling department approaches this important season with students, "Understanding how the admission landscape changes and developing relationships with key players is essential to our practice. From serving on regional committees, participating in regular professional development workshops, and visiting colleges in person, we remain fully immersed in this work even after school lets out for the year. We love it and are eager to pass along relevant information to students and parents via regular emails and presentations."
St. Mary's facilitates many opportunities to learn more about college options. Throughout the fall, admission officers from 80 colleges and universities met with St. Mary's students. Representatives were deeply impressed with how engaged, thoughtful, and curious students came across as they learned about each institution. Many of those who visited are the first readers of applications; the fact they were left with such a positive impression of our community is noteworthy. In addition, juniors are invited to visit two local colleges in person on a trip organized by College Counseling.
A personalized, "all hands on deck" approach is a hallmark of the college admissions process. All students benefit from the efforts of numerous faculty and staff at St. Mary's. The English Department collaborates with College Counseling to introduce and guide students through writing a compelling personal statement (known as the college essay). Work begins toward the end of junior year and continues into the following year with individualized feedback and coaching. Juniors also benefit from an in-house SAT Prep class taught by the Math and English faculty.
During the fall, teachers in all disciplines compose and submit letters of recommendation highlighting each senior's strengths and uniqueness. This type of commentary is essential in a primarily test-optional environment as Admission Officers engage in a holistic review of each application. Finally, TAs, Personal Counselors, Administrators, Coaches, Club Advisors, and all adults in the building offer emotional and spiritual support as students address the highs and lows associated with the process. It truly takes a village!
Students feel supported and seen. Although seniors will hear back from colleges with admission and financial aid offers through early April, many have begun reflecting on how the process has felt. One student said, "The College Counseling staff at SMA make the whole process very smooth. They emphasize getting to know you and looking through your interests to help match you. I have received so much support from my counselor, and I'm grateful for the College Counseling program."