Boarding Schools and College Counseling
“I am a boarding school student, so I do not need any outside help.”
Something I know both many students and their parents, who have never gone through the college process, think-until they start the actual intense college process towards end of junior year through the senior fall. Often, many realize during the fall semester of senior year that they need support. Often, I get calls at last minute and a huge SOS is sounded because the deadlines are imminent.
I can tell you that I work with boarding school students that same as my premier program for house-calls to students here in CT. I schedule weekly sessions, if necessary, and help the students through the process from beginning to end, or for simply a part of the process. It is best to actually map out the timetable and the process. You can check my article on the 17 steps to college planning to see when you need to what!
It is important to know that most secondary schools including public, private and boarding schools have counselors. Most are not singularly dedicated to college counseling. Many are required to do other roles….some are teachers, some are guidance, and some do several roles. In the fall, many are doing double duty as they help students apply to college. The college process requires certain forms that must be submitted by the school counselor. The mid-year report of grade, the school report-which is essentially a guidance counselor’s report and done on a particular format required by the colleges, transcripts, and also in some cases the 504 Plan, must all be prepared and submitted to the colleges for review during admissions.
These forms must be done. Think about the counselor’s student roster, how many students does that counselor work with? All those students have the same number of forms. Think about how many colleges the average student is applying to and understand the level of administrative work that must be done within a 4 month window. Larger secondary schools submit a great deal electronically, but not all colleges are set up to receive the information this way; I would say the majority are, but there are some that paper must be generated and sent.
Your counselor is very, very busy gathering information about you to prepare these forms and ensure that all are submitted on time. In addition, the counselor usually also checks to ensure the teacher recommendations go in on time. But remember, ultimately, the student is accountable for ensuring the colleges receive everything! (Teacher recommendations are submitted electronically)
So now picture your school counselor, working away to ensure all your forms put together are correct, working on the forms he or she is required to complete, and following up on your teachers. The guidance or school counselors in very large schools often ask the parents to complete a lengthy questionnaire or write a recommendation of their own child. The counselor will also solicit, usually at the end of junior year, two teachers to write recommendations of the student, not for college, but for the counselor to use to write up the school report. The comments on semester grade reports from mostly junior and first quarter senior year will also be used to consolidate an impression to write out the school report as well.
So now you see just how busy your school counselor is during the fall. Many have elaborate forms and so forth to gather the information to get their job done. But regardless of the method, their time is packed during the fall. So typically juniors do not get much attention until the spring, which is unfortunate because often many juniors really need support the summer before starting junior fall.
During the process, many questions arise long before any counselor meetings. Also during the summer preceding and the fall of senior year, boarding school kids can get lost. Parents are not there observing what is being done or NOT. Often parents believe it is all handled and everything is going smoothly, until mid-October when they learn their child has not completed his or her essay, the supplement essays are not even begun, etc. Outside college support can be a relief, provide continual support, and ensure the deadlines are met without so much stress.
The process is not simple. Almost no counselors actually go online and see the actual applications. Almost no counselors know if there is a significant change to the process until real time application time in the fall. There is simply too much to be done in a short period of time. Most students get things done, but often there are some things that just get dropped.
Contact me, I can help support you during this very stressful time, or at least I can suggest the best plan for you to follow.