College Counseling News

By Bart Gummere, Upper School Head

“Hope springs eternal.” As a life-long Cubs fan, this has been my mantra every winter.  Always optimistic, but tempered by so many years of futility.  Of course, this off-season we Cubs fans are experiencing something entirely new.

As our college counseling staff begins to have meetings with juniors and their parents, I’m reminded again of the phrase “hope springs eternal.” Nothing captures the optimism of a limitless future any more than the search for one’s path after high school.  In this country, we are blessed with a higher education system like no other—one that people from all over the world seek to experience.

Unfortunately, the privilege of seeking out options in this vast, impressive system is too often tainted by fear. Competition for admission is real; many great students at schools such as EPS suffer their first academic “setbacks” in the application process.  However, they also all finish with wonderful options and in reality, face boundless opportunities, both educationally and professionally.

Two realities we see are underpublicized. First, for most seniors the greatest stress comes in the last step when they must matriculate.  Often they have multiple offers, all from places they like quite a bit, and selecting just one can be difficult. There is a sense of loss when they say no to each college that accepted them and now very much wants them to enroll. And this is obviously a privilege many in the world will never experience.  Second, by the time those same students have spent a year on their college campus, they’ve forgotten all about the stresses of the admission process and often even how they then ranked their preferences.  They’ve now found a home and friends and can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Consequently, it is our foremost priority to present each junior with a strong sense of optimism at this time of year. What lies ahead for them should be exciting, not intimidating. While we, as college counselors, have to introduce the reality of some limits, we remain able to offer far more in the way of opportunity.