College Counseling: The Process
Independence and Choice
Control – who has it, when – often becomes a major theme in life for Upper School students and their parents. This is part of a normal growth process, of course, but is not without its worries and hurdles. The college search and application process can seem like a heightening of worries about choices and “paths.” But what makes the college process so fulfilling, ultimately, for students AND parents is that this process enables students to “take control” in a wholly positive manner.
You, the student, are the driver of this process. Your parents certainly have significant input; counselors, teachers, coaches, and many others may play a significant guiding role. However, that role is directed by YOUR evolving definition of your preferences, desires, and purposes in your college choice. After all, it is you who will be attending and living at this school.
There are over 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in this country. Hundreds of them would be great schools for you. The empowering process of you making your college choice is as important, or even more important, than what that choice is. As you navigate the search process to end up with a list of (about) seven to ten schools, you’ll have plenty of help – from your college counselors and your parents. But it is ultimately your ownership of the process which will make it truly affirming.
Starting this process requires serious self-assessment. It is useful to think about what you might enjoy studying, and it’s also important to consider all aspects of your life. Once you better understand what you want and what you value, you will be able to more clearly articulate who you are as a student and a person. Colleges want to know who you are, what makes you “tick,” and what motivates you. Give thought to how you most enjoy spending your free time. Think about activities, sports or groups in which you hope to continue participating, or ones you might take up for the first time. Keep in mind that for most students, college will be a residential experience. Your happiness (and likely your productivity) will be influenced greatly by the total atmosphere of the campus. Again, all colleges have strong points to offer, but your job is to choose those which most appeal to your interests.
This also is a time to be adventurous in your thought. Consider potential fields of study beyond those you already have experienced. Think about schools in areas of the country with which you are unfamiliar. There is little risk in thought, and you may discover some options you never thought possible. And at the same time, you will likely end up with choices already familiar to you. The key is to work toward conclusions that you own; made because they best fit your talents, interests and plans for the future.
Your College Counseling team is committed to supporting every step of your thinking and planning. Your college search and application process require substantial thought, organization and commitment. It is not, however, too complicated for you to handle. This can, and should be, a fun and exciting period in your life. Go into this process with optimism and enthusiasm and you will find it to be a positive experience.