College Search Process

By Bart Gummere, Upper School Head & Lead College Counselor

Everyone is aware that the college search and application process can raise some anxiety.  Often, for those not immersed in the process, that anxiety is presumed to be caused by waiting for and receiving decisions from colleges.  While that is not easy, the sheer volume of work associated with the search and the applications can also be daunting.  For both our eleventh- and twelfth-grade students, fall is a very busy time in the college counseling process, albeit in entirely different ways.

For seniors, the challenges are somewhat obvious.  Final choices need to be made in terms of an application list, and then each application must be completed and submitted.  While there are several application platforms that support multiple institutions, generally each college or university requires some specific material, often involving one or more brief essays.  Seniors are navigating all of this while also taking demanding courses and often also operating in positions of leadership within the community.

For juniors, the process is much broader and in some ways abstract, but no less vital.  As they begin their search, they are faced with so many decisions about the college life to which they aspire—near or far, big or small, potential areas of study, expense—the list goes on.

To help each group navigate this process smoothly and successfully, EPS provides considerable time and resources.  Our seven-member team of six counselors and one full-time administrative assistant organizes and hosts numerous events throughout the year, including evening programs for families and advisory or grade-level meetings during the school day. The college counseling staff also organizes Work Parties for each grade, with a little pizza and dedicated time in the evening to work on specific aspects of the college process, such as preparing for the college fair, developing a resume, or working on applications.  Most important, the full team of seven people meets individually or in small cohorts with each student and/or family as often as necessary to provide guidance, expertise and sometimes just much-needed emotional support.  The end goal is to help each student find their own personal direction and proceed to the next educational venture with confidence and enthusiasm.