INSIGHT: College Counseling Kick Off for Juniors

By Bart Gummere, Upper School Head

Most people understand that fall is an important and very busy time for twelfth graders.  Many are not as aware that in the fall of junior year, students become busy in the process, and the work they do lays a vital foundation to the application process in senior year.

The EPS College Counseling office begins work with our junior class by providing support in a variety of areas.  Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of that support comes in preparation for the Seattle Area Independent Schools college fair, held each October. Around 150 college admission officers attend the event each fall.  They come from all over the United States and this year there were even representatives from a number of universities located outside the US.  This event gives our juniors a chance to “shop” and consider a broad array of educational experiences.

Our focus in the Upper School is to help students understand themselves as individuals.  They explore a variety of academic subjects, reflect on the experience and begin to imagine their life ahead. The college process is one where this reflection begins to pay dividends.  Before anyone can apply to colleges, they must decide the shape, form and direction of their future education.  With the ever-widening breadth of options available, this is not a simple task.

On Wednesday, October 10, the junior class spent the afternoon beginning the necessary thinking for the college search.  Each student was asked to think about their interests, both in and outside the classroom.  The college counselors were then able to help each student narrow the 150 colleges visiting the fair down to a very personalized (and more manageable) group.  In most cases, students were familiar with some of the schools, and unfamiliar with others.  The fair then becomes the first step in recognizing just how many great options exist and preparing for what may be the biggest challenge ahead – narrowing the list to the few to which they will apply.

Judging from the smiles at the end of the fair this past weekend, many juniors learned an important early lesson.  Not all this process is “scary.”  Admission officers are personable, and genuinely interested in student welfare.  Further, they describe their institutions in a manner that allows students to discern differences and begin to identify good fits.  While the application list for each member of the Class of 2020 won’t be finalized for over a year, last Sunday provided a very good start.