“Life is a journey, not a destination,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson and so, too, is the Upper School at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes. Our faculty, program offerings and curricula provide our students with deep knowledge, incredible skills, confidence, breadth of exposure and balance. All of these will serve our students well and are not simply a stepping stone towards college. That said, we share the expectations of our students and their parents that a Saints education will prepare students for continued education at a wide range of top colleges, universities, and service academies that reflect the diversity of our students.
So, how do we approach and do it? There are two key elements to the success of our seniors in their college admission process: the commitment and dedication of our experts and our college counseling program, which is actually introduced in the Middle School!
First, the experts! The College Counseling Office is staffed with three full-time counselors who work with our students, their families and teachers. They also work closely with the nearly 200 college admission offices where our students will be accepted. The college landscape is rapidly changing, not only from year to year but within each year. It is the job of this team to keep a finger on the pulse on these changes so they can serve as a resource for our students and families and help them make well-informed decisions. This expertise plus the size of our staff is a tremendous Saints advantage for our students!
Second, the program! The College Counseling Office actually starts with an annual visit to the Middle School to introduce themselves and prepare families to begin this important conversation when they reach the Upper School. Once in the Upper School, the staff starts to work with students, advisors and parents around course selection, standardized test strategies, and important decisions that eventually paint each student’s college candidacy. Do I continue with my language or try another one in hopes of being trilingual? Do I take an international service trip this summer or stay local and do an internship? Should I stretch and squeeze in one more AP class or stick with my original plan and focus on that?
In addition, the college counselor serves as the academic deans for the junior class, closely monitoring academic progress and getting to know each student even better during this crucial year. Through all these conversations, connections and decisions over four years, the counselors get to know our students as individuals and can write a thorough, sincere, and authentic recommendation for them in their senior year and advocate for them with college admission committees.
Every student, every graduating class and every year is different. The number one out of state destination for the Class of 2017 was California. For the Class of 2018 it was New York. We anxiously await to see where the Class of 2019 will take their Saints education and continue their pursuit of goodness and knowledge! The one thing that is constant is the commitment of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes to offer dedicated college experts in the field and to provide a strategic and thoughtful college counseling program that sets our seniors up for success.