Uppers Embark on College Counseling Process

PA’s College Counseling Office kicked off its program for Uppers this week with its first official meeting for the class of 2011. At the meeting, counselors discussed the individual roles each student, their parents and their counselor play in the college application process. The counselors also passed out information about standardized tests, such as the SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests and the ACT. John Anderson, Co-Director of the College Counseling Office spoke with students about taking responsibility in the college admissions process. “The students need to be the central actors in this process because they will be the ones going off to college,” said Anderson. According to Anderson, Carl Bewig, Associate Director of the College Counseling Office, likened the application process to a car trip, in order to show that the application depended foremost upon the student. Recalling Bewig’s analogy, Anderson said, “The college counselor is sitting next to [the student], in the shotgun position, ready to give advice. The counselor has the maps and has the GPS all coordinated.” “Like back seat drivers, [parents] will try to influence you where to turn and where to go, and you need to listen to them, but you also need to listen to your counselor,” said Anderson. Before the meeting, Chau Tran ’11 said she felt “really nervous” about the application process. However, the meeting alleviated her worries, she said. Tran said, “Mr. Bewig took the pressure off the whole college process. He really emphasized that there are many choices and that the college counseling office is there for us.” Some Uppers thought that this meeting could not have come soon enough. Cam Phillips ’11, said “I am anxious to get started.” “I think we should have started [the counseling process] earlier in the term, before we had to focus on our final exams and before [Thanksgiving] Break,” he continued. “I think it’s important that we know what we’re getting into before we actually make the grades that are going to have so much impact,” he said. Cam Pierson ’11, said “I’d much rather start [the process] too early than too late, so I’m happy.” Ben Talarico ’11, said he thought that both the school and the students are “putting too much emphasis on moving to a different stage of our lives.” “We’re starting [the process] too early and too aggressively. This is high school, we’re supposed to focus on what we should be doing now,” he said. The meeting served as a wake up call to some Uppers. Jasmine Edison ’11 said, “I really don’t want to think about college right now.” “There’s a lot of college talk, and I think [the counselors] are trying to get us a head start on all of it,” she added. Anderson said that the college counselors meet personally with their Uppers three times throughout the year. Before the first one-on-one meeting, students will answer a lengthy questionnaire, designed to give the counselor a better sense of his or her students. With their counselor, students will also set up a testing schedule. The purpose of the second meeting is to begin to identify colleges that the student wants to consider, which he or she will then research in depth, using various guidebooks and publications. According to Anderson, the third and last meeting of their Upper year aims to “refine and reshape the list.” Students and their counselors often drop schools from the original list and add new ones that they have come across. The CCO urges students to continue their research over the summer until they finalize their list of prospective colleges. Though the sequence of the college counseling meetings is quite routine, there have been some recent changes made to the program. One new initiative is drop-in help sessions recently implemented by the CCO for current Seniors. As a part of this program, the first meeting of what the CCO calls a series of college admissions boot camps was held in the PACC on Tuesday evening for Seniors who had questions about their applications. The next boot camp is scheduled for shortly after Thanksgiving Break.