Over the next two years, the College Counseling Office (CCO) will hire an additional college counselor in the hopes of tailoring its program to become more personal and fit for younger students.
One of the primary weaknesses of the current CCO approach is the lack of contact with students in the ninth, tenth and the beginning half of 11th grade, according to Sean Logan, Director of College Counseling.
“The idea was not to talk about college until January of 11th grade so students and parents would not get too revved up or over-excited and too focused on college [before Upper year],” he said of the existing strategy.
Although the current strategy addressed the stress aspect of the process, the late start and easily accessible information around the Internet allowed students and families to be easily misled or build unrealistic expectations incongruous with today’s admission landscape, said Logan.
The current model particularly disadvantages recruited athletes and first-generation college students.
College coaches begin reaching out to prospective student-athletes as early as the summer before their Lower years, when students haven’t been introduced to the CCO yet. In the past, some students have committed to a college before being assigned a College Counselor.
The parents of first-generation college students may also have less experience than parents who attended college. A late start to the college counseling process delays first-generation students’ access to information about the application process, said Logan.
In response to these problems, Logan plans to set up a meeting for student athletes who may be meeting with coaches over the summer as early as the end of ninth grade to discuss details and specifics. He is exploring the possibility of a mentor program for first-generation students once they arrive at college to ease their transition.
Logan plans to develop a more thorough communication plan with ninth, tenth and 11th graders that will go into effect as soon as next fall. “To do a really comprehensive job, we need more time with students to help educate them,” he said. The structure of the ninth and tenth grade programs has yet to be determined.
Other ideas include merging advising and college counseling as another way to deliver information, creating short videos about topics like preparing for an interview or writing essays and bringing students and their counselors together earlier in order to facilitate discussions later on in the process.