Process of Self and College Discovery: College Counseling Office Kicks Off Curriculum With Class of 2023

In early January, the Class of 2023 embarked on the college admission process through the Andover College Counseling Office (CCO), beginning with individual meetings between college counselors and students. The beginning of the college counseling process is meant to provide students with motivation to fully immerse themselves in their Andover experience and time to self-reflect on their own identities, according to Kassy Fritz, Director of College Counseling. As the curriculum progresses, the students then move on to consider the different pathways they might take in the future.

“[The college counseling curriculum] is an opportunity to first and foremost, make sure that students are really leaning into the Andover experience, whether you came in your ninth-grade year or your Senior year, lean into all the opportunities that this place offers you. And it is an opportunity to do self-reflection on who you are, what brought you to your narrative up until Andover, and thinking about yourself, your identity, and yourself within the context of this community and other communities,” said Fritz.

In the College Counseling Curriculum, each student is assigned a counselor. There are four sets of one-on-one meetings between the student and the counselor during the student’s Upper year, and at least one meeting in their Senior year. The curriculum is structured to benefit students with all the resources in their college application process according to Dustin Bradley, Associate Director of College Counseling. Bradley stated that students should not feel left behind in the process, especially as all Uppers start their first meeting with their assigned counselors.

Bradley said, “Our curriculum is sort of designed and scaffolded so that if you lean into it and do everything that we’re focusing on for each individual meeting, you’ll be on track. I think a lot of people come into our first meetings, and they feel sort of behind, but you’re not, because the point is doing that guided sort of self-reflection and thinking about where you’ve been, where you want to go, those sorts of things.”

Jaeyong Shim ’23 shared his experience for the first meeting where he forged a deeper connection with his counselor. He appreciated the mutual sharing of stories from both parties and sharing of conversation.

Shim said, “My college counselor and I had a lot of connection, his wife was Korean so we talked about a bit of Korean culture. And since in my questionnaire I focused heavily on describing my culture and Korean ethnicity, it was an easy conversation starter for the meeting and the overall conversation felt rather comfortable for me. I thought it was originally going to be about learning about who I was, presenting my character to the counselor, but it was both a mutual relation building experience where I also got to learn more about my college counselor as well.”

Taylor Ware, Associate Director of College Counseling, shared that the general guideline of the curriculum in the Upper year flows from relationship building between the student and the counselor to researching different colleges that the student can look into over the summer.

“The first two [meetings] are really focused on relationship building, getting to know the students and figuring out who they are and what’s important to them as they begin to think about their college process and start to learn about different types of colleges and all the characteristics that different colleges offer. Then as the Upper year progresses, we’d begin to then focus a little bit more on teaching them how to research colleges, and not just go by brand name or a small handful of schools that they may have already heard of. We try to broaden their view of colleges as the students begin to put their initial list together, so they head into the summer really armed with a lot of schools to get to know and to research and visit,” said Ware.

While the overarching goal of the college counseling curriculum is to help the students with their college application process, the CCO hopes students can take away more from it. Bradley believed that the process should help students to pay attention to the things they can control and let go of the things that they cannot.

“I think the adage that we always come back to is encouraging students to focus on what they can control, and securing everything that sort of falls into the realm of what can I control and then understanding the difference between the things that they can control and the things that they can’t… What you can control is how you spend your time and over how you make the most of your time here, pursuing what you’re interested in, doing as well as you can in your courses, self-reflecting on what you have done, what you want to do,” said Bradley.

In addition, Fritz believes that the college counseling process encourages students to self-reflect and think about the future. It should not only help students realize their current roles in the Andover community, but also reflect on their own identities and what they can contribute to their next community.

“Our goal is that you are learning how to be self-reflective, how to advocate for yourself, how to navigate, take in a lot of information, discern it, and use it thoughtfully. And really to think about your own identity in the context of who you are in a community and then in an opportunity to think about your next community,” said Fritz.

The CCO encourages current Uppers, Lowers, and Juniors to be fully engaged in their Andover experience. To Ware, the resources at Andover allow students to pursue new things, and such engagement is essential in preparing a student for the college application process.

“The best thing you can possibly do to get ready for the college process is to engage as authentically and fully in your Andover experience as possible. Try new things, join new clubs to pursue interests that you might not have thought about before, now accessible to you, but just be as present and engaged in life on campus at Andover as possible, and that’s the best thing you can possibly do to get ready for the college process,” said Ware.