The College Counseling Office (CCO) hosted the Upper College Kick-Off in Cochran Chapel on January 4. Uppers received an outline of the college counseling process and the resources provided by the CCO, and had a chance to meet and speak with their counselors.
Katherine Fritz, Director of College Counseling, started the kick-off by outlining the goal of the meeting. She highlighted similarities between the college process and taking a class, mentioning the revision process the CCO undergoes from year to year.
“Just as teachers do at the start of the term, we revisit our curriculum each year and adjust assignments, course material, and required work from students and families. So today, we are launching our Class of ’25 timeline, an overview of our work with students and families that outlines the Upper college process from now to June,” said Fritz.
Afterward, Latasha Boyd, Associate Director of College Counseling, spoke specifically about how the CCO introduced the college process to Uppers differently this year. Boyd elaborated on the CCO’s intent to clarify its values from the start.
“Throughout the Winter and Spring, we are working on three pillars: relationship building, list building, and application building. This is the first year we have described our process with those three pillars in mind. They’ve always been a part of our curriculum, we’re trying to also make the arc as easy to understand as possible,” Boyd said.
Serafina Shin-von Nordenflycht ’25 talked about the helpfulness and clarity of the meeting. She expressed hopes that her college counseling process would be focused on her own assets.
“As someone who has done almost zero college research, knowing that I [have] that system is really helpful. There are thousands of colleges in the [United States of America] alone, and I know very little about them… I just hope that when I go into [the college process], I won’t just feel like they’re running down a script. I hope they help me realize that my own sets of skills and advantages will be able to get me in, rather than just giving [me] a formula,” said Shin-von Nordenflycht.
Kennedy Leach ’25 mentioned the convenience of the Naviance website, which was introduced during the meeting. Leach spoke to how Naviance was a useful tool for connecting with counselors and finding colleges.
“[The counselors] were talking about a platform called Naviance where we would work with our college counselors throughout the college application process… I’m looking forward to using the [website]. I still have to set it up a little bit but you can do a lot of research on colleges through it. It sounds like a really nicely organized platform where you have everything you need,” said Leach.
Aya Murata, Associate Director of College Counseling and Assistant Dean of Students and Residential Life, guided students early on in the college application process. Murata emphasized the importance of focusing on oneself and accepting that every student is different in their own way.
“One piece of advice I try to share with students is that while we are all about ‘Non sibi,’ I always say this is a process where you can be ‘Sibi Sibi.’ You do need to be able to shut out the noise around college and the college process, and in some ways be able to put your noise-canceling headphones and blinders on and focus on yourself and not worry about [others.] [What] might be a really good fit for you might be a terrible fit for somebody else,” Murata said.
Shin-von Nordenflycht pointed out how Andover students may have preconceived notions about the college process. She emphasized the importance of the CCO in dispelling this culture and encouraging students to explore more options.
“I think the trap a lot of Andover students fall into is this idea that they have to go to an Ivy League school or a really good school and I think the biggest part of college counseling is breaking those preconceptions and helping students find a good fit. Because obviously, there is no one ticket to college; there are so many different pathways. Athletics differ, arts differ, academics differ, every college you go to is going to differ,” said Shin-von Nordenflycht.
Boyd urged Uppers to reach out to their college counselors with any concerns. She stressed the importance of fully utilizing the resources provided by the CCO.
“We have the campus motto ‘never worry alone.’ If you are hearing a lot, and if you’re like ‘should I be doing this? Am I behind? Should I have been touring colleges when I was in eighth grade like my friend did?’ Just ask. Shoot an email to your counselor. Come up during the conference [period] so that you can go back to focusing on being a student and doing what needs to be done. We’re always available to help answer any questions,” said Boyd.