College Counseling

Overview by Grade

Helping students navigate the college process

Parent of an SCH junior

For anyone who has ever wondered about the value of an independent school education, the college counseling program is proof of its worth. The night when parents act as mock admissions teams was a great exercise as you get your child ready to apply to colleges—simply invaluable!
The College Counseling Office at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is committed to helping our students navigate the challenging yet ultimately rewarding journey to establish an appropriate college match. We are here to help demystify the college admissions process and to clarify for our students the critical factors that colleges and universities consider when selecting a class. The student should take ownership of the college process, and we are here to offer quality information, honest evaluation, and plenty of encouragement as they progress.

Program by Grade:

9th Grade: The college counselor meets informally several times a year with the freshman class to discuss various aspects of the college process. The main thrust of these meetings is to dispel the old myth that freshman year does not figure into the admissions process. The students are encouraged to put their best effort into their academics and to choose extracurricular activities and meaningful community service that they can stick with throughout their high school careers. It is our hope that the information we supply in these meetings will help reduce the anxiety associated with the college search while at the same time inspiring students to begin establishing a record that will provide them with a wide range of college options.
10th Grade: The first formal contact for students with our office comes in the fall of the 10th grade year when the college counseling team meets with the entire class. During these meeting students are reminded that in order to have the best possible college choices, they must perform well during their entire high school career. All 10th graders will take the PSAT in October and will follow up with the College Counseling Office to discuss their results. In the early part of second semester, all sophomores are assigned to a specific college counselor and will have their first one-on-one meeting with their counselor. Topics covered at this meeting will include the SAT II subject tests and the importance of meaningful, in-depth community service, extracurricular activities, and summer jobs. Students will also be reminded that they should begin establishing which extracurricular activities are most important to them.
11th Grade: In the fall of 11th grade, the formal college admissions process begins as students attend class meetings with the college counselor. Initially, the basics of the college process are covered, but gradually the focus of the course narrows into the specifics of the college process. In mid-January, the College Counseling Office presents a college night exclusively for SCH Academy 11th graders and their parents. Every year admissions officers from various colleges and universities, as well as other experts in the field of higher education, are invited to speak about the process and to answer questions from the audience. This evening usually generates provocative questions about the entire college process, which in turn inspires families to start their individual college process in earnest. Finally, the 11th grade “College Trip” is an opportunity for juniors to tour two different types of colleges and to process the event with the college counselors during the college classes following the trip. For some, the colleges we visit may end up on the students’ final lists, but for all, these experiences help the students understand how to evaluate various aspects of a college and how to present themselves during a college visit.
12th Grade: The senior class becomes the main focus of the College Counseling Office in the autumn, and as soon as school begins, seniors and their parents meet with the college counselor to assess exactly where the student is in his or her process. Throughout the fall, the counselor will meet individually with each student as many times as is necessary to put together a balanced list of schools that meets the student’s strengths, needs, and goals. If a student needs help with applications and essays, support is available in those areas as well. In conjunction with these individual meetings, the weekly college counseling classes will continue where other important topics are discussed including Early Decision, Early Action, financial aid, and scholarships.

Counseling Handbook

A Parent's Role

The college process represents a moment of transition in the life of each student who embarks upon it, and each student will have a unique relationship with his or her parents through the process—and a unique set of needs. It can be a challenge for students and their parents to establish a dynamic that feels comfortable to all parties. Ideally, students are fully in charge of the process: they set up meetings with their college counselor, let their parents know when they need to meet with the counselor, drive the planning of college visits, and do most of the communicating with the college counselor and all of the communicating with the colleges.
If a student’s college counselor has the sense that the student is having difficulty taking on the responsibility of driving the college process, he or she will reach out to the student (and at times to the parents); no student “falls through the cracks,” and the College Counseling Office takes pride in providing each student with as much attention and support as he or she needs to have a successful college process.
Parents sometimes have difficulty trusting that their children are ready to take on all of that responsibility, and this can create friction between students and their parents. Students often express to their college counselors that their parents are “more into” the process than they are, or that their parents have unrealistic expectations that place too much stress on the student.
We recommend that parents and students have a candid conversation early in the process (sometime during junior year) during which parents and students can lay out their expectations for each other and figure out where they might need to compromise. Honest communication is key in the process, and we are happy to work with families to make sure that students, their parents, and the College Counseling Office are all on the same page.
Throughout the process, we welcome communication, questions, and concerns from parents at any time, but not in lieu of communication with the student, who is the one going to college. We are always glad to talk with parents about how to empower the student to take charge of the process.