New Beginnings

Colleges-Are-Not-Created-EqualI always used to love the March and April weeks during which the colleges I worked for were inundated by high school juniors and their families spending their spring breaks attending information sessions, tours, interviews and class visits.  Fresh enthusiastic faces, eager to “get going”, and pleased simply to be out and visiting schools, “finally”.  The vibe during those information sessions was akin to dropping off your new kindergartener on her first day of school; anticipatory, bright and brimming with possibility.  No students worn down from SAT test preparation, no parents struggling with what becomes an understanding that the admission process is a time complicated by limited control and great uncertainty.  Spring break visitors at colleges are simply: a new beginning!

As the New Year begins, our office has the wonderful opportunity to experience that same new beginning as we engage juniors and their families in introductory one-on-one meetings about their college goals and interests. We’ll talk about being introspective, the importance of fit, being communicative and a whole host of other elements important to ensuring that a student’s journey to a college that works for him or her is a successful experience. A preview of some other bits of advice:

  1. Talk to your parents about how you feel and what you think about college.  Early and often. This will decrease stress for all involved.
  2. Be connected. Read your email.  Follow Twitter.  Browse blogs (ours and others).  Sign up for Remind101 with the College Counseling team.
  3. Take this process one step at a time.  You can eat an elephant but not in one bite.
  4. Listen to your gut. It’s right a lot of the time.
  5. Don’t take college advice from friends.  Parents, try to avoid cocktail circuit chatter.
  6. Be proud of who you are, not just what you do.  That knowledge will help you shine in person and on paper.
  7. Look for an academic, cultural and social match.
  8. Keep a journal.   It’ll be hard to absorb all the information you’ll want at your fingertips by memory.
  9. Stay focused in the classroom.  This year matters a lot! For many of you, it may be the last semester that colleges see before the make a decision about your candidacy.
  10. Don’t let nerves get the best of you.  Find ways to relax, de-stress and disconnect from the process.  It should be part of your life, not your whole life.
  11. Visit, visit, visit.  There is no replacement for being on campus to explore prospective schools you are considering.  Interview, tour, attend class, talk to people, take pictures- work to envision yourself there.
  12. Feakins Rule #1- Do your homework.
  13. Feakins Rule #2- Do your homework.
  14. Feakins Rule #3- Do your homework.
  15. Enjoy this time.  It is truly an incredible part of transitioning to adulthood.   We are eager to support you and hope you will find joy and excitement amidst the work.

Jennifer Scott, Senior Associate Director of College Counseling,
Norfolk Academy
Winter, 2014