What are the first things that come to mind when you think about your child’s applying to college? How to get in? How to pay for it? Remembering your own experience?
As the Director of College Counseling at Doane Stuart, I talk a lot about college. Often, a student or parent’s initial focus is on the logistical aspects of the process. This is important, of course, but equally critical is finding places that will be great fits!
Here are a few tips to help you and your child navigate the process:
•Remember that this is not a fatalistic process. There are many colleges in the United States, and many schools that will be good matches for your child. College counseling at Doane Stuart is not an evolution toward that one “perfect school.” After two meetings with each junior, I provide a list of approximately 20 schools to consider. I want students to identify multiple institutions at which they could be happy.
•Be open minded! It is not necessary to know your intended major at any point in high school. If you have some ideas – great! Do not feel you must have a career plan to begin researching schools. A great question to ask on a tour of prospective colleges is how they support undecided students. The same advice is true when exploring schools. Over 100 colleges visit Doane Stuart each fall (yes, for a senior class of about 40 students!), and this is a great opportunity to explore many places with a minimal time commitment.
•Have fun! Looking at colleges is exciting. It does not need to be stressful, or a chore. At Doane Stuart, I lead an overnight trip to 6 colleges every summer. After 13 years, I’m not sick of it. It’s great fun to see which schools have the best selection of cereals in the dining hall, or celebrate the most unusual traditions. We are lucky to have many wonderful (and very different) schools in the Capital Region. Take advantage of this over February or April vacation weeks and take a tour of one or more. Don’t assume the process is going to be a drag – I couldn’t do this job if that was the case!
•This process is personal. Spending time comparing yourself to other students will not help you find good matches. Reflect on your own experiences and interests and let that guide your journey. Similarly, remember that one person’s opinion or experience is just that. Things may have changed since your Uncle Luke was at California University in 1985. Instead of relying on others’ rankings, create your own! Don’t assume U.S. News knows the “best” colleges – they are in the business of selling a product, not helping you.
•Remember that many of the factors in a college’s decision are beyond the student’s control. Understanding the roles of academics, test scores, finances and more at different schools can be overwhelming – but the information is out there. I am lucky to be able to work closely with every student here, and help them understand how to maximize their opportunities at schools that are looking for kids like them.
Students at Doane Stuart would probably all tell you how much I love to talk about college, and it’s true!
Information for Colleges
Doane Stuart welcomes colleges to campus throughout the year to meet with interested students.
These are scheduled to coincide with our class periods, and can last up to 45 minutes. To book a visit, please email Kathleen Bracken with your preferred day(s) and time(s). Doane Stuart also schedules appointments through Rep Visits.
12:20 p.m. (during lunch)
All meetings take place in the College Counseling Office, room 303. If interested, interviews with potential applicants can be arranged.
Kathleen BrackenDirector of College Counselling
Class of 2019 Matriculation