By: Meghan Smith
Throughout the lengthy college-selection process, students have grown familiar with the push-and-pull of college admissions, and the many ways they may leverage their skills and strengths on applications; How do you make your essay stand out? What sort of classes and experiences do colleges hope to see? How can you showcase the past four years of education beyond your transcript?
But as colleges rapidly do-away with long standing norms of the college admission process, how do Tilton students remain at the forefront of these changes? As testing requirements drop, campus tours become more difficult, and admissions pools grow in size, how are Tilton students navigating the college process? According to Director of College Counseling, Meredith Gadd, Tilton students turn towards contemplation and care. “I think kids across the country are applying to more schools, upwards of eight to ten applications per student,” Gadd explains. “Our numbers stayed at around seven applications. Our students are going through a thoughtful process — they have the self reflection to say ‘all right, maybe this isn’t the best place for me’ to a college.”
With the added difficulties of the pandemic, students were largely unable to conduct college visits over the past year, typically a deciding factor in many of their college decisions. As such, Tilton students had to engage deeper with a school digitally — taking virtual tours, holding Zoom meetings with admissions officers, expanding their research on a school. “From day one, we’re always talking about our philosophy, and it’s always student centered, student focused, and we want the student to drive the bus,” says Gadd. “This is one of the first adult decisions they’re going to be making in their life, so we really push that independence from the beginning.”
While many students won’t be applying to college until their junior year, the College Counseling office helps students as soon as day one at Tilton. New students and families are invited to informational Zoom sessions so that when students arrive on campus their first year, the process is already underway. Ninth and tenth grade students will get to know the College Counseling office through individualized course selection guidance, along with goal setting and continued check-ins with one of the two College Counselors on staff. Later, students will engage in practice interviews, self-reflective activities, and a more hands-on approach to their studies in an effort to market themselves on applications.
Eleventh, twelfth grade, and PG students will engage deeper with the College Counseling office, meeting weekly and honing in on their college selection process. During these years, students will spend time visiting college campuses, attending prospective student days, and interacting with college admissions representatives directly through the help and support of the College Counseling office. Each of these steps will give students and parents a better understanding of the college application process, hopefully alleviating some of the anxieties that come with it.
While time consuming, there’s an investment in the process, from start to finish, that isn’t just about choosing a college. In many ways, through the exploration of these schools students will come to learn more about themselves, and what matters most to them in the next chapter of their life. Students learn to see themselves as capable, independent, and self-sufficient individuals, able to push themselves to new heights.
“When you see those success stories with kids getting into their ‘reach’ schools, it’s so much fun. It’s so rewarding because you’re part of a student’s future,” Gadd says with a smile. “That’s a really special place to be.”