What are the first things that come to mind when you think about applying to college? Where to start? How to get in? How to pay for it?
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! Below are some tips from PINE’s College Counselor, which speak to the philosophy of our comprehensive College Counseling Program:
•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 PINE is not an evolution toward that one “perfect school.” We want our students to identify multiple institutions at which they could be happy. This is done through a program that includes both structured meetings and informal conversations, to help students consider their own values, as they also contemplate what qualities they seek for their post-PINE life.
•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. PINE annually hosts anywhere from 70-100 colleges and universities on our campus (yes, for a senior class of about 40 students!), and this is a great opportunity to explore many places with a minimal time commitment. It is also a compliment to our students that so many schools make the trip to Hobe Sound to meet them.
•Have fun! Looking at colleges is exciting and can be a memorable bonding experience for students and parents. A favorite tradition at PINE is the Off-Campus Education Week, which includes a college trip for the juniors, who are accompanied by our College Counselor. It’s great fun to see which schools have the best selection of cereals in the dining hall, the most luxurious freshman dorms, unusual intramural sports, or celebrate the quirkiest campus traditions. Take advantage of school breaks to see very different universities and compare them. Our College Counselor jokes that if this process was a drag, she wouldn’t have been doing it for so many years.
•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. 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. PINE’s College Counselor is lucky to be able to work closely with every student, -making sure they understand how to maximize their opportunities at schools that are looking for kids like them.
CLICK HERE for a list of the colleges and universities that have accepted our students since 2009.
The college counseling process at The Pine School is designed to assess each student's abilities, interests, needs, and career goals. As we work together to discover these gradually, the actual process of applying to college will fall seamlessly into place.
About The College Counselor
Kathleen Bracken brings many years of college counseling experience to PINE. Previously, she worked at the Doane Stuart School in Rensselaer, New York, serving as Director of College Counseling from 2008-2021, and Assistant Director from 2005-2008. Bracken sees her role as both great fun and a tremendous privilege. PINE’s favorable faculty-to-student ratio allows her to provide individual attention to each of our students, while establishing a rapport and relationship with their families. She is a proud graduate of the University at Albany.