|Families and Individuality in the College Process|
September's College Corner from Director of College Counseling Brennan Barnard
Happy fall! As you are likely aware, the new school year brings our community to focus on the last two core values of The Derryfield School: Families and Individuality. An area of school life where these values are especially significant is in the college process. While adherence to the spirit of these values is at the center of how we approach applying to college, they can also at times seem at odds with one another.
Let us start with Families: "We embrace the family's role in the life of our day school, celebrating collaboration between home and school." There is no question that applying to college is a family venture. It can be full of laughter, tears, debate and harmony. We encourage parents to be immersed in this process beginning with our junior college workshop day held in late January to family meetings with each student’s college counselor. These are pivotal in ensuring that everyone is on the same page as we map out the following year and a half. Although every family differs in their approach and level of involvement in this process, it is no doubt a collaborative effort between parents, students, faculty and the College Office. It is Derryfield at our best.
While family involvement is crucial, applying to college is a uniquely personal experience that needs to be owned by the student. This bring us to Individuality: "We encourage young people to grow as unique individuals through the discovery of new passions and a love for learning, self-knowledge, critical inquiry, and reflection." For many students, the college process is their first major foray into independence and while this can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, it can also be exhilarating and enlightening. Our hope for every senior is that they use this process as a vehicle for introspection and self awareness in terms of their abilities, strengths, challenges and values. It is an ideal time to hone self-advocacy skills and learn to tap into resources that will enable students to be successful in college and beyond. As parents and faculty, we must allow students the space within our supportive community to recognize and practice this individuality, while also encouraging their passions and serving as their guides and biggest fans.
One of the primary goals for the College Office this year is outreach to students and families across years at Derryfield. While we currently do a thorough job of working with our juniors and seniors, we realize the importance of connecting with families earlier in the process to be proactive about planning. There is a fine line between thoughtful preparation and premature obsession with the college process. You can rely on us to obsess, so you as families can relax and enjoy your students high school years. To that end, we have added the following to our program this year, with more to come:
- Upper School Communications Meeting: John Bouton has been kind enough to set aside some time at the first meeting, next Thursday, September 15 at 8:00 a.m. for an overview of the college process, including a four-year planning timeline. There will also be an opportunity for questions and answers.
- Grade Level Meetings: During the first week in October, I will be meeting with parents at each grade level to cover issues relevant to their students in relation to the college process.
- Facebook: The College Counseling Office now has its very own Facebook page. While this will primarily be to post announcements for our current seniors, we will also be linking to interesting articles and other resources in college admission. If you have an account, search for The Derryfield School College Counseling Office and “like” the page.
- College Counseling Chats: This year we will host a series of gatherings to discuss the latest topics in college admission and to answer questions that are looming on parents’ minds about this increasingly complicated process. Once a month, parents of all grade levels are welcome to join us in the new Seminar Room on the main floor of the Gateway building for fellowship and conversation. We will make an effort to hold these meetings at different times of the day to account for different family schedules. This first will be a brown bag lunch at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, September 26. We will be joined by Beverly Morse, a long time admission professional at Kenyon College in Ohio.
We look forward to the coming year and welcome you to call, email or stop by our office as you have questions, concerns or simply want to talk about college and the excitement that lies ahead for your sons and daughters.
Director of College Counseling