Getting ready for the college application process can be difficult for high school students. White Mountain School student Sarah Abbott discusses the support WMS offers students in the way of college prep in this podcast.
John Maher: Hi, I'm John Maher. I'm here today with Sarah Abbott, a student at The White Mountain School, a private college prep day and boarding school in New Hampshire. Today we're talking about the college process, and college counseling at White Mountain School. Welcome, Sarah.
Sarah Abbott: Hi, John.
Student College Goals After WMS
John: Tell me a little bit about your goals for college after graduating from The White Mountain School.
Sarah: I’m applying to small liberal arts colleges, sort of all over, not in one particular place. Yes, I could imagine myself going to grad school, maybe get PhD depending on where I am in life.
John: Okay. I heard that you are actually applying early decision somewhere, where is that?
WMS Students and Early College Applications
Sarah: I'm looking to do ED1 at Bates College in Maine.
John: Okay. ED1, explain that. What does that mean?
Sarah: That's when you hand in your application early, and you get a response probably before Christmas and that you've been accepted. When you do early decision, it's a binding contract, so if you get in, you're required to go.
John: Okay. What is the college application process like at The White Mountain School?
Sarah: Our college counselor starts meeting with you the spring of junior year and you'll talk about what you want in a college and sort of start compiling a list. Then, the fall of senior year, there's one big meeting where he sort of explains the skeleton of what's going on. What's going on each month and then he meets with you one-on-one once a week, twice a week if you need it, or you just want to ask those questions. I correspond with him over email all the time.
College Counseling at WMS
John: You're talking about meeting with a counselor a lot. It sounds like that's really different from maybe a public school or a school that has a lot more students. What type of college counseling and support do you receive at The White Mountain School besides what you just mentioned?
Sarah: I think that our college counselor asks you about you and informs you of things that you maybe wouldn't otherwise know about. They will know who you are probably before you even start working with them, because you might see them at dinner every day or they might have led your orientation trip or some other activity. They will try to work with you on what you're looking for, and they would be like, "It seems like you are saying this, but here's something to know about this school, here's some other suggestions that seemed the same." They will give you advice on where to go and help you work that out within your schedule school-wise, over what breaks you can visit. It's just every little thing that you could ask about, they'll probably be able to work out with you.
John: That's really great that they're able to get to know you maybe as a person, before you even start meeting with them and talking about colleges. Then they're going to have an informed ability to make recommendations for you and ask you questions based on maybe previous conversations that they've had with you. Like you said, you went on a number of field courses that were outside of the school, where you went on trips in those what you studied in those Field Courses may be helped to inform what you might want to do in college. You might have already talked to your counselor or your counselor might have even been on one of those trips with you and so they're able to ask those questions and say, "Hey, I saw that you were interested in this on your Field Course, is that something that you might want to do in college, if so I have a few ideas for you where you might want to study, this college has a good program for that." That kind of thing.
Support with Selecting Colleges
John: Do you think that because it's such a small school and the counselors know you already, they are really able to dive deep into what you want to do and help you in a more personal way in terms of picking a college?
Sarah: Yes, that's absolutely true. It's not only that, but your counselor knows your advisor and different people who also all know you, because it's like, everybody knows everyone at a small school like this, so they really know you.
John: I went to a public school that had 1200 students and I think there were 300 just in my senior class. I think the extent of my college counseling was one or two meetings with the guidance counselor at school, saying, "What do you think you want to do in college?" And then, "Oh, okay, you want to do that, well here's a few schools that are good for that." That was sort of the extent of it. It sounds like you get much more personalized experience and advice here.
Sarah: Yes, I've certainly had that.
John: How important do you think it is that you receive that much support and guidance in the college process, and has it made that process of applying to colleges much better?
Sarah: I think it's been a lot more pleasant. Not to mention I couldn't imagine going to one school and sort of being uninformed of something that my college counselor told me being like, "I want to go to Colorado College," and not really knowing that much about the block plan, for example, which is somewhere I'm applying. Just being able to point out some of the different things.
John: All right. That's really great information, Sarah. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Sarah: It was great to be here.