Inside the Office

Welcome to the college counseling office's blog! Once a month or more Dean of College Counseling Andy Campbell will share what Brooks' college counseling team is working on with students and offer advice and news. 

September 19, 2019

Enjoy the Present — Embrace the Uncertainty!

For any sixth-form student, beginning one’s final chapter at Brooks School is exhilarating! When witnessing the class of 2020 interacting with one another during our opening week, there was little doubt as to the closeness of this class and their excitement for the upcoming year. 

Their school year will come with its euphoria and ultimate triumphs but for most sixth-formers, there is an added layer of uncertainty as they embark on this fall’s college process. Students in the class are faced with added work, added pressure and external factors often out of their control. This has never been more recognized by Brooks’ college counseling office than now. Though our staff’s efforts with students come with strategic advice and a detail-oriented application approach, the difficulties of college-related anxiety is incredibly real. This year, more so than ever, it is imperative to guide and support students as they face these challenges. 

Sixth-form students have accomplished so much to date. We encourage fellow students, faculty and parents to celebrate the successes of these scholars. The big wins on the field, the theater productions, the fun times with friends and learning moments in the classroom are all still a present part of the Brooks journey. Often, conversations and inquiries about “what’s next,” can add an extra and unwanted restlessness for students who are already consumed with applications and the most rigorous course load in their high school career. The future will come, but seldom will there be a time in life more enjoyable than that final frame in secondary school. Class of 2020, it’s your time and your year. The college process is a fraction of that, so enjoy it all!

How College Prep Began . . . 

On the college front, the graduating class has never been busier nor more organized. After a thorough approach to the “College Jump Start Program” on September 5, the students are prepared to have a productive fall. 

During the day’s “Jump Start” breakout groups, Associate Director Kristin Moody — along with Assistant College Counselor Christine Jackson — expanded on the elements of the Common Application and provided details about sixth-formers’ fall curriculum. They conveyed critical deadlines and important milestones in small-group settings and provided a wealth of information. Associate Director Wendy Brennan highlighted crucial ingredients of the college essay and the importance of a strong personal statement.

It was fun for me, personally, to meet with students to discuss the upcoming information sessions of the 130-plus college admission representatives who will be visiting Brooks now through mid-November — and the importance of putting one’s best foot forward when in conversation with an admission officer.

With our aforementioned focus on student wellbeing, the College Counseling office was incredibly fortunate to have Director of Wellness Steph Homes (shown above) lead sessions on “Handling the College Process.” She advised students to “enjoy the exploration” and “embrace the uncertainty” of the venture. Many thanks to Ms. Holmes; the College Counseling office is thrilled to collaborate with the Health and Wellness Center team.

Students Met With College Reps

During the first full week of classes, we are also welcomed our first college visitors to campus. Representatives from Merrimack College, St. Michael’s College, Bates College, Miami University (OH) and others met with students. Currently 134 colleges and universities from across the country and the globe have registered to visit Brooks this fall. We are beyond blessed to have so many terrific institutions show an active interest in Brooks students. 

Brooks sixth-formers have certainly had success in applying to some of the most competitive colleges in the country over the years, yet it’s the range of college representatives visiting Great Pond Road that really provides unique opportunities to learn of new and budding programs.

Recently, we learned of neighbor Merrimack College’s new focus on the health sciences, a new nursing major, plans to expand their enrollment to 5,000 students and their recent shift to NCAA Division I for all athletic programs. That same day, a representative from Dean College spoke to students about their institution's continued dedication to the performing arts, comprehensive offering of learning support and services and promise of merit aid packages upon acceptance.

Things Got Personal

For Brooks pupils, no two college processes are the same and learning more about various programs from many different schools only helps them in making better-informed decisions about where to apply, how to apply and what that ultimate outcome may mean.

As the month continues, the sixth-form fall curriculum becomes more personalized. Students will meet with their individual college counselors, discuss list management, go over essays and further evaluate standardized testing plans. Beginning the week of September 22, and throughout the semester, the College Counseling office will hold sessions in Self and Community classes. Once a week for five weeks this fall, students will have time to work on applications, discuss application and financial aid timelines and have a college advisor at their disposal for any questions.

Yes, this process can be stressful, but we’re confident that it will be rewarding ultimately. I recommend that students and parents alike take the time to enjoy the fall. Have conversations about school life and social endeavors, then, when conversations about college and the next step are relevant, by all means be patient and take the time to discuss. All the same, students, continue to revel in the Brooks experience, working hard, playing hard and laughing hard. As Mrs. Holmes suggests, “embrace the uncertainty.”  Allow yourself to wonder about what’s next but enjoy the present with each other.

All the best to the class of 2020!

Mr. Campbell