College Counseling Counts
Posted by Brian Galetto on 4/14/2016
With the cost of college tuition increasing each year, it's become essential to understand and prepare for the college admission process. At Villanova, that's where our College Counseling Department steps in. Marissa Carroll, Director of College Counseling, along with Jessica Benson, Academic/Guidance Counselor, prepare students for one of the biggest decisions of their academic careers. Villanova’s comprehensive counseling process begins freshman year when students meet one-on-one with Jessica Benson to identify learning styles and set academic goals. From there, students begin to identify passions or interests they want to pursue, mold a course schedule around those passions, and, with the help of both counselors, build a portfolio of possible schools that would fit their needs. When asked about the role college counseling played in helping her get into the University of Southern California (USC), Celeste '16 had this to say: "From early on Mrs. Benson helped me see the bigger picture in terms of what courses I should take. She encouraged me to take challenging, higher level classes in math and science because I planned on studying medicine in college. Even when I decided that I was more interested in law, both Mrs. Benson and Mrs. Carroll identified the history courses and electives that would best prepare me for that degree. Even though I always knew I wanted to go to USC, they helped me make that a reality, and for that I am very grateful."
In the early stages of high school, most students are not sure which college or university is the best fit for them. To help students learn more about different schools throughout the country, Villanova hosts a college fair each semester. At each fair, colleges and universities from all over the country come and share information on what makes them unique and appealing. However, when colleges and universities are not on campus, our college counselors serve as liaisons between our students and college admission officers throughout the country. This constant contact serves as a way for our counselors to keep up to date on what schools expect from prospective students, while also sharing with those same institutions the quality of students that come from Villanova. “This year we welcomed more institutions to our college fairs than we have ever had in the past. Admission counselors know that Villanova students are well prepared for the rigors of college academics,” emphasized Marissa Carroll.
Meeting with representatives on campus during college fairs is great, but if one truly feels that a school is the right fit, we encourage them to visit college campuses. One way we help with this is by offering a Spring College Tour every year. The tour is designed for our students to visit eight to ten different colleges and universities in a designated region, while also exploring the surrounding cities or towns to get a better sense of whether or not the school and community are a strong fit for them. Over the past few years we've traveled to the East Coast, Northern California, Philadelphia and DC, and this year we visited the Pacific Northwest. We had 14 students attend the trip and they toured the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Gonzaga University, and the University of Washington, among others. At the same time, they were able to spend some time in Portland and Eugene, Oregon as well as Spokane and Seattle, Washington. When asked about his experience, Joey '19 talked about what he enjoyed most: “Before this trip, I didn’t know much about the Pacific Northwest, but afterward I know that I will definitely apply to some of the schools I visited, especially Oregon State. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the schools. Everyone was studying and looked interested in what they were learning. Checking out the dining halls showed me a lot about each school. When you serve good food for the students, it makes such a difference.” So whether it's the environment of the school, or the food, taking trips to visit campuses proves to be a vital part of the college admission process.
Lastly, communication is a critical component to the college admission process. With that in mind, keeping our parents informed throughout this process is crucial. We conduct one-on-one meetings with our families and their college counselor so they can detail and identify the courses and also the colleges that students might be interested in. Our college counselors also hold "Coffee with Counselors" to invite parents to learn more about what can be a complicated college admission process. Certain sessions will include some question and answer opportunities with admission representatives from local colleges and universities, or "experts" in the college counseling field. Other sessions simply serve as a forum for our parents and college counselors to chat about a specific topic, such as recent changes to the ACT.
Being a college preparatory school, we pride ourselves on setting our students up for success once they leave Villanova. That starts with finding the right college or university for each of them. Through our comprehensive college counseling process, we feel confident that each Villanova graduate has found the right school that will help them develop into a leader in the 21st century.