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North Hills Monthly

College Counseling at Shady Side Academy

Jan 01, 2017 03:17PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine
The Shady Side Academy College Counseling Office has three full-time college counselors who work as a team to help SSA Senior School students find "best fit" colleges that will nurture their abilities and undiscovered talents, while allowing them to realize their career aspirations. 

At Shady Side Academy, every student creates a college application over time. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of all that SSA has to offer: rigorous courses, talented teachers, arts and athletics, a myriad of clubs and activities, leadership and service opportunities. Opportunities abound at every turn, and in accessing those – guided by teachers, counselors, coaches and peers – students amass excellent credentials for college applications.  

College counselors serve as guides, resources and advocates to students and parents throughout the college search and application process. Students find "best fit" schools through a process of self-exploration, research and decision making. Reflection and self-examination help students identify their academic strengths, career interests and living and learning preferences. College research is much more than looking at college rankings. Learning what makes one college’s program better than another’s, or what makes a small college different from a large university, helps students bring this information into focus with what they know about themselves. This allows them to create a list of schools that "best fit" them, maximizing the opportunity to find a community that will best meet their needs for the next four years.

The College Counseling Office provides information and resources to all Senior School families via the school website and the College Counseling Facebook page. The staff also offers group programming for families on financial aid, hosts an annual Career Connections fair for students, and hosts Coffee & Conversation sessions for parents on a variety of topics.

During the freshmen and sophomore years, college counselors speak to students in class meetings about topics such as the importance of class work and developing self-advocacy skills, summer opportunities, making appropriate course choices, leadership and service, standardized testing, and the concept of creating a college profile over time. 

In winter of the junior year, each student is assigned a college counselor, and the two have many one-on-one meetings where they get to know one another, create a standardized testing calendar, explore colleges, begin to make a college list and plan college visits. Class meetings also provide information on topics such as course registration, writing college essays or organizing an activity list. 

In fall of the senior year, students work with their counselors in group and individual meetings on college applications and essays, finalizing an application strategy, interview preparation and more. Seniors also have the chance to meet with nearly 140 college representatives who visit the SSA campus. By May, students make their college choice from a wide variety of excellent college acceptances, and prepare to head out the gates of Shady Side Academy. 

College Counseling at Shady Side Academy