College Counseling at Episcopal
At Episcopal Collegiate we not only want our students to be accepted to college, we want them to thrive at the college of their choice. With a 100 percent acceptance rate, and 87 percent of the 2018 class receiving scholarships totaling $18.2 million, our College Counseling Program and College Counseling Director, Tricia Morgan, have the tools and insight to guide students and parents through this process.
College counseling actually begins the moment any student enrolls at Episcopal at any grade level. The process accelerates when students enter the Upper School. College counseling for ninth-grade students is fairly light. Mrs. Morgan will meet with the ninth grade class only once or twice. During these sessions, student learn helpful "pre-college" tips such as: what a résumé looks like, what transcripts are, which grades colleges will see, and why they matter. Ninth-graders talk about the story that résumés and transcripts tell and how they can start now to portray themselves in an appealing manner. "Starting in the ninth grade can be stress inducing for some students, but I want them to be prepared. I never want to hear "I didn't know that", says Morgan. Ninth-graders are also allowed to attend the annual College Trip, a week long trip available to all Upper School students to a city of their choice to explore and visit colleges. This year, the College Trip will be to New York City. Students will visit schools such as Columbia University, New York University, and Vassar College. Tenth-grade college counseling is similar to the ninth-grade year. Students go over the subject of standardized testing such as the PSAT or the PACT and when they should be taking those tests.
Students begin meeting with college representatives visiting our campus during their Junior year. Colleges from all over the country come to our campus to meet with students and tell them about their school and undergraduate degree programs. In the third quarter of their Junior year, students attend a college counseling class during study hall with Mrs. Morgan. At this time students receive the college handbook, review standardized testing, and discuss scholarships and financial aid. Additional topics of discussion include: "what have you enjoyed about high school", "what teaching styles do you like", "what are you looking for in a college", and "what type of engagement are you looking for from professors and other students".
In February, Juniors attend a Dean's Panel. Four Dean's from regional colleges come to Episcopal to meet with juniors and their parents. The Dean's Panel is open to ninth and tenth graders as well. The Dean's Panel has two sessions -- one in the evening and one in the morning of the next day. During the morning session, the junior class is split into small groups to look over common application packets. The packets contain recommendation letters, profiles, transcripts, everything the Dean's need to make an admissions decision. Each group sits with a Dean and reads these files. They then decide between three applications to admit, deny, or waitlist. After these decisions have been made, the groups present their candidate decisions to the other groups and explain why they made those decisions. Then the Dean's present on the same applicant packet and explain what their admission decision would have been for that student. This is often the most eye opening part. Sometimes the Dean states they would not have accepted any of the applicants and explain why. After the Dean's Panel, students meet individually with Mrs. Morgan to discuss senior year classes and their college lists.
"Everything after February becomes very individualized, I really try to focus on what each student needs." says Morgan.
One week before school starts, there is a writing workshop for seniors hosted on campus specifically for college essay writing. A Rhodes College representative comes and presents a wonderful program. The Rhodes representative will cover topics such as brainstorming and how to sound like yourself in a college essay. The first three to four weeks of senior year are filled with college counseling classes. Students begin applications, learn how to request transcripts, and teacher recommendations all with the help of Mrs. Morgan. During that same time seniors also meet with Mrs. Morgan to go over their college lists, testing updates, deadline planning, and anything else the seniors can think of! "The size of our school makes it so that I can have a lot of one on one conversations with these students, ninth through twelfth grade, so I'm involved in the process from start to finish," says Morgan.
While the College Counseling Program is focused mostly on the students, Episcopal is the only school in the area that also provides programming for parents. Mrs. Morgan hosts three College Talks, a financial aid workshop, and the Dean's Panel annually.