College Search Process

While the formal college search process begins in the winter of a student's junior year, the college process actually begins well before that. Transcripts remain the most important part of a college application, and students are working on these throughout their high school careers. Furthermore, faculty advisors work closely with advisees each year on their course selections, taking both a student's high school and future college career into careful consideration.

Junior Year

There are over three thousand colleges and universities in the United States. A student's goal should be to determine which of these many colleges have the right characteristics and programs for them, given their particular needs, skills, and interests.

Group and individual college meetings in the winter of the junior year are designed to help with that task. The weekly meetings with Director of College Counseling John Thurston and College Counselor Breda White help students figure out what is most valuable to them as individuals when thinking about colleges, and they emphasize the importance of finding the best academic, social, and cultural matches.

During the course of the semester, the small student groups will discuss such topics as what to do to get started in the process, how to review college publications, how best to use the Web as a resource, and how to make the most out of college visits. Considerable time is spent talking about college interviews. Anyone with questions about these topics is encouraged to call or e-mail the College Counseling Office.

As students think about what characteristics are most important to them to help them determine what kind of college they wish to attend, John and Breda work with students to help them identify a preliminary list of schools to investigate. The ultimate goal is for students to apply to a range of colleges, any one of which they would be happy to attend, and from which they should have a number of options.

Many students begin to visit colleges in the spring of their junior year. This is a good time for students to explore a range of different kinds of schools, e.g. big and small, rural and urban. Often, this kind of college visiting can assist students in their process of identifying characteristics that are important to them.

Throughout the winter and spring, John and Breda are available to parents for individual meetings about their son or daughter’s college process.

In the spring, parents complete the Junior Parent Survey, an opportunity for them to provide critical insights about their child to John and Breda.

Summer Before Senior Year

During the summer months between junior and senior year, students often visit those colleges of initial interest to them. While it is preferable to visit schools when they are in session, summer visits can also provide valuable insights and help students identify what they are looking for in a college.

Students and their families are also encouraged to call or come into the College Counseling Office at any time during the summer. John Thurston is happy to answer any questions as the summer progresses, and is also eager to learn about where students are in their own processes.

During the first week of pre-season, John and Breda conduct two to three Common Application workshops. These are designed to guide seniors through and, where possible, begin to complete sections of the Common Application and college-specific supplements.

In August, John and Breda are available to parents for individual meetings about their son or daughter’s college process.

Students and their families are also encouraged to call or come into the College Counseling Office at any time during the summer. John Thurston is happy to answer any questions as the summer progresses, and is also eager to learn about where students are in their own processes.

Senior Year

Both weekly college meetings and regular individual meetings resume in September. At this time, some students will still be in the process of determining what schools are of interest to them. Helping students to identify schools that are a good match for their needs and interests continues to be a critical part of the college counseling process in the fall.

During senior year, the emphasis of college meetings shifts from the search process to the application process. The primary goal of these college meetings is to walk them through the application process step by step, so that applications can be completed in a thorough and timely fashion, and without a high level of anxiety by completing the parts in manageable pieces. The parts of the application process include: the activities resume, the essay, teacher recommendations, and other short pieces of writing. John and Breda take care to talk with the students about how to fill out application forms thoroughly and correctly as well. To learn more about the different pieces of the application, see the Application Process.

Also during the fall of senior year, college representatives visit the Waynflete campus to talk with students. This is another great resource for students, whether they are still in the beginning phases of their search process or have already come up with their list. Students are encouraged to meet with these college representatives and ask any questions that they have. College representatives visit Waynflete throughout the fall and early winter.

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