College Counseling Office Says It's All Access, All The Time
Members of Hamden Hall’s Class of 2021 have already submitted 300 applications to 120-plus different colleges and universities throughout the world, according to Director of College Counseling Kiki Carlson.
In fact, half of the senior class has applied early decision – a significant increase over past years, which historically had seen about a quarter to a third of each class apply “ED.” Students who applied in this manner will learn by the end of December whether they garnered access to the schools of their choice.
The overall college process during this time of COVID has certainly presented its share of challenges for students, but it has also launched a whole set of virtual offerings that previously did not exist.
“So it’s opening up access to everywhere and everyone has access to everything,” said Mrs. Carlson.
For instance, Hamden Hall’s College Counseling Office usually hosts about 75 college representatives on campus with whom students are able to engage and learn about their programs. Due to the pandemic, college representatives have been meeting with students via Zoom and thus far, 90 schools have offered opportunities for virtual meet-ups. Schools that Hamden Hall students wouldn’t normally have such hands-on access to – including ones from Switzerland, Scotland, Canada, and California – are now lining up to meet virtually with prospective attendees, said Mrs. Carlson.
“We even heard from the University of Alabama, so that’s been fun,” she said.
Colleges around the globe have poured money into virtual offerings including student-led campus tours and panels of professors and students providing insight on everything from the dining hall to specific majors. Attending virtual classes has also become a popular way for prospective students to gauge interest in a university’s academic program.
Another sign of the times has been the overwhelming wave of colleges who have gone “test optional,” meaning that students decide whether to submit their SAT or ACT scores with their application. Additionally, the standard of including two teacher recommendations has generally been reduced to one and application fees across the board have been decreased or eliminated.
Last year, Hamden Hall’s College Office offered a new initiative to Upper School parents and guardians to help them better navigate the college process, which officially begins during a student’s junior year. The monthly breakfast series focused on such topics as standardized testing, building a competitive transcript, college athletics and recruiting, and more. Over coffee and bagels, interested individuals received an introduction to Hamden Hall’s specific approach to the college process and then proceeded to other topics at subsequent events.
That series has now evolved into Zoom lunches, Mrs. Carlson said. Parents tune in during their lunch hour to learn about opportunities students can take advantage of in the years leading up to junior year.
“Our College Counseling Office is top-notch in providing the necessary tools that empower our students in their individual college searches. That's why we can continually boast that, historically, three-quarters of our graduating seniors are admitted to institutions ranked as 'most competitive' and 'highly competitive,’” said Head of School Bob Izzo.
On campus, seniors have continued to meet weekly with their college counselors, including the department’s newest member, Dr. TD Tucker.
“Even though this college admissions cycle poses many new challenges and changes, we feel fortunate to have, at least, been in school to be able to meet with seniors weekly this fall to help them get applications pulled together and submitted,” maintained Mrs. Carlson.
Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.