College Night: Own Your Story

Jackie Pisani
As part of KO’s student-centered four-year college advising program curriculum, Form 5 students and parents attended College Night on October 30 featuring admissions representatives from the following institutions: Emily Roper-Doten, Olin School of Engineering, Peter Hagan, Syracuse University, Anthony Berry, Trinity College and Kortni Campbell, Davidson College and moderated by Director of College Advising Jami Silver. Each presenter recognized that the college search process can be overwhelming, but they reassured the audience that the process is truly one of self-reflection. To put forth the best application, the panelists advised the students to know who they are, what they like to do and why they like to do it.

The representatives concurred that colleges are not interested in students who check off boxes to fulfill requirements that they think the college is seeking. Colleges are looking for an authentic sense of who the student is. One presenter said, “College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.” Roper-Doten underscored that the students should understand that they are a collection of stories, and colleges want you to share the story of who you are and take ownership of it. Each college seeks not only students who can do the work but students who will also contribute to the dynamic whole of the institution which may vary from year to year. There is no set formula.

Recognizing that this journey may be a nervewracking one, the panelists recommended that the students filter out the noise to remain whole and healthy. What works for one student and family may not work for everyone. “How stressed you are will not influence the outcome but how thoughtful you are can influence the outcome," said Hagen. Berry reminded the students to cherish the time at KO and live the full experience while they are here instead of perseverating about the college search.

Following the presentation, students and parents participated in a question and answer period with the panelists. Some key takeaways include: test scores are only one way to measure students and generally the last one on the list; colleges look for the rigor of the student’s transcript; colleges look for how the student is performing within the context that they are in; colleges want to see demonstrated interest in their institution via visits, interviews, or online chats; colleges want to see how the student took advantage of the opportunities available to them at KO.

Silver said the students and families have also had other college search programmings including a presentation by KO’s consulting psychologist Nancy Rankin on “Rx for the College Search Process: Maintaining Perspective and Balance” and meeting with the director of student financial services at Washington University in St. Louis. After the College Night presentation, parents received a white paper on “A Fit over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More than Selectivity.” Silver said of the college advising department, “We are a resource and a four-year curriculum. We are here to support students and their families and build a relationship with them.”
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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