One Book Day 2023: The Last Cuentista
Saint Ann’s students are creative, independent, and known for their intellectual confidence and adventurousness. They spend their years at Saint Ann’s becoming themselves and discovering what they care about, and they carry this knowledge with them when they leave. For every Saint Ann’s student, the college process should be an extension of this exploration—a path as unique and thoughtfully chosen as the one they have traveled through Saint Ann’s.
Applying to college—like a Saint Ann’s education—represents much more than a means to an end. The college process is about the individual; every student has a different story to tell. We, the college counselors, celebrate the personal nature of this process, and we are committed to the guidance and support of each student who embarks upon it, as well as to providing a source of practical information for parents and students. Part of this is equipping students to understand college admissions within a larger system; it may be the first time a student will be up against such a system so it is vital to see beyond the Saint Ann’s applicants and the NYC independent school pool to the rest of the country and the world. Race, class, gender, financial aid, geography, legacy, among other factors, impact the process in real ways and it is important to talk about these issues. We have found that open, ongoing dialogue between counselors, students, and parents is often the key to a successful college application process.
At the same time, it is the students who will take the lead in navigating this important journey as it unfolds over the last year and a half of their career at Saint Ann’s. Our role—in addition to counseling, asking hard questions, and suggesting—is to provide helpful facts and strategic advice based upon our years of college counseling experience, our relationship with college admissions officers, and our knowledge of the many schools that attract the interest of our students. Through data collection and identifying external demographic trends, we strive to make our counseling more comprehensive. We practice inclusive, equitable, college-admission practices and seek to provide resources for students so that all graduates have access to the best-fit institutions. It is our job to be straightforward and honest in assessing every student’s situation with regard to the application process, because in the increasingly competitive climate of college admissions, anything less than total frankness on our part would be a disservice to the student. In the end, decisions about where to apply, what to write about in their essays, and whom to ask for recommendations, must be the students’ to make.
For our students, applying to college can be a process of discovery, of pondering who and what they are, of understanding how one learns best and what kind of educational community works for each student (big, small, near, far, rural, urban). What are the necessary qualities in a college or university where living and learning will continue to be a daily adventure? We respect this process as a learning experience directly contributing to a student’s self-confidence and readiness for college and adulthood.