Just as teachers at the Harkness table create a
student-centered learning environment, PEA counselors foster active and open-minded collaboration with students. In this supportive environment, students learn to identify their goals and interests, to manage a complex and stressful process and to make healthy and confident decisions about higher education. Fundamentally, we believe that each student should control the self-evaluation, research and application writing that is essential to good college selection.
—College Office Mission Statement
Less than a week after a New York Times ran a feature describing the Academy’s new college counseling website, PEA uppers began the college selection process. While we are certainly pleased with the positive public response to this dynamic addition to our counseling program, we are especially gratified to see the enthusiastic endorsement of the site by so many of our students.
The very first page of the CCO website contains our mission statement. We hope all parents will read it carefully. If you do, and if you then explore the site a bit, we believe you will see how effectively its features support our philosophy and our goals in supporting your children. Above all else, we hope students feel empowered and supported in managing a process that can seem overwhelming, highly pressurized and mystifying. The site tries to reinforce those goals on every one of its pages. It is student-centered, it facilitates efficient organizing of data, lists, links and calendars, and it encourages students to research colleges and to understand how their records compare with those of previously admitted students from PEA.
The site’s functionality and ease of use mean that students can more easily become active college “selectors.” This is a key concept, one that most people do not think of as they approach college admissions. Students can turn the tables on the college process if they take control of it. They do so through a careful self-evaluation, discussions with their counselor and parents, research and a clear understanding of their goals and the realities of selective college admissions. They can take much of the mystery out of the end results, literally making choices rather than feeling “chosen” or “denied.”
Is this easy? Certainly not, especially given the cultural pressures that make some students feel that only certain colleges can legitimize their high-school careers or guarantee their future success. But there is no question that those students who take charge of the selection process have the best experience with it.
They feel good about their college options. They feel more confident than when they began the process. And they feel positive about the support they received from the Academy.
We also designed the website with parents in mind. The Library, which contains the CCO Guidebook and all of our newsletters for uppers and seniors, should be a valuable resource, as should the searchable calendar and other features that we hope parents will explore. Parents of uppers should talk with their child about the student profile page and the college profile pages. Your child’s password to these pages underscores the student-centered philosophy that guides college counseling at the Academy. You and she/he might decide that sharing the password will enhance your communication and your ability to collaborate effectively on this important venture.
As we continue our work with seniors and begin with uppers, we hope all PEA parents know that the College Counseling Office wants students to gain confidence and self-awareness through the process of choosing a college. We look forward to working with all of you.
—Mark C. Davis
Director, College Office
—Elizabeth M. Dolan
Associate Director, College Office