College Counseling Staff Attends NACAC

Last week members of the College Counseling Office attended the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 73rd Annual Conference which took place in Boston, Mass., this year. Ryan Riggs, Director of College Counseling, and Andrea Rizzi, Associate Director of College Counseling, attended numerous sessions that explored a wide variety of topics within the profession. These included the growing phenomenon of the Gap Year; what selective college admissions will look like in 2025; a new approach to recommendation writing for both college counselors and faculty; updates on the Common Application; holistic admission; an update on the Turning the Tide report; and two sessions that were closely linked—starting a conversation on college mental health and making good decisions in college. There were also many opportunities to network with colleagues on both sides of the desk. In addition, Ms. Rizzi toured Boston University and connected with Episcopal alumni Nick Martin ’15 who attends MIT.

Ryan Riggs commented, “One of the outcomes of the Turning the Tide report indicated that students valued achievement over happiness and caring. And when asked why, the response was that that is what they thought their parents valued. However, when parents were asked the same question the overwhelming response was that they wanted their students to be happy and caring individuals first and foremost; achievement last. For me, what was most interesting was the disconnect in what the students thought their parents valued versus what they (their parents) actually valued.”

For Andrea Rizzi, the sessions she attended on mental health and decision making in college were most eye-opening. During the session on mental health, one of the most astonishing statistics was the 37% increase, in last ten years, in the suicide rate among girls ages 15 to 24 and how a conversation about the importance of mental health must be had with students before college.

The second session, based on the book, Practice for Life-Making Decisions in College, and authored by several admissions professionals followed a longitudinal study of over 200 students in the class of 2010. It discussed how little students know about what college is like; that they see it as a super high school. Students do not understanding that they have to think, read, write, study, and manage their time very differently in college while also becoming engaged, asking for and figuring out where to go for advice and help, establishing a home on their collegiate campus and making friends. The authors commented that college should be an end unto itself rather than a means to an end.

“I hope that College Counseling will be able to partner with our counseling services office as well as our local universities to create a program for our seniors that addresses many of the issues that they will experience their first semester in college and beyond,” said Ms. Rizzi