College Counseling Hosts College Deans and Directors Meeting

ESJ’s College Counseling Office hosted a Zoom meeting for juniors and parents on Tuesday  with several guest panelists from colleges around the country. The call included discussion of the changing landscape of admission due to COVID-19, the most important factors in determining admission, advice on essays and extracurricular pursuits, how to engage with colleges virtually, and the benefits of a gap year. Panelists included: Charles Murphy, Director of Freshman and International Admissions at the University of Florida; Christy Pratt, Director of Admissions, Notre Dame University; Alan Paynter, Director of Admission, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; and Katie Fulton, Senior Associate Director of Admission, Northeastern University. Combined, these panelists have more than 75 years of admission experience.

Christy Pratt praised students for demonstrating resiliency as their educational paths were upended last spring and how their experiences will only benefit them moving forward. Katie Fulton encouraged students to put themselves in the driver’s seat as they embark on the college search process.

“For me, the jewel of the application is the activities section, especially because of the limitations put on students due to COVID. I encourage you to use active words, going beyond what the activity is and focus on what it has meant to you and your commitment to it as a way of differentiating yourself,” said Katie.

Students were also advised to “not to take their foot off the gas senior year.”

“GPA and rigor of curriculum remain the most important factors we consider in our holistic review,” commented Charles Murphy. “Have students challenged themselves across all subjects or just in certain subjects, did they do the minimum that was required or go beyond what was required? We look for trends in grades and do our best to predict how you will do academically at our institutions.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, each panelist gave students and parents some parting words of wisdom.

“Pat yourselves on the back and give yourselves the credit you deserve. Take deep breaths, you have tremendous support around you. Keep working hard and know that it is okay to say, ‘I got this!’ because you do,” finished Katie.

Christy Pratt added, “Be open to new experiences and cast a wide net in your college search but start by asking yourself ‘what does college mean to me and how does my Episcopal experience translate to what I am looking for in a college?”

“If done properly, this will be a time of self-discovery. Tune out the folks on the outside, don’t get caught up in someone else’s expectations” said Charles Murphy. L

 Alan Paynter, who has been through the college process with his own three children had this advice for parents, “Stand back but have fun watching your children drive this process.”