Guest Post by Director of College Counseling Tim Gallen, President-Elect of the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling
As Solebury School’s Director of College Counseling, spring is a rewarding time of year. College acceptances are rolling in and our seniors have exciting choices to make. Here are just a few of the outstanding institutions our students have been accepted to:
Berklee College of Music
Bryn Mawr College
Case Western Reserve University
Franklin & Marshall College
George Washington University
Georgia Institute of Technology
New York University
Penn State University – University Park
University of Richmond
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin
Washington University St. Louis
College of William & Mary
These acceptances are the result of great preparation. We are acutely focused on matching our students with schools that are a great fit for them academically, personally, financially. My role is to guide our students through what can appear to be an intimidating and sometimes overwhelming college application process, breaking it down into digestible goals.
While most Solebury School students start considering colleges in 10th grade (some of our sophomores even create excel documents that list colleges’ pros and cons!), the real work begins junior year with my series of College Guidance classes during our winter trimester. We spend hours every week covering standardized testing, what makes a great college essay, selecting a major, maximizing college visits, gathering recommendation letters, and much more. I also meet with each junior and senior one-on-one (including parents, if they choose) to create a plan of action.
Throughout the year, I organize visits from dozens of colleges, so that interested students can talk to a representative in a relaxed group setting here at Solebury. We also provide transportation to a regional and national college fair, and each year, we co-host a college fair with more than 150 colleges and universities that all juniors are required to attend.
At Solebury, students can also take advantage of our popular SAT Prep Course, taught by faculty who are already familiar with our students’ learning styles. I highly encourage students to take the SAT or the ACT at least once in junior year to provide a baseline to help in their college searches. (All sophomores are required to take the PSAT.) Students can take the tests a second or even third time to try to better their scores, into the fall of senior year. Earlier this year, we were proud to have three seniors earn a perfect score on a section of the SAT or ACT, such as Chris O’Brian, who is off to Cornell in the fall. Last week, we learned that junior Will Gao earned a perfect score on the science portion of the ACT.
Many seniors also take Solebury’s fall Personal Essay Writing class, which allows them to craft their college essays and have them edited by a teacher with a masters from the Columbia School of Journalism. Our Writing Center is another wonderful source of help.
As I find closure with the Class of 2017, I’m excited for what next year will bring – not just for our rising juniors and seniors but also for me, as I step into my new role as President of the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling. As part of that role, I’ve already helped to make permanent a committee that focuses on providing better college training in counselor education programs, an ad hoc committee to assist college transfer students, and funding and transportation for underrepresented counselors to have access to quality professional development opportunities. I’ve attended several national and regional conferences, meetings and workshops. I have also met with congressional representatives in Washington, DC, to help provide better access to college for all students. Throughout it all, I have made many contacts around the world to help better advocate for Solebury students and to keep the name of Solebury School relevant at hundreds of colleges.
Finally, a hearty congratulations to the Class of 2017 and their families! It’s been wonderful collaborating with you and guiding you toward that perfect college for you.