At Garrison Forest School we view college counseling holistically—it is the next step in a series of opportunities for students to understand themselves and begin to realize their potential as students, leaders, and citizens of the 21st century.
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Beyond the challenges of being admitted, the college process can be an exercise in humility, patience, compromise, and an exciting time of self-discovery. Students explore connections between academic work and interests that may lead to unexpected college choices. Most importantly, they learn to recognize the qualities and skills they need to navigate what can be a fluid, complex--and ultimately rewarding--process.
The emphasis of our college counseling program is on finding the best "match" for a student, so it is important that students have time to reflect upon who they are or may become. Our goal is not only for every senior to have a choice of suitable college admission offers from which to choose, but for each girl to feel ownership of the process and responsibility for her success.
While the college preparation process formally begins in 10th Grade, 9th Grade students are encouraged to get acquainted with the academic and extracurricular offerings of the Upper School and to get to know their teachers as mentors. 9th Grade students work closely with their academic advisors to make sure their four year academic plan includes the most appropriate and robust classes for their four years in the Upper School. The college counselors host a 9th and 10th grade College Night in May where parents are introduced to the GFS College Counseling program and hear a keynote address from a Dean of Admission about a relevant topic in admissions. Freshman students participate in leadership development activities with the Dean of Students and the 10th Grade Class Deans during this evening program.
Career Explorations, a six week course taught by the college counselors, takes place in the second half of the sophomore year and marks the start of the college preparation process at GFS. Students complete an online career interest inventory, develop an activities résumé, learn basic interviewing skills and participate in a mock interview with GFS staff or administrators to practice their newly learned skills. Sophomores also participate in a six week test prep mini-course taught by Capital Educators, LLC. This course is designed to provide a foundation for success on the PSAT/SAT/ACT by giving them a critical head start before they begin the standardized testing process in junior year. The college counselors host a College Night for sophomores and parents in May. Parents are introduced to the GFS College Counseling program and hear a keynote from a Dean of Admission about a relevant topic in admissions. Sophomore students practice their interviewing skills that evening by participating in mock interviews with GFS Alumnae and receive written feedback on their performance. The interviews provide our students experience and practice for college admissions interviews that will begin in the junior year.
Decision Making II, our college counseling class for juniors, is designed to better prepare our students for the important decisions they will be facing in the coming year and beyond, particularly decisions about college. The college search process is just that: a process that should be logical and timely. The first step is for the students to take a critical look at themselves and learn about their options. The mantra of the college counselors is that all students should seek colleges that are good fits for them, rather than seek to “fit into” a college. We hold two college counseling evening programs for juniors and parents. The first program is in early September and lays out the college search and application process for students and parents. The second college night program is in early January and includes a panel of college admissions officers who discuss “fit factors” in college admission and work to demystify and humanize the college admissions process for our students.
Admissions officers from colleges are invited as guest speakers in Decision Making II classes to speak to our students about topics such as campus visits, interviews, essays and letters of recommendation. In January of junior year, students begin individual meetings with the college counselors to create a preliminary list of colleges to investigate good fit schools more deeply.
In late May, the college counselors run a three session, Camp College program for juniors. During Camp College, juniors create their Common Application and Coalition Application accounts and work on the actual applications. On the third day of Camp College, we invite college admissions officers to GFS to read and provide feedback on college essay drafts that the students crafted in their junior year English classes. We launch our students into the summer with completed applications, a college essay draft and a more focused college list.
College Counselors teach the Decision Making II course and get to know the students as the students are getting to know themselves; thus, the counselors are better able to guide them through the college admissions journey toward right fit schools.
Ann Marie Strauss, Director of College Counseling and Stephanie Metruk, Associate Director of College Counseling
Ann Marie Strauss, Director of College Counseling and Stephanie Metruk, Associate Director of College Counseling give tips on finding the best college fit.
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Phone: (410) 559-3129
Fax: (410) 559-3108
Ann Marie Strauss
Director of College Counseling
Associate Director of College Counseling
College Counseling Coordinator, Registrar