What sets your college guidance apart from other counseling?
At Beth Tfiloh, we provide a highly individualized program in which we advise and support students and their families through every aspect of the college application process. This intensive process starts from the time our students are just beginning to think about college in junior year to the moment when we are sending their transcripts to their chosen colleges. Since each counselor has a limited number of students, they have ample availability to guide students through each stage of the process. We also advocate personally for every student at each college to which they apply. Advocacy is done through letters, phone conferences, and even visits to the college on the student's behalf.
Standardized testing is a fundamental part of college acceptance. How do you help your students prepare for the SATs?
Beginning in their freshman year when standardized tests cover verbal, written, and math skills, our academic curriculum prepares our students to be comfortable and competent test takers. Students take the PSAT in their sophomore and junior years and they are also offered a free ACT practice test. Should a student need extra support, we are able to steer them to dependable outside resources.
Students and their families complete an extensive questionnaire before beginning the application process. How does this better the college application experience?
The questionnaire helps students examine their own interests, talents, preferences, and goals. In addition, it opens a window into the student’s life, accomplishments, and character that we may not have seen in the school environment. Their questionnaire responses prompt conversations with the students and help us know them better, which ultimately leads to the most effective advising and successful advocacy possible. Through this process, we can help the student create a list of colleges that will be a good fit both academically and socially. We care about our students and want their next academic experience to be exciting, challenging, and comfortable.
What role, if any, does digital media play in college applications these days? What advice would you share on its influence?
Digital media has been a game changer. Digital communications give students the ability to learn a great deal about their top schools. We suggest they take a virtual tour and email the admissions reps to ask them thoughtful questions. From the college's website, they can learn about the application process, various academic programs, study-abroad opportunities, student life, financial aid, and can even schedule a campus visit. At the end of the day, nothing replaces actually visiting the campus and walking around the grounds.
What are some common mistakes you see students make during the application process?
Probably the most common mistake we experience is when a student believes or says that there is only one "perfect" college out there for them. There are so many options and opportunities available to them—we use our experience to help them define what it is they are looking for and where they can find it.
Lastly, what advice would you give to rising juniors beginning to apply to colleges?
Relax. Don’t view this as a difficult and scary process. Recognize that there are many colleges at which you will thrive. Don’t get caught up in the chatter of where everyone else is applying. The key is to find the college that is a good fit for you. Research, get organized, make a timeline for yourself, and stick to it. Ask for help if you feel like you need it—there is a wealth of resources available. And breathe!
Learn more about Beth Tfiloh’s renowned college guidance program at the High School Open House on Thursday, November 14, 7 pm. Register online at www.bethtfiloh.com/bmag.