Considering Adjustments to College Counseling

The spring of one’s Upper Mid year until the fall of one’s senior year is notoriously difficult for one reason: college admissions. One of the most important tools with which the school equips students to help navigate this monumental time is the college advisor program. Every winter, Upper Mids are assigned college advisors at random and begin to work with them on creating lists of colleges they might want to attend and gather information necessary to fill out the Common App. However, some argue that the lottery system for college advisory placement doesn’t take the various needs of the advisor-advisee synergy into account.  Could there be a better system for matching students and college advisors?

Some students have proposed that there be a “trial period,” in which advisors and students could assess fit. At St. Andrews School, each student is assigned an advisor at the beginning of their Junior year for a chance to get to know the advisor. Then, at the end of that semester, students can choose whether or not to stay with their advisors. If students feel as though it’s not a good fit, they can opt to switch.

However, while this may sound good in theory, it might add more stress to what is already a hectic time. Trying to find “the perfect advisor” might not be the kind of choice that students want to be making when, frankly, there are so many other choices they have to make. It’s also another layer of logistics and coordination that the College Office would have to juggle.

If the concern is that students feel as though they’re receiving limited information by speaking to just one advisor, students should remember that advisors are in close communication with one another. So, just because you have one advisor does not mean that you aren’t getting the counsel of other advisors. 

There’s also no rule that students can’t talk to other college advisors. Reaching out and asking questions of different advisors might actually be beneficial. Think about the college process as shopping for an outfit to wear to an important event. It makes sense that you would ask multiple people. The same advice goes for one’s choice of college. It makes sense that you would want to talk to numerous people whose expertise lie in helping students make the transition from high school to college. It might be more efficient if college advisors simply added office hours to their day, during which any student, no matter whose advisory they’re a part of, can go in and ask for advice.

It isn’t necessary to do a complete overhaul of how college advising is currently done at Hotchkiss. Supplementing the current practice with office hours or finding different ways to make all advisors more accessible might be more useful. It’s most important to remember that students are not alone in this process, and that when help is asked for, there are plenty of people who will give it.