On Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Kingswood Oxford Upper School held their first ever College Advising Day as a way to help seniors finish their college applications on time. Instead of having class while sophomores and juniors took their PSATs, the seniors had a day dedicated entirely to their college application process.
Associate Director of College Advising Matt Waldman described the event as a way to help seniors based off past feedback. “Seniors in previous years have told us fall is very busy, and a lot of students take their hardest course load yet, and the college process can be considered almost as another extracurricular on top of others,” he said, “so the school was looking to do something to help the seniors.”
On this “College Application Day” seniors had a chance to either work on their college applications, go to their choice of various programs offered by visiting colleges, have a mock interview, have an English teacher provide feedback on their essays, or go out and visit a college. “We really wanted to destress the process as much as we could,” Director of College Advising Jami Silver said. “We know that seniors are often trying to manage the college process, homework, extracurriculars…all at one time. We hoped that having a day to make a choice and focus on their applications would allow students to get things done.”
After a short, hour long activity, all of the seniors were free to begin whichever of the activities they had decided upon. Many students sought the expertise of the numerous English teachers circulating around the library and cafeteria where most of the students were working. “We wanted to lift the talents of our English teachers who do a lot of work with our seniors, and we wanted to give a space for them to work with the students on a day where they aren’t managing that and their classes,” Ms. Silver said. “Over 90% of our seniors apply to a school Nov. 1 or Nov. 15, and this was an opportunity we wanted to capitalize on.”
While some students were working with KO English teachers, a lot of other students simply dedicated needed time to work on their applications. “Most of them need time to get work done,” Mr. Waldman said. “But we also brought in some colleges where we have seen a lot of applications sent to in the past to present workshops.”
College Advising brought in schools like Boston University and Syracuse to give workshops. They hoped to choose workshops that would positively affect the students in attendance. “We – Mr. Waldman, Mrs. Clark, and I – tried to identify schools that our students are applying to and would be interested in talking to,and wouldn’t have to miss classes to talk with them,” Ms. Silver said. “We also know these reps since we have worked with them for a long time and knew that they would be great presenters. We tried to make the workshops timely and focused on things students would still be working on.”
A lot of students found this dedicated time to work on their college applications very helpful. “I really appreciated having that three to four hours of free time to work, or to go to workshops,” senior Ethan Pinkes said. “I felt that I was really able to get a lot of work done.”
While some students felt that this college advising day was time well spent, there are things College Advising hopes to improve in the future. “I think it was successful; the students that really needed the day had the opportunity to take advantage of it,” Mr. Waldman said. “I know from the number of emails I received that people were getting work done, but I have heard feedback that one of the challenges was being productive around so many other students, which is definitely something we will think about solving in the future.”
Besides distraction issues, Mr. Waldman said he hoped for one other small change. “One of the things I would love to improve is having all three college advisors available to students the whole time,” Mr. Waldman said. “Staffing between the PSAT and all of the guests on campus, made it hard to be present for students and available to answer questions as students had them.”
While there were some minor issues, the event was a success thanks to the hard work of the members of College Advising, the teachers who assisted, and the students who spent the time working seriously on their college applications.