We’ve all seen the stats – 100% of Episcopal grads go on to pursue a post-secondary education. Our students attend universities across the country. They’re accepted to a variety of schools with a range of specialties. They’re going new places, trying new things and hopefully truly experiencing college life.
But how do they get from learning the alphabet in PreK-3 or attending a Mo-Ranch adventure in eighth grade to being accepted to the college of their choice? That’s where we come in.
Episcopal School of Baton Rouge has a dedicated college counseling department with three full-time counselors, including myself, Shandi Fazely and Jody Kennard. Think of us as guides through the college application and admissions process. While it varies per student as to how early on they begin the college admission process, by the spring of their junior year it is definitely time for them to begin working with one of us. Here’s a look at what to expect:
1.College counseling is a partnership.
As college counselors, we work in partnership with the student and their family, with the student at the center of the process. We guide students along the way, making sure they are prepared for the application process and stay on track for deadlines and inquiries. Ultimately, the students are preparing for adulthood so the college counselor allows the student to manage his or her own application. However, we are a strong partner in the process, sitting with students as they make phone calls or reassuring them as they hit the submit button on their final applications and essays.
One of my most memorable experiences occurred with a student who had been struggling for some time to discover what university would “fit” her. Nothing seemed right. She was not having the “aha” moment that we love to see students have. On a whim one day right before fall break I suggested she research High Point University in North Carolina. Upon our return from break this senior proudly wore a High Point sweatshirt. She had researched High Point. She had even booked a flight and visited the school during the time off. What she discovered was the school that fit her best. It was rewarding to help this student. It is also a great example of suggesting the right thing at the right time, when the student is open to such a suggestion.
3. College counselors have a vast amount of knowledge about higher education and we want to share that knowledge with you!
The three of us attend national conferences, we visit universities and follow the trends. While the college essay requirements might seem daunting - and they can be - we can provide guidance on how to manage the process. Aside from admissions paperwork, many students and families often struggle with financial assistance forms or scholarship requirements - we know a lot about this as well. Our team provides help with financial aid forms based on the family’s level of comfort in sharing such information. In addition, we share information about potential scholarships, their requirements and the associated deadlines.
Our goal is to help students find the right option for their needs, whether that’s an elite institution or a more intimate setting closer to home. There is no one size fits all in college admissions, which actually makes the process more rewarding as we work with students on this journey of discovery and exploration. In the end we want students to accept an invitation to a school that best matches their own needs and long-term goals.
Justin Fenske joined Episcopal as the Director of College Counseling in 2014 and has been in the field since 2008. Justin graduated from the University of Michigan and earned a master’s in education from Boston University. During his time at Episcopal, his team has implemented a comprehensive high school program priding itself on individual attention to students in all grade levels. Justin is a certified Highlands Ability Battery consultant and has also spent time developing and implementing online career and college tools for high school students in the state of Michigan and as an administrator at Boston University.