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.
From the time they enter Garrison Forest, students are challenged intellectually and nurtured emotionally through personal contact with academic advisors, teachers, coaches, and administrators. College counseling at GFS applies that same ethic of growth to the college search process, helping to guide students toward making the best choices for themselves. Although the "formal" college search begins junior year, the process truly begins when a student enters the School.
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.
Transitions, our college counseling class for seniors, is designed to guide our students through the college application process in the fall and then guide them during the second semester towards their transition to college and beyond. The course begins with the "nuts and bolts" of completing an application, stressing the importance of deadlines, well-written essays, ways to appropriately demonstrate interest and guiding applicants to present themselves in the most authentic, comprehensive and compelling light. In addition, the course helps seniors make the adjustment to being the leaders and role models of the student body by focusing on time management, stress reduction skills, understanding risk taking, and coping with the uncertainty that surrounds the college application process. The focus of the second half of the year is more on the move away from Garrison Forest and making the transition to college. Topics include such issues as roommate mediation, financial responsibility, credit card debt and interest rates, and making use of the resources (academic and personal) on a college campus. Current GFS alumnae and Student Life professionals from local colleges are often asked to share their experiences in the transition.
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