Class of 2016 Kicks Off the College Process


Pennants can be found in the college guidance hallway at the Archer School for Girls. The pennants represent the colleges where students from the Class of 2013 and 2014 currently attend. Photographer: Syd Stone '16

By Carina Oriel

The junior class and their families gathered in Archer’s Dining Hall on the evening of Jan. 13, 2015, to officially embark on the college search and application process.

Scottie Hill, Archer’s Director of College Guidance, is new to the Archer community this year. Prior to working at Archer, Hill served as a College Guidance Counselor at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, Calif. and served as the Director of Student Services at Carnegie Mellon, Silicon Valley.

By conducting the college search in the spring of students’ junior year, Hill expressed in an email interview that she hopes to “help juniors and their parents understand what a healthy timeline looks like for the college process and how Archer will support them in the months ahead.”

Samantha Coyne-Donnel, the Head of the Upper School, kicked off the night by revealing the common theme of Archer’s role in shaping the college experience for alumni.

“Students said they are happy where they are, as well as academically over-prepared,” Coyne-Donnel said.

Archer welcomed Kirk Brennan, Director of Admissions at the University of Southern California (USC), who provided insight on the college process through the eyes of a college admissions committee member. Brennan acknowledged the growing fear throughout the room as “a natural part of uncertainty that surrounds the process.”

Brennan offered essential advice to the juniors and their parents for a smooth ride ahead. Advice included building the right college list and only applying to schools that students will love, finding safety schools early on in the process, having a conversation about the cost of college as a family and visiting schools to feel a connection to a college campus.

At the end of his speech, Brennan assured the audience that the college process “will all work out.”

Jed Donnel, Archer’s College Guidance Associate, emphasized his role in guiding the juniors throughout the spring semester to draft their personal statements; he described the personal statement as “an opportunity to articulate yourself authentically on paper.”

Donnel plans to meet with students one-on-one before spring break at the end of March to help them brainstorm and begin writing. His goal for the junior class is for all students to leave for the summer with their personal statements completed.

Hill has started to reach out to juniors for one-on-one meetings to personalize each individual’s timeline about testing, college visits and creating a college list. Hill envisions that each student’s college list will be semi-finalized in the late spring, and students will come back to school in the early fall with a finalized college list.

As overwhelming pressure may arise as a result of the college process, Hill justifies the need for a clear timeline. “If we all take things at a relaxed pace, and celebrate every victory, it can also be fun – I promise!” she said in an email interview.