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About College Counseling

The college counseling program at Phillips Academy is firmly grounded in the belief that discovering "good matches" between students and post-secondary institutions is what the college admission process is all about. Furthermore, we are committed to the notion that the process requires close communication and cooperation among the three "major players": student, parents, and counselor. The process unfolds most successfully when all parties involved approach their various roles and responsibilities with open-mindedness, intelligence, honesty, a sense of adventure, and a sense of humor.

While outcomes are important, it is on the process of self-discovery and college-discovery that the Phillips Academy college counseling program focuses. The moment of college choice and admissions arrives when students are in the developmental processes of late adolescence and emerging young adulthood. The selection of a college provides an important educational opportunity to develop skills and understandings that will serve that function as well as many of life's major adult challenges. Among the several tasks to be accomplished are: developing and maintaining a positive self-image, establishing independence and individuation, learning how to make complex decisions that have long-term consequences, identifying one's own need for development, and developing a mature understanding of social institutions.

The empowering of students to take charge of their destinies is another of our major objectives. Thus, it must be the student who is at the center of the college admission process, learning to take charge of it and eventually "owning" it. The student, as active agent, is expected to contact colleges for appointments, register for standardized testing, prepare and submit applications, be personally responsible for meeting all deadlines and obligations, and invest fully in the process. The parent role is one of support and encouragement. As wise sounding boards and advice-givers, parents, along with counselors, represent the supporting cast. It is a time for the adult support team to practice "letting go" and "backing off," without, of course, "bowing out."

While stress and disappointment are unfortunate, but sometimes inevitable by-products of the college admission process for some students and their families, they are emotional responses that need to be acknowledged and managed. To some degree, stress can be a functional part of the developmental and separation processes, but we should have solid evidence that, when it occurs, the benefits outweigh the costs.

It is our sincere hope that the college counseling experience will be a positive and growth-enhancing one for all parties concerned. We in the College Counseling Office look forward to sharing the journey with you!