The Barstow College Fair is Thursday, September 13, at 11:25 a.m. for students in grades 10-12. Twenty-nine schools will be represented. That evening, students in all upper school grades are encouraged to attend the Private High School Fair at Rockhurst High School from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Registration is available on the College Counseling website. A complete calendar of college visits and information sessions is also available.
Scott Hill recently answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the college search process.
What are the most important factors to consider for a family starting the college search process?
Understanding what a student needs and wants in a future college is imperative to making a good match. I tell families that there are likely multiple colleges that might fit their needs and students should look for those that are the best academic, social and financial fit. Institutional mailings and flashy marketing campaigns are designed to lure students to apply, but should not influence a student’s decision to attend. For some, developing strong relationships with faculty, undergraduate research opportunities, or study abroad might be key factors. For others, it might be Greek life, athletics or location. Opportunities abound, so it is important to research and visit several colleges. The key to success is to create a well-balanced list of schools that include reach, reasonable, and likely options.
When is the right time to start the college search process?
We meet with students whenever they request it, sometimes as early as sixth grade, but the pace picks up going into ninth grade. The most important factor in the admission process is grade point average, so we talk to eighth grade students about that as they begin the upper school enrollment process. Work ethic, meaningful involvement, rigorous courses, leadership and service start from day one at Barstow, so many students are surprised when I relay that they have already begun the search process. Getting to know each student personally—their interests, strengths and personalities—helps us guide them over the next few years.
What kind of timeline do you recommend students follow?
We encourage student-led exploration at any grade level, but generally we recommend they start considering those key factors—academic, social and financial fit—freshmen and sophomore years. We recommend “Colleges That Change Lives,” by Lauren Pope and “The Fiske Guide to Colleges” as a place to start. We also forge one-on-one relationships with our students that are so important when constructing a college list. Sophomore year is a time for students to step outside their comfort zone. Attend a college fair or meet with a college representative at Barstow. We host a college fair at Barstow every fall and collaborate with other private high schools for another fair in our area. We emphasize a firm handshake, eye contact and asking insightful questions. During junior year, our students take standardized tests and visit campuses. Senior year is the culmination of rigorous coursework, campus and community involvement, and leadership development that students include on their applications.
How important are ACT or SAT results in college admissions?
Testing is only one factor, but it is important especially with highly selective/most selective institutions. Some institutions have moved to being test optional, and we are also seeing momentum in schools that no longer require SAT Subject Tests or essays with the ACT or SAT. Schools tout a holistic application review and that process is something we do very well at Barstow—developing mind, body and character. We work with students to predict which test best suits their strengths, Involvement outside the classroom impacts college decisions tremendously, so we focus on the numerous opportunities available to them.
As college counselors, we recognize the demands that high school students face. Barstow students are not afraid to pursue their dreams, and we are happy to be a part of their tremendous success. Our results are incredible, from the number and quality of college acceptances, to the success stories from alumni who tell us they are sure they found the right fit.