On any given autumn day, the College and Career Center (CCC) hums along with a calm efficiency in the wake of college application chaos and stress. Hundreds of seniors here at M-A are well into the college search and application process while hundreds more are just beginning. Wherever you may fall in the college process, there is a beacon for every student at the CCC. Located off of Pride Hall, the CCC is covered with wall-to-wall college banners and posters from colleges previous Bears have attended. These colorful banners, for schools small and large, near and far afield, hint at what the years ahead might hold for seniors.
This year we are fortunate to have two dedicated and experienced college counselors guiding students from the hibernation of high school into the college application process. Brad Ward, hailing all the way from Menlo School, and before that, Bucknell University Admissions Office, is joining Mai Lien Nguyen, to make this process as manageable as possible. Every senior would be wise to heed the words of Nguyen when she says the biggest mistake students make year after year are “one, procrastination, and two, not asking for help.”
Both Nguyen and Ward emphasize the importance of getting started early and “tackling the applications little by little each week.” The M-A college counselors encourage students to stop by the CCC to get help as early as possible, whether it be on college applications, after graduation paths, scholarships, or even simply a quiet place to get some work done.
An easy way to get your feet wet with the CCC is to come in Wednesday mornings from 8:00-9:15 when the CCC holds essay workshops. Ward explains, “I think [last Wednesday] we had around thirty students in here. Almost every chair was filled, and we [Ms. Nguyen and I] are walking around answering questions. Students are focusing on applications because they’re like, Yeah, if I was home right now I would be on Instagram and Snapchat, so this is the place they focus.”
Nguyen and Ward highly encourage every senior to schedule an individual appointment for more personal and targeted guidance. Nguyen notes, “ Many students want help finding colleges that they can apply to, would be a good fit, and are affordable for their family. Some students might already have a list, but need help brainstorming or talking about their college essays, so they use the appointment just for the essay.”
The individual appointment is also invaluable to students who choose non-traditional or non-college options. Ward says, “We have a lot of programs here where we can talk with students about non-college options. We want to treat every student equally, no matter if they’re looking at a four-year college, community, job, military- there’s just a lot of options out there.”
One service that should not be overlooked by any frazzled senior is the quick turnaround of essays and list of extracurriculars that students can simply submit to the CCC. Nguyen says, “We can give written feedback on what [students] submit. Usually, the turn-around time is 1-2 days. Students just need to come back to the CCC to pick up their drafts. Between myself, Brad, and Ms. Kleeman, our retired college advisor, we get them done.”
Senior Tara Ellingson agreed, saying, “dropping off my college essay was so easy! Getting a second pair of eyes couldn’t be simpler.”
From freshmen to seniors, all students on campus can find a resource at the CCC that can benefit them and their needs. It offers a myriad of resources for students throughout all stages of the college process; our college counselors are always available and ready to help.