Many judge a school based on the list of colleges its graduating seniors will attend. North Shore’s annual list is typically impressive, both in terms of the quality and competitiveness, and the range of colleges and universities represented. We are quick to point out however, that looking at the strength of our college list is only a very small part of the story.
Our College Counseling team focuses on our students – who they are and their individual stories. Our counselors, Kristen Kaczynski and Lizzy Giffen, are experts in their field. They know colleges, understand the application process, advocate of behalf of our students and thoughtfully counsel students and parents. First and foremost, they are teachers. And as teachers they focus on student growth and student outcomes.
Kristen and Lizzy work with our students so that students learn to articulate their individual stories. One might argue, that at 17 years old, how does one know their story? It is clearly still in process of being written. Our counselors are wonderfully adept at helping students look inward, question and examine, and take and retake inventory. Our students, thanks to the confidence, trust and connection they have with our counselors, learn to dig in, invest and work through the various questions that are presented. They learn to weigh options, consider schools that were not on their radar, work methodically and with maturity.
I’m convinced that our students’ stories are more complete, have more texture and are more compelling because of their years in our Upper School and the very real impact of their College Counseling journey.
Over the years, students, parents and alumni have defined the strength of North Shore’s college counselors to be:
- They know our students. They know their strengths, interests, personalities, families and really know each and every one as a student and as a person.
- They know colleges. They know more than just the size, departments of strength and location, they know the personality of the school, the profile of students who attend and the admissions offices.
- They guide students and parents through the process. They listen to the desires and dreams of both, and delicately navigate the application process, all the while advocating on behalf of the students’ best interests.
- They prepare students with tools and resources. They have compiled a handbook for North Shore students and parents. They take a group of juniors on a weeklong, spring break Bus O’ Fun trip to expose students to a range of colleges. They hold a College Boot Camp for rising seniors in early June inviting college admissions officers to give students and parents an insider’s view of the application process. And they invite some 150 colleges admissions representatives to campus each fall to meet with interested students.
- They are accessible. There is no denying that the college-application process is complicated, challenging and stressful. Students know that they can confide in Kristen and Lizzy with questions, worries, strategies and even tears. But in the end, students also share their excitement of getting into college. Some even return a year or two or three later to share their accomplishments in college and just to stay connected.
With all that said, we are quite proud of the class of 2014 – who they are as people, how positioned they are to contribute and confident that their journeys will be meaningful. We also think that the colleges they will be attending are very lucky indeed to have them.
North Shore Country Day is a private, college-prep school for high school, middle school and elementary school students in Winnetka, IL, a suburb of Chicago.