A college counselor offers his advice on college lists

Too many students and parents view the college process through the lens of others. They aren’t viewing the process as it is: a personal one. They, instead, think of it more as a “one size fits all” or a “what’s good for her will be good for my daughter too” type of process. The college process is not any of those things and shouldn’t be packaged as such. In fact, the process of determining where one will spend the next four years, as one continues to grow as an individual and develop into adulthood, is more of a personal process that must and should be taken seriously and left to those who know the student best—the college counselor.

Each year, many Marlborough students painstakingly narrow their laundry lists of colleges over the summer months amidst much angst and heartache. Once the list is somewhat final—and we know that changes are a part of the process—they begin to complete every essay and every supplement carefully. They answer every question thoughtfully so they can give their prospective schools a glimpse into what makes them unique and ready to contribute to the campus environment. However, before the applications are finalized—as cliché as it sounds—we ask that students stop and ask themselves, “Am I thinking outside the box?” In other words, are you stretching yourselves with your college choices and your lists? Marlborough School is “committed to delivering a superior college preparatory education in an environment imbued with high ethical values.” And, as such, your college search process should emulate those values and standards, as well.

As you contemplate the colleges and universities to which you plan to apply, think about pushing the boundaries of “the box.” The world does not move in a linear fashion; in fact, life proceeds in the most non-linear manner one can imagine. Armed with this understanding, students need to make sure they are prepared for the non-linear
circumstances of life. You made the first step by acquiring an excellent education here at Marlborough. Continue that excellent education beyond your secondary
schooling. When choosing from the colleges on your application lists, stretch yourselves past the familiar and look toward the unfamiliar and often times unrecognized schools.

More importantly, I ask that you live by those words once spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during one of his many powerful sermons when he remarked, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Though these words were delivered many years ago, now, they remain relevant and translate well to the college application process before us. Rely on that faith that has carried you thus far and work with your college counselor in composing a list of schools that may be out of your comfort zone in structure, size or geographical location. One of the suggested schools just may be that right fit school for you even if it is unknown to you and your
parents. Stop, listen and take interest in those schools your college counselor suggests. Step out on faith and apply—and see what exciting possibilities may exist for you in the world of higher education. You’ve got nothing to lose—and the whole staircase to gain.

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