Best of the Week 2018-2019: Excellence in College Counseling
THE BENEFIT OF ST. ED'S COLLEGE COUNSELING DEPARTMENT
From welcoming parents to College Conversations series, a happy hour discussion of collegiate hot topics, to hosting an annual college fair for Edsmen to network with college representatives, St. Ed's College Counseling Department has shaken up the traditional college counseling model and has created a dynamic program to prepare students for their college application process. Mrs. Moira O'Riordan, Director of College Counseling; Mrs. Desiree Rodriguez-Gould, Assistant Director of College Counseling; Mr. Geoff Morton, College Counselor; and Mr. James Knight, VP of Equity and Inclusion work with students, parents, college representatives and college admissions offices throughout the year to ensure our Edsmen reach their fullest potential and successfully apply to and get accepted by the colleges of their dreams. Starting in their freshman year through their sophomore year, students at St. Ed's take the PSAT and participate in group college counseling sessions, small class seminars, career interest assessments, resume programming and college admission counselor visits on campus. College counselors are also paired with a school counselor to assist students with anything they need from the time they enroll at St. Ed's. Once students enter their junior year at St. Ed's, more individualized plans are set in place for each student to narrow in on what they are looking for in a college education. During their senior year, apart from individual meetings with the college counselors, students are invited to attend Colllege APP-itizers, held during community period on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the months of October and November, which provide students the opportunity to work on college applications and essays with the assistance of the college counselors and to enjoy snacks and refreshments. During the months of January, February and March, the program becomes College SCHOLAR-chips, following the same ideas as the previous event but focusing on college scholarship applications. "No matter what may change, there are some parts of the college process that will remain constant and that includes the importance of developing relationships with our students, their parents, college representatives and fellow colleagues," says Mrs. O'Riordan. Throughout the year, the College Counseling department also offers opportunities for parents to get to know the college counselors and to learn more about the college application process through the College Conversations series. The College Conversations series is the only one of its kind in Northeast Ohio. Through these events, parents hear from professionals who delve into topics including paying for college, debunking college myths and finding the right school for your student. The school year then culminates on May 1, when St. Ed's hosts a party for seniors and their parents on National Decision Day. With help from the Mothers' Club and Fathers' Club, the National Decision Day party offers food, prizes, a DJ and an ice cream truck to celebrate the seniors who have accepted their admittance to the college of their choice. In the evening, the college counselors invite college representatives to return to St. Ed's for a special happy hour event to reconnect with senior parents and to celebrate their students' college decision. "One parent once said that the National Decision Day party is 'the kickoff to graduation season.' Seniors get to wear college shirts to where they'll be attending and faculty and staff get to wear shirts from their alma maters too. It is a great way to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of our seniors, especially after completing all their applications, essays, resumes, research, interviews and testing," says Mrs. Rodriguez-Gould. To keep up-to-date with current college admission processes, St. Ed's college counselors belong to the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling, participate in national discussion boards and serve on the national advisory boards for colleges and universities, including John Carroll University and The Ohio State University. In 2015, St. Ed's College Counseling department also launched the Holy Cross College Counseling Association, a collaboration among 45 Holy Cross counselors from all 15 domestic Holy Cross high schools. Together, these counselors tour colleges and universities across the country every spring to gain more information about these schools that they can provide to their students. "Our ability to continue to network, travel and learn more about various universities has made a significant impact on our College Counseling department, the St. Edward community and the work that we do with our Edsmen and their families," says Mrs. Rodriguez-Gould. St. Ed's College Counseling Department plays a key role in St. Ed's excellence in college preparation, as it is passionate about helping Edsmen and their families feel prepared for taking that next step after high school, and it is committed to coming up with new ways to make this process more enjoyable.