Oak Hill School has a dynamic and individualized college guidance program that supports each student to consider their options for higher education and to apply with confidence to colleges and universities that fit their needs and preferences.
Oak Hill School offers college counseling to all of our high school students. Since we opened, all of our graduates have been eligible, and nearly 100% have been accepted and gone on to attend four year colleges and universities. Many have been awarded substantial scholarships. Colleges that our students have chosen to attend include Harvey Mudd, Purdue, Pitzer, University of Puget Sound, Reed, Carleton, Colorado College, University of Washington, The Pratt Institute, Middlebury, Case Western, Willamette, University of Oregon, University of Colorado, University of California, University of Seattle, University of San Diego, and the list goes on.
As a part of our high school advisory program, students meet for activities and instruction related to college exploration once a month by grade level with two advisors. In the second semester of junior year and the first semester of senior year, these group meetings are supplemented by regular individual meetings with the college counselor.
We use these principles to guide us:
Self-reflection: Students learn about themselves, who they are, and what’s most important to them in a learning environment.
Exploration: Students learn about what higher education offers, the differences among colleges, and the process of applying to college.
Differentiation: Students determine their personal needs, preferences, and interests regarding college.
Fit: Students apply to schools that fit them and their needs and preferences. A “good school” is one that is a good match for a student as an individual, not necessarily the most selective school.
Balance: Students apply to ~5-10 schools, a mix of “reach,” “target,” and “safety” schools.
Readiness: Students are ready for success in college because of the Oak Hill School academic curriculum, advisory program, and co-curricular opportunities.
Beginning this year, all high school students, even the freshmen, will meet with the college counselor, to begin to discover their strengths and interests, and encourage them to begin to think about where they might like to apply. We will be offering trips to visit colleges, and encourage all high school students to join these journeys. While most other schools focus their college counseling on juniors and seniors, we have found that by including the younger students in the process many become super motivated academically because they have set their sights on a particular college. In the past we have taken Oak Hill students to schools in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California. On these trips we try to visit a variety of schools; schools that are very large, very small, and somewhere in between. We will go to urban schools, and suburban schools, liberal arts colleges and engineering schools. Our goal is to help students learn to assess what is important to them about their future college experience, as well as to expose them to colleges, and parts of the country, with which they may not be familiar.
Grades 9 & 10
- Develop awareness of colleges. Normalize college in discussion.
- Plan high school courses.
- Learn to manage high school workload and expectations.
- Explore areas of interest for majors and careers.
- Prepare resumes and activity lists.
- Look for volunteer and summer opportunities.
- Take the PSAT.
- College research to find the college fit. Consider criteria such as: selectivity, academic programs, campus community & learning environment, location, size, extracurricular activities, diversity, financial concerns.
- College application planning: SAT/ACT, AP courses, recommendation letters, personal statements, and essays.
- Organization and communication: Create spreadsheet of colleges with requirements shared with parents, students, and advisors.
Grade 12, first semester
- Support managing deadlines and requirements.
- Regular individual meetings and many informal check-ins with college counselor and other advisors.
- Feedback on essays and personal statements.
- Strong, personalized recommendation letters from teachers.
- Centralized system for sending all school documents supporting the applications.
Grade 12, second semester
- Reflection on college process
- Share tips with juniors.
- Senior Symposium – evening community event
- Making the transition to college
- Decision Day – choosing a college
- How to budget in college
- How to find resources at college
- Young Oak Hill alumni return and share their experiences.
- Graduation Day preparation