At NYA, we believe that the college process is an extension of the student learning process and that over the course of the eighteen months students will spend actively driving their process through research, recruitment, and applications, they identify, develop and enhance many of the skills they will need to succeed both in college and beyond. Spending time reflecting on their own strengths and interests, exercising self-discipline by making difficult choices and minding deadlines, they will build greater resilience. Asking teachers for recommendations and thanking them afterwards teaches positive communication skills. Monitoring email for college correspondence and replying promptly and respectfully helps foster critical adult skills. Thoughtful conversations with parents or guardians about college expectations and costs may foster a deeper understanding of and appreciation for family values, budgets, and expectations.
The college counseling office at NYA will support you with:
- availability and attention
- care and concern
Gretchen Bergill, director of college counseling, has over twenty-five years of experience as both a college counselor and a college admissions officer. Working in day schools and boarding schools, she has witnessed most of the challenges domestic and international students and families face when researching college options, completing applications and essays, pursuing athletic recruitment, creating art portfolios and preparing for auditions, choosing test prep plans and testing schedules, and deciphering the mysteries behind college costs, financial aid, and merit scholarships.
Interested in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Gretchen has participated in programs, conferences, and workshops focused on expanding college access, supporting students’ specific needs, and understanding how location, culture, and demographics can impact each individual student’s college experience. Attending regional, national, and international college counseling conferences and counselor tours, she has built an extensive network of professional connections and is happy to call many of those colleagues, friends. Gretchen is familiar with an extensive list of colleges and universities having worked with domestic and international students over the years and she enjoys following their progress. Hearing about their experiences, successes, and milestones helps inform her counseling and is personally rewarding.
Over the last several years, the college search and application process has been changing dramatically. Colleges and universities were seeing sharp increases in applications. Students were feeling pressure to apply early. Families were beginning to understand how merit scholarships are used to attract strong applicants. And then came the pandemic which upended the entire process. Students couldn’t tour colleges. College admissions representatives couldn’t visit high schools. College fairs moved to online formats. Sports seasons were canceled. Athletic recruitment slowed to a halt. Taking a post-graduate year made sense for many. Enrollment deposit deadlines were extended. Wait list activity dragged on into the summer. How is a family supposed to approach this new landscape? Regardless of their prior experience, most students and families have questions and that’s where support from the NYA college counseling office can make a difference.
At NYA, we work to stay current with trends in admissions. The college counselor attends workshops and conferences to better understand things like standardized testing, application types, and financial aid. They connect frequently with other independent school counselor peers in person and online. They travel to colleges and universities across the country and internationally to maintain and build connections and further develop their familiarity with programs that will appeal to NYA students.
Availability and Attention
NYA’s small community allows students and families to have easy access to the college counselor through both individual meetings and group workshops. Following a thoughtfully planned annual calendar, the college counselor meets with seniors, juniors, and underclassmen to ensure that they are prepared for each step.
Seniors are encouraged to meet with the college counselor frequently through the fall semester. Juniors begin to meet regularly with the college counselor starting in January (after the bulk of the seniors’ work is complete). Sophomores and freshmen will have some group meetings to ensure they are prepared for the work ahead of them, but all students and families are encouraged to contact the office with specific questions unique to the student. Most typically, these questions pertain to athletic recruitment, test prep and how to use summers wisely, but all questions are welcome!
To further support applicants, the college counseling office will bring in outside support to provide students and families with additional insight on test prep, essay writing, and financial aid.
Care and Concern
Working with teenagers, one becomes accustomed to the ups and downs of the high school experience and students can be comfortable sharing the things that worry them. Although an issue might seem overwhelming, chances are good that the counselor has faced it before and talking through the situation usually helps alleviate the stress. At NYA, the college counselor works in partnership with other faculty members to make sure each student is known, supported, and understood.
Believing in the importance of a well-researched and balanced college list, we are confident that each student can find their “fit.” Helping students build and edit that well balanced college list is a primary concern for the college counselor. The feedback that they give to students and families is always offered from a position of care and concern and will hopefully never be misconstrued as judgement of an individual student’s particular talent and skill. To that end, the counselor will work hard to get to know each senior and post-graduate student well through individual meetings, student and parent or guardian surveys, feedback from teachers and coaches, transcript review, and participation in NYA community life. Having supported her own children through their college application process, Gretchen understands the stress it can put on families but knows that it can be done!