Insight into the Saint James School College Process

By Robert Harry, Saint James Director of College Counseling

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – TS Eliot

In the world of college counseling, Eliot’s notion regarding beginnings and endings could not be more appropriate.  Our sixth formers are excited to walk out of Powell-Fulton for the last time, but simultaneously recognize that their collegiate success depends largely on the foundation they received at Saint James.  The combination of athletic skill, intellectual talent, and moral awareness our students possess might not be unique to independent schools, but the way in which Saint James cultivates these qualities stands in bold relief amongst our peer institutions.  

Our educational model embraces the liberal arts tradition and is one of the reasons why our students are so successful in college admissions.  In the Class of 2018, we have athletes, musicians, community service volunteers as well as future financiers, biologists, engineers, writers, singers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers.  Within this myriad selection of pursuits is a shared principle: leaders who will be a force for good in the world.  They have been accepted to 138 different colleges that span the entire United States (Florida to Vermont to California) and even touch upon the reaches of Canada and Great Britain.  The matriculation list includes perennial favorites such as Davidson College, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Middlebury College, and Washington University in St. Louis, but also include a few newcomers such as Carleton College, University of California at Berkeley, University of Rochester, and Cardiff University.  Similar to previous Saint James graduates, 85% are the only ones heading off to a particular college or university from their class—a courageous move for any 18-year-old, but typical of the confidence, humility, and strength of character that we imbue in all of our students.

The philosophy of college counseling at Saint James is simple: collaboration, intentionality, and personal reflection.  A benefit of our small residential environment is that college advising is built from the ground up with the individual in mind.  College lists are created to embody the personal characteristics of each student, reflecting both ambition and strategy.  Our invited speakers are specifically chosen to supplement the academic and extracurricular programs at Saint James, and this year included Peter Van Buskirk, former Dean of Admission of Franklin and Marshall College, and Robert Franek, Editor-in-Chief at The Princeton Review.  I encourage you to read their thoughts on the college admissions landscape which are featured later in this publication.  

While it might be the case at other schools that college counseling is bolted on to an already hectic schedule, at Saint James it is woven into the fabric of our everyday life.  We take the healthy and purposeful attitude that college readiness is not an end in itself or a game to be won, but a goal worthy of any ethically-minded athlete, musician, or scholar.  As I come to the end of my first year, and as the Class of 2018 take their next steps by transitioning from students to proud alumni, our community is ready to begin anew this autumn the hard work and preparation necessary to ensure achievement and success beyond the gates of Saint James.

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