3 Questions For Peter Van Buskirk

Fifth Form students and their families were invited a special presentation led by Peter Van Buskirk, President of BestCollegeFit.com, former Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Franklin and Marshall College, and bestselling author. He then sat down with Mr. Harry to answer a few college admissions questions. We thank Mr. Van Buskirk for sharing his expertise with the Saint James community.

1. With college admissions becoming more competitive every year, how would you advise students to approach their college search and application process?

The competition for admission at the most selective colleges has become greater each year, but that doesn’t mean these colleges are better or more deserving of the attention. Rather, their popularity continues to grow as many families obsess on name recognition, rankings, and reputation. In effect, they have found answers before they have gotten to know the question—and, in this case, the question needs to center on the student. Rather than allowing a destination-orientation to dominate their thinking, families would be well-advised to take a student-centered approach by asking some basic questions of the student: “Why do you want to go to college?” “What do you hope to accomplish?” “How do you feel you can best accomplish your goals?” This reflection will empower the student with a sense of purpose that will make the selection of colleges and presentation of credentials more meaningful.

2. As the cost of college rises, what steps can students and families take in high school to avoid big surprises or missed opportunities in terms of financial aid and/or merit scholarships?

It is important to consider the business side of the equation when anticipating cost and affordability factors in the college selection process. In the “college transaction,” think of admission officers as investors. They have limited places to offer and, while they might have tens of millions of dollars in need-based and merit-based scholarships at their disposal, they are actively considering the potential return on their investment when offering assistance. The key in the search for financial support, then, is for students to target colleges that will value them for what they have to offer.

3. What can students and families do to reduce the stress in the college application process?

The college search and selection process can be overwhelming to even the most diligent and well-prepared students. At the end of the day, however, it is important for students—and their parents—to remember that the outcomes are not a measure of the person. Too often, pressure to achieve connotes with pressure to please and young people carry the weight of expectations into their college planning. In the end, success will be defined less by where a student goes to college—and more by how the student embraces the opportunity to squeeze everything out of the chosen environment. When the selection process is student centered and focused on fit, happiness and personal growth will follow.


Class of 2019 Matriculation

The 54 members of the Class of 2019 were accepted to 173 colleges and universities and will matriculate to 48 institutions in 18 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The college guidance office strives to find the best fit college for each student, as evidenced by the fact that 83% of this year's graduates will be the only one from their class to attend their chosen college or university.

Allegheny College

American University

Boston College

Boston University

Brown University

Colgate University

Davidson College

Delaware Tech

Drexel University

Elon University

Ferrum College

Georgetown University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Gettysburg College

Hampton University

Haverford College

James Madison University

Louisiana State University

Michigan State University

Mount Allison University

New York University

Newberry College

Palm Beach Atlantic University

Pennsylvania State University, Altoona

Randolph-Macon College

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rochester Institute of Technology

Savannah College of Art and Design

St. John Fisher College

St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Towson University

University of Alabama

University of Calgary

University of California, Irvine

University of California, Los Angeles

University of Detriot, Mercy

University of Maryland, College Park

University of Miami

University of Michigan

University of Pittsburgh

University of Portland

University of St. Andrews (Scotland)

University of Southern California

Washington and Lee University

Washington University in St. Louis

Wellesley College

West Virginia University

Wilson College

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