Spring is finally here! Even if it is a bit cold today, we have turned the corner. You can see it in the flowers, in the blooming trees, and even in the excitement that seems to be back on both campuses. Everyone is outside cheering on our teams, playing on the fields, or simply sitting in one of our courtyards. And while our thoughts often turn to all those fun events, please know that spring always brings with it the exciting culmination of an incredible experience that our seniors have been going through regarding their college choices. Many of them have made their final decision. Others are in the throes of great anxiety right now as they try to consider great offers from multiple schools. And others have wonderful choices, but are hoping to come off a waitlist just to be sure they have all the right opportunities before them. Bottom line, it has been a very strong year for a wonderful class.

The college process is one of the areas that can produce fear and anxiety. Whether it is the worry about getting into the right school, or the name school, or simply trying to find that particular program or experience that our children want to have, the process can look overwhelming. The beauty, however, is that here at Flint Hill, we have tremendous expertise in our college counseling staff. Led by Suzie Chiarolanzio, Andrew Kane, Jenny Ratzel, and Kasey Lynn, they help guide all our families through this journey. They are ready to support our children and our parents. While there may be bumps and surprises along the way, the ultimate end result is exciting, positive, and very rewarding.

Someone shared with me an article that was published in the New York Times. This article has to do with elite colleges and how they are turning away an enormous percentage of their applicants. Please don’t let it frighten you. It should just make us all shake our heads.

As Huskies, let’s not forget to consider several things:

  1.  Our total program is focused on having our children ready and prepared for college. We work on it at every level. We openly talk about being a college preparatory school.  In age appropriate ways, at all three divisions, we focus on how to learn. Our ultimate goal is to provide our children with the confidence and competence to do their very best wherever they go to school.
  2.  Our trained and competent college counseling team, works closely to provide a system that not only works for each student, but also provides opportunities for us, as parents, to reduce the anxiety and stress. Whether it is at the various all-parent gatherings in the junior and senior years, the monthly evenings to talk about different aspects of the experience, to seminars, and regular meetings with students and parents, those moments are there for us to learn the system and to know what we need to do to support our children along the way.
  3.  The process is totally geared to support your child. It is personal, comprehensive, and caring. I have the privilege of reading every “school letter” of recommendation that comes out of the college counseling office. They are incredibly well written and over the years, I have received numerous and totally unsolicited letters of commendation from various deans at colleges and universities. In those, they tell me that our school letters are among the very best letters they have ever received on their applicants. In fact, one Flint Hill family made a point of telling me that when they went to Harvard for a revisit day, the dean of admissions specifically said, “I need to tell you that Flint Hill’s letters of recommendation, are clearly the best we have ever seen. In fact, we feel like we have grown up with the student when we finish reading them.  Please make sure you tell them how much they mean to us.”

Would you be surprised to know, among so many possible facts, that:

  • Nearly 800 applications were submitted by our Class of 2014 (124 students)
  • Among the “popular schools” with this class:
    • 13 students admitted so far to the University of Virginia
    • 13 students admitted to the College of William & Mary
    • 13 students admitted to James Madison University
    • 20 students admitted to Virginia Tech
    • 13 students admitted to Elon University
  • 170 different colleges accepted our students
  • Schools in 35 states and D.C. dominated the list, but schools in Canada and New Zealand are also included
  • All women’s colleges accepted students
  • Historical Black Colleges and Universities accepted students
  • Among the huge array of scholarships offered to our students were:
    • The William & Mary Scholarship
    • Martin Luther King Scholar at NYU
    • Horatio Alger Scholar for our region
  • One student will attend the Naval Academy
  • Students will play sports, along with their studies, at nearly 20 great schools and a number will attend programs focused on the arts

Here is the current full list. It is an impressive and very comprehensive list and includes a tremendous set of opportunities for our students.

It is an amazing process. I take great delight in congratulating students on their selections. I am very proud of each and every member of our senior class. I also take great pride in seeing how well prepared they are. The impact of our faculty and staff, whether it was in the Lower, Middle, or Upper School has them fully prepared for what is ahead. This is one of the reasons why I love attending alumni events and hearing from the graduates about how well prepared they were. I often hear, “Mr. Thomas, I have to tell you my college is so much easier than Flint Hill ever was!”  That to me is one of our greatest compliments. And I hear that from nearly every graduate. It means that they learned those lifelong skills of how to write a strong paper, how to make a presentation, how to do research, how to take exams, how to work as a team, and how to collaborate. And while there may have been a bit of a struggle at that time, when they got to their colleges or universities they were ready to soar. Many even take great delight in personally going and meeting their professors during their office hours. This shocks their new friends, “Why in the world would you do that?  You don’t want the professors to know you!” And the answer is always the same, “Of course, I do! I knew my teachers really well at Flint Hill. That is the way you are supposed to go to school.”  And every time I hear that, I learn later on about internships and opportunities that have come their way because they advocated for themselves. They stepped out of their comfort zones and did the right things.

College counseling is the launching pad and to some degree, the icing on the cake. Please be assured that you have great people waiting to support you and your children when the time comes. And please join me in congratulating the Class of 2014 for a job well done…and our college counselors and faculty and staff for the tremendous support they have provided along the way!  Go Huskies!

All the best for a great weekend ahead! Also, best wishes to everyone celebrating Passover or Easter at this very special time of the year.