Catching Up With College Counseling

By Jennifer Bamann, Director of Marketing

This past July, Kelly Jorgensen joined the Nichols community as the Director of College Counseling. Jumping right in with the largest senior class in recent years, Ms. Jorgensen and her team have been hard at work. The Marketing team had a chance to catch up with her over the Holiday Break to learn about how the first half of the year had gone, what trends she was noticing, and what advice her team is giving the junior class to make sure they are fully prepared for the upcoming application process. 

Give us an update on how the first semester went for our seniors.  
"The senior class did an outstanding job engaging in the college application process by planning and working diligently on essays and short answers. Of equal importance is that students seemed to have carefully considered a variety of paths as they look at their lives beyond Nichols. The Class of 2022 is filled with academically engaged, athletically motivated, artistically gifted, community service-minded, family-focused students who enjoy a wide range of extracurricular activities outside of Nichols. Colleges recognize these commitments and passions in our students."

How is COVID affecting this senior class versus what you experienced last year?  
"The Class of 2022 struggled in getting the opportunity to visit campuses due to COVID restrictions. It is exciting to see that colleges continue to open their campuses for regular tours and again allow prospective students to see inside buildings and meet with current students. This is such a vital part of the college search process."

What trends are you noticing this year? 
"What we anticipated is holding true nationally regarding decisions and what colleges are looking for. We expected many of the most selective colleges would defer more applicants this year in the early rounds as they waited to see how the Class of 2022 would perform under more “normal” (in classroom vs. virtual options) circumstances in the first semester of the senior year. We also saw these same colleges deny more applicants than in the past through early decisions. Some colleges that offer an early decision option have continued their trend of admitting over 50 percent of their incoming class through the early round. This is a significant shift in recent years and certainly doesn’t leave as many available spots for the crowded regular decision pool of applicants."

What are your thoughts regarding test-optional schools? 
"Test scores continue to matter. It is easy for the general public to get lulled into a sense of complacency about the test-optional movement. I applaud colleges and universities taking the time to review their applicants thoroughly and holistically. Still, a strong test score does matter for many of the “elite” and most selective colleges in the country. The general rule of thumb is to send test scores if they enhance the application – and I would say that is true for many of the test-optional colleges, but students and families must work with their assigned College Counselor to have an intentional and well-planned conversation on the list of schools in which a student plans to apply to determine what role testing plays in their search and application process."

What advice are you giving our junior class to help them feel prepared for the application process? 
"As the juniors know, we are eager to work closely with them in their college process. We have been able to introduce our new college software to them (SCOIR), strongly encouraged them to move through the skills-based aptitude assessment (YOUScience), and invited them in for their initial College Counseling appointment with their assigned counselor. Juniors who have not yet reached out will be asked to make an appointment in January. We will begin making family appointments after the initial student appointment takes place. We hope to meet with all juniors by the end of January and complete family meetings by February. We will continue to meet with the juniors throughout the year as well. 

"The college process does not have to be stressful and anxiety-provoking if approached with intentionality, planning, and organization. This is an exciting time for juniors as they look ahead, and it is a privilege as their College Office and as adults in their lives to walk this path with them."

To learn more about Nichols' individualized approach to college counseling, contact our Admissions Office! Schedule a visit by calling 716-332-6325 or emailing admissions@nicholsschool.org

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Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 130-year history.