The Journey of College Admissions

Did you know there is a code of ethics for professionals working with students in college admission and counseling? The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has developed a Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP) that guides admission officers, college counselors and other professionals in this field. This document supports the backbone of what we know as the college admission process– such as the May 1 common reply date that colleges use—and is designed to protect students. In my role as the Chair of Admissions Practices Committee for the Potomac and Chesapeake, I have the responsibility of educating colleges and schools about SPGP and helping them resolve any infractions.

While this document focuses on how colleges and high schools should act, what about students? NACAC produces a similar document called “Going through the Admission Process.” This publication provides a nice overview of the process discussing how students should expect to be treated by colleges and the responsibilities a student has to meet. The problem with this document and that many face in the college admission process is that students it focuses on the process of applying college. Before worrying about “getting in,” students and parents should really consider the right type of college where a student can continue to develop and pursue their dreams.

One of the most important parts of the college process is introspection and the growth that comes with it. This is why we like to say there are two processes going on—the college search and the college admission process. The college search is about self-reflection that will come in many ways during a well-planned college search. For instance, students should talk to friends and family, visit colleges and research information. As they do this, students should ask themselves, “Is this right for me? Why?” They should also think about their current school—what has helped them succeed? What would they like to be different in college?

In other words, students—particularly during winter of junior year going into senior year– need to actively engage the search process. If they do this appropriately, students should not end up panicked about the application process. College counselors will be there to help them build a well-developed list of colleges where they will be admitted before choosing where to attend.

Jake Talmage

Jake Talmage

Jake has been the Director of College Counseling at St. Paul’s since 2005. A regular presenter at regional and national conferences, Jake was the Chairperson of the AIMS College Counselor group (2007 – 2011), served as Co-Chair of Professional Development for Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC, 2008-2011), was elected a Delegate to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (2010-2012), is the Vice-chair of the PCACAC Admission Practices Committee (2011 – current) and was elected Secretary of PCACAC (2013-2015 term).

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