“Selecting the right college is such an individualized process. I encourage students not to listen to all the voices, but to find their right fit.” – Emily Brown, MDS College Counselor
You will not find the US News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” issue on college counselor Emily Brown’s bookshelf. She prefers resources with titles like “Colleges That Change Lives” and “Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be.” Those resources reflect her philosophy and her approach to guiding Mount de Sales students and families through the college-selection process.
The Journey to Finding the Right Fit
At MDS, the college counseling process begins in the spring of a student’s eighth grade year. Mrs. Brown visits each class to discuss the importance of building a transcript and becoming an active member of the school community. “I want them to understand that becoming involved and taking rigorous classes is not about building a resume. It is about having a full high school experience and being well-prepared for college.”
During the ninth and tenth grade years, guidance counselor Paul Midkiff leads students through a process of self-exploration. Using various inventories, students gain insight into their personality strengths and learning styles and how that knowledge can inform their choice of a college and career.
Beginning in the junior year, Mrs. Brown meets with students individually and in classroom groups to build lists of colleges they are interested in and to develop a timeline and milestones for the application process. They also have the opportunity to write and edit a personal narrative in their English class with guidance from and review by their teacher, so that students have a strong essay ready to use for college applications.
Parents are an important part of the process and included from the beginning. “Starting with rising ninth graders, we meet with parents each year to discuss topics ranging from how to build a successful transcript to how to interpret test scores,” noted Mrs. Brown.
Test scores are an important part of the college selection process, and MDS began offering an SAT prep course as part of the regular curriculum this year. “Most of our students are very busy with extracurricular activities, and offering the class during the regular school day provides the time and the accountability for those students who would like to improve their scores.” The course also reflects Emily’s belief that we should create the environment in which every student has the opportunity to be successful.
When students are successful, they can count on the college counseling office to share their joy, whether the acceptance is to their reach school or their target school. “I think it is important that every acceptance is celebrated,” noted Mrs. Brown. “It is the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, which is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.