Seniors on the College Advising Process 2016

Key seniors were asked to share their reflections, experiences and advice with members of the Junior class as they prepare to embark on the college selection journey. Having completed their journey and finalized their college commitments, these soon-to-be Key graduates have sage wisdom to impart.

Bryan Bay

Bryan Bay
Virginia Tech


Camille Carr
Camille Carr
Duke University


Christian Filter
Christian Filter
Bowdoin College


John Jenkins
John Jenkins
Georgetown University


Nick Trapido
Nick Trapido
St. Mary's College of Maryland



Kitty Young
Kitty Young
Pomona College

Bryan Bay - Virginia Tech, Architecture and Urban Studies

Bryan Bay

Looking back over the past year or so, what stands out as the most important thing/s you did to find a college?

The most important thing for me was to do my best to forget Virginia Tech. I needed to forget my family connections and never compare where I was visiting to Tech. Looking at schools as if I didn’t already know where I wanted to go was the hardest part of this process for me, other than December 11th when I was waiting for my Early Decision response.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

I ended up applying Early Decision to Tech in October and finished up my other applications by November, which seemed at the time pointless, however, there are two reasons to do all of your applications as soon as you can. This way you have December till graduation to enjoy your final year at Key with your friends and teachers (who yes you’ll miss, too). Also don’t test your fate, treat every school like it’s Plan A. I know it’s hard to do when you’ve already mentally decided where you belong, but you don’t want to get on the bad side of karma. It is sad enough watching your classmates learn this, don’t be one of them.

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

I was accepted Early Decision to the Virginia Tech College of Architecture & Urban Studies. There were a lot of reasons I chose to become a Hokie, besides the fact that it was what I always wanted to become. Tech’s architecture program is very good, and comparatively extremely cheap. It is also the perfect distance away, where my parents won’t visit every weekend, but they can be there in a few hours if I need them.

The biggest factor for me was the university’s mentality of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). When I visited colleges, I did not want to hear how much their new building cost or how much their alums make. I wanted to hear that their students made a life for themselves and others to be proud of.

What did you find most helpful about the college advising process at Key?

Maggie and Laura’s personal support is amazing. When you've spent all of August and early September making sure your three essays to your dream school are perfect only to log onto the application and see the essays were changed on you, you feel like your whole life just went off the tracks. They got me back on track so quickly and worked out the future steps I needed to take. Laura is also very transparent with you when she communicates with the colleges which is very helpful for your nerves.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

I knew what major I was looking for, which helped quickly narrow my choices. I wanted Architecture, in particular the B-Arch five-year program. When I visited these programs, studio atmosphere was a huge factor for me liking a school or not. It also wasn’t hard to know that I was not going to live in a city (other than Syracuse became an exception), I wanted to be near either water or mountains. Sphere of influence was something I looked at too because I know I want to return to the DC area, so whether or not the architecture department has ties to the district was a huge deciding factor. My connection to Tech through family, its costs, and its strong connections to the district were the decision makers.

Camille Carr - Duke University, School of Engineering

Camille Carr

Looking back over the past year or so, what stands out as the most important thing/s you did to find a college?

Talking to the students on each campus really helped me to find the schools I really loved. A lot of times on tours, or accepted students days, you really only get to see the things that the school wants you to see. Whenever I got a chance I talked with current students in a completely candid setting. Getting an opinion from people who aren’t trying to sell you on the school definitely offered a fresh perspective of the campus and helped me to learn things about the school I never would have on a tour.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

Only apply to the schools that you love and that you would seriously consider attending. There were a couple of colleges on my list that I honestly had no intention of going to, and I only applied to them out of panic, thinking the rest of my options were too difficult. At the end of the day, I just had more essays to write for schools I was not even particularly passionate about, which took up a lot of time.

As soon as a college posts their essay questions start brainstorming. It never hurts to get a head start, and people will be more willing to help you edit your essays if you come to them early on in the school year.

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

When I came to Laura telling her I was having a hard time deciding between two schools, she gave me the best piece of advice I’ve received during the decision process. “When you walk out of your dorm, think about where you want to be and who you want to be surrounded by.” I was deciding between Duke and the University of Michigan, which are two very similar schools. It was a hard choice, but in the end I chose Duke because the feeling that I had there could not compare to any other school. I intend to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering, but I am only eighteen and things could change very easily.

What did you find most helpful about the college advising process at Key?

Laura and Maggie are both incredibly willing to work with you, and help you deal with any problems that your application might present. The detailed explanation Maggie gives about the Common Application was particularly helpful. I would not have been able to figure it out if it had not been for her diligence.

I was probably in Laura’s office at least three times a week and she always greeted me with the same helpful and enthusiastic attitude. She really helped me to realize what my priorities were in searching for a school, and really provided an individual experience for each student.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

Originally I wanted to attend a school in D.C. or Maryland with a relatively small undergraduate population. However, by the time I actually started applying to schools, my favorites became Duke and the University of Michigan which are schools that did not necessarily fit my original criteria.

In the end what became most important was finding a place that made me feel so comfortable that the distance from home became negligible. There was no one thing that became more important than the others. For me it was all about the overall feel of the school.

Christian Filter - Bowdoin College

Christian Filter

Looking back over the past year or so, what stands out as the most important thing/s you did to find a college?

Doing a few overnights was key in finding the right college for me. I did the standard information session/ campus tour for the ten schools that were initially on my list and then went back to my top three a few months later. I stayed overnight with a student and went to a class or two (along with attending a sailing practice). This really helped me decide between my top two choices.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

I would suggest visiting a variety of schools. I don’t mean that you should visit thirty colleges, but if you’re like me, chances are that you don’t really know what you like and dislike until you see it. So visit big schools, visit small schools, visit schools in the middle of a big city, and visit schools in the middle of nowhere, and figure it out.

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

I made my decision to attend Bowdoin because of a combination of things. I liked the campus and the smaller student population, the classes I visited were fun and engaging, and the people were very friendly. Also, I seemed to fit in well with sailing team and the coach offered me a lot of support.

I’m not sure what I want to major in, but I’m leaning towards economics.

What did you find most helpful about the college advising process at Key?

Laura and Maggie are really quite wonderful. If I ever had a question about anything, their doors were always open for me or they were just a quick email away.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

When I first started my search I knew I wanted two things: I wanted to sail and I wanted to go somewhere in New England. I really didn’t know what I was looking for other than that. So, my parents and I sat down and picked out ten or so schools that had competitive sailing teams in the northeast. However, when it came down to making my final decision, the most important aspect was the atmosphere and the relationships between students and professors that I noticed during my visits.

John Jenkins - Georgetown University

John Jenkins

Looking back over the past year or so, what stands out as the most important thing/s you did to find a college?

Doing an overnight on campus and reaching out to current students and getting their perspective on the school. Talking to actual students gives a much more informative perspective on the school than the school's information sessions.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

RELAX. Focus on finding a place that feels right for the STUDENT. Don’t get too caught up in rankings and other nonsense, just choose the place the feels right for you.

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

Georgetown University! The school was close to home and I felt very comfortable on campus. It felt right for me.

What did you find most helpful about the college advising process at Key?

Having a loving counselor who helps to guide you through the process. The teachers at Key are also willing to help with your essays.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

Other than wanting a place that was not too far from home and was not too cold, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted in a college. (Even if you have no idea what you want in a school you WILL find the right place so don’t stress about that.)

In the end, I made the decision based on how I felt on campus. Georgetown just felt like the right place for me. I could envision myself being a happy and successful student there.

Nick Trapido - St. Mary's College of Maryland

Nick Trapido

Looking back over the past year or so, what stands out as the most important thing/s you did to find a college?

I think a really big factor in choosing what colleges to look at was talking to my counselor. There are so many schools and each is different in their own way. Laura (and Stoneham) was able to show me what schools might fit me and gave me a good starting point. From then on, its all about finding more schools similar to those that you liked on your first list.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

Stay Calm! Do not stress yourself out by looking at the big picture all at once. Take each step at a time. However, when the time for applying comes along make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do everything that needs to be done on the Common App. Start your essay in the summer!

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

Having people support you in this process is essential. I was fortunate enough to have a father who was only concerned with making sure that I would go to the school where I would be happiest. I got into Dickinson, Lafayette, St Mary's College of Maryland, and Stetson University. In the end, the way I decided I was going to St. Mary's was when I had a long talk about it with my dad and he told me I always seemed happiest when talking about St. Mary's or telling him about my experiences after my visits (and I had many). I also loved the school from the start and it was always towards the top of my list. Beautiful campus, come visit!

So, in the end, I went to the school where I was the most comfortable and saw myself the happiest. I am undecided as far as a major, but plan on taking pre-med courses.

What did you find most helpful about the college advising process at Key?

The initial list of schools you get and the advice/comments you receive when writing your Common App essays. Laura was immensely helpful for me when I had a hard time trying to show why I was somehow special. It's really all about selling yourself to a school and it can be very hard to do. Laura will find that something, and show you how to portray yourself in your best light. She is amazing.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

When I first started looking, it was all about the general qualities. Size, location, what the most popular majors where, all that stuff. Later, when you figure out what type of school you want to go to and apply to those you think are worthy, it was about how each school makes you feel. By the time you have those final choices in front of you, you will know how you feel about each choice. I was really torn between two schools and when that happens, it's really all about weighing the experiences you have had at each school and talking to family and friends about it.

Kitty Young - Pomona College

Pomona College

Looking back over the past year or so, what stands out as the most important thing/s you did to find a college?

Visiting colleges was the most important aspect of the process for me. It’s true that you can tell within minutes on a campus if it’s the right place for you! I was looking at a huge variety of colleges (mostly with regard to size and location) and physically seeing the differences between campuses, the types of people on each, and the surrounding areas was vital in helping me narrow down my list. Every school looks perfect on the website, but each college has its own unique vibe that pictures will never capture.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

Take risks! I applied to eleven colleges: six “reaches,” three “possibles,” and two “safeties.” Was it a lot of work? Yes, but it was worth it because had I not gotten into Pomona ED, I would have had options. Find lots of schools you love and apply to all of them. You could get rejected from every reach, or you could get into your top choice! You don’t know until you apply. Don’t sell yourself short because you’re afraid of a rejection letter.

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

When I was visiting schools last year I fell in love with Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and Pomona College in Claremont, California. They were absolutely tied as my #1 choices, but I decided to apply ED1 to Bowdoin. I was deferred, and in an “I’ll regret it if I don’t” moment, I wrote my essay over Christmas break and applied ED2 to Pomona. I found out in February that I was accepted! Ultimately my decision to attend Pomona was kind of made for me by their admissions office since I wasn’t expecting an acceptance at all, but I couldn’t be more excited to spend the next four years in sunny California!

I loved both colleges for their emphasis on learning for the sake of learning, a value practiced through their non-competitive environments, intimacy with professors, small classes, and access to incredible opportunities outside their classrooms.

What sets Pomona apart for me is the incredible weather that allows for an active outdoor lifestyle year-round, the diversity of students on the campus, its relevance and ability to deal with real-world issues through its proximity to a large city, and the limitless resources of the Claremont Consortium. The Consortium aspect is what really sold me; since Pomona is one of five undergraduate colleges whose campuses cover about one square mile, I’ll be going to a college of 1,600 with 5,000 other students. I had my doubts about a small school feeling big enough a few years down the line, but this setup totally abated that concern.

I have not yet decided on a major, but I’m thinking maybe some sort of social science like anthropology? We’ll see!

What did you find most helpful about the college advising process at Key?

Of all the ways Key helped me through the college process, the emphasis on fit molded the experience more than anything else to truly help me find the right school. At one point this fall I felt like I loved the “wrong” colleges because the feedback I was getting from friends, family, customers at work, etc., didn’t fit with my personal feelings about the schools. Laura gave me reassurance that those gut feelings meant something, which sounds obvious, but given the fact that everyone has an opinion on where you should go, this type of unconditional support isn’t found too often in the process.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

To put it most simply, I was looking for an academic extension of Key. I wanted a non-competitive environment with the traditional liberal arts view of learning for the sake of learning and small classes that allowed for intimacy with professors. I wanted a campus near a city or larger urban area that felt fluid with the surrounding community and had awesome outdoor access and opportunities. Most importantly, I wanted somewhere totally out of my comfort zone. If Pomona doesn’t fit this description, I don’t know what would!