If your daughter is junior or senior at Oldfields School, then the name Marissa Margosian is the name of your new best friend! As anyone who has recently navigated the college application process knows, a good Director of College Counseling is worth her weight in gold! With college application deadlines upon us, we are thankful to have Marissa's experience on our side.
Over 100 Colleges Visit Oldfields
Visiting all the colleges on your list can be exhausting if not impossible. A valuable shortcut is meeting admission representatives when they come to campus. One of the most impressive accomplishments that Marissa has facilitated is the sheer number of colleges and universities that have come to Oldfields. This fall alone, 106 different schools have stopped by to get to know our students! This initial meeting can pay off in a big way. After a presentation by Randolph Macon, several of our equestrians decided to apply based on information he shared about their riding program. Three students actually secured interviews for one of their top choices while the rep was visiting. If you don't see one of your colleges on the list of schools that are visiting – just ask! Marissa will get in contact with the rep and try to arrange a visit, even if just for one student! One of our freshman asked if Wilson College was visiting because she was interested in their nursing program. They weren't scheduled ... yet! Marissa reached out to our rep who scheduled a visit. Our student took control of the visit, meeting the rep when he arrived, walking him to Marissa's office, and even bringing her friends with her to the meeting to talk with him.
Prepping for the college application process actually begins in 9th grade when Marissa visits each grade during seminar time. During the freshman and sophomore years, she talks to students about doing well in classes, getting involved in extra-curricular activities, building leadership skills and opportunities, and discovering what they're passionate about. Ninth and tenth graders take the PSAT in October to practice taking standardized testing.
College counseling formally begins in junior year when students meet with Marissa regularly. During group seminar meetings, students explore educational and career interests, create résumés, learn about different types of colleges, and discuss elements of the application process including interviewing, standardized testing, essays, and the components of applications. Students develop balanced college lists that represent their academic, social, athletic, religious, and/or financial needs. By the end of junior year, students leave for summer break with a specific list of colleges and universities in which they are interested. She'll also provide them with an individualized time-line checklist so they know what specific steps they should be completing to stay on track.
During senior year, students meet with the college counselor in seminars, one-on-one meetings, and an application workshop in October. The college counselor's door is always open, and support is available throughout the process, including for financial aid, scholarships, choosing a school in the spring, and even completing the paperwork, such as for class or dorm selections.
Marissa is also a wealth (pun intended) of information on scholarships and financial aid. Oldfields is proud to have had three Gates Millennium Scholars in the past 10 years, and our students continue to go after some prestigious awards. For example, the largest scholarship at Hanover College (IN) is named for Benjamin Franklin Templeton, the first African American student who enrolled at Hanover College in 1832. We now have a student who just submitted her application for this award! Several others have been using their festive holiday gear to apply for an Ugly Sweater scholarship. Fingers crossed!
There is the obvious advice - start early - but Marissa says that if she could give just one message to parents and students, it would be to keep an open mind about schools they may not have heard – yet! With over 2000 colleges and universities from which to choose in the US alone, the perfect fit may be one that is not even on your radar. Marissa's goal is to expand the number of schools with which students are acquainted and suggest schools that might not be obvious to them. Marissa is committed to truly knowing as many schools as possible by visiting them herself. She has toured almost 400 colleges and universities in the past 8 years and posts information and pictures on her blog, Campus Encounters.
College application time is difficult and truly does take a village of teachers, counselors, parents, and of course, the student, but under Marissa's watchful eye – 99% of Oldfields girls end up taking their next step onto college upon graduation. Thanks, Marissa, for making the college application process more effective and enjoyable!