We’ve been shouting our delight with Will, our new intern, from the rooftops. Will is not just any intern, he is a BASIS Oro Valley Alumnus, heading into his third year at Princeton University. Will is spending the summer helping us spread the word about BASIS Independent McLean in the northern Virginia community. Could you imagine a better way of spending your summer? We thought we’d bring some of Will’s brilliance to you, put him on the hot seat, and ask him to share with you, our readers, answers to some tough questions about his experience as a BASIS.ed student.
Question: What is college counseling like at a BASIS.ed school?
I knew close to nothing about universities and the admissions process before entering college counseling in the ninth grade at BASIS Oro Valley. I thought that the students who attend MIT or Stanford, or an Ivy League school were an entirely separate breed. My perception was that admission to those highly ranked schools was something just for child prodigies and children of the rich and powerful.
In the second week of classes at BASIS Oro Valley, my English teacher Mr. Aiken told me something that changed that perception and stuck with me for the rest of high school, ultimately shaping my goals and expectations for college. He told me that those types of college admissions were possible for me, but it would take four years of hard work. Looking back on it, this was perhaps the most useful thing I heard during all of high school. It kicked me into drive and showed me that my teachers and administrators had a lot of faith in me, and inspired me to have faith in myself.
My college counseling meetings in ninth through eleventh grade helped me get an idea of what I wanted to study (at the time engineering) and what universities fit my interests. After three years of hard academic work, senior year finally arrived, and I took the college counseling course, as every BASIS.ed senior does. The college counseling course was a phenomenal resource. Having access to a dedicated college counselor who knew the trade was indispensable. She told it like it was – admissions to college, especially very selective ones, are never guaranteed. Even the most qualified students are often passed up by these institutions, but she gave us the tools to maximize our chances. She reviewed our essays and prompts draft after draft, curated our letters of recommendations, handled much of our paperwork, and most importantly, listened.
Senior year is a tough time. There is a lot asked of students who aren’t even old enough to vote. We were facing the prospects of where we’ll be living, what we’ll we studying, what we’ll be doing after college, and how we’ll pay for it all. College counseling was the one thing that kept my head on straight during all of this. Having someone who told me the ugly truths about college admissions helped me keep a realistic outlook on how it would all end up, but I was always encouraged to shoot for the stars. Luckily for me, I ended up being accepted to one of my top schools with generous financial aid. Even luckier, I had one of my best friends get accepted there, too. It’s hard to look back at this time objectively. I’ve been part of Princeton long enough that I can’t really imagine what it would be like somewhere else. However, it all started way back when this was all just a dream about what could happen, with the college counselor who consistently went the extra mile to make it so.
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