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A Time for Reflection and Celebration

A Time for Reflection and Celebration
Sarah Honan

For those of us who work in schools, May always seems to be the month of reflection. Seniors are reflecting on their four years of high school - writing graduation and award ceremony speeches, messages in each other’s yearbooks, and (hopefully) some thank you notes to the teachers that made a difference for them along the way. The college admissions world is reflecting, too; indeed, our team will be attending three different professional conferences this month alone to debrief the 2022-23 application cycle and begin to prepare for the next. 

May is an especially momentous month for the College Counseling Office because it is when seniors officially decide which college will become their new home for the next four years. It is the culmination of two years of intensive work - of self-assessments and reflection, of academic study and test preparation, and of truly coming to know themselves as they choose the pathways and priorities that will shape the next chapter of their lives. This is the joy of being a college counselor: getting a front row seat to watch our young people sharpen their gaze, hone their potential and bloom into the incredible adults they will one day become. It never gets old. 

This year we had the privilege of working alongside 59 of our seniors as they confirmed their decisions to enroll at 35 distinct colleges and universities. The breadth and individuality of the colleges selected, including some of the finest research, technical, art and design and liberal arts colleges in the country, perfectly mirrors the rich diversity and talents of our students here at Wardlaw+Hartridge and the individualized approach we take in College Counseling. It also shines a light on our trailblazers who will be the first W+H graduates in several years to attend places like UC Berkeley, University of Notre Dame, Rhode Island School of Design, and Wesleyan University. 

And in a year that proved to be, once again, the most competitive application cycle to date, many of our (understandably anxious) underclassmen were left wondering, What’s the secret formula for success in this process? The answer is (probably frustratingly) simple: there is none. 

Colleges want Wardlaw+Hartridge students because the world will need them. 

The students of today will become the teachers and leaders of tomorrow. They will have to work alongside colleagues from around the world, have a global, inclusive mindset, and be able to listen to the opinions of others as surely as they express their own. They will need to be able to think big, dream big, and develop some of the most creative solutions to problems that don’t even exist yet. This is what will be expected of them. This is what colleges are looking to nurture. This is what we have been preparing them for. Through every class discussion, every service trip, every sports tryout or musical audition - we challenge our students to be bold, to explore who they are, and to learn from one another’s stories. It’s a special kind of magic that our colleagues in admission feel when they step inside our building. And it’s why they love our kids. 

So as we collectively take this month to look back on the year behind us, my thoughts are with our seniors as they stride toward what lies ahead. We are rooting for you, we will always be rooting for you. Now show the world what you can do.