Students empowered and guided by the King School College Counseling program

The King School Strategic Plan 2020-2025 affirms our commitment to the student experience as our top priority. As part of King setting the standard in preparing students for a world that requires nimble, courageous thinkers who own their futures, King offers a four-year developmental College Counseling program that enables each student to discover the most competitive match.  

Students supported throughout the four-year college preparatory journey

Students begin partnering with their College Counselor in Grade 9. This gives students and their Counselors the opportunity to exchange ideas on clubs, summer programs, or academic pursuits that will help students explore and utilize the resources available at King. By getting to know students early, the Counselors help these young adults understand themselves better, which allows them to embark on a college search in the junior year that is reflective of their individual desires and goals. Students build their story throughout high school, and then the Counselors help them share their unique, engaging perspective with colleges.

Jessica Landis, Director of College Counseling, describes the enormous growth potential for high school students, explaining, "it's important to us that students view their years at King as an incredible opportunity to figure out who they want to be and how they can begin to take steps towards being that person. We talk frequently with students about the importance of doing high school well. The reality is that students who make the most of their high school experience are inherently preparing for success in the college process because colleges value authenticity and genuine enthusiasm." 

The experienced College Counseling team, which also includes David Volain, Emily Prince, Julia Naclerio, and Jaclyn Devon, all emphasize to students the importance of developing and pursuing their passions because of the value it will add to their lives, not as a means to an end for a specific college result. This philosophy helps students arrive at college ready to make the most of those four years just as they have maximized their experiences at King School.

Alex Wachter '21 reflects on the impact of Ms. Landis' guidance, saying, "Ms. Landis has been extremely helpful throughout the entire college process. She took the time to get to know me, helped set goals for me, and was always so quick to respond. Even though she has many other students, I always felt like I was a priority. She never missed or was late to meetings. Ms. Landis helped me feel significantly less of the immense pressure students feel when applying to colleges. I would not be in the comfortable position that I am now in the college process if it weren't for her. I am so grateful to have had such a great college counselor." 

This fall the College Counselors worked closely with students throughout the high school, with a focus appropriate to each grade. 

  • Grade 9:  Grade 9 students began their journey by reflecting deeply about themselves and describing to their College Counselor their areas of interest, strengths, and opportunities for growth. The Counselors, in turn, recommended specific clubs to join or a summer program to consider in order to help students integrate into the Upper School community and begin to dig deeply into their interests.

  • Grade 10:  Students in Grade 10 had the opportunity to take SAT and ACT practice tests to get a head start on preparing for these important tests. Counselors reviewed the results and created a testing strategy customized to each student's individual needs. Many students make excellent progress by taking advantage of King's test prep course, offered at no additional cost.

  • Grade 11:  Families met with the College Counseling team in the fall to build a large college list that served as a starting point. The Counselors offered their expert guidance, taking into consideration what they knew about each student from the close partnerships over the previous years, along with what the student considered to be the most important factors in their search. This preliminary college list will serve as the springboard for the wider college exploration that students will pursue throughout their junior year.

  • Grade 12:  Seniors and Counselors partnered extremely closely, meeting as often as once per week to draft essays, finish college applications, and ultimately submit applications together. Since the King Counselors were incredibly hands on with the process, students were able to focus on representing themselves in the best possible light without worrying about the mechanics of submitting applications.  

Nick Camacho '21 emphasizes the support he's received, saying, "My counselor, Mr. Volain, and the rest of the college counseling office at King have been incredibly helpful to me in my college search. From identifying colleges that would be a good fit for me, to helping me fine tune my applications and essays, they've supported me throughout the whole process."

Additionally, the College Counseling Office arranges for students to have the opportunity to meet with approximately 100 college admissions representatives who visit King each year.  Mari Prauer, Senior Assistant Dean of Admission, Colgate University, praises King students, exclaiming, "Each year, I look forward to my visit to King School for a variety of reasons. I am always greeted with a smile and warm welcome from the entire school community, while students are always smiling and waiting promptly and patiently for our session to begin. I continue to be incredibly impressed with the depth of knowledge, level of preparation, and thoughtful questions that King students have. I thoroughly look forward to reviewing King School applications each year, knowing that they make such a great fit in the Colgate community and come incredibly prepared and ready to engage within our community, and really make a lasting difference. I continue to look forward to working with King students, and the counseling staff, each year!"  

College Counselors partner with parents 

Ms. Landis emphasizes that "the student is always at the center of their own college process and it's important that they take ownership of it."  The College Counseling team also appreciates that college is a major investment that parents are making in their children's future and it is natural that parents would have questions. The Counseling team works closely with parents as well, offering programming throughout the high school years, such as parent teas and informal meetings, that are responsive to parents' specific questions.  Importantly, the Counselors serve as trusted sounding boards for parents, while at the same time operating as hands on project managers for the students, so that parents do not need to continually remind their children to keep their application process on track. 

The student-Counselor-parent partnership provides a strong bridge to future opportunities. Ms. Landis reflects on the program, explaining that "families value that our approach to college counseling is one that brings together an appreciation for the qualitative factors that students use in determining the best competitive fit for them, alongside quantitative data that informs the advice that we provide and the strategies that we recommend."  

Learn more about the College Counseling program, meet the team,  and view the matriculation list of top colleges and universities that King students choose to attend. King's current families can also explore advice in the College Counseling Resource Center that is part of the Parent and Student Portals.