College Counseling

An Authentic, personalized experience

Community School students meet with uncommon success—in both the college application process and in their college experience—because they know who they are and they know how to work toward their goals.

This self-awareness and intrinsic motivation, together with the expert guidance of college counselors who know our students well, leads to an authentic, personalized experience.

Community School graduates find—and fall in love with—schools that fit and meet their unique qualities and aspirations.

College Counseling Timeline

A Community School education builds a solid foundation for the post-secondary educational experience. Our students are well prepared for college or university.

At Community School, we want our students to grow up naturally, “to grow wild according to their natures” (Thoreau), and to appreciate life in and beyond our remarkable Wood River Valley. We do not want them to be constrained by the anxieties and prescriptions that accompany “college preparation” in so many other parts of the country, so we make sure that they are aware, early on, of what they need in order to be admissible to the colleges and universities that are appropriate for them, ask them to be actively engaged in the process, and help guide them as they navigate the path toward their educational goals.

In this context, we often speak of the ninth and tenth grades as Division I and the eleventh and twelfth grades as Division II.

Division I: Ninth and Tenth Grades

Our goal during ninth and tenth grades is principally to assist each student to establish appropriate “habits of mind” (good organization, time-management, goals, and objectives) and to embark on an academic trajectory that not only meets specific graduation requirements (Writing Across the Curriculum, Computer Science, and Fine Arts), but reflects one’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge and challenge.

During this time, we encourage students to get involved in the life of the school and the Valley in genuine ways—whether through athletics, clubs, community service, or local nonprofits—and to find relevance and enjoyment. Knowing our students live busy lives, we emphasize “depth over breadth” and “less is more” in one’s choices.

By the end of the sophomore year, a student should consider where she or he is heading and understand who she or he is as a student and young adult. (If you do not like where you are now, now is the time to change.) In addition to taking the PSAT in ninth and tenth grade, we introduce students to a variety of self-assessment and career-oriented activities (through Naviance’s Family Connection) to assist them in discovering traits and career interests they may not have considered.

Division I is a time of asking questions and opening oneself to a wider discourse.

Division II: Eleventh and Twelfth Grades

As students enter the eleventh grade, the academic rigors of upper-level courses and the college search process start in earnest. In the college search process, we ask each student to take ownership of his or her plans and for parents to play a supportive and “backstage” role. We encourage parents to help their child find their “voice” in the journey and to teach the value of good process.

As astute cultural anthropologists, students start to define their ideal college characteristics during this phase of the process, using a combination of intuition and activities through Naviance (Super Match and College Cluster) and continuously test personal assumptions as they visit colleges and universities, principally in their junior spring and summers.

Starting in January, we meet with juniors and parents to discuss their hopes and dreams, and to outline a tentative list of colleges and universities based on academic profile, standardized testing data, and special interests to date. Students and parents typically join the mass migration of college visits during spring break and the summer months. Armed with field notes from those visits, our conversations continue into the fall of the senior year, when we work with each senior to hone his or her college lists, seeking a balance between anchors, reasonable fits, and statistical reaches. We ask each senior to “fall in love” with several colleges across the admission selectivity spectrum and to avoid letting stereotypes and outdated information and impressions steer them away from a college.

Our message to students: There is a college out there for you. Be who you are, not who you think you should be.

We are happy to report that not only have our seniors met with tremendous success in the college application process (80 percent of the class of 2017 were accepted into their first- or second-choice school), but that over the past several years the number of applications our seniors submit has averaged five-to-six, validating the fact that the choices seniors make are appropriate and not simply random fishing expeditions that too often play into the hyper-activity and paranoia of college admissions today.

In the end, our ultimate objective is to have each student and family feel a keen sense of satisfaction with their Community School educational experience and to view their next chapter—college—with excitement and to know that it is a good fit and outcome.


College Acceptances 2013-17

  • Aberdeen 1
  • American 1
  • Amherst 1
  • Arizona State 3
  • Barnard 2
  • Bates 6
  • Boise State 2
  • Boston College 4
  • Boston University 6
  • Bowdoin 6
  • British Columbia 2
  • Brown 3
  • Bucknell 3
  • Cal-Poly: SLO 13
  • Carleton 1
  • Carroll College 2
  • Champlain 8
  • Chapman 13
  • Clarkson 3
  • Colby 4
  • Colgate 4
  • College of Charleston 1
  • Colorado Boulder 40
  • Colorado College 7
  • Colorado School of Mines 1
  • Colorado State 5
  • Connecticut College 4
  • Cornell 2
  • Dartmouth 6
  • Davidson 2
  • Denver 36
  • Duke 2
  • Edinburgh 2
  • Embry-Riddle 1
  • Emory 3
  • Evergreen State 1
  • Fordham 6
  • Fort Lewis 2
  • Georgetown 2
  • George Washington 3
  • Gonzaga 5
  • Gustavus Adelphus 1
  • Harvard 1
  • Harvey Mudd 1
  • Hobart-William Smith 2
  • Humboldt State 2
  • Johns Hopkins 1
  • Johnson & Wales 2
  • Kenyon 1
  • Lafayette 2
  • Lehigh 1
  • Lewis and Clark 7
  • Linfield 2
  • Loyola Marymount 7
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1
  • Miami of Ohio 2
  • Michigan 1
  • Michigan State 1
  • Middlebury 9
  • Montana 5
  • Montana State 30

  • Nevada 1
  • New Hampshire 2
  • New York University 3
  • Northeastern 6
  • Occidental 1
  • Oregon 17
  • Oregon State 2

  • Pace 2
  • Pennsylvania 2
  • Penn State 2
  • Pitzer 3
  • Portland 6
  • Princeton 1
  • Puget Sound 19
  • Quest BC 4
  • Redlands 1
  • Reed 1
  • Richmond 1
  • Rocky Mountain 2
  • Roger Williams 2
  • Saint Andrews 1
  • Saint Lawrence 9
  • Saint Mary's CA 2
  • Saint Michael's 1

  • San Diego 2
  • San Francisco 3
  • Santa Clara 7
  • Scripps 2
  • Seattle 11
  • Sewanee 2
  • Sierra Nevada 3
  • Skidmore 1
  • Southern Methodist 3
  • Syracuse 1
  • Trinity 2
  • Tufts 4
  • Tulane 2
  • Union 1
  • UC Berkeley 4
  • UC Davis 5
  • UC Irvine 2
  • UCLA 5
  • UC San Diego 6
  • UC Santa Barbara 7
  • UC Santa Cruz 9
  • USC 10
  • Utah 4
  • Utah State 1
  • Vassar 2
  • Vermont 27
  • Virginia 2
  • Wake Forest 2
  • Washington 8
  • Washington State 12
  • Washington Univ. St. Louis 2
  • Wesleyan 4
  • Western Washington 7
  • Westminster 18
  • Whitman 5
  • Willamette 5
  • Williams 3
  • Worchester Poly 1
  • Wyoming Tech 1
It's very difficult to open yourself up to scrutiny and the possibility of rejection in the college application process; however, Bags and Chauncy gave me the support to not only complete my applications, but to be confident in opening myself up to the world. It's the assurance that they foster that validates the whole experience.

Cooper Dart '17, Bowdoin College Class of 2021

Meet Our College Counselors

Bags Brokaw, Director of College Counseling

Bags Brokaw taught history and served as the Upper School Dean of Students and Middle School Director for six years during the Community School’s early chapter (1985-1991). He returned to the Trail Creek Campus in 2012 and currently serves as Director of College Counseling.

Prior to his return to Community School, Bags served in a variety of teaching and administrative positions at independent and public schools in New Hampshire and Maine, including Head of School for a k-8 Waldorf school, and, most recently, as Academic Dean and Interim Head of School at George Stevens Academy on the Blue Hill peninsula in Maine, where he and his wife, Kerry, still have a home.

Bags holds a BA from Bowdoin College and an MA from University of Denver.

Bags and Kerry have four children, including one current Cutthroat (Shea ’20) and one alum (Will ’12).

Contact Bags via email.

Chauncy Gardner, College Counselor

Chauncy Gardner joined Community School in 2004. She currently teaches Upper School French and Upper School English and serves as College Counselor, Senior Projects Coordinator, and coordinator of Community School’s Brazil Exchange.

Prior to joining Community School, Chauncy taught Upper School French and English at Drew School in San Francisco and college-level French at New York University

As a faculty member Chauncy appreciates Community School's strong academic program and a culture that fosters independence and innovation and the school's many unique programs. Chauncy says she is inspired each day by her "wonderful colleagues, inspiring students, and many new professional opportunities. I learn something new everyday."

Chauncy holds a BA in French and English from Colgate University and a MA in French literature from New York University. She is mother of two Cutthroats: Lily ’21 and Colin ’23, and she loves to travel, hike, and spend time in the mountains.

Contact Chauncy via email.

Information for College Representatives

Plan a Visit to Community School

Community School welcomes visits from college representatives. Please contact the College Counseling office to schedule a visit:

Bags Brokaw

Director of College Counseling

Email Bags

Chauncy Gardner

Assistant College Counselor

Email Chauncy

School Profile