Our mission at Community School is “to foster in our students self-confidence, integrity, responsibility to their community and environment, and a life-long passion for learning.” 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,” and to appreciate life in 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.
The college search and application process is not mysterious. There are steps and deadlines, protocols and predictable forks on the path. There will be uncertainty, but there need not be anxiety. It is our longtime experience at the Community School that students have met with uncommon success – in both the college application process and their college experience – because they knew who they were and knew how to work toward their goals. In the end, we seek to help students match with the college that is the best “fit” for each of them: where they can be both comfortable and challenged, supported and stretched.
Freshman students and their parents meet the college counselor in a group setting during their first year of high school to preview the steps ahead. Sophomore students and with their parents typically meet with the college counselor once in the fall and once in the spring to help students assess their academic performance and interests and to align themselves with their personal goals: “Where am I, where do I want to be in two years, and how can I get there?”
Juniors meet with the counselor in the fall, with specific focus on the PSAT. In January, with PSAT scores and fall term academic performance (GPA) as benchmarks, the counselor meets several times with juniors and their parents to help the students assess themselves, to assemble an initial college list, and to plan college visits and summer activities. Juniors schedule the standardized testing appropriate for them and are offered opportunities for test familiarization and preparation.
In the fall, the college counselor focuses on seniors, refining the college list in the light of further test scores and grades and a clarification of a senior’s interests and goals. Students are offered advice and guidance on the preparation of their applications and the writing of their college essays and are counseled on further standardized testing. The college counselor writes the Secondary School and Midyear Reports and works closely with the registrar to make certain that transcripts and profiles – all the necessary supplements – are submitted in support of a student’s application. Seniors are top priority in the fall and their applications are monitored while the college counselor begins the college search process with the juniors.
At Community School, at any given time, a student is under the college counselor’s watchful eye. The college counselor is the school’s primary source of support and guidance for Community School students and their families during the college search and application process. The goals of the office are wide-ranging:
1. To provide guidance and counsel to students and their families in all phases of the college search and application process;
2. to provide honest and supportive student evaluations and appropriate advocacy during the college application and admissions process;
3. to represent and present Community School to colleges and universities;
4. to develop long-term relationships and trust with colleges and universities;
5. to continue to be current with changes in the counseling profession and the field of higher education;
6. to maintain open contact with underclassmen, graduates, and Community School families;
7. to coordinate student preparation for standardized tests.
Personal contacts and trust, developed over the years, are the keys. The sense of community extends far beyond graduation; we care about our graduates and they care about us. Goals and standards of excellence evolve out of that personal sense of caring.
The School is a member of The College Board, National Association of College Admissions Counseling, and the Pacific Northwest chapter of NACAC.