College Counseling

Students outside holding pictures of the college they will be attending


An Authentic, personalized experience

Sun Valley 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.


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



College Counseling Timeline

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

At Sun Valley 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 2015-18

*Class of 2018 Matriculation

  • Aberdeen 1
  • American 1
  • Amherst 1
  • Arizona 1
  • Auburn 1
  • Bard 1
  • Bates* 4
  • Bellevue College 1
  • Beloit 1
  • Boise State* 3
  • Boston College* 2
  • Boston University* 3
  • Bowdoin 3
  • Brandeis 1
  • British Columbia 2
  • Brown* 3
  • Bucknell 4
  • Cal Poly SLO* 5
  • Carleton* 2
  • Clarkson* 1
  • Clemson 1
  • Colby 1
  • Colby-Sawyer 1
  • College of Idaho 2
  • Colgate 2
  • Colorado Boulder 21
  • Colgate*
  • Colorado Boulder 21
  • Colorado College* 4
  • Colorado School of Mines 2
  • Colorado State 5
  • Connecticut College 3
  • Cornell* 2
  • Dartmouth 5
  • Davidson 1
  • Denver* 26
  • Drew University* 3
  • Elon* 2
  • Edinburgh 2
  • Embry-Riddle 1
  • Emmanuel 1
  • Emory 3
  • Evergreen State 2
  • Fordham 3
  • Fort Lewis 2
  • Franklin U. of Switzerland* 2
  • Furman 1
  • Georgetown 2
  • George Washington 1
  • Gonzaga* 7

*Class of 2018 Matriculation

  • Harvard 1
  • Harvey Mudd 1
  • Hobart-William Smith 3
  • Humboldt State 2
  • Idaho* 2
  • Ithaca* 1
  • Johns Hopkins 1
  • Johnson & Wales 2
  • Kenyon 1
  • Lafayette 2
  • Lawrence University 1
  • Lewis and Clark* 10
  • Linfield 2
  • Loyola Marymount* 5
  • Macalester* 1
  • Marymount Manhattan 1
  • Massachusetts Amherst 1
  • Miami 2
  • Miami U. of Ohio 2
  • Michigan Tech 1
  • Middlebury 6
  • MIT 1
  • Minnesota 1
  • Mississippi 1
  • Montana 2
  • Montana State* 30
  • Moorpark College 1
  • Mount St. Vincent 1
  • New Hampshire 5
  • New School*  1
  • NY Film Academy* 1
  • New York University 2
  • Northeastern 2
  • Occidental 1
  • Ohio State 2
  • Oregon 12
  • Pace* 3
  • Pennsylvania 1
  • Penn State 2
  • Pitzer 1
  • Portland State 1
  • Portland* 8
  • Princeton* 2
  • Puget Sound* 23
  • Queens BC 1
  • Quest BC 2
  • Randolph Macon 1
  • Redlands* 1
  • Reed* 2
  • Regent's London 1
  • Regis 1
  • Richmond 1
  • Rochester 1
  • Rocky Mountain 2
  • RPI 1
  • Rutgers* 1
  • SCAD 2
  • Saint Lawrence* 14

*Class of 2018 Matriculation

  • St. John's 1
  • St. Mary's CA 2
  • St. Michael's 2
  • San Diego 1
  • Santa Clara 3
  • San Francisco 5
  • Seattle 4
  • Sewanee 2
  • Sierra Nevada 3
  • Skidmore 3
  • Smith* 1
  • Southern Methodist* 2
  • Suffolk 1
  • Syracuse 1
  • TCU* 3
  • Tufts 2
  • Tulane 2
  • Union 1
  • UC Berkeley 4
  • UC Davis 3
  • UC Irvine 3
  • UCLA* 5
  • UC San Diego 4
  • UC Santa Barbara 6
  • UC Santa Cruz 4
  • USC* 7
  • Utah 4
  • Utah State 1
  • Vassar 1
  • Vermont 20
  • Villanova 1
  • Virginia* 2
  • Wagner* 1
  • Wake Forest* 3
  • Washington 9
  • Washington State 1
  • Washington Univ. St. Louis 1
  • Wesleyan 1
  • Western Washington 9
  • Westminster UT 17
  • Whitman* 7
  • Willamette 10
  • Williams 2
  • 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, my college counselors 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

Chauncy Gardner, Co-Director of College Counseling


Chauncy Gardner joined Sun Valley Community School in 2004. She also serves as Senior Projects Coordinator, and coordinator of Community School’s Brazil Exchange. Prior to serving at Co-Director of College Counseling, Chauncy taught Upper School French and Upper School English.

Before joining the school's faculty, 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 Sun Valley 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.

Royce Mussman, Co-Director of College Counseling

Royce Mussman joined Sun Valley Community School in July 2018. Currently he serves as Co-Director of College Counseling with Chauncy Gardner.  

Prior to joining the Cutthroat faculty, Royce served as Associate Director of Admission at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Additionally, he was an Assistant Dean of Admission at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Royce has also served as a high school counselor/college counselor at two international schools in Asia - Taipei American School and Jakarta Intercultural School. Due to Royce’s significant international work he is familiar with many university admission processes outside of the US, including but not limited to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong.  

Royce holds a BA in Asian Studies from Bowdoin College and a MEd in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University. Royce is excited to move to Idaho and join his family - parents who live in the McCall area and a sister and three nephews who live in Boise. When not working you might find Royce traveling, reading, cooking, or pursuing photography. 

Contact Royce via email.

Information for College Representatives

Plan a Visit to Sun Valley Community School

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

Chauncy Gardner

Co-Director of College Counseling

Email Chauncy

Royce Mussman

Co-Director of College Counseling

Email Royce

School Profile