Each year, Fairmont graduates attain acceptance to some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher education. Last year, 97% of the Class of 2021 received offers from one or more of the “Top 100” Colleges, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. And based on the early admissions already extended to current Fairmont seniors, it’s clear that the Class of 2022 will be continuing this rich tradition! In fact, their outcomes are among some of the most impressive in school history.
As of January, Fairmont Preparatory Academy students have received Early Action and Early Decision offers from Harvard University, Stanford University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Pomona College, New York University, Boston University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Pace University, Loyola Marymount University, University of Missouri, University of Arizona, Chapman University, Linfield University, University of Denver, Portland State University, and Hult International Business School.
“While we aren’t surprised by our students’ amazing outcomes, we are nonetheless proud of their accomplishments,” said Mary Jane Miller, Fairmont’s Chief Operating Officer. “We applaud them, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, and counselors who have helped them reach their goals.”
What makes these successes even more impressive is the fact that Prep students achieved them after nearly two years of education during the pandemic. (Read how students across all five Fairmont campuses bucked the “COVID Slide” learning loss here.)
“My past four years at Fairmont have been nothing short of nurturing, challenging, and amazing. The teachers and resources here have not only allowed me to explore and expand my knowledge without limits, but they also encourage me to embody the “try” mindset, bringing the best out of myself. Specific to the college admissions process, Mr. Voss has definitely been amazing by reading all my essays, giving personalized feedback, and sometimes even pep talks! I’m honestly still extremely excited and shocked about being accepted to Harvard and I’m so excited to attend there next fall, where I will be studying bioengineering and economics!” Michelle C. ‘22
About Fairmont Academic and College Counseling
If you’re planning a roadtrip to an unfamiliar place, you’ll need the help of a map (or, more likely, GPS) to get you there. Hitting the road without good directions is stressful at best and treacherous at worst. At the same time, you want to be open to some unique opportunities along the way. Those “roadside attractions” can create some lasting memories.
The same can be said about the college admissions experience. To get where you want to go requires planning and guidance along the way. And the better the planning and guidance are, the less likely you are to make a wrong turn or hit an unexpected detour.
With a student to counselor ratio of just 76:1 (compared to the California average 760:1), Fairmont Schools’ academic and college counseling program provides each student with the individualized attention they need to succeed in finding their “best fit” college. Counselors work with students every step of the way, beginning in 8th grade when a rough four-year framework is developed.
Because the ultimate goal is to align students with schools where they can thrive, counselors place a high value on getting to know each student as an individual. They seek to understand their specific goals, aspirations, and individual pursuits – what are their interests? … what type of environment are they looking for? … what would their dream school look like? … would they like to study abroad?
“When I meet with a student, I’m really trying to get an understanding of who this person is and what makes them tick,” said Justin Voss, Director of College Counseling at Fairmont Preparatory Academy. “This process is very intentional and relational.”
One of the first things counselors cover when meeting with students is the Fairmont graduation requirements which meet and, in most cases, exceed course requirements for the University of California system. “The fact that our graduates will have completed coursework that is admissible for UC gives Fairmont students a leg up,” said Carolyn Lucia, Head of School at the Prep.
Because of the small counseling ratios, Fairmont counselors really get to know students, their families, and become an advocate for the student. “When I craft a letter of recommendation for a student, I not only use their transcript and some teacher remarks, I can pull from years of interactions with the student, both formal and informal,” explained Mr. Voss. It helps our letters touch on the growth of the student throughout high school and their potential for college and beyond. Those relationships then last beyond high school, as we keep in touch as the student goes through college and makes their next steps.”
In developing a four-year plan for their students, counselors provide the following support:
- Review four-year academic plan and assist students with their transition into high school.
- Hold regular one-on-one meetings with students to discuss academic progress and address any concerns, if applicable.
- Help students navigate the PSAT testing landscape and implement strategies for improvement.
- Create a well-balanced foundation consisting of academic, social, and emotional well being in preparation for college.
- Discuss academic plan and recommend course selection.
- Monitor academic progress and success.
- Review PSAT scores to look for trends and potential areas of improvement.
- Discuss general college admissions criteria and encourage students to start thinking about areas of interest and which colleges may be the best fit.
- Utilize personal interviews, academic history, extracurricular activities, and other information; begin to develop a balanced college list.
- Continue to meet with students to go over academic progress and address any concerns.
- Review PSAT scores to look for trends and potential areas of improvement in preparation for SAT/ACT testing.
- Assist students in applying for summer programs and internships.
- Review finalized college list.
- Work with students on their college applications, providing step-by-step support.
- Review essay topics and help students draft an engaging college essay.
- Conduct practice interviews as part of the application process.
- Guide students through the scholarship and financial aid process.
- Craft letters of recommendation for the students’ college applications.
- Help students understand their financial aid packages and final costs associated with each college acceptance.
In addition to helping students get to where they want to go, counselors fill a number of other important roles – they see themselves as advocates for students; they prioritize students’ overall wellness, constructing plans which provide rigor and a healthy life balance; they make themselves available to students – whether through their open door policy or by being out on campus during lunch and breaks.
At the end of the day, the counselor’s objective is to give each student some excellent colleges to choose from. “I tell my seniors, ‘I want your decision to be a tough one, because you’ve put in the work to get here’,” said Mr. Voss.