Planning for high school is full of exciting opportunities and significant decisions. Saint Mark's mission, to discover and nurture what is finest in each child, guides the process through which our students graduate and move on to their next steps. The high school admissions counselor works closely with families and students to help make the "best fit" for each graduate from the many excellent high school options. Collaborative engagement by each student and family will help facilitate detailed learning and thoughtful decision-making.
At the same time, the high school process can create anxiety for families and students. Past experience has indicated that Saint Mark's graduates are very well prepared, academically and developmentally, for their next steps and are happy with the high schools they attend. It is our belief that there is an excellent school for every child, be it public, independent, or parochial. Below are some "pearls of wisdom" that have helped many families keep things in perspective:
Exploring and learning can be a very exciting process. Each high school has wonderful and amazing features that excite the imagination, and each high school is also unique. Visiting the school, driving by, calling parent mentors or alumni, attending open houses, going to an athletic event or concert, and surfing through the Web sites all contribute to a deeper understanding of what each school has to offer.
Cultivate an open mind. Keeping options alive and continuing to learn will help create a positive path from initial explorations to final decisions.
Stay in the driver's seat. Try to realize that you are choosing (family and student) rather than "being chosen." High school admissions is not a test of your success or failure. You are much more than the high school you attend.
Take the opportunity to discuss deeper "values" with your child. This will help illuminate important aspects of the decision. Does the size of the school matter? How about location? Are there certain sports, artistic opportunities, academic emphases, use of technology, teaching practices, or clubs that are of particular importance to your family?
Avoid making the decision based on hearsay or stereotypes. Use the parent mentor list to call parents and ask your questions directly. They are eager to share their experience and support Saint Mark's families in any way.
Help your child make a decision based on knowledge and reflection. Help your student avoid being swayed by groups, a school's reputation, or the choice of a close friend. Focus on helping your child envision herself attending several different schools and maximizing the available opportunities for connection and growth.
When I was choosing where to go to college, I told my parents, "I am worried that if I choose the 'wrong door,' I'll be unhappy and regret my decision." My dad replied, "Think of it this way: Whichever door you open, you will shortly see a whole new set of very interesting doors." He was right. Long after college, I am still opening doors and walking through to more.
High School Placement Counselor