Working with a College Advisor

Throughout the college search and application process, there are responsibilities and tasks that need to be completed by the student, the parent, and the advisor. Your college advisor is here to guide and support you, but you must also be diligent in managing your responsibilities throughout the process.

Applying to college is a process of discovery, of pondering who you are and who you want to become, and of contemplating what role you want to play in the larger world. The college search is, in essence, an extended research project, which will require students to look within themselves for many of the answers. Students will learn to identify and assess themselves, to set priorities, and to make major decisions. How a student navigates through this process is just as important as where they end up. Along the way students will develop and hone their organization, communication, and research skills.

Both college admissions offices and the College Advising Office at Deerfield assume that you are at the center of your own application process; here is a list of items for which we will hold you responsible.

  • Schedule regular, in-person meetings with your college advisor: every 3-4 weeks junior year and every 1-3 weeks senior fall.  During the summer before senior year, correspond with your advisor by email at least once a month. Check in as needed to share news and updates over the winter and spring of senior year.
  • Discuss with your parents the plan for financing your college education and how that might affect your college list.
  • Read all of the information you receive from the College Advising Office (usually via email); it will remind you of deadlines and inform you of college representatives coming to campus and opportunities for interviews. 
  • Log into Naviance regularly to read the information on the home page and to update your prospective college list as you research schools.
  • Complete all of your applications honestly and accurately. Your signature on the application is your pledge that the work you’re submitting is truthful and that it is your own. Submit your application yourself. In every aspect of the process, from your interactions with your peers to your conduct with college representatives, uphold the Academy’s standards of respect and integrity.
  • Keep your college advisor up to date with your plans and with the outcomes of your applications.

The College Admissions process can be a challenging one for parents because it may represent the first time that the student is expected, by college admissions offices and by the College Advising Office at Deerfield, to be the driving force behind his or her next steps. Parents must take a supportive, not central, role. Sometimes it’s difficult, but know that navigating the process is a crucial step on your child’s path to adulthood. 

Parents should offer encouragement and some logistical support, but your student should take the lead.  Here are some guidelines that may help:

  • Be open to new directions in your child’s life.
  • Encourage growth, independence, and authenticity.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Understand that your child’s application must be entirely her own and that students are responsible for submitting their own applications. Expect your child to uphold the Academy’s standards of honesty in all of their interactions with both college representatives, including coaches, and the College Advising Office.
  • Be honest with your child about your financial concerns. Develop a strategy together.
  • In the face of disappointment, model resilience and adaptability.
  • There are several specific ways in which you can be helpful:
    • Plan college visits and be a willing chauffeur. Make sure your visits include schools in all selectivity ranges. Use the list provided by your child’s college advisor as a guide.  Encourage them to visit colleges to which they are likely to be admitted and find positive things to say about those schools.
    • Provide the College Advising Office with insights about your child by filling out the Parent Questionnaire.
    • Research financial aid application requirements at each college and fill out all financial aid forms in a timely manner.
    • Communicate with your child’s college advisor to be sure everyone is on the same page.
    • Help your child reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as they develop a balanced college list and consider their essays.
    • Keep an open mind. Colleges have changed dramatically in the last two decades; avoid sharing dated perceptions you have of schools.
    • Support your child’s decisions.

The Deerfield College Advising staff has a depth and range of experience unmatched by many schools. We are here to guide and support you as you navigate the college admissions process. We believe that each student has his/her own journey through this process so almost all of our work with you will be individual. We expect students to initiate contact and to seek us out for advice and counsel. Our promise is to be responsive to both students and parents, as well as professional, realistic and well-informed.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Developing a balanced list of prospective colleges based on a student’s performance and stated preferences
  • Advocating for all Deerfield students in the college process
  • Serving as a resource for parents and students throughout the process
  • Estimating chances for admission based on student performance, knowledge of admission trends, past experience, and Naviance data
  • Writing an honest letter of recommendation for each student with an emphasis on strengths and growth
  • Providing appropriate support to students as they write essays and prepare their applications
  • Sending transcripts and recommendations to colleges in a timely fashion based on the list students provide in Naviance
  • Maintaining strong, authentic relationships with college admissions officers