February 10, 2018


As we undertake the beginning of the college admission process with juniors and await more great news of our seniors' acceptances, the opportunity to share some of our favorite recent articles presents itself. In this issue of News and Views, you will note that our customary to-do lists and notices of scholarship and summer enrichment opportunities are leavened with a generous helping of articles that offer the inside "scoop" on the world of college admission. Though we advise that all be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, we are confident that you, like us, will appreciate being able to have your finger on the pulse of the admissions field.

Reminders for Juniors

If you are planning to visit colleges over the winter break and want to tour campuses, go to each college's website, click on "Admissions," and you will find all the information you need to set up a tour, attend an information session, and otherwise maximize these opportunities to demonstrate interest in schools.

If you have not met with Ms. Van Wagenen for the first time, please come in to make an appointment. She would like to meet with all juniors at least once before winter break.


Santa Catalina will provide transportation to Seaside High School for the March 10 SAT and to Hartnell College for the April 14 ACT. Please sign up on the clipboards in the college counseling office so that we can get an accurate headcount as soon as possible.

QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program

QuestBridge's extraordinary College Prep Scholars Program gives high-achieving, low-income high school juniors an early advantage in applying to top-tier colleges. Competitive candidates will have primarily A's in the most challenging courses available at their high schools, demonstrate strength in character, come from households earning less than $65,000 annually (for a typical family of four), and will often be part of the first generation in their family to attend college. For more information and to begin the application process, see the program's website.

Monterey Recreation Summer Jobs

Monterey Recreation is hiring for the summer. Our students who have worked for them in the past have rated the experience very highly, and we can attest that these summer jobs--like all paid employment--reliably provide excellent material for college application essays. Specifically, Monterey Recreation is looking for people who enjoy being around lots of children, enjoy playing games, like being outdoors, are flexible and adaptable, and have a great attitude. The application deadline is March 16. You can access their brochure here.

Insurance Professionals of Monterey Bay Scholarship

Our local chapter of the International Association of Insurance Professionals is striving to promote one of their primary objectives, education, with a $1000 scholarship that will be awarded to a student from the counties of Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, or Santa Clara. Any student may apply, regardless of her intended field of study. The requirements are simply a completed application, a minimum GPA of 2.75, and an essay of no more than two pages double-spaced.

Recommended Books

We realize that the market is awash in guides to navigating all the various aspects of the college admission process. From forming the college list, to choosing majors, to identifying scholarship programs, and so on, you are likely to feel that a veritable Times Square of titles clamors for your attention. To make it easier for you to sift them and enable you to use your precious time economically, we will begin alerting you to the essentials in News and Views.


At the top of our list of recommended titles is the Fiske Guide to Colleges. While there are many "best of" college books out there, the Fiske Guide is the gold standard of college guides, and it is a staple in every high school college counseling office for its accuracy and straightforward approach. It is also updated annually, so you can be sure that the information it provides is current.

Inside the Holistic Admissions Process

The Washington Post recently took a closer look at the application review process at the University of Maryland, offering parents and students a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the admission world and giving admission professionals a chance to share what it takes to make these tough decisions. The university considers 26 factors in its holistic review process, including grades, standardized test scores, community involvement, gender, race, and ethnicity. While their website says the factors are "flexibly applied," the Post reported that the university focuses most on "course rigor, student performance, academic GPA, and test scores," which suggests that academics remain the top factor in college admission decisions. For the full story, see here.

Are Admissions Gatekeepers Diverse Enough?

Inside Higher Ed reports that amid frequent discussion about the benefits of a diverse student body in higher education, there are questions surrounding whether college admission departments are themselves sufficiently diverse. The piece cites a Pacific Standard article noting that "many people and groups have criticized the way selective colleges admit and reject applicants." Meanwhile, the piece reminds us that NACAC released a study in 2014 which "found that women, black, and Latino admissions professionals see their representation in the field decline as positions become senior. . . . The NACAC report urged colleges to work harder to recruit more diverse admissions staff members--at all levels of admissions, not just the entry level." For the full story, see here.

A Demographic Cliff for College Admission?

As Inside Higher Ed  explains, "everyone in admissions knows that certain groups of students--those who graduate from good high schools and have parents able to pay a significant share or all of their tuition and other college expenses--are shrinking in number. And the situation is more severe in the Northeast and Midwest, where populations are shrinking, than in other parts of the country." Needless to say, this has led colleges to develop new strategies for attracting students, many of whom have a profile that places them well outside the schools' historic applicant pools. Where is it all going? Could it be too little, too late? For a deeper dive into the demographic challenges colleges are facing, see here.

Confessions of a College Admissions Officer

A caveat: This recent essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education may seem intent on engendering guilt in independent school students and their parents. Author Jason England lays some emphasis on the early advantages in life that attending schools like Catalina can often reflect, and on the additional advantages that the experience generally confers. Particularly in reading his characterization of elite college admission as "at root a story of class warfare," you may find him lacking in charity. Still, he presents an engaging analysis of how all the factors in admission decisions interact, and he offers at least some affirmation for communities like ours in conceding, "Private schools create applicants who are difficult to reject."

Study: Perfectionism Rising Among College Students

From NACAC's "Admitted" blog comes this report on a recently completed study that suggests perfectionism is at an all-time high among college students. While we in the Catalina community are unanimous is embracing the pursuit of excellence, this article reminds us of the importance for each student of avoiding unreasonable comparisons to her peers and pursuing goals that are appropriate to her own genuine strengths.


Santa Catalina School

1500 Mark Thomas Drive, Monterey, CA 93940