The McCallie Approach
By Jeff Kurtzman, Director of College Guidance
1. We believe and practice the idea that students should find the college that fits them best and will give them the best experience and the best chance to be successful in college.
Though we do send plenty of students every year to the nation’s most selective universities, there is no pressure to produce an impressive list of colleges simply for its own sake. We are free to counsel students about the choice that best fits their needs and those of their families.
2. We have a student-driven process where the boys lead their own college searches with parents and counselors in a supporting role.
It is an extension of school culture and intentional effort on our part to require the boys to take the lead in this process. We structure our program this way both because it is most likely to lead to the best possible outcome, and also because there are so many valuable lessons- --writing a formal email, talking to another adult on the phone, etc---the boys can learn through the process, if parents and counselors let them.
3. Our college guidance program is personalized and reliant on individual counseling to provide the right kind and amount of guidance for each student.
We have a well-designed college guidance curriculum, but we don’t over-program our guys so we are available to accommodate their individual needs and timelines.
4. Our college guidance program serves a wide range of aspirations and wide range of financial needs.
Every year we help students be admitted to the most selective colleges in the country and universities all across the country. We have the experience and knowledge to help with the most daunting or the most obscure searches. At the same time, we serve well the many families that want their students to be admitted to local and regional public universities with great academic preparation and as much financial aid as possible.
5. Because of school culture and this broad range of aspirations, the college application process at McCallie is not stressful and not competitive among our boys.
Occasionally, boys do get stressed when they procrastinate, but generally there is not the frenzy that exists at many other schools. In fact, sometimes we wish they were a little more stressed---so they would get some things done! I think, in part, because they are applying to so many different kinds of colleges, boys are extremely supportive of each other’s admissions successes. They celebrate each other’s positive results, and there’s no sense of sour grapes. It’s quite heart-warming.
6. McCallie parents are overwhelmingly positive influences throughout the process.
They generally do a great job of letting their sons run their own searches. We have amazingly few negative interactions with parents in what is generally perceived to be a stressful experience for both parents and their sons.