College Center

What sets us apart?

We believe the best search process is both empowering and rigorous. We begin by helping you to reflect substantively on your personal and academic journey, so that your applications will benefit from authentic self-knowledge. We also help you see through the noise created by bogus rankings and other sources of misinformation, so your college list grows from a fact-based understanding of your options, from “likelies” to “reaches.”

  • Picture regular one-on-one meetings with your counselor to sort through revisions to your college essays.
  • Imagine small group workshops facilitated by teachers and coaches you already know and whose advice you can trust.
  • Sign up for optional trips to popular regions like Southern California and the East Coast.
  • Meet with any one of almost 100 college representatives who visit our College Center over the year.
  • Participate in exclusive webinars for you and your parents/guardians with deans of admissions at top colleges and universities.
  • Look forward to earning a hard choice among a range of equally appealing options, informed by a clear-eyed sense of everything from programs and price to size, location, and campus culture.

Additional Programming

The College Center provides students and families with support in the following additional areas as they relate to the college search process:

  • Financial Aid
  • Athletics Recruitment
  • Standardized Test Preparation
  • Class meetings
  • Test Prep
  • College Tours
  • College visits (85+ annually)
  • One-on-one guidance

College Counseling Information

Stevenson College Counseling provides a full range of support for students and their parents in the college search, application, and transition process. Our goal is to facilitate college selection while focusing on “fit,” keeping the child and his or her needs central as they make this very important decision. 98% of our graduates attend four-year schools.

Finding the Match

We work carefully with each child throughout the college search process, helping each to better understand individual needs, passions and goals, and apply this knowledge as they research college/university options. We believe that there is no such thing as one “perfect” college and that a college does not have value simply because it has a “name” or is on a ranking list in a magazine. The goal is to take time to find the school that is right for the individual, remembering that there will be several schools that will help each child reach life goals. This process, when done well, is a process of self-discovery as much as it is about receiving a letter of admission.

Information by Grade

Ninth Grade is a time of transition. Each child will build on foundational knowledge and will begin to think and write critically, independently, and imaginatively. It is also a time for them to try new things by joining clubs, participating in sports, arts, and community service. Colleges look at the 9th grade record during their evaluations, trying to see if the student took on academic challenge and got off to a strong start, but note that these grades are not calculated into Stevenson’s cumulative GPA. Students will begin to satisfy the Stevenson graduation requirements, taking a program that includes English, History, Language, Math, and Science.

With the assistance of advisors and the college counseling team, students in tenth grade continue to challenge themselves in their four-year academic and extracurricular plan. Sophomores should continue with activities in order to deepen their commitments, taking the opportunity not only to participate but lead when possible, and to express their unique talents.

All sophomores will take the PSAT exam in October (scores available in November). This preliminary SAT exam exposes students to the content and style of the SAT Reasoning Test but is only for practice. Reviewing the scores can also be helpful to determine if further preparation or tutoring would be helpful for future testing. In winter, parents of sophomores are invited to a PSAT informational evening, to learn more about how to read results, the standardized testing calendar, and the college planning timeline.

In the spring semester, sophomore students are encouraged to consider assessments as found on or (both offering a Myers-Briggs Personality Test) to explore possible career matches for their unique skills and interests. This could lead to interesting explorations of summer programs, volunteer opportunities, or jobs that could provide further guidance later in the college search.

Stevenson juniors continue to take challenging yet appropriate courses, relying on their teachers, advisor, and the college counselors for proper placement. They should take the most rigorous courses in which they can do well, to be as prepared for specific college majors or level of admissions selectivity.

Juniors will have the option to participate in either or both of the College Center sponsored tours to visit colleges on the West and East Coasts. The tours provide time with their peers to observe and experience a variety of school types to which they might consider applying the following year.

In October, juniors will retake PSAT (results available in November). This PSAT result will be considered for National Merit Scholarship consideration. Juniors should also take advantage of practice SAT and ACT exams that are offered in the fall and spring, using these results to plan an exam preparation and testing schedule for their unique skills and college plans. Not all students need to take all exams as most colleges/universities are test optional (or even test blind). However, we recommend each student attempt at least one formal SAT or ACT to have on record in case a school of interest later requires a standardized test. Stevenson will offer the SAT to all juniors on campus in March.

Families are encouraged to attend the Fall College Informational Evening to begin the formal college search process. In December, juniors are invited to select preferences for a College Counselor, assigned in January. They can then begin attending the College Counseling Workshops in February to learn more about the college application process. Each student also begins individual and family meetings with their counselor, completes self-assessments, and receives the college handbook, which provides step-by-step guidelines for the process. By the end of the school year, juniors will have developed a resume, brainstormed a college essay, invited junior year teachers to write recommendation letters on their behalf, and formed an initial college list (with suggestions added by the counselor). Summer programs, volunteer opportunities, or jobs are encouraged. A series of 5 workshops are offered in July to help students begin to complete their Common Application and craft the college essay in greater depth.

By senior year, Stevenson students have completed most of their college research, visited many campuses, and have a college application list. Each student is taking the most rigorous course selection and many can potentially be seen as leaders within the school, very often as head or captain of chosen activities.

During the beginning weeks of school students meet again with their college counselor to finalize their college list and strategize their application (and any remaining testing plans). The SAT is offered to seniors on campus in October. Students should complete the Common Application and begin to finalize supplemental forms and additional essays, teacher recommendation letter list, and plot out important college deadlines in a planner or calendar. Families are invited to attend the College Counseling Informational Evening in the fall to review final details. Seniors should attend as many college information sessions as interest them throughout the fall (on average more than 80 colleges visit campus in person or virtually each year).

The College Center assists each student in assessing their strengths and interests, offers guidance for college and financial aid applications, helps each student to present themselves most effectively, and provides family support. For every application, the counselor will send supporting documents, including written recommendations, secondary school form, school profile and official academic transcript, usually electronically via SCOIR.

For More Information

Co-Director of College Counseling
Martha Allen,

Co-Director of College Counseling
Jon Burke,

College Counselors
Katie Bell,
Dr. Zeila Frade,
Brooke Higgins ‘92,
Dr. Karen Hiles,
David Schmittgens,

Interesting Facts

  • 98% of graduates attend four-year schools
  • On average, each senior applies to 11 colleges
  • 65–68% applied to colleges Early Action or Early Decision in recent years
  • Top 20 schools for applications (twenty or more applications each, past two years): Boston College, Boston U, Brown, UC Berkeley, Cal Ploly SLO, Carnegie Mellon U, Cornell, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount, U Michigan, NYU, Northeastern, Northwestern, Santa Clara, USC, Tufts, Washington U-St. Louis, U Washington
  • Top schools for enrollment, past 5 years: Santa Clara (28),Cal Poly SLO (24), NYU (24), BU (20), UC-Berkeley (18), Loyola Marymount U (18), U Colorado-Boulder (18), USC (18), UC-Santa Barbara (15), Northeastern (14), UC-Davis (14), UCLA (14), UC-Irvine (13), Emory (12), San Diego State (11), Boston College (10), Chapman (10), U Oregon (9), Northwestern (8), U Washington (8), AZ State (7), Cornell (7), Tufts (7), UC Santa Cruz (7), U Chicago (7)

College Profile