College Guidance: 5 Best Tips & Practices

College guidance counselors at Sewickley Academy provide tips and best practices for the college admission process.

The college admission process is an exciting time in a student's life, and we offer the following tips to keep things in perspective:

I. View the college process as manageable and enjoyable. It’s truly a simple, three-step process:


  1. Guided self-reflection
  2. College research
  3. College application and selection process

PCIS (Pittsburgh Consortium of Independent Schools) students have the advantage of being able to work closely with their counselors, as most schools have a student to counselor ratio of 40:1. The national average is closer to 400:1.  If the three steps above are done well, students will have a manageable list of colleges to consider. (The average number of colleges a Sewickley Academy student applies to is six).

II. Don’t get caught up in the hype.


Students do NOT need to begin the college search process in Grade 9.  In fact, they would be much better served to focus that energy on doing well in classes and getting involved in their school and in their community.

III. Establish open and honest communication with everybody involved in the student’s college search process:  parents, student, counselors, teachers, and colleges.


Parents should let students know early of any parameters (distance from home, cost, etc.) before students start to make their wish list.

IV. Read.


Put down the video games, and pick up a book ... and not an SAT prep book or college guidebook! For every hour spent in front of a screen, spend another hour with a book. This will help you more than any SAT prep class!

V. Be cautious of:


  1. What you read about colleges. There is a wide variety of college guidebooks available, and people write books to make money. Before purchasing any of these or putting too much stock in what they say, investigate the author. Does he/she have a background in college admission? How do they get their information? Based on fact or opinion?
  2. People who want to make a quick buck. A cottage industry of consultants and SAT prep has been born in recent years. Some are more qualified and more professional than others. Some have never worked in college admissions. Do your research before spending your money.


About The Authors: Jennifer FitzPatrick is the Director of College Guidance and Trevor Rusert is the Associate Director of College Guidance at Sewickley Academy. This blog post originally appeared on the Sewickley Academy blog.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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