Congratulations to the Class of 2018! Click here to see pictures from graduation, the awards ceremony, and events throughout the year.
By Fred Alvarez, OVS College Counselor
NYU. Occidental. Savannah College of Art and Design. Emerson College. California College of the Arts.
What do they all have in common?
We have sent a fair number of our graduates to these schools in recent years, and each has proven to be an excellent fit for our alums, who in so many ways are thriving as college students and carving their paths toward adulthood.
However, these schools have something else in common: each has faithfully sent a representative to speak to our Upper Campus students for many years. In fact, these five schools are among the nearly 20 colleges and universities that have already visited the Upper Campus this year.
The importance of these college visits can’t be overstated.
While the colleges and universities who send representatives to our campus clearly have an agenda – they obviously want to “sell” their schools by putting them in the best possible light – they also bring with them valuable information to impart to our seniors and juniors as they formulate their college choices.
Often, that information is about academics, and the myriad programs and educational pursuits available to students.
Did you know Occidental offers a joint engineering degree with Caltech and Columbia University? Study at Occidental for three years and one of the other schools for two years, and come away with two degrees!
Or that Whittier College has launched a new Science & Learning Center, showcasing its growing emphasis on STEAM and STEM projects.
Or that Bard College offers a joint degree program with Duke University where students can earn a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in forestry and environmental management in just five years.
But often the most pertinent information college reps provide has nothing to do with the classroom. College reps speak to the nuances of dorm life, the possibilities of internships and the headache of navigating the financial aid process.
They at all times are talking about the kind of students who thrive at their campuses, and those who don’t, and all the time helping our students figure out the most important question when it comes to college choice: what campus provides the best fit.
That point was driven home earlier this month at a crowded meeting with NYU representative Maggie Lucas, a senior associate director with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. With more than a dozen OVS students hanging on her every word, she talked test scores and GPA averages, application deadlines and Advanced Placement credit. But she also talked fit, and about how the students who apply to NYU do so because they connect with the university in fundamental ways.
“Our students are doers, they’re go getters,” Lucas told the OVS students. “And that’s why they’re at a place like NYU.”
So far, NYU has been the biggest draw.
By comparison, only one student showed up to listen to the representative from Montana’s Carroll College talk about its heralded anthrozoology program, in which students work with horses and dogs to develop the knowledge and skills to improve lives through animal-assisted therapy, veterinary medicine and other non-service occupations.
And only a couple of students showed up to listen to the Occidental College representative talk about that school’s one-of-kind Campaign Semester, in which students take a school term to work on a political campaign of their choice, or its Oxy at the UN program, in which students head to New York City to intern at a United Nations-related agency.
But it doesn’t matter if one student shows up for these college visits or 101. The idea is to expose our students to breadth of college opportunities that await OVS graduates after they cross our graduation stage.
When it’s all said and done, more than 50 colleges and universities will visit Ojai Valley School this year. And we will add to that number this spring by attending the Tri-County National College Fair at Seaside Park in Ventura, and when we visit schools either during the winter break or spring break on our school-sponsored college tour.
From a college counseling standpoint, there’s tremendous value in each one of those contacts: each one helps our small world On The Hill grow just a little bit larger.
By Fred Alvarez — College Counselor
Miles Munding-Becker (U12) is a good friend of mine.
But before he was that, the University of Redlands graduate was one of my best and brightest Humanities and World History students, and a standout athlete on my track and cross country teams.
And before he was that, he was a talented, albeit highly mischievous student at the Lower Campus, where he started as a Tater Tot and graduated eighth grade in 2008.
And now look at him.
Miles graduated from Redlands a week ago with a degree in environmental science, and a minor in spatial studies.
As part of his college experience, he studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany, took part in a month-long exploration of Peru, and served as a trip leader in the university’s outdoor program, tapping skills he learned at Ojai Valley School to guide his college classmates on adventures to Joshua Tree and Yosemite.
He practiced the science of ecological conservation, resource management and biological diversity, and now, in so many ways, he’s ready to put his knowledge and skills to use in the larger world.
He is also in so many ways the poster child for the college counseling team’s primary mission – finding the right fit for our students.
As spring of his senior year in high school approached, Miles had offers of admission from a half dozen colleges and universities, and he chose Redlands in large part because of the financial aid package offered by the university.
But he also chose Redlands because for him it was the best fit, offering an impressive blend of academics in his chosen field of study and a good number of co-curricular activities that allowed him to apply his classroom learning to his areas of academic interest.
I was reminded of our mission a while back as various publications began to release their annual rankings of “best colleges.”
There are now dozens of such reports – by players including Forbes, the New York Times and US News and World Report –ranking everything from top public schools to best liberal arts colleges to top value schools, which include in their calculations how much money their graduates go on to earn.
There’s a list of the Top Schools that mint the most billionaire alumni. There’s another for Best Campus Food and another for Best Campus Dorms.
For whatever information such lists impart, and however much consternation those rankings might stir, the one thing they can never tell students is how well they might fit into the landscape of any campus they are considering.
I was also reminded of our mission during spring break when I, along with two other teachers, led 15 OVS students on a whirlwind tour of a dozen East Coast colleges and universities. Those visits included such academic titans as Harvard, Yale and Columbia University, but we also spent time at lesser-known schools such as Wesleyan University and UMass Lowell.
And all the time we talked fit. We asked students whether they could “see” themselves at these campuses, and what about those schools appealed to them or turned them off. In other words, we asked students whether they saw these campuses as good fits for their style of learning, their academic and social interests, and a myriad of personal considerations such as size, location and financial aid offerings.
Of course, I was also reminded of fit as National College Decision Day approached. May 1 marks the day that students across the country will make final choices about the schools they plan to attend next year, decisions that bring to a head the months-long, angst-ridden process of filling out applications, writing essays and culling college lists.
For the current crop of OVS seniors, these last few months have been all about finding the right fit. But just how do you measure fit?
A 2014 study by Purdue University and the Lumina Foundation, in conjunction with Gallup, arrived at the “Big Six” experiences that students should seek from any college or university they attend. Those experiences are:
• A professor who makes them excited about learning.
• A professor who cares about them as a person.
• A mentor who encourages them to pursue their goals and dreams.
• Opportunities to work on a long-term project.
• A job or internship where they can apply what they learn in the classroom.
• Opportunities to be extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations.
When talking fit, this isn’t a bad place to start. And if you talk to Miles, you’ll find he was able to check off every one of those criterion during his four years at the University of Redlands.
“I loved Redlands because it gave me so many opportunities,” Miles said. “It introduced me to incredible people and allowed me to have amazing experiences I don’t think I would have had at any of the other colleges I applied to.”
All of our students should be so lucky. And that’s our mission at the college counseling office.
College counselor Fred Alvarez has taught history and journalism at the Upper Campus for the past decade. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Fifteen OVS students and three faculty member used Spring Break to tour a dozen colleges and universities from Boston to New York. Our students explored campuses including such academic titans as Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Brown, but they also toured a number of smaller colleges and universities including Northeastern University in Boston and Wesleyan University in Connectticut. Several tours were led by OVS alums who are studying on the East Coast and were able to give our students first-hand accounts of their college experiences.
Nearly 50 OVS sophomores and juniors participated Wednesday in a long-standing Upper Campus tradition — the Ventura/Tri-County National College Fair. This year’s fair was held at Camarillo Airport and featured representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities worldwide, ranging from American University in Washington D.C. to York University in Toronto, Canada. With a May 1 decision looming for our current crop of OVS seniors to make final decisions about the schools they will attend next year, these fairs provide our underclassmen an excellent one-stop shop opportunity to learn more the diverse number of colleges and universities available to them and to ask individual questions about their own academic, financial and social interests.
As the new school year begins, OVS seniors are off to the races, and the finish line is college acceptances. But for Gavin Floyd, an OVS student of seven years, college acceptances began rolling in before his senior year even started.
It all started during the spring break of Gavin’s junior year, when he and his father, Assistant Head of School Craig Floyd, visited a few colleges in the south.
While visiting the University of Alabama, Gavin was informed he could apply in July and receive a decision in September. This was also true for many other state universities, as Gavin applied early to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Coastal Carolina University, and the University of Missouri.
On August 20, weeks before his senior even started, Gavin was accepted to the University of Missouri. And, on September 8, Gavin was admitted to the University of Alabama, his #1 choice.
“I’ve been on campus here for so long, and I’ve seen how fun senior year can be,” said Gavin, who has completed the college application process and just this week learned that he gained entry into Coastal Carolina University. “I wanted to get into college before I even started my senior year so I can enjoy my last year of high school.”
OVS College Counselor Judy Oberlander thinks applying to a few colleges early is a great idea, as many of the applications don’t require essays or letters of recommendations, and getting into a college so early on relieves some of the stress senior year tends to pile on.
“This is a really cool thing that students can do, that a lot of students don’t realize they can do” Oberlander said.
While Gavin may done with the application process, the 24 other OVS seniors certainly are not. In fact, they’re just starting.
While OVS has been preparing students for college since freshman year, that does not stop senior year from being nerve wracking. The current seniors have gone to countless college counseling sessions, college fairs, and taken their fair share of AP classes, and senior year is when all of their hard work for the past four years comes to fruition.
Currently the seniors are working on finalizing their college lists and are preparing for the upcoming SAT test, held on October 1, and can begin sending out applications in November.
Jeffrey Lin is currently one of these preparing seniors.
While Jeffrey believes the college admission process is overly complicated and too uniformed, he’s excited for the future, and focused on keeping his head down and working hard.
“We have to embrace it and tackle it to the best of our ability,” he said. “I’m scared about all of the pressure I have to handle, but at the same time I’m excited to finish the application process and get on to college, because ultimately that’s what we’re all doing this for.”
May 4 — Our college bound seniors proudly wore their college sweatshirts and t-shirts last week during College Swag Day, a fun new tradition at the Upper Campus that celebrates the May 1 national reply date when most colleges require a commitment from the students they’ve accepted. Brown, Columbia, Northeastern, NYU, Pitzer College, King’s College London, St. Andrews University in Scotland, California College of the Arts, Chapman University, Whittier College, Boston University, Colorado State, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are among the diverse schools our seniors have chosen to attend.
We are exceptionally proud of their accomplishments, as well as their hard work in preparing their college applications. It’s an impressive list of schools, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to big Ivy League universities. But more importantly it is a list that reflects the interests, talents, and diversity of this soon-to-be graduating class. We encourage students to seek out that “right fit” school when applying to college, and to consider what best suits them in terms of school size, geography, programs and campus community. Our seniors have spent a year working alongside College Counselor Laura Boismenue in pursuit of finding the right fit, and we are confident most have found it for the coming years. Check out her College Blog for more details on OVS College Counseling.
But while the decisions have been made, there is still much work ahead for our seniors, juniors and sophomores who tackle Advanced Placement tests between May 5-15. Starting this week, 51 students at the Upper Campus will take 154 AP exams in 15 subject areas. The AP exams are administered over a two-week period and represent the culmination of college-level work in a given discipline in a secondary school setting. Students who perform well can receive course credit or advanced standing at thousands of universities worldwide. We wish our students success on these exams and ask parents, staff, and students to be thoughtful and supportive of the test-takers during this challenging time.
Subject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas where you excel. These are the only national admission tests where you choose the tests that best showcase your achievements and interests.SAT Subject Tests allow you to differentiate yourself in the college admission process or send a strong message regarding your readiness to study specific majors or programs in college. In conjunction with your other admission credentials (your high school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendations, etc.), they provide a more complete picture of your academic background and interests.Some colleges also use Subject Tests to place students into the appropriate courses. Based on your performance on the test(s), you could potentially fulfill basic requirements or receive credit for introductory-level courses.There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and science.
After attending the National College Fair at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on April 24 our Juniors have been continuing to compile their prospective “Colleges I’m Thinking About” lists on Naviance. I’m proud of the ways that each OVS attendee (our Junior class and ambitious Freshmen and Sophomores) made good use of the fair to learn about new colleges and gather information from admission representatives.
As I counsel students in compiling their prospective colleges list I expect to see three types of schools represented:
Reach Schools: “dream” schools that may be a bit out of reach, but worth one’s best effort
Target Schools: schools whose academic profiles match well with your own
Safety Schools: schools where you are very likely to be admitted and may serve as a suitable back up
Research your many college options using some of the sites and references on our College Planning Resources page. Find out about upcoming national college fairs (hosted by an organization called NACAC) here.
As always, come by Room 3 or schedule an appointment for individualized help in researching schools to fit into each of the Reach, Target, and Safety categories.
May 1, the National Reply Date, is the day that most colleges and universities require a commitment from admitted students (unless they have provided an alternate deadline to accept their admission offer). This means that you may have 10 days from now to commit to the school you’ll attend. Don’t miss submitting your Enrollment Deposit to your top school by this date! (Schools have the right to rescind your admission decision if you do not commit by their stated deadline.)
With as few as 10 days until May 1, you should double check that your colleges have all of the Financial Aid documents needed from you. For most students making a final decision on a school includes having definitive information on what it is going to cost each year. If your Financial Aid application materials are incomplete it will delay your receipt of your Fin Aid award. Regardless of when you receive your Fin Aid award- whether it’s March 25or April 28- many colleges will hold you to the May 1 deadline to make a commitment to their school.
For those of you in possession of college acceptances and complete Financial Aid awards, congratulations! Your days of applications and sending documents are (mostly) over. Now you’re in for the hard task of making that final college decision. As words from the wise tell us, before making that big commitment, be sure you’ve read through your admission and Fin Aid offers carefully so you’re confident about what you’re signing up for. Here is some great advice on considering your different Fin Aid awards and the scholarships, grants, and loans they may include.
Lastly, HOORAY!! Remember when you were just starting your college applications? You’ve done a great job and here you are on the other side of that hard work. Well done!