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.