The growth and independence of each Rivers student culminates in the college search, under the guidance of our experienced college counseling staff. Rivers’ long-standing philosophy of matching the right student with the right college is based upon a deep, detailed understanding of each student.
Because the counselors interact with students on many levels throughout their Upper School career, they enter the process with a unique respect for students’ strengths. This knowledge, coupled with feedback from our Family Meetings, becomes the foundation for highly individualized, student-centered advising.
Rivers’ counselors maintain close ties with college admissions officers around the country by frequently visiting campuses and welcoming a lengthy roster of college visitors for students to meet. Providing students with the opportunity to learn about colleges and begin to form connections is an important part of the search process.
Workshops and Meetings
The individualized advising of our private family meetings is supplemented by various workshops that address the broader issues concerning the college process. Workshops and meetings include:
Introductory Meetings In the winter of freshman year, counselors host brief, introductory workshops for students and parents. These meetings are designed to help families look ahead in order to get the most out of their Rivers education and encourage students to cultivate and pursue passions.
Primary Student and Parent Workshop The college process begins in earnest junior year with our primary student and parent workshops. These winter programs introduce our office’s philosophy of matching the right student with the right college while disarming myths about selective college admission. The workshops also outline the process timeline, preview our organizational software, and highlight our individualized Family Meetings.
Fireside Chats Each spring the college counseling office hosts its “Fireside Chats.” In these casual, small group discussions junior families bounce questions off a panel of current Rivers seniors and an invited college admissions dean or director. The no-agenda approach puts juniors and their parents in the driver’s seat and ensures they get their questions addressed.
Athletics in the College Process Workshop Athletics talent in the college process can be a blessing and a burden. Hosted by college and high school coaches, this workshop addresses the ins and outs of NCAA recruiting regulations, how to maximize exposure to colleges, and athletic admission guidelines at athletic conferences across the country.
Interviewing and College Visit Workshop Visiting colleges and interviewing at appropriate institutions is essential to a successful college search. This workshop gets students ready for the busy summer visit season with tips and pointers from an invited admission dean.
Specific, individualized advising is paramount to a successful college search. At Rivers, the college process is personalized for every student through our private family conferences. After reviewing a plethora of information specific to each student including responses to self-evaluations and comments from teachers, counselors meet with families to discuss educational, professional and personal goals. In these meetings student choose classes for senior year, map out college visits and plan for standardized tests. Families are invited to meet again with counselors in the beginning of senior year to make final arrangements for the application process.
Senior College Retreat Seniors join the college office in the days before the school year to kick the college process into high gear. The meeting is designed to sort out the many details of the application process and prepare students for the important decisions they will make in the months ahead.
Essay Workshop Hosted by a former Rivers parent and one of the country’s foremost authors on the topic of admission essays, this program walks parents and students through the process of producing an effective college essay. Brainstorming topics and efficient use of language are among the many ideas discussed.
Informally, it begins in ninth grade, since that's when colleges start looking at grades on transcripts and at activities in which students might have been involved. But freshmen and sophomores really do — and should do — nothing in terms of the college search. Junior year is soon enough for that, when searching will come hard and often. The main job for students in ninth and tenth grade is to build the best academic and extracurricular record they can, pursuing passions.
Our sophomores and juniors take the PSATs in the fall. Juniors are then encouraged to take the SAT Reasoning Test once or twice, as well as one to three SAT Subject Tests by the end of the academic year. Most seniors will take one more SAT Reasoning Test in the fall, and perhaps one or two more SAT Subject Tests tests, as well. A number of students also take the ACT test in junior spring or senior fall. Advice on all testing is given individually.
Certainly one should prepare for standardized tests. The real question is the form of that preparation — on one's own, one-on-one tutoring, small class settings, some of which are competitive and some not. Whom? The standard — and honest — response is this: We have heard everything from praise to damnation about every test prep person and company. It really is an individual decision, based upon who you are as a student — not unlike choosing a college!
This topic is hot nationally. In short, we support and encourage use of these programs if it makes sense for that particular student. For years, Rivers students have made prudent use of these plans, to their advantage.
Juniors begin the search process in the winter in small-group workshops. The key component of these workshops revolves around self-assessment. Aided and encouraged by Rivers' college counselors, students look inward and outward. Students develop their own lists, and the college counselors do the same for the student based upon a review of students’ self-assessments and their credentials.
Unlike many of our sister schools across the country, Rivers sends its students to a variety of colleges, reflecting the varied talents, interests and backgrounds of our students. As a result, our name is "out there" more than that of many schools; so our reputation precedes us. That only helps our students when they apply. Our students do well once they get to college, so that helps, too.
Rivers families seeking financial support for college are encouraged to attend the Boston Independent School College Counseling Association financial aid workshop. Featuring instruction and advice from college financial aid directors, this event is the perfect supplement to the detailed, individual financial discussion in our family meetings.
As Director of College Counseling, Dave is responsible for all facets of college counseling office, including counseling students and parents in the college search process, course selection for seniors, and working with faculty, staff, administration, and trustees. Dave also serves as the school's liaison to the NCAA eligibility center. He is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and well as to executive groups on topics such as developing strategies for their children’s college process, tackling the common application, and athletic recruiting. As a Rivers graduate, he was inspired by his experience here to pursue a career in education, and is thrilled to be back working with many of those same people. A graduate of Hamilton College, he previously served there as Assistant Dean of Admissions.
Diane is the College Counseling Office Coordinator and has been at Rivers since 1999. She was the recipient of Rivers' Bergen-Decker Award in 2010. Diane graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a B.F.A.
Dana Warshauer comes to the College Counseling Office from the University of Miami, in Coral Gables, FL, where she spent six years first as an Assistant and, later, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission, following a brief stint as Director of Parent Relations. Dana chaired and ran Miami’s college counselor conference, where she worked closely with college counselors from the nation’s high schools, has been a presenter at the annual national conference of college admissions officers, and has presented annually to high school panels on case studies in college admissions. Dana was also the liaison in Miami’s admission office to their athletic program. Prior to her work at Miami, Dana worked as a program coordinator for Suffolk University Law School’s Office of Graduate and International Programs, and for the Cohen Foundation as International Coordinator and Counselor for the Israeli Leadership Council. Dana has a BA in international relations from University of Miami.
Ian Watson joins the College Counseling Office, bringing an outstanding record of counseling in a variety of settings. Most recently he was Director of College Counseling for Campus Bound, leading a team of 30 counselors in New England and California in their work with students and families in the application process. Prior to joining Campus Bound, Ian served as Associate Director of College Counseling at Crystal Springs Uplands School, a highly competitive Bay Area independent school in Hillsborough, CA, and, prior to that, as a college counselor at Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, in St. Louis, MO. Ian has also served “on the other side of the desk” as a Senior Assistant Director of Admission at Wheaton College, where he also coached the tennis team. Ian is currently a member of the Common Application’s counselor advisory board. He has a MA in English and creative writing from University of Boulder, and a BA in English literature from the University of Colorado.