by Amanda Murrell, Ashley Hall Director of College Counseling

College Counseling at Ashley Hall is more than a student resource—it’s an area of significant emphasis woven into the school’s Upper School program. Beginning in 9th grade, students become active participants in the college search process and are offered unlimited one-on-one meetings and the chance to interact with many college representatives. As juniors, all girls meet regularly with Director of College Counseling Amanda Murrell, who works individually with each student on applications, essays, and scholarships and ensures the application process is not anxiety-filled. The result? Graduates who have a clear understanding of who they are and where they would like to attend school—and how to juggle the pressures of getting there.

“We miss having students sitting on the couch in our office and chatting. However, in terms of working individually with students, thanks to the wonders of technology, little has changed. My days are filled with Google Docs and Zoom meetings, but I can see the girls without masks when we meet, so that’s a plus for me! All our college visits also have been virtual this year, but we have been the beneficiary of some visits that we wouldn’t have had in the past because of travel limitations. We’ve had representatives from international schools schedule visits, as well as a greater number reaching out from schools in California. 

The greatest challenge for me is that many of our seniors have not been able to visit a lot of college campuses. Virtual tours and conversations with college representatives are useful, but our students are accustomed to being able to travel to see campuses in person. The silver lining is that the girls seem to be willing to look at schools that wouldn’t have been on their radar otherwise. They are attending virtual open houses and other online programming and learning about colleges that appeal for all of the right reasons, whether it is the mission of the school or academic opportunities.

The new building is a wonderful gathering place for everything student-related. Having Student Life and College Counseling under the same roof makes great sense because our worlds overlap so much. I look forward to having the café open and enjoying some time with our students in a relaxed, collegial atmosphere.”

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