“Where do I want to be for the next four years?” “City or suburbs?” “Will I fit in?” “Will I be supported when I get there?” “What is campus life like?” “Will I even get accepted?”
When navigating the college search, students must do their research. In the search for the best fit, how you identify can be an important element to consider and explore. The Hun School’s College Counseling department understands all of the variables that go into the process and in turn, has created programming around these choices. The department, with diverse experiences and identities themselves, now offers a series of affinity group programs for LGBTQI+ students, students interested in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and students looking to attend women’s colleges. These virtual programs are open to all Hun students and each event will include a group of panelists from a variety of colleges and universities to offer reflections and answer questions.
Gregg Murray, associate director of college counseling, notes that while the school year is filled with a robust schedule of college counseling programs for students and parents, these sessions are for the students whose experiences and identities are unique and the panels will equip them with the information they need to make informed decisions about how those experiences may or may not influence their search.
“As a college counselor, I do not want students to just stumble into the right school,” Mr. Murray said. “I want them to deliberately walk into the place that they are meant to be. The intentionality behind these affinity group panels will provide students a chance to learn more about where they fit into the college search and help them get to their next home.”
The first panel was held on Thursday, February 11th and explored the college search for LGBTQI+ students. The webinar was co-hosted by the student leaders of the Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club, Daniel B. ’22 and Rosemary M. ’21. The panel also included Grey Simon ’20, Wesleyan University student, Mr. Matty Simon, assistant dean of admission at Emory University, Mr. Brian Wiora, admission counselor at the University of Richmond, and Dr. Vanessa Beasley, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of residential faculty at Vanderbilt University. Students' cameras were disabled for privacy and participants used the chat anonymously to ask questions.
GSA student leaders asked panelists questions such as “How do you leverage the resources available at your college or university?”, “How do you talk about your identity in an application?”, “Where do you look for financial support if you aren’t getting support at home?”, and “What do you do if you identity as transgender and none of the gender markers match who you are on the application?”.
Mr. Murray notes that it’s the little questions like those that come up throughout the application process that may cause students to worry. This panel was designed to let students know that there are places to turn for answers and support when needed.
“It is a huge learning curve for a highschool student to wrap their head around LGBTQI+ friendly regions in the country and then narrow down a few schools out of the 4,000 in the United States. Then, to learn about the programs within those schools, and on top of it all hope to get accepted to that school. So anything we can do to help students get one step closer to their home is the right thing for us to do as an office.”
The topic of the next panel will be Women’s Colleges hosted by Radha Mishra, director of college counseling, an alumnae of a women’s college herself. In late April, Davirah Timm-Dinkins, associate director of college counseling, will host the panel for HBCUs.