College Counseling

The College Counseling team plays a crucial role in each student's journey Toward Full Stature and in fulfilling VES' commitment to families as shared in the Portrait of a VES Graduate, as we assist students in determining their ideal next step for continued learning and personal growth. You will find that we support, nurture, educate and provide the necessary tools to help students and parents successfully navigate the increasingly complex college admissions process.

The VES Difference

A Four-Year Approach. Unlike most schools, VES views college counseling as a four-year process. Here, even our youngest students are engaged in relevant topics in the realm of college admissions. The knowledge they gain helps them make academic and extracurricular decisions that keep doors open as they grow and discover their best options beyond our campus.

Expert Help from Start to Finish. Our experienced, knowledgeable college counselors:
  • Are in a great position to help students recognize their individual talents, interests and challenges, and guide them to schools that best fit their needs. How? Because we know each student really well thanks to our intentionally small school size.
  • Strive to be accessible to students—and parents—all throughout their VES experience, not just in their junior and senior years.
  • Invest significant time on students’ admissions essays and all aspects of their applications and celebrate the conclusion of the process when they hit the “submit” button on their applications.
  • Demystify the college admissions process and strive to minimize our students’ stress by providing them with both relevant information and excellent support.
  • Engage VES faculty, who write compelling letters of recommendation thanks to their strong connection with each student.
  • Support our students as they choose the school that best fits their needs when the admissions decisions arrive.
  • And, help prepare students for success as they transition to college through VES' top-notch Student Life curriculum.

List of 4 items.

  • Freshman Year: Finding Your Niche and Carving it Out

    Ninth grade marks a significant transition for students. While we are cautious about adding thoughts about college into the mix at this stage of their high school career, many of our students have early thoughts set on highly selective colleges. We believe it is important that they understand the expectations they will need to meet to be competitive at those schools and others.
    Our focus is on 1) providing basic information about what colleges will be looking for when they apply in three years, and 2) helping students to recognize and capitalize on their own unique strengths early in their high school career.
    Topics Addressed by the College Counseling Office in 9th Grade
    • (Early in the year) The high school transcript (every year matters!)
    • The importance of building teacher relationships
    • Question and answer sessions to address topics of interest to the class
    • 9th Grade Parents Coffee (spring), live-streamed/recorded for parents who can’t attend
    Topics Addressed Through 9th Grade Student Life Meetings
    • Learning Style Inventory—results shared with advisors and students’ teachers
    • Goal-setting and Time Management—discussions and activities throughout the year
    • Engaging in Your Interests and Getting Involved
    Topics Addressed in Advisory Groups
    • Goal-setting (throughout the year)
    • Time management (throughout the year)
    • Follow-up with learning style inventory/engaging your interests
    • Choosing classes wisely (students select their classes for the following year with their advisor)
  • Sophomore Year: Building Relationships

    In tenth grade, we help students focus on better understanding themselves as they reach out and work with others, be teammates, classmates or teachers. Further, as students better understand their own unique talents and interests, we can help them connect with professionals throughout the community and our alumni base, who can provide opportunities for students to explore their talents.
    Topics Addressed by the College Counseling Office in 10th Grade
    • College goals and building relationships with teachers
    • Discuss/share mock teacher recommendations with full class
    • Explain/provide prep materials for the PSAT (Oct) and practice ACT (March or April)
    • Return/discuss PSAT and practice ACT scores
    • Meet with full class to revisit the VES transcript before selecting junior-year classes
    • Set up Naviance accounts in the spring, before selecting classes
    • 10th Grade Parents Coffee (spring), live-streamed/recorded for parents who can’t attend
    Topics Addressed in Class Meetings
    • Personal Values and Building Relationships with Teachers
    • “Do What You Are” Survey (on Naviance) and Discussion
    Topics Addressed in Advisory Groups
    • Goal-setting
    • Time management
    • Follow-up with “Do What You Are” survey and Values conversation
    • Choosing classes wisely in the spring
  • Junior Year: Charting the Course

    Eleventh grade tends to be a busy year, and college counseling activities are carefully planned throughout this grade. After juniors return from the winter holiday, they begin weekly “College Counseling Seminars,” which they will attend in place of study hall on Thursdays. In those sessions they work through most of the nuts and bolts of college admissions (topics include: exploring Naviance, factors in the admissions process, researching schools, making the first list, college visits, interviews, essay brainstorming, asking for teacher reccomendations the right way, etc.).
    The college counselors also meet individually with each junior at least twice in the winter and spring for personalized discussions. Our college counselors are available for additional meetings should students (or parents) want to discuss options/issues further.
    By the time juniors go home for the summer as rising seniors, they each have a thoughtful college list that needs to be narrowed down a bit, and an assignment to write the first draft of their essay and fill out the Common Application over the summer. Juniors/rising seniors are encouraged to contact our college counselors often over the summer to discuss their college visits and essay ideas.
    Topics Addressed by the College Counseling Office in 11th Grade
    • Discuss and prepare for PSAT for National Merit Scholarships (pre-test is in October and results arrive in December) 
    • Receive personalized testing plan recommendations prior to the end of the semester
    • Weekly College Counseling Seminar begins in January and runs until the end of school year
    • Take YouScience assessment to aid in college and career planning
    • SAT/ACT test prep options and overall testing plan
    • 11th Grade Parents Informational Night (spring), live-streamed/recorded for families that cannot attend
    Topics Addressed in Class Meetings
    • Test prep options and locations (on campus and off campus)
    • Leadership skills (finding your leadership style and using it)
    • Resume — begin building the resume that students will use in the admissions process next year; meeting time to work on creating the resume
    Topics Addressed in Advisory Groups
    • Resume worksheet
    • Continued goal setting, time management, exploration of interests etc.
  • Senior Year: Walking the Walk

    It’s game time!
    Our seniors are well prepared for the college admissions process, and students’ advisors and parents will be kept in the loop by using Naviance to better understand their plans, when deadlines are and which schools are foundation schools, reaches, etc.
    After the applications are in, our focus shifts to helping students prepare for success once they get to college with topics about decision-making, financial skills, etc.
    College Counseling Topics in the Senior Year
    • Senior Class Essay Retreat with College Counseling Office and the English Department on a local college campus in mid-September
    • September ACT and/or October SAT for students still testing; the SAT is also offered on campus in November and December
    • Optional evening essay workshops
    • Lots of one-on-one time—getting the applications completed!
    • Recent alumni panel discussions about the college admissions process and how they made their decisions (December)
    • Financial aid information and support
    Topics Addressed in Class Meetings
    • Meeting one: transcripts again—first semester senior year is THE most important
    • After Christmas Break: Life Skills. Learning about bank accounts, handling the college party scene, taking care of themselves.
    • April: Making the big decision … weighing the options
    Topics Addressed in Advisory Groups
    • Advisors check in with Naviance to understand their advisees’ application timeline and be aware of when their advisees will need the most support
    Advisors keep the College Counseling Office posted about their senior advisees’ thoughts, concerns and struggles in regard to the college process so that we can support the students in the best way possible.

College Acceptance

We are proud that 100 percent of our students are admitted to accredited four-year colleges and universities, and that more than 75 percent of our students enroll in one of their top-choice colleges. 

VES graduates are accepted into some of the country's most selective colleges and universities, but most importantly, we help them select schools that are well-aligned with their personal and professional interests. 

Below is a sampling of the schools our students are attending now. I invite you to see the full array of college and universities to which our students matriculate.
Our team looks forward to the opportunity to work with you!

For questions, please email the College Counseling team at

College Counseling Office

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Melissa Csatlos

    Mimi Csatlos 

    Academic Dean | Director of College Counseling | English Teacher | Advanced Studies Advisor
    Read Bio
  • Photo of Amy Koudelka

    Amy Koudelka 

    Associate Director of College Counseling | Student Life Seminars Coordinator
    Read Bio
  • Photo of Elizabeth Blaum

    Elizabeth Blaum 

    College Counselor/Registrar | Residential Life Dir. | Head Coach Field Hockey | Student Leader Coord
    Read Bio
A College Preparatory, Independent Boarding and Day School for Students in Grades 9-12
400 VES Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503 • 434.385.3600