College Counseling

VES students spend years developing socially, academically and spiritually — and they are accepted into some of the country's most selective colleges and universities. Our college counseling program supports, nurtures, educates and provides the necessary tools to help students and families successfully navigate the college admissions process.
VES prides itself on supporting individual students on their unique paths toward full stature. The College Counseling Office plays a crucial role in that process, assisting students in their search for the ideal next step for continued learning and personal growth.

We know our students very well and can help them recognize the schools that best fit their needs. We demystify the college admissions process and prepare them to put their best foot forward when it is finally time to shake hands at their big interview. We invest time on the admissions essay and celebrate the conclusion of the process when they hit the “send” button on their applications. Finally, when the admissions decisions arrive, we support our students as they choose the school that best fits their needs, and we help prepare them for success as they transition to college — the next stop on their journey.

Summary of Our Program 

At VES, we view college counseling as a four-year process. Here, even our youngest students are informed about relevant topics in the realm of college admissions. This helps them make academic and extracurricular decisions that keep doors open as they grow and discover their best options beyond our campus.
The VES faculty, advisors and College Counseling Office all work together to prepare our students for the college admissions process and to support them through it.

Please see the below how we approach college counseling in each grade level.

List of 4 items.

  • Freshman Year: Finding Your Niche and Carving it Out

    Ninth grade marks a huge transition for students, and throwing thoughts about college into the mix so early may seem to be too much, too soon. But as many of our students have their early thoughts set on highly selective colleges, it is important that they understand the expectations they will need to meet to be competitive at those schools.
    The focus, then, is 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) Discuss transcript (every year matters!) with full class; importance of building teacher relationships
    • Question and answer sessions to address topics relevant to the class
    • 9th Grade Parents’ Coffee (spring), live-streamed/recorded for parents who can’t attend
    Topics Addressed Through 9th Grade Toward Full Stature 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/Digital Portfolio Process:
    • 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 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 is carefully planned throughout this grade. After juniors return from the winter holiday, they begin weekly “College Counseling Seminars,” which they will attend in lieu of their 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:
    • PSAT – for National Merit Scholarships (pre-test (October) and results (December) discussions)
    • 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
    • Administer YouScience assessment to aid in college and career planning
    • Help each student with 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, 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; discussions/ personal strengths as part of Digital Portfolio
    • Continued goal setting, time management, exploration of interests etc.
  • Senior Year: Walking the Walk

    Now it’s game time!
    Our seniors are well prepared for the college admissions process that stands ahead, and students’ advisors and parents will be kept in the loop by using Naviance to better understand their plans, when deadlines will create the most stress and which schools are foundation schools, reaches, etc.
    After the applications are in, the focus shifts to helping students succeed once they get to college — practical life skills and discussing why completing their undergraduate work in four years really matters in the grand scheme of things.
    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 Counseling Office

List of 3 members.

  • Mimi Csatlos 

    Academic Dean and Director of College Counseling/ English Teacher
  • Amy Koudelka 

    Associate Director of College Counseling
  • Elizabeth Blaum 

    College Counselor & Registrar/Director of Residential Life/Coach, Field Hockey, Basketball

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A College Preparatory, Independent Boarding and Day School for Students in Grades 9-12
400 VES Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503 • 434.385.3600