Westfield esteems our high college acceptance success rate of 100%, a rate which has remained constant through the years. Not only are we providing a premier education, we are by your side in navigating the college admissions process. The landscape of college admissions has become increasingly complex and inevitably creates stress on students and families. The financial challenges alone are enough to give me a slight nervous tick. In addition, our children want and need to have serious input regarding their college placement, and some of them have not had much experience making big decisions.
Westfield has a college advising office designed to help families navigate the daunting but exciting process of choosing where to go to college. We begin talking with students during their ninth grade year as they take their first practice college entrance exams, the PSAT and PACT. We discuss academics and their transcript, and we also discuss the importance of extracurricular involvement, leadership, and service. This guidance continues with students throughout their Upper School years. I have found that the guidance programs at large high schools tend to focus on the students at the very top and very bottoms of their classes. However, at Westfield we help ALL of our students and their families generate options regarding college placement, and we help generate discussion and feedback regarding such options.
On the topic of college placement, I encourage you to be mindful of the economic, technological and societal changes that have taken place in more recent times. Many of you have heard or read that the future prospects for members of this generation will be less connected to the name on their degree and more connected to their skills. I often borrow a colleague’s summary of this idea and say, “It’s not where you go to college, it’s what you do while you are there, and what you can do when you graduate.”
Recently a parent and I discussed decisions regarding extracurricular activities for our children. And everywhere we turn, we see that the youth need to do more and achieve more in order to have a competitive college application. Even prior to high school we feel pressure to have them do more in order to be prepared to be in a position to generate a competitive college application. Thus following such thinking leads us to believe that the children need to be in highly competitive athletics, competitive arts, and leadership programs. They also need to learn computer coding, become a math whiz, and volunteer in the community. And while we should and do aspire to have children who can do it all, we need the balance and perspective of living in each moment. Our students have a life to live right now and can do amazing things today. Of course if I could unlock the secrets of striking such a balance, then perhaps I could be a famous writer instead of a Headmaster!