Tag Archives: admission

Coming Full Circle

by Kim Major, associate director of admission

Last week was my favorite week of the year, hands down. While my children think I am crazy (they think the last day of summer vacation is the worst!), I know I am right. You see, last week was orientation for our new students and the start of our new academic year here at George School.

So, why was that the best? I mean, the start of the academic year to faculty and admission officers means back to long workdays. It means many, many meetings. It means late nights, tired eyes, and no more trips to the beach or the pool. I already miss those trips to the beach and the pool. HOWEVER, what it also means is that I get to see the fruits of last year’s labor. All of the students with whom I worked so hard last year – at admission events, in interviews, in follow-up phone calls, meetings, and emails – I get to see all of them on campus, here and now as students!

Over the last year, I got to know 170 new students, most of them in person in some capacity. I knew we admitted a rocketry wizard, and I got to make sure our robotics and engineering faculty knew about her. I knew we had at least four students who count ukulele as a big-time hobby, and I got to let them know about one another (some pretty cool jam sessions are about to go down in our dorms). I knew that one of our students had a really challenging summer and was feeling a bit down, and I got to make sure his advisor was prepared to offer a little extra love. I got to understand, before the rest of the school, that our new students are going to knock the socks off of our faculty and returning students. Now everyone gets to know it and I get to see the joy that brings.

Many people see admission officers as gatekeepers, standing at the school doors and judging who gets to come in. While we certainly have a difficult task in making admission decisions, we aren’t gatekeepers. No, I see myself more as a matchmaker. Through the admission process, I help students to navigate the admission process (and sometimes that means helping them to find a match that is better suited to their particular needs). And, when the school year starts, my matchmaker skills kick into high gear as the entire school prepares to welcome them. I help in the faculty advising and roommate pairing processes and work with families to match them with the resources they will need to get started here at George School.

So, when move-in and registration days roll around, it all comes together, and it is magic. The best part? I know that I have two, three, or four years more with these students and I get to see all the dreams they talked about in the application process come true – and I get to see them discover new dreams they didn’t even know they had!

That, to me, is what makes George School so special. New students aren’t a number. Each new student is a person, a part of a family, a dreamer, a do-er, an artist, an athlete, and so much more. When they start their first day here, they start with many, many people knowing quite a bit about who they are, and they already have a jumpstart in helping them to reach their goals.

Here’s to another terrific year!

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Why I Said Yes to GS

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Bea, seen here in her Oxford University Sweatshirt, works with another student on the Curious George. 

By Bea Feichtenbiner ‘19

George School is so much more than I thought it would be. In seventh grade, I began thinking about colleges. I know that is early, but I have always been hyper focused on my future. During this time, I wanted to major in English and obsessed with England. I decided that I wanted to go to the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, and I would do anything necessary to get there. I learned of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma from a family friend and I looked it up. Only two schools within an hour of my house offered the diploma. I knew this would help me get into my dream school, so I convinced my mom to let me look at them. The first school, Harriton High School in Lower Merion School District, was the closest to my house, but I would have to move to attend school there. George School was the second closest.

Neither my mom nor I felt any harm in applying, so I started the application. I went for a tour in October and I loved it. It just felt right. I finished my application and anxiously awaited a decision. The portal said decisions would be posted at midnight, so I planned to stay up. When the clock hit twelve, I logged in and sure enough, my decision was there. “Congratulations,” I read.

The next morning, I logged on again at 6:30 a.m. “Congratulations,” I read again. I ran upstairs to wake my mom up. She was excited, but we both knew what this meant: we had to decide whether or not I should go.

After I pondered it for a couple of weeks, I convinced myself that I needed to say yes to GS. I made a PowerPoint of pros and cons and presented it to my mom. We accepted the admission a week before it was due.

Then I had to tell my friends and my family. Some were shocked and some were not, but for the most part, everyone supported me. I got many comments about how I was “brave” or “crazy.” I didn’t understand this. Going to George School felt natural, I didn’t need to be brave or crazy. I felt like I belonged. That didn’t stop the butterflies in my stomach when I actually got ready to go though. For the first few hours, I was convinced I hated it. But then it got easier and I made new friends.

I am not going to lie, even now, three months away from my junior year, I sometimes feel like I made a terrible mistake. I miss my family and my friends, I miss my old life. But I don’t really regret it. I have my moments of doubt, but it has been a great opportunity and I am not going to waste it wondering about what might have been. George School is one of the best things to ever happen to me—it has a way of making you belong, no matter who you are.

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Filed under A Day in the Life, Admission Office, Student Work, Uncategorized

Why I Chose George School – Kirsten

Our George School Ambassadors were asked to share their stories about why they chose George School. There is no typical George School path but they all share a common thread: a love of people and learning. Read on to find out what made Kirsten ’15 join the George School community.

A wet and dreary day it was when I took my first steps on this otherwise breathtaking campus. Lucky for me, the sun still shone the day of my interview and tour through the faces of the admissions officers and the students. As an eighth grader from a Catholic school, the idea of a campus was overwhelming. The tour I received quickly eased my anxieties and transformed them into excitement. Under my big George School umbrella, I took in the new scenery. With an amazing tour guide who became a very close friend of mine throughout my George School career, the reasons why my brother bragged about this school were revealed to me. Continue reading

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Student Art Showcase – Jake ’16

At George School, we enjoy celebrating the varied talents of our students. We asked one of our GS Ambassadors, Jake Kind ’16, to share some of his artwork.

black and white drawing of a woman with long hair and a textured blouse

The Collage of Persephone
Jake Kind ’16

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Harvest Weekend

teenage boy sitting on brick bench. a tree and brick building are in the background

Michael Silver ’16

by Michael Silver ’16, Admission Office ambassador

At George School, we have many weekends dedicated to certain topics. Recently, George School hosted Harvest Weekend, one of the most exciting seasonal weekends of the year. Highlights from the weekend included pumpkin carving, hayrides, a haunted house, a costume dance, and apple butter making. Needless to say, much of the campus spent the weekend enthralled in the fun activities. Personally, I particularly enjoyed pumpkin carving, and found it to be a new, intriguing, and joyously laborious event. Continue reading

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Tour Guides: A Glimpse of Life at GS

by Ashley Pettway, Admission Office

First term is in full swing and our campus is buzzing with visitors. It gives us great joy here in the Admission Office to share our campus with you and it takes a lot of people behind the scenes to make your visit special. Last week, I introduced the ambassadors, a select group of students who blog, take pictures, and talk with families during visits. This week, I’d like to introduce you to our tour guides. Each year, the Admission Office selects outgoing sophomores, juniors, and seniors to serve as student leaders in our office. These students have shown a love for George School and often hold additional leadership positions on campus.  They are the heart of our office and we could not function without them. Continue reading

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Lessons from Squirrels

This post was adapted from a speech written by Head of School Nancy Starmer and delivered during the Opening Assembly on September 1, 2014. 

Those of us who live year round on the GS campus know that it’s hard not to pay attention occasionally to our squirrel friends.  I, personally, have an ambivalent relationship with them.  Like many of you, I’ve been startled often by a squirrel flying at me out of a dumpster and they’ve eaten holes in the screens of my house and gotten into the kitchen cupboards. I’ve chased them around the dining hall in the summer when they’ve just waltzed in through an open door, and just this past summer I found myself having to apologize on behalf of all of GS for the behavior of our squirrels when one ate through the zipper in a house guest’s suitcase to get at a granola bar she’d stored in the front compartment for her trip home (she’d left the suitcase out on the driveway for five minutes while she waited for her ride and in that brief period of time the squirrel managed to completely destroy the bag.) Continue reading

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Follow a Student: Hanna ’15

Hanna ’15 is a day student in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. She is a member of the cross country and winter track teams and she intends to play softball in the spring. When she isn’t studying for class she enjoys reading poetry, yoga, and leading the school’s women’s rights club.

Despite the snowy weather on Tuesday, December 10, George School held classes (since many of our students are boarding students and many of our faculty live on campus, we rarely have to cancel school). Hanna took photos throughout her day to share what a typical “snow day” is like at George School.

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6:00 a.m. Time for school. When Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” he must not have been thinking of teenagers.

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7:30 am. Driving to school in the most beautiful, yet terrifying, weather.

7:31 am. Thankfully the blizzard has given me some extra time in the car to study quadratics.

7:31 am. Thankfully the blizzard has given me some extra time in the car to study quadratics.

8:00 am. Looks like my math class will be pretty empty today.

8:00 am. Looks like my math class will be pretty empty today.

8:45 am. Now it's time for my favorite class, español. This is me posing with my friend Carol as we try to interpret news articles from Nicaragua, where I will be going this March on my George School Service trip.

8:45 am. Now it’s time for my favorite class, español. This is me posing with my friend Carol as we try to interpret news articles from Nicaragua, where I will be going this March on my George School Service trip. *Each student is required to complete a 65-hour service project before graduation. Many students fulfill this requirement by participating in service trips led by George School faculty and staff. Previous service trip destinations include France, Cuba, China, Mississippi, Arizona, Israel/Palestine, and Costa Rica.*

10:00 am. After running around in the cold, I need to refuel with peanut butter cookies from Bettye's Place.

10:00 am. After running around in the cold, I need to refuel with peanut butter cookies from Bettye’s Place. *Bettye’s Place is the on-campus snack bar at George School.*

10:15 am. A ping-pong match wouldn't hurt either.

10:15 am. A ping-pong match wouldn’t hurt either.

11:00 am. After our pig heart dissections, Polly moved forward with a lecture about immune systems.

11:00 am. After our pig heart dissections, Polly moved forward with a lecture about immune systems.

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1:00 pm. After a delicious lunch, I have painting and drawing class. We worked on watercolor experiments and perspective.

3:45 pm. After a long day, it was nice to relieve some of my stress at track practice. Unfortunately, the track was more of a skating rink, so it was difficult to run, but the strange circumstances made practice much more exciting and a perfect end to the snowy day.

3:45 pm. After a long day, it was nice to relieve some of my stress at track practice. The snow made the track more of a skating rink, so it was difficult to run, but the strange circumstances made practice much more exciting and a perfect end to the snowy day.

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Each Child is Different

This post was written by Rebecca, mom of Quin ’09 and Faith ’17.

Each child is different, I was telling myself, taking a nostalgic walk around the George School campus. Be the best mother you can be and allow them to follow their own hearts. I was back in Newtown for a revisit day with my youngest child, Faith. She was weighing the pros and cons of enrolling as a boarder at George School, just as her older brother, Quin, had seven years ago.

Quin, now 22, started at George School in the fall of 2006. He was a dispirited 14-year-old, given to wearing the hood of his sweatshirt up so that his face was hidden. While he had never known failure, he had also never known ease in school. Over-measured, frequently-tested, quantified and profiled, he had all but disappeared under that hood. I knew my boy was in there, my magical and quirky child who could figure out how to take apart my Kitchenaid mixer and fix it, my marvelously funny kid who could read a room better than he could read a book, but I couldn’t quite find him.

Leaving him at George School was a leap of faith for me and relief for him. Quin discovered himself during his years there, somewhere between that third floor room in Orton and Carter’s woodshop. The hood came down, the smile was easy on his face. He grew tall and winsome; he made a lot of jokes. He hijacked the Westtown moose head. I got comments from the Admissions Office, where his co-op was to be a tour guide.

“We love Quin. We just wish he wouldn’t give tours in his pajamas.”

“What?” he asked when confronted. “It makes people realize they can be comfortable here.”

He also had his struggles. I became more intimate with the Dean’s office than I wished. I sought solace on the porch of Main with Jenna, his advisor who quickly became mine, too. Between the struggles, he was encouraged. He learned that he would be valued after making a mistake, maybe even more so for having fallen down, gotten up, and dusted himself off. He found himself to be a gifted artist, a valued friend, a trusted ally.

His senior year, he took an unfinished hunk of wood and made it into a glowing bowl with a deep curve to the rim. When he gave it to me, he explained that the weight of the bowl would settle into the shape of my palm, making the heavy thing almost weightless. He found, in this elegantly articulate way, the marriage between form and function, between the prosaic and the lyric, the beauty in the every day. And he did it without words.

Now Faith, his sister, was thinking about coming to George School. Her brother was on the west coast in design school, distant enough in time that only a handful of faculty would describe her as “Quin’s sister” rather than Faith. Still, as the youngest of four, she wanted her own place, her own story, her own adventure. She didn’t want to walk in anyone’s footsteps.

I wanted her to have the same revelatory experience her brother had; I wanted her to learn there are many different paths, all equally valuable, to finding your gifts. I wanted her at George School, where I knew she would be seen and heard, not just measured and tested. I wanted to take her by her slim shoulders and say “This is your place, not just your brother’s.”

I knew I couldn’t pick a school for her; I knew I had to let her choose for herself. So on that revisit day, I took one last long walk around George School, stopping where Quin had graduated, so dapper in his jacket that day, all the white of the girls’ dresses, the green of the grass, the light so kind and sweet and soft after those dark first days.

I said a silent thank you to George School and got into the car with Faith, ready to hear she had decided to go to a different school, a new place where she could make her own way.

I started the car and drove the long way out, past the barn.

“I’m going to George School,” Faith said before I had pulled out into traffic.

“I feel like the people here are good to each other all the time, not just when other people are watching.”

And so it begins.

A new path.

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Writing Your Personal Statement

By Colleen Smith, associate director of admission

In college admission, the personal essay is a big deal. There are books and workshops on the subject, even private tutors you can hire for your writing roadblocks. Just picking a topic can be a source of agony.

High school admission? Not so bad in comparison. For one, there’s no gut-wrenching indecision about which topic to pick: we’ve decided for you! Yup, there’s just one option for the essay. Maybe you’ll like the topic, maybe you won’t. Point is, it’s simple, and you don’t have to worry that Applicant X has brainstormed something more innovative and glamorous.

The second reassurance: we don’t expect perfection. We hope you’ll write thoughtfully and give us a glimpse into who you are as a person. Structure and grammar are important (and in this age of computers, you have no excuse not to spellcheck), but a few errors are okay. We’d rather the essay be true to you than polished past recognition by well-intentioned parents and counselors.

The best essays aren’t all sunshine and roses. Every school wants to admit students with resilience, which is why we ask you specifically about a difficult experience. Maybe you were able to resolve it perfectly; maybe the outcome was nothing like you anticipated. Either way, we hope you learned from it. (Admission counselors are big suckers for growth.)

Finally, remember that the essay is just one part of the application. We’ll learn about you from your recommendations, your interview, and other pieces of the admission puzzle. Be honest, be reflective, and have fun with it.

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