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Colleges flock to the 'burg

Gigi Devlin '24

Oct 14, 2022

Fall is the season of college visits. However, due to Mercersburg’s location, many colleges are faraway and difficult to travel to. While sometimes it is possible for students to visit schools during breaks and long weekends, it is not always a realistic option. For students looking outside of this region, it would be quite difficult to fly all the way to California over a long weekend just to see a school. Because of this, throughout the fall the college counseling department is organizing college admission officers’ visits to campus in order to make looking into colleges more accessible. Mike Conklin, Director of College Counseling, said, “In a boarding school environment where students have fewer opportunities to visit the colleges they are most interested in, these visits can be a valuable opportunity to gather important information.”

The opportunity is not only useful to learn more about the colleges, but also for the colleges to learn more about Mercersburg. Conklin believes that such visits allow Mercersburg to “demonstrate an interest in the college and meet the individual who is likely to read applications submitted by students from Mercersburg Academy. We also hope the admission representative has an opportunity to learn about our distinct programs—like MAPS and Springboard—so they have the necessary context when reviewing our students' applications.”

College admissions officers feel the same way about the opportunity. “What I love most about visiting is really getting to know where students are coming from. That’s why we visit - to be able to see your school, see your community, see your resources. We can imagine it from what you write but nothing will ever beat seeing the real thing,” says Paola Franco, Pomona college admissions officer.

One of the college visits this year from Trinity University in Texas was specifically designed to help international students with their college process. Lewis Pieyre ‘23 from Switzerland said, “I gained a lot of insight concerning the thoughts of different colleges concerning international students. It really helped because I had the opportunity to ask some questions concerning the early decision process and its implications.” Jasmine Zhu ‘23 was grateful for the efforts of the college counseling office: “I do appreciate very much that our college counselors at Mercersburg are making all the efforts to make as many in-person college visits as possible for us!”

The visits are intended specifically for the needs of the senior class, “Many of our students are well informed by the fall term of the senior year, so we hope the information provided will focus most of all on these students' academic, co-curricular, and extracurricular interests, rather than serve as an introduction to the college or university,” says Conklin.

This is a wonderful, unique opportunity being granted to students. “My biggest advice is to ask the questions that matter to you, this is the time to ask where we encourage students to be a bit selfish. It is about you, it is about your goals, your education. There are no silly questions, if it’s important to you, it matters,” Conklin advises.

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