As an institutional member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Emma Willard subscribes to the policies, practices, and procedures that govern the activities of the secondary, post-secondary, and third-party participants in the college admissions process. Students and their parents should become familiar with this code of conduct so that they understand their rights and responsibilities in the college admissions process. NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices is available here.
Everyone involved in the college admission process has responsibilities. The school's job is to help students get started, to help them build an initial college list, to provide them with resources, and to make educated guesses about their prospects at certain institutions. In addition, we aim to help students and the colleges to which they apply evaluate accurately their accomplishments, talents, and potential. The nature and competitiveness of college admissions have changed significantly in recent years, and sometimes our estimates of chances of admission at a particular school will not square with student or parental expectations. We will always do our best to be honest with students and parents, to provide them with the best information possible, and to ensure that the admissions process is as transparent as we can make it.
We expect students to take initiative, do research, visit colleges, and meet deadlines. We will also expect them to ask questions (it is impossible for us to anticipate all of them!) and to keep us informed of the challenges they encounter and the progress they make. As far as possible, students should take responsibility for making interview appointments and following up on correspondence. They must further keep their college advisor informed of all communications they receive from colleges.
Emma Willard also believes that parents have responsibilities in this process. They should be objective sounding boards for their daughters and help them think out loud about their options. They should be honest with her in discussing their own expectations and parameters and be supportive (as well as instructive) during this difficult and sometimes emotional process. Students should remember that their parents may have a high emotional as well as financial stake in their college plans, and it is certainly understandable that they will have feelings about one school or another. But just as Emma Willard does not ultimately "select" a college for a student, neither should her parents.
In the beginning, students may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information and the great number of possible colleges. There are, for instance, well over 3,000 colleges in the United States, and a number of these would probably offer an acceptable fit. Students will start with many options and, with our help, gradually narrow the field based on factors they consider most important. During the process, students should remember that college literature, Web sites, and Naviance are only a few of the information sources available to them. They need to include visits to college campuses, meetings with representatives who visit Emma Willard, and conversations with individuals such as their college counselor, teachers, friends, alumni/ae, students at the colleges, and parents. While others' views should always be taken with some skepticism, students should listen to what they have to say; much of the advice from these sources will be useful.
Finally, few students can safely apply to only one college. We encourage students to apply to eight to ten schools and ensure that their final lists include schools of varying difficulty. A good balance of “reaches,” “possibles,” “likelies,” and “safeties” is essential. We encourage students to aim high, but we will also insist that they remain realistic about their college choices and prospects for admission.