College Counseling

The college counseling team’s mission is to help each Emma student matriculate to a college or university that fits their intellectual and personal abilities, interests, aspirations, and personal sense of community. To that end, we help educate, counsel, guide, support, and advocate for students throughout the college search process. We are guided by Frank Sachs’ philosophy that “college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won,” emphasizing fit over perceived prestige. 

As we are committed to inclusion and belonging, the college counseling team aims to affirm each student’s identity throughout the college search process. We believe college fit is closely linked to a student’s sense of self, so we work with students to support their personal exploration of their goals, strengths, interests and values. This work begins in ninth grade and continues throughout their years at Emma Willard. As college counselors we listen to our students, ask probing questions, and get to know each individual. In this way, we provide unique guidance, meeting each student where they are and supporting their college process and their growth.

Timeline by Grade Level

The college search is about knowing yourself and what opportunities are available. College Counselors work with individual students and in groups to teach the skills of self reflection through considering each student's strengths, values and interests, along with their current and future goals. This work is woven through each year of the EWS experience. They become students of themselves, as well as of the world.

List of 4 items.

  • 9th Grade

    Ninth grade is focused on becoming part of the EWS community. Each student will learn about themselves, how to create and build new relationships, where to find academic and personal resources and build their academic foundation. College counselors will join Emma READY to help them learn to reflect on their choices, their opportunities and their strengths, values and interests. 
  • 10th Grade

    Tenth grade is a continuation of reflecting on each student's choices as they relate to the opportunities available. It will also mark their first chance to take the PSAT and open the college conversation in a more concrete way. As the challenges grow, the students build the skills to meet them successfully and confidently both in the classroom and in the larger community. 
  • 11th Grade

    Junior year, students take the next step towards deepening their academic interests, their personal understanding and development of their future goals. Through individual college counseling meetings, students identify their growth in their strengths, values and interests while learning to align those with college opportunities. Additionally, students are encouraged to consider experiential learning opportunities that are in line with their strengths, values and interests.  Concrete work that happens in junior year includes building a college list, continuing standardized testing and beginning to write college essays. READY for Change is a weekly class throughout the year through the READY Center. College counseling joins the seminar periodically to provide programming that includes a continuing self-reflection on values, interests, and strengths. After a solid personal foundation is laid, we invite guests to speak on many college and career topics like writing the college essay, transitioning from high school to college, and preparing for the college interview. Through seminar and other programming, time is spent exploring the many types of colleges and universities domestically and around the world. Students are able to participate in college tours and information sessions to help build their skills in the college search process. There is also abundant time for questions, support, and to get to know their peers and college counselors deeply.
  • 12th Grade

    Senior year is the culmination of the students' self exploration at EWS, but the skills we teach will follow throughout their lives. College counselors and senior families will explore the idea of fit through many lenses including academic, social, and financial to finalize application plans, lists, and written work. Each year, EWS welcomes over 100 colleges and universities to campus to allow students to meet and engage with those schools of interest without leaving Troy. Additionally, the weekly seminar class continues with READY after Emma. College Counselors join to provide hands-on support as students complete college and financial aid applications, write essays, and supplemental work. Guests in this portion of the seminar and in other programming will focus on the successful transition to college and include current college deans and current college students, as well as people throughout the university system. After applications are submitted, the conversation shifts to help students continue to strengthen the skills needed to be successful on a college campus. Small group conversations, speakers from a variety of backgrounds, and plenty of time for questions will continue to provide students with support and confidence as they navigate this transition. The college counseling team continues to support students and families as they receive admissions decisions and as they make final enrollment choices.

Emma Willard School Profile

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Contact Us

Dr. Ashley L. Bennett
Director of College Counseling
Abbey Massoud-Tastor
Senior Associate Director of College Counseling

Xavier McKinzie
Associate Director of College Counseling

Elizabeth Ashline
Administrative Assistant to College Counseling
College Board Testing Administrator

Anna Navarro

Administrative Assistant to Academics
285 Pawling Avenue, Troy, NY 12180 | P: 518.833.1300 F: 518.833.1815
Welcome to Emma Willard School, a private day and boarding high school for girls in Troy, NY, and a leader in girls' education for over 200 years. 

PLEASE NOTE: All visitors to campus must check in with Campus Safety, which can be found at the red flag entrance to Sage Hall (Pawling Ave. entrance).