NACAC Members Offer Advice to College-Bound Students


It may be summertime, but the search process continues for college-bound teens.

From visiting campuses to taking time to reflect on academic interests, the summer months provide an opportunity for students to refine their college lists.

Three NACAC members recently shared their insights into the process at a Bates College (ME) alumni event.

Below is a sampling of the advice they shared with students and families:

Darryl Uy, director of admission, Bates College

  • “(The process should) start with you, the student — who you are, what you are interested in, and what you might want to do. Then find the schools that match your values and interests, rather than vice versa.”
  • “A lot of the process is about the why. It’s OK to say you want to be a lawyer, or pre-med, or pursue engineering, but ask yourself why. What sparked that interest? Is it what you want to do, or is it because of societal or parental pressure.”

Katie Moran Madden, senior associate director, Dartmouth College (NH)

  • “Everything you read is about who does not get in where — and speculation about why. But in reality, most everyone lands somewhere and goes on to have a very positive experience.”
  • “As a student, you have a right to be uncertain and to explore. You don’t need to have it figured out. You don’t need a grand master plan. You can be in a place where you are unsure. That is OK.

Aya Murata, college counselor, Phillips Academy (MA)

  • “(Parents and relatives) can have very outdated perceptions of schools, and that can be difficult for some students to push back on. Both students and parents need to start the college process with a clean slate and an open mind.”
  • “The cultural piece is hard to get your hands on from a college publication or website…Talk to the tour guides. Take time on campus to hang out or have lunch with a student, if that’s offered. Sit on a bench and watch how people move from class to class.”

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

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