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9th Grade College Advising Communication

Dear Ninth Grader and Family:                                                                                             Summer 2021

Welcome on behalf of Seattle Academy College Advising to Seattle Academy Upper School!  

While there are other topics that require attention as high school begins, we want to introduce briefly the College Advising team. College Advising will introduce itself at students’ more informal grade-level advisory meetings during the year ahead. Our goal is that College Advising should greet and give a bit of key information to ninth graders during the coming year. In the meantime, if you are curious about any aspect of college advising or testing, especially now, please find some helpful answers in our “College Advising and COVID-19 Update” FAQ as well as further information in this letter about our team. 

In addition, College Advising offers events open to all upper school families. The first is an annual college financing meeting on October 11 at 7 PM on Zoom (access information forthcoming). Its guest speaker gives a helpful overview of the financial aid and scholarship process. You will also find here how to access various dates of the virtual NACAC (National Association of College Admission Counseling) college fair. These fair sessions are examples of how COVID-19 generated more access points for this event and for other college investigation. And while you don’t need to attend them yet, college admission offices have also enriched their websites with additional virtual content and information sessions. 

Another event, on November 8 at 7 PM on Zoom (access information forthcoming) is an overview of standardized testing by Matty Steiner, Senior Director at Compass Education Group, who will present to ninth through eleventh grade families the role of testing in the college admission process, effective strategies for exam planning and preparation, and the varied landscape of testing policies, especially right now. Matty has worked in the testing industry for over a decade and currently teaches graduate level lectures for the UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine college counseling certificate programs. In their public speaking, Matty endeavors to demystify standardized testing and to dispel anxiety about the topic, even (and especially) now. 

Beyond these resources, once you and your family are well settled in the upper school, know that we will answer questions in time but also don’t hesitate to email College Advising if you don’t find the answers to questions you have. In our office, Taylor Kanemori ( is dedicated to answering general ninth and tenth grade college-related questions. Please feel free to direct general questions to her. While the focus of the start of high school should not be college, our office seeks to ensure you get your questions answered. 

Families sometimes ask us what students should do to get ready for a process that can seem from a distance daunting or mysterious. The added layer of COVID-19 seems to the public only to have rendered college admission more perplexing. Fear not:  when the time comes, you will be led by a team well informed to guide you and deeply interested in the fascinating updates to college admission generated by present circumstances. We are not in the dark, and you won’t be either.

For now, regarding upper school:

  • Students should adjust to high school work and life. Despite what the media says, you really do have two years before the college application process starts in earnest (starting earlier, in an official way, can distract from your life at Seattle Academy and can even distort your college process). It’s your job in ninth grade to figure out some basics of time management, more challenging work, and new opportunities of all kinds. This attention to self and to experience, and the relative “inattention” to applying to college, actually pays dividends in terms of healthy personal development and healthy college outcomes. We will ensure you’re not late with anything college-related! 

  • Actively develop relationships with your teachers. They will be your mentors and advisors through high school. At Seattle Academy, teachers and students know one another inside and outside of class, and you will be glad later if you take care to nurture those relationships from the beginning of upper school.

  • Get involved. Seattle Academy will actively advertise ways to engage. “Try stuff,” even if not everything “sticks.” At some point, something will. Activities you genuinely love, versus those manufactured for your résumé, translate more honestly and effectively to colleges as well.  

We believe in “first things first.” If you take one step at a time and try to make the most of each opportunity, the rest of high school and college admission follows naturally and successfully, as both have for many Seattle Academy graduates before you. We have a great deal of experience in college admission and college counseling, and we are dedicated to making sure you don’t miss anything along the way. For now, the most important thing not to miss is an engaged first year at Seattle Academy. If things aren’t going well, know that there are lots of friendly folks around to help out: We are a few of them. Best wishes for Upper School!

Melanie Reed, Dave Thomas, Misa Kabashima, Mike Walden, Stacie Cone, and Taylor Kanemori

Seattle Academy College Advising

PS – Geek out as we do! Right now we’re listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast where he explores the algorithm for US News and World Report rankings. In a subsequent episode, Gladwell explores the ranking of a particular college, HBCU Dillard University. 


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