MAILING : P.O. Box 8, Los Olivos, CA 93441
How Midland sets up students for college success
Midland provides students opportunities that free them from falling into the ever-present race to get into a “good college.” That race, which so many students get trapped in, keeps them from having authentic and meaningful experiences through high school. Midland allows them the time and space they need to grow up and discover who they are. When students come to Midland, they decide what they want to do and they do it, and they learn that authenticity matters more than panicking in 9th grade about where they will get their bachelors degree.
This authenticity helps Midlanders stand out in the college application process. Typically, more than 30 college representatives visit and recruit Midland students each fall — this for a graduating class of 20-25 students each year. Our graduates stand out from the pack not just because of their academic strength, but because of who they become through enriched leadership and experiential opportunities, through living in a community and on 2,460 acres, and through the daily needs of the jobs program. Being aware enough to make the unique choice as a young person to enroll at Midland signals a level of thoughtfulness, maturity, and character that colleges often don’t see. The results are that our students are often admitted above their profile.
Our responsibility as a college preparatory high school is to ensure that students fully engage in a program that gives them access to a fantastic college that will offer them further opportunities to grow and learn. Truly, from Midland, students can go anywhere, and we’ll help get them there. Our college counseling office provides the tools, resources, and support to enable students to navigate the college search process each step of the way. Beyond that, we’re focused on college success, not just admittance. We prepare students to be active participants and engaged citizens in the college of their choice.
What will the process look like for you?
Beginning in ninth grade, you learn Midland, and your teachers and college counselor start to learn about you. You let yourself explore and gravitate toward whatever interests you. That’s it. It’s a simple plan, and it’s the best preparation that you could have.
In tenth grade, as colleges come to campus to recruit, we have a sense of each of our students and what sparks their interests. You may be invited to meet a particular college representative who has come to campus for lunch. That slow entry into the process allows you a low-stakes way of learning about various colleges.
In eleventh grade the program becomes formalized. We begin by taking the PSAT in the fall and discussing the role of (or lack thereof) standardized testing in the admissions process. Most students will take the SAT or ACT in the spring. Because Midland does not have room in the schedule to offer a full test prep program, many will study for the tests over the summer and retake them in the fall of senior year.
In the spring, all juniors spend one hour per week in a college counseling class where we discuss the types of applications available to them, the range of colleges and universities, what a GPA means at different schools, what’s on the transcript, how to ask for recommendations, what to say in a college interview, how financial aid works, and the purpose of the personal essay. We fill out most of the Common App so that when students return at the beginning of senior year, they’re already familiar with the nuts and bolts and they can focus on writing strong essays. Students have individual meetings with the college counselor so that when they leave in June, they have a list of colleges to research over the summer. Hopefully, they will narrow their list to no more than 12 schools.
And, of course, twelfth grade is when we actually apply. We get that same hour of time in the schedule to hone the college list, to fine tune the applications, to consider whether to apply Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Decision, and to focus on the application essays.
As acceptances roll in, we can’t help but feel proud of the choices students have. Recent graduates enrolled at top universities and liberal arts colleges, including Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Boston College, Colorado College, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Harvey Mudd, Kenyon, Lewis and Clark, Pomona, Santa Barbara City College, Stanford, Tufts University, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, University of Utah, Wellesley, Whitman, and Williams. Wherever they land, they always find schools that fit them, that they are thrilled to attend, and that will help them continue to grow and thrive.
By Lynda Cummings
Director of College Counseling (1994-2022)
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