Seniors Can Go Anywhere They Imagine with Help From the College Counseling Office

Hutchison takes a unique approach to preparing girls for college, starting with each girl at the end of eighth grade. College counselors help students chart their paths through the upper school to the end of their senior year and the completion of the college selection process.
Imagine you have a short amount of time to tell your life story. What would you want to share or highlight? How would you stand out? And would you be able to do it in fewer than 650 words? 

That’s just one of the challenges our college counseling office helps Hutchison girls with. The reality is that despite each girl's hard work, college admissions offices quickly review every application they receive. Nevertheless, our college counselors offer Hutchison girls so much more.

For one, they make applying to college an individualized process for our girls. Hutchison now begins its college counseling process toward the end of a girl's eighth-grade year. Each girl is assigned a college counselor, and they work side-by-side through to senior year. They map out each girl’s path through the upper school, starting with course advising all the way to the selection of a college. 

One of the things that differentiates the Hutchison college counseling department is that there are three full-time counselors that all have had experience working at universities and colleges in admissions: Lauren Colpitts, Caroline Willson, and Mackenzie Daniel. The department is supported by Libby Flynt, who serves as the college counseling coordinator.

Left to right: Caroline Willson, Lauren Colpitts, Mackenzie Daniel, and Libby Flynt

They all stay busy every day. They schedule individual appointments, hold sessions on completing college applications, lead various seminars on topics like how to write a resume or college essay, and host in-person and virtual college visits. It’s a lot, but through it all, they enjoy getting to know the girls.

“Every day, I’m thankful for the relationships and the connections that we get to build with the girls,” said Lauren Colpitts, college counseling director.

Colpitts remains in touch with alumnae who were in her first class at Hutchison. Based on what current students say, you can tell the college counselors truly care:
  • "They willingly help me no matter if it was a text at night or meeting with me in the hallway to quickly ask them a question.” -Mary Olivia Brundick ’22
  • "They make the college counseling offices a comfortable environment where I didn't feel judged if I was behind in applying to colleges, writing my essays, and my test scores and my GPA.” -Linley Downs ’22
  • "They’re good at meeting you where you are.” -Katie Wiener ’22
College counselors Mackenzie Daniel, left, and Lauren Colpitts, right, speak to a group of juniors about important dates during the rest of their school year for college preparation.

From the start, college counselors look closely at each girl’s interests and get strategic about choosing her courses and advising her of programs outside of the classroom that may be beneficial. They challenge the girls to prepare for the future and explore various course offerings, but ultimately, it’s up to the girls, who rise to the occasion.

“Our girls are very thoughtful in thinking about what courses they’re going to take and the other activities they’re involved in. We want them to be the drivers in the process,” Colpitts said.

When the girls reach 11th grade, “they can’t get away from us,” according to Colpitts. Individual meetings start in November, during which they discuss building a thoughtful college list. In January, the college counseling office holds a College Day program when college deans and admissions directors visit to speak with juniors and their parents about the college admissions process.

Over the summer, the college counseling office holds mandatory essay workshops before the girls enter their senior year. During the school year, students come by the college counseling office daily for help with essays and applications. 

“We know what works and what doesn’t work, so we help the girls think about the story they want to share,” Colpitts said.

Some girls come into the college application process not knowing where they want to go or what they want to study, and they need help to narrow down their options. The college counseling office implemented a new resource called MaiaLearning. It has surveys the girls can take, such as a personality assessment, and how those factors can play into potential careers. It can also lead them to potential colleges with those fields of study. Lawson Bolton ’22 said the college counseling office helped her realize what she wants to pursue and stay on top of applying to colleges.

"Without them, I’d be so lost,” Bolton said.

Linley Downs ’22, Lawson Bolton ’22, and Madison Borkowski ’22 work on applications in the college counseling office.

Darrielle Morris ’22 said she also came into her senior year unsure of what she wanted to do, but Colpitts, her college counselor, guided her along the way. Colpitts helped her realize she might want to go to law school one day and guided her to colleges that match her interests. 

The college search has been tough, but the counseling office made it easier for me. They guide you through the process,” Morris said. “All during the quarantine, I was so confused and stressed about what college I should go to. They just calmed me down.”

Katie Wiener ’22 is thankful for her college counselor Mackenzie Daniel because she helped her create a plan and stay organized. Together, they made a timeline with personalized deadlines, which keeps her on track despite the busyness of senior year.

"You have to stay on top of being a student, and then you also have to stay on top of applying to colleges. I feel like it’s pretty easy to get focused on one of those things and let the other one fall by the wayside,” Wiener said.

Colpitts is proud of how Hutchison girls manage the college application process and maintain balance. She also takes pride in the list of colleges where girls have been admitted. There is a wide variety, from small private colleges to larger public universities. Our girls go anywhere they imagine, including Ivy League schools like Cornell University and Princeton University and schools across the pond such as the University of Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin.

"To watch them develop their leadership and academic interests and then see them go off to college and do amazing things is definitely the most rewarding experience to have,” Colpitts said.

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Hutchison is the leading private girls school in Memphis for ages 2 years old through twelfth grade.