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The Right College Fit

Ensworth students share how the College Counseling office helped them find the right college fit.

Caleb Upkins—University of Pennsylvania

Caleb UpkinsCaleb Upkins came to Ensworth in the seventh grade with a focus on academics and an interest in athletics. He jumped into Ensworth life, excelling academically and also participating in football, basketball, and track. During his sophomore year, Caleb says, “I was introduced to music production, which really made an impact on my life. Making music started as a hobby, which later turned into a passion.” His passion for music inspired him to participate in the Capstone program and create new songs through his online music production company called Frozen Beatz. While Caleb used his Capstone to explore his passion for music, he also learned about entrepreneurship and decided to pursue business and entrepreneurship for the next four years at the collegiate level.

College counseling helped him pick the right classes, select schools to research and visit, and made sure all deadlines were met. During the college search process, Caleb’s biggest help came while finishing his college essay. When he turned in his first draft, Mr. Anthony asked him, “do you like it?” This seemingly simple question helped Caleb find his voice and communicate it in his college applications.

After examining every option with the help of his family and Mr. Anthony, Caleb decided on the University of Pennsylvania because of its rigorous business school and the active, inclusive and social community. While he is excited to experience the unique community UPenn has to offer, he is most excited “to be a sponge and soak up the information presented to me, and then execute my goals.”

Hannah Smalley—Princeton

Hannah SmalleyIn her 13-year journey at Ensworth, Hannah Smalley was highly involved in the Arts. In high school, while playing in the chamber orchestra, participating in technical theater, and taking many studio art classes, she was often found in the Arts building. While her extracurriculars were often focused on individual growth, collaboration in the classroom was always an important element of her school experience.

It was her hope to find a college equally focused on the collaborative-style learning that she loved so much at Ensworth. “I started the college counseling process without any specific schools in mind, so my college counselor was an essential resource for helping me figure out what I wanted out of the college experience and which schools would be the best fit for my goals,” Hannah explains. Hannah’s college counseling process began with customizing her course load to fit her interests as well as finding summer programs to further develop her varying passions.

After shaping her schedule to appeal to potential colleges of interest, the College Counseling Office “provided a lot of moral support during application season.” As the applications were submitted and admissions decisions came back, Hannah continued to have the support of her college counselor, Mrs. Laura Stewart. “She helped me talk through the pros and cons of each of my options until I finally made my decision.”

“Princeton is a good fit for me because it emphasizes discussion-based learning and independent research while promoting strong connections between students and professors.” Hannah is excited to spend the next four years on a diverse campus in a part of the country that is brand new to her. “I’m really excited to meet new people, discover new things about myself, and take challenging classes in subjects I have never learned about before.”

Brennan Bailey—Providence College

Brennan BaileyWhen Brennan Bailey came to Ensworth his freshman year, he surprised himself with the variety of activities he was drawn to. Not only did he play several sports, including football, basketball, and track, but he also found interests in the Arts. Brennan participated in Rock Band, took several Arts classes, and was involved with his first play during his senior year.

Upon his arrival in ninth grade, Brennan began to meet with college counseling. “Mr. Anthony was my college counselor, and he was incredibly helpful in answering all of my questions and guiding me through the process. He did an exceptional job of not trying to force any preconceived notions of where he thought I should go to school without knowing me; instead, he listened to what I wanted in a school and helped guide me there.” Brennan also utilized the many events college counseling held to learn more about his options.

Brennan says that Ensworth made him view education in a different way, which made him look at colleges differently. “After being exposed to a teaching style that encouraged students to question things and not just memorize and recite facts, I was encouraged to enjoy learning not so much for the sake of making grades or answering tests, but really understanding the concepts at hand. This played a major role in my college decision.”

“Providence retains Ensworth’s rigorous curriculum, diverse opportunities, dedication to its students, and, just like Ensworth, Providence feels like a family.” Although Brennan will be venturing to a brand new place far from home, “Ensworth has prepared me to go into virtually any situation and feel like I am in a position to succeed, so I am most excited to be in this new and different area of the country with a great chance at success.”

Connor Phillips—Vanderbilt University

Connor PhillipsAs Connor Phillips would say, “I had a unique experience, since my dad is a college counselor.” After coming to Ensworth in the third grade, Connor spent the majority of his 10 years actively participating in music—playing in the High School’s Jazz and Rock Bands along with the drum line, jazz club, and pep band. While music played a huge role in Connor’s Ensworth experience, he also discovered an interest in engineering along the way. With the help of the College Counseling Office, Connor shaped his school schedule to explore his two interests. He decided to focus on colleges that provided him with avenues to continue exploring his passions: music and engineering.

Connor’s dad, Mr. Paul Phillips, and college counselor Mrs. Laura Stewart both “helped me identify the schools I should visit based on my interests. They also helped me narrow down a list of schools based on school size and location.” After many college tours, meetings with college counseling and “a lot of family discussion,” Connor decided to attend The School of Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt was a great fit for Connor because he will “not only be a part of an excellent Engineering program, but I will also have the opportunity to audition for ensembles and take classes in The Blair School of Music.”

Connor is ready to hit the ground running at Vanderbilt, as he laughs and says, “I am super excited to study what I love, meet new people, and experience the emotional rollercoaster of being a Vandy fan!”

Morgan Zagerman—Stanford

Morgan Zagerman MorganZagerman came to Ensworth when her family moved from Philadelphia her sophomore year. While moving during high school can be hard, she didn’t miss a beat and immersed herself in the Ensworth Dance Company and theatre program.

Very much like her entrance to Ensworth, Morgan was confident in her next steps outside of the High School quad gates. “I went to college counseling knowing that Stanford was one of my top choices.” With this in mind, the College Counseling Office made sure she was in the right place, step by step along the way to make sure she would get where she wanted to be. “Mrs. Stewart was brutally honest at times, more honest than my parents would have been, about areas of my application that needed improvement.” This feedback pushed Morgan to re-examine her application, so that when it was time to apply, Morgan says, “I felt confident that [my applications] were the best representation of myself and my strengths.”

Although Stanford was always a top choice, Morgan started with an extensive list of schools that have strong academic and arts programs. “I worked with my parents to condense the list and decide which schools I wanted to visit. After each visit I would stop by Mrs. Stewart’s office to tell her what I thought, and she would make new suggestions. Eventually, we narrowed down the list to about seven schools, each of which I could see myself at and was very excited about.” Morgan stuck with her gut and chose Stanford because, “not only does Stanford embrace a collaborative attitude, but I got a sense when I visited campus that there was an overwhelming spirit of love and welcoming from the student body.” She also loved the focus on interdisciplinary learning, which will allow her to pursue her love of dance and filmmaking as well as her interests in math and economics. Morgan also plans to explore other uncharted disciplines along the way, exclaiming that she “cannot wait to dive into all of the many course and subject areas that I haven’t explored before.”

Isabella Kendall—Parsons

Isabella KendallIsabella Kendall began her college counseling process early on. Upon her arrival to Ensworth in the seventh grade, Isabella and her parents met with college counseling to discuss how she could design a class schedule for her four years of high school that not only contributed to her interests, but also allowed Isabella to have time for a Capstone her senior year. She spent all four years in high school heavily involved in the Arts, excelling in classes such as poetry, World Religions, Reel History, and Photography.

“From the start, I knew that I wanted to attend an art school for college,” Isabella explains. With encouragement from the college counselors, Isabella spent summers attending pre-college summer programs “to not only build my artistic skills, but also expose me to art schools early on to ensure that was what I really wanted out of a college.” These summer programs reinforced her desire to attend an art school and the counselors were there, ready to go “above and beyond” when it came time to begin the application process. “My counselors not only helped me choose a handful of colleges to consider applying to, but they also advised me on my essays, and helped me decide which teachers should write my letters of recommendation.”

Attending Parsons has always been a dream of Isabella’s, and she is glad to achieve her goal this fall. One of her favorite things about Parsons is the teaching staff. “The teachers at Parsons are fully active members in the art and design world, so I will be learning from professionals with the most up-to-date skills and information in the industry’s current demands.” While she is eager to learn from highly qualified teachers, she is also thrilled to learn from and collaborate with her classmates. “While it’s hard to choose, I would say the most exciting part about attending Parsons next year will be connecting with other creative personalities. I look forward to collaborating with students from the photography program as well as all other artistic areas of study.”
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