Students in graduation


September 2020

There really is no rest for College Guidance at St. Benedict’s Prep.

While COVID-19 disrupted or halted college guidance at high schools across the country, the team at St. Benedict’s Prep doubled down. Dean of College Guidance/Seniors Didier Jean-Baptiste ’86 and College Placement Counselor Jacob Drill split the 134-member senior class in half and for 2½ months via Zoom and Google Meets, accompanied the Class of 2020 to final college decisions and other post-graduation plans.

College acceptance letters were rolling in when the pandemic closed everything down in mid-March. It’s a very critical time in the college application process, especially since finances factor greatly into Gray Bees’ decisions. “Usually we review the financial aid award notification letters in person,” said Jean-Baptiste (pictured). “We did it all online this year, to make sure that students understand the difference between things like direct and indirect costs. We want to make sure they make the smartest decision for them.”

The fact that many colleges and universities extended Decision Day to June 1 meant the College Guidance team was conferring with one class of seniors while gearing up for the next.

Summer Phase began virtually on July 6, and the Class of 2021 began the Senior Portfolio Class in preparation for this year’s college application process. The class is a team taught by Jean-Baptiste, Drill, History Teacher Susanne Mueller and Managing Editor of Advancement Publications Noreen Connolly H’11. In small groups or one-on-one meetings, Mueller and Connolly work closely with students on the Common App essay. Drill consults with seniors on developing a list of best fit colleges to apply to, and the long to do list that accompanies it.

The one setback so far is college visits. Seniors typically visit four or five colleges during Summer Phase, and more are scheduled for the fall. “It’s going to be hard for the kids who don’t have a lot of exposure to college to get a sense of the schools without visiting them,” said Jean-Baptiste. “Nothing makes up for the ability to step on to the campus.” In the meantime, the team is planning to bring college representatives to the students through online meetings. Jean-Baptiste noted, “It’s good for students to get practice with an admissions official, even if it’s virtual.”

The Class of 2020 is heading to an impressive array of colleges and universities this month. Read more about that in the Summer 2020 issue of St. Benedict’s Prep Magazine