|As wonderful as Buxton is—and as much as kids hate to leave it—there actually is Life After Buxton. In fact, the whole education here is preparing students for a stimulating, thoughtful, active, ethical life.|
|The first step into the brave new world outside of the Buxton Bubble (as the students like to say) is Graduation.|
Graduation at Buxton is unusual and extraordinary. Instead of having one or two students address the crowd, at Buxton, every graduating senior gives a speech to those attending the ceremony. These speeches are personal, heartfelt, carefully polished, and delivered with honesty, humility and transparency. Seniors work on their speeches every day for the last two weeks of the school year. There are no restrictions on what they may speak about, and the speeches vary from lighthearted observations about Buxton to personal statements of belief to reminiscences about important people to strikingly honest explorations of self.
Because of this inclusive tradition, Buxton graduations are remarkably personal and specific. They are about (and they reflect) the distinct students who are graduating in any given year. Buxton graduations are about as far from generic as a ritual can get! And that reflects Buxton’s overall philosophy: to be responsive to the particular individual in the schools; to help each student grow up in a way that makes sense for him or her; to create cohesive community out of a very diverse group of singular people.
|Virtually every graduating senior at Buxton goes to college. We pride ourselves on a college-application process that is subtle, appropriate, supportive, and (as much as possible) free of the craziness that is so pervasive in many school and communities.|
Regular Decision: Most students apply to a number of colleges and universities. We recommend that each student apply to two or three colleges that he or she might very much wish to attend but to which admission is in no way assured. A second group of colleges should be selected for which the senior has more favorable chances of admission. Finally, application should be made to two schools where admission is reasonably certain. All schools should be ones the student would be willing to attend if admitted. This spread of college choices offers a balance between risk and prudence and helps to assure an appropriate match.
Early Decision: Applications are generally due between November 1 and November 15; colleges usually respond by December 15. In some cases there are later Early Decision deadlines as well. These programs work well for those who have a clear and realistic interest in one particular college. The disadvantages are that these applications are due much sooner than others and that one is usually required to attend the college to which one is applying should one be accepted. Those students who choose the Early Decision option should also be working on alternative choices with family and advisors in the event that they are rejected or that action on their application is deferred until later in the year. Because information from Buxton supporting an Early Decision application has to be sent out by the end of October, it is important that the School be given notice of intent to apply for Early Decision early in the fall term.
Early Action: Early Action, offered by some colleges, also involves an earlier application date and earlier notification from colleges but does not require a student to enroll if accepted and delays the moment when a student needs to commit to the college, usually until May 1.
In the spring term, before the Arts Weekend, the faculty meet to settle on individual college advisors. All faculty members serve as advisors and all meet together to discuss each student’s college choices. This allows for the collective experience of the entire faculty to guide students through the application process.
The initial meetings between a student and advisor involve making a preliminary long list of colleges of interest. This information is shared with parents by students and advisors at various steps along the way.
Seniors return to Buxton in the fall before other students. Some of this time is set aside for advisors and seniors to go back over original lists, to discuss family concerns and interests, and to begin to settle on final college choices.
|Final Choices, Transcripts, and Recommendations|
In the late fall each college advisor brings before the faculty the final lists of college choices for his or her advisees. At this time, situations where more than two students are applying to one college are reviewed. Our intention is to try to avoid or at least control instances where, for example, a student with a strong application might be applying to a school in which he or she is only moderately interested as a fifth or sixth choice thus compromising another student’s chances of getting into the same school as a first choice. We also hope to control rushes on “popular” colleges and to encourage an appropriate diversity of applications.
College applications contain teacher recommendation forms and secondary school report forms, as well as requests for transcripts. A decision as to whom teacher recommendation forms should be given is made with advisors. Forms are usually given out to teachers who have taught the student in a junior- or senior-level course in which he or she has done well. The secondary school report is filed by the Director and includes a more general, comprehensive recommendation that can often involve family background, personal experiences beyond high school, and that describes and comments upon a senior’s various activities and involvements at Buxton.
College deadlines for applications for the most competitive colleges are usually January 1 or January 15. Most colleges require forms by March 1 at the latest. The term Rolling Admissions refers to an application procedure in which forms are reviewed continuously and in which students are notified within a set period of time after all forms are received by the college. April 15 is the final date by which most colleges announce admissions decisions. Students are then given until May 1 to respond to whatever offers of acceptance they may have received.
Colleges also can place applicants on a Waiting List. Generally, decisions about Waiting List candidates are made late in the spring, well after May 1. Therefore, students waiting for a decision may have to send in an enrollment deposit to another college in the interim.
We urge parents and seniors who have not previously done so to take time during Spring Vacation to make final visits to colleges. The final months of one’s time at Buxton are significant and emotionally charged. How one leaves has much to do with the immediate and long-term feelings one carries away from the School. This last spring is a time for reflection. It is a time to consider a final statement, to work on the yearbook, and to solidify ties to classmates, younger students and faculty, as well as to conclude academic work. College visits or revisits interfere noticeably with all of these essential aspects of the final term.
The college choices of Buxton graduates reflect the individuality of the students and the varied academic and nonacademic experiences they have had while attending Buxton.
From the spring of the students’ junior year, faculty college advisors are available to students and parents to guide them in making appropriate college choices and to aid in the application process.
Parents are responsible for all aspects of applications for financial aid. The information package from each college will outline its particular financial aid procedures.
The college application procedure is unquestionably important, but it needs to be balanced against equally important academic and extracurricular responsibilities at Buxton.
The faculty strongly urges parents and students to begin visiting colleges during the summer that follows the junior year. Many colleges now run more or less on a twelve-month schedule. It is rare that a summer visit will find a school deserted, and admissions offices almost always begin interviewing for the upcoming applicant group in May or early June. Furthermore, Buxton usually opens at least one week and often two weeks after most colleges have begun fall terms. This period just before Buxton begins is an ideal time for seniors, alone or with family, to visit and to interview. In addition, the Home Weekends were lengthened some years ago specifically to accommodate college visits and interviews.
It is important to emphasize that, although there may be necessary exceptions, we cannot operate in the fall with seniors continually leaving for days at a time to visit colleges. Although final college lists are generally not made until October and often later, visiting during the summer and interviewing at schools where a student may not eventually apply can be clarifying and is, at the very least, good practice.
We have also learned over the years that it is not a good idea for more than one student from Buxton to visit a particular college at the same time. Visiting colleges with friends is tempting but inevitably influences what needs to be as much of an individual experience as possible.
A relatively recent development is that in April most colleges hold “open houses” for accepted students. Although attractively presented as opportunities to meet professors and future classmates, these events tend to have little substance. Therefore, because of the pressures at school on seniors in the spring term, we do not release students to attend open houses.
Testing is one of the most stressful aspects of applying to college for both students and parents. Almost all colleges tend to require the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I), a standardized test with verbal and math components developed by the Educational Testing Service. A smaller number of very selective colleges require applicants to take SAT II tests as well.
These are achievement tests based on knowledge of a specific subject. Students taking the SAT II need to prepare for the tests in advance and to select which tests they plan to take with advice from advisors and teachers.
As a matter of educational policy, Buxton does not offer SAT preparation courses. Some students do take such courses during summer vacations, and a few obtain higher scores as a result.
We all hope to be in close contact with families throughout the application process. Should parents have questions about college applications or anything related to a student’s choices, they are encouraged to call the faculty member advising their son or daughter. Also, feel free to call Bill Bennett, who functions as a general advisor to the entire class, to discuss any aspect of college application. Specific questions concerning transcripts should be addressed to Cyndi Thomayer in the business office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at ext. 105. Questions relating to standardized testing should be directed to Linda Burlak.
The Buxton approach works! In spite of our somewhat renegade stance toward standardized testing, AP classes, and high-school-as-a-high-stakes-competition, our students go to fantastic colleges, particularly ones that emphasize small classes, engaged professors, and rigorous learning—just like Buxton!