Carmel High School Students Make Plans for After Graduation

With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us, many Carmel High School seniors are also checking off another item on their to-do list: submitting college applications.

Application season is still in full swing, but most high schools and colleges advise students to complete their applications before the holidays. It is just one less thing to worry about so they can enjoy time with family and friends.

Students and CHS counselor listen to a rep from UCONN

The last few months have been busy in the Counseling Department at Carmel High School for senior students. Fall kicks off a slew of college visits in the school, with representatives visiting from colleges and universities near and far to meet with students, provide information and forge connections. While there were fewer in-person visits this year, Carmel High School still hosted an impressive 69 representatives from colleges and universities.

“We just make it that much easier for our students to connect with the schools, particularly if the school is far away and driving to do a campus visit is not financially or logistically feasible,” said Kristen Mancini, counselor at Carmel High School.

These in-school visits give students the opportunity to put a face to a school through a college representative – the person that may be reading and reviewing the student's application first and presenting that student to the institution as a candidate for admission. College representatives assigned to Carmel High School are familiar with the school and the opportunities available to students so they can advocate on behalf of the student.

Some colleges even schedule instant decision days on-site at the high school where they visit and meet the student, review their application, and provide the student an admission decision on the spot.

“My favorite thing about the college visits to the high school is getting a lot of information from admission representatives about different colleges without having to travel,” said junior Kayla Kelly, who is planning to graduate early this year. “I personally like to know about the school before visiting.”

Kelly toured a few colleges on her own, but also attended information sessions with several colleges and universities at the high school.

“I think the in-person college visits are helpful,” said Mancini. “If a student is on the fence of being denied or wait listed, little things such as taking the time to meet with the representative can make a difference. The representatives really do remember the students.”

Mancini and the other dedicated counselors at Carmel High School nurture their relationships with the college representatives in order to advocate on behalf of the students.

"We help amplify those experiences that a student has that would make them a great fit for the college. That’s what we really want for our students – to find that place that is a good fit to help them meet their future goals.”

Two students speak with a rep from Iona College

Students’ relationships with counselors and the path toward senior year and beyond actually begin in ninth grade as soon as students enter Carmel High School. Counselors' relationships begin early with students, stressing the importance of starting off their high school careers on the right foot and getting the students to start thinking about what their career interests and options might be. In sophomore year, counselors conduct a career inventory with students to help identify different fields and career clusters that they may want to explore further. Junior year builds with the PSAT exam, attending college fairs, and narrowing down their plans with counselors. By the fall of senior year, students typically have an idea of what schools they are interested in visiting – and that is where college visits come into play.

“My counselor has been amazing throughout the college process,” said Kelly. “She helped me research colleges and any time I emailed questions or asked to set up an appointment, she answered quickly and helped with all of my needs. The application process has definitely been stressful. Fortunately, I've had a lot of support from my teachers and counselor but it's still a lot to do."

Whether students plan to attend college or pursue a different path, the Carmel High School counseling staff is there to support them and advocate on their behalf.

“We encourage our students to explore all options,” said Mancini. “While a majority of our students are college-bound, we do have a significant portion of students who pursue a trade, enter the military or go straight into the workforce. We want our students to explore all options and choose what is right for them.”

Mancini said counselors encourage all students to explore options like the Career and Technical Education Center at Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, which offers more than 40 courses of study including everything from construction trades to fashion design to engineering to physical therapy. She tells them that there is no harm in checking out all the opportunities that exist.

The department hosts sessions for students highlighting the programs that BOCES has to offer, and in years past has taken buses of students down to the Tech Center in Yorktown Heights to tour the facilities and meet with current BOCES students.

“They love hearing from current students about the cool things that they do and are learning. It is a good opportunity for them to get hands-on learning and career exploration. I think a lot of times their eyes are opened to the wonderful careers that out there.”

For students who have an interest in joining the military, opportunities to engage with military recruiters from the variety of branches at tabling events are available several times during the year.

No matter what goal a student has for life after Carmel High School, the Counseling Department is available to help them succeed.

“We have some students that are very driven, motivated and focused and they know what they are doing, so their need level is at a different spot than another student,” said Mancini. “I tell my students that I’m here to meet them wherever they are in the process.”