Tuesday, February 21, 2017


by Anne Lodge

I recently had the opportunity to attend a webinar about a relatively new social media tool, ZeeMee, focused specifically on the college admission process. ZeeMee was started with the mission of “bringing stories to life and connecting people with life-changing opportunities”. The company strongly believes that everyone has value and potential. Recognizing that much of the college application process is two-dimensional, ZeeMee aims to empower students to recognize how powerful their personal narrative can be and to bring their story to life. In essence, they are providing students with a platform for showcasing more of themselves in the application process.

In a world where generation Z has always had the internet and every student has a digital footprint, ZeeMee is a free service that allows students to positively craft their digital profile that they can then share with admission representatives during the college application process. Reports show that more than 50% of admission officers have looked up applicants on Google or similar search engines and that up to 40% of admission officers view students’ online profiles. ZeeMee pages can help students create a positive digital portfolio. In fact, in the short time that ZeeMee has been around, there are already over 200 colleges who have partnered with ZeeMee and have included space in their applications for students to share their ZeeMee page. (See the full list here.) There is even a place on the Common Application for students to include their ZeeMee url to share with colleges. Feedback from colleges who have partnered with ZeeMee have shared that a page can only help an applicant, never hurt them, and that it helps establish a real, human connection with a paper application.

ZeeMee is comprised of three major parts: a “Meet Me Video”, a “My Story” section, and a “My Activities” section. The “Meet Me Video” has generated the most positive feedback from colleges and is the most popular part of the tool. The video is short: thirty to ninety seconds long, but it offers students an opportunity to showcase themselves in a way that they are unable to do on paper. It could be a video interview, a highlight of sports, music, or a performance, a video recommendation from a teacher, an art slideshow, a monologue of college and life goals, or literally anything else that represents who the student is. The “My Story” section of the site allows students to include text, pictures, and video introducing themselves and highlighting more about them personally. The “My Activities” section also allows for students to profile the types of things in which they are involved through both text, pictures, and video. While this section does not need to highlight all that a student has done, aiming to include three to five activities that tell the whole story of their involvement is a good goal. The ZeeMee website has instructional videos, YouTube tips, and a lot of information to help students navigate the process.

While creating a ZeeMee page could be seen as just one more thing to do in the already time consuming college application process, the feedback is really positive. By no means should a student feel as though they must create a ZeeMee page when they are applying to colleges, but for those who feel energized to share more information with schools and highlight who they are in a way that a paper application and materials can not, ZeeMee seems to be a great platform in which to do so. Learn more or register for a free account here: www.zeemee.com.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"It Depends...."

by Erik Ormberg

Takeaways from the February 2nd, 2017 college admissions panel

On Thursday, February 2nd six college representatives addressed a crowd of over one hundred parents and students on the nuances of the college admissions process.

The representatives from each school gave a brief overview of their institution. Boston College is a Jesuit institution with four major concentrations: College of Arts and Sciences, Management, Education and Nursing. Curry College emphasized their 20:1 student to faculty ratio. Connecticut College praised the benefits of their four year advisory program and honor code. UMASS Amherst offers free tutoring for a wide variety of 100 and 200 level courses. Bentley spoke to the belief that they want their applicants to “exhaust all opportunities at their high school.” 

The major theme of the evening revolved around the specifics of applying. Many people are looking for black and white answers to a very gray process. A lot of the questions, given by parents through a google form, were met with the recurring response of the evening: “it depends.” The often asked question, “Is it better to get an A in a college level one course or a B in an honors course?” was discussed with no clear cut answer. The closest we could come to a resolution was the search for balance. 

Boston College spoke to that “balance.” Students should seek balance when creating a schedule and when looking at colleges. Boston College also encouraged students to, “take a little risk” when choosing courses.

Bridgewater touted its affordability. Admissions Director Gregg Meyer stated that in the past fifteen years the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has poured over five-hundred million dollars into Bridgewater’s campus alone.

UMASS Amherst combines affordability and competitiveness with accessibility for Massachusetts residents. Seventy-five percent of students at UMASS Amherst are residents of Massachusetts.

Bentley offers twenty-four majors combining liberal arts with a concentration that is primarily in the business field. Bentley’s 4200 students represent over 100 different countries.

Connecticut College offers a unique Pathways Program where students study a subject within a major.

The PAL (Program for the Advancement of Learning) at Curry is a comprehensive support service program for students with learning differences. About one quarter of Curry’s student body is supported by PAL.

Many questions about test scores, essays, GPA recalculations and “need blind” admissions were again filed into the bin labeled: “IT DEPENDS”. The representatives encouraged families to look at the specific requirements in admissions that are unique to each institution. They also encouraged STUDENT ADVOCACY. When it comes time to decide who is contacting the colleges for information, demonstrated interest (calls and emails), should come from the applicant.

The other statement that resonated Thursday evening was, “this process (college admissions) is not fair.” And as harsh as that may sound it does echo with truth. Every year in guidance our eyebrows are raised with surprise and shock at certain admissions decisions. The major takeaway of the night: BALANCE. Taking a balanced caseload and finding a balance of REACH, FIT and SAFETY schools remains the mission for all students as they enter the future planning process.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Safe Schools Are Better Schools

by Russ Becker

Middle school tends to be one of the most tumultuous time periods in a person’s life. If you don’t believe me simply ask a group of adults how many of them would love to go back and relive their middle school years. Chances are most people would like to leave the bad hair, braces and inherent awkwardness of that time period as far in the rearview mirror as possible. The truth of the matter is that that age is so chock full of new experiences and upheaval that every day can be a struggle to navigate the ever changing waters of what it’s truly like to be a middle schooler. Between hormones running amok, schoolwork becoming more demanding, and no one being quite sure of how to mingle at school dances, it’s no wonder that many people look back on grades 6-8 with terror and angst. Now imagine attempting to making sense of all that while simultaneously deciphering your own sexuality or gender.

All too often those in the LGBTQ community report issues of struggle far beyond those of just your average middle schooler. On top of the already turbulent social nature of this age group, members of this community are constantly having to find and assess safe spaces and individuals where they can express themselves and be supported for who they truly are. This constant evaluation and estimation of acceptance is not just a battle for many members of this community, but it can also be an all encompassing distraction. How can a student possibly be engaged in the curriculum if he/ she/ or they cannot feel comfortable and safe in that classroom environment? In order to combat this notion I will be taking part in a three part professional development series aimed at making our schools a more LGBTQ inclusive environment. The workshop will be lead by Daisey Boyd-Berkes, LICSW, who has worked in a variety of different capacities to target this issue. By educating ourselves and attempting to employ some of these strategies I look forward to making our education accessible and engaging for all members of our district. If we are able to provide an inclusive academic lens to all of our students, inherently we will be removing barriers that we may not even realize exist and making sure each one of our students can access the lessons and experiences that we wish to produce.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Navigating the College Search for Students with Disabilities

by Genevieve Guellnitz

Adding another level to the college application process, students with learning differences have the additional task of making sure that colleges offer the appropriate supports for their learning style.

I recently attended a counselor workshop at Curry College to help guide students with learning disabilities, ADHD and/or executive function difficulties navigate the college search and find the right college for them. Curry’s own program, PAL (The Program for Advancement of Learning), was highlighted along with other programs and resources for prospective students such as the College Internship Program (CIP), College Living Experience (CLE), Maplebrook, PACE, Berkshire Hills Academy, the Threshold program at Lesley University, and others. It is important to note that support services are available to all students on all campus, however students must take the initiative to find them.

PAL is a comprehensive program designed to assist students obtain a Curry degree by helping with accommodations, assigning student mentors, utilizing assistive technology analyses tools, the use of academic cohorts as well as other supports. There is an additional fee and a separate application process to be accepted into this program. This type of program might be a good fit for a student who has had substantial supports in place in high school.

For students who had a lesser degree of support in high school there are a wide range of services available to all students. All higher education institutions are legally required to provide disability services and an academic resources center. Prospective students should look for information concerning learning centers, writing skills centers, counseling centers and any other resources that colleges or universities might offer. This varies by college and should be part of the college research process for any students who are interested in extra support in college.

Other factors to take into consideration are changes in how support services are requested and arranged. In college, students must play a more active role and assume the responsibility in obtaining the necessary resources for their academic success. Finding out about these details during the research process by calling the colleges resource centers will ensure that prospective colleges are truly a good fit for a student's individual needs.

Here is a sampling of questions provided by Curry that students may wish to ask when choosing a college with LD Programs and Services:

  • Are LD students fully integrated into the college?
  • Is there a fee?
  • Is academic credit received?
  • What is used to evaluate students for admission?
  • Is there a preparatory summer program?
  • What is the nature of the support?
  • Is subject area tutoring available?

Further resources for students with disabilities and postsecondary education (provided by Curry College):
Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) www.ahead.org
US Department of Education https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html
LD Online - college planning and LD students http://www.ldonline.org/indepth/college

Guide books:
K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities - Kravets and Wax
Peterson’s Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders - Mangrum and Strichart
Colleges with Programs or Services for Students with LD - Midge Lipkin
Survival Guide for College Students with ADHD or LD - Kathleen Nadeau

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Role of the School Counselor

by Amanda Padden

After reading Stephanie Worthley’s recent blog post about National School Counseling week I took a moment to reflect on how much I love my job. As Mrs. Worthley mentioned, at any time of day each counselor might be doing something completely different ranging from scheduling, to supporting a student with a mental health problem, to teaching a vocational unit in a classroom. I love the excitement and variety that comes along with being a school counselor- I never know who will walk through my door next.

When people learn that I’m a school counselor, they often ask if that means I help students apply to college. While this is certainly a part the role, it doesn’t describe the job fully. NPR Ed recently interviewed the School Counselor of the Year, Terri Tchorzynski, about her experience as a school counselor. Tchorzynski broke down the role of a high school school counselor into three different domains: future planning, social/emotional support, and academics (attendance, grades, and scheduling). Tchorzynski notes that one of the most challenging part of the job is to provide students with social and emotional support. There are times when I feel like I want to fix or change something for one of my students and I’m unable to. I am grateful that Medfield has expanded its support services so that students have access to an adjustment counselor and the RISE transition program. Although this part of the job can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding. Any counselor in the district can tell a story about working with a student who has anxiety or depression and watching them make positive progress as a result. It’s stories like these that keep me going and remind me of how valuable and important the work of a school counselor can be.

It’s a privilege to be able to work with students at Medfield every day and there are certainly students here who I can see becoming school counselors in the future!


Monday, February 6, 2017

National School Counseling Week

by Stephanie Worthley

February 6-10, 2017

National School Counseling Week is celebrated each February to focus attention on the unique contribution of professional school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for their future.

We are fortunate in Medfield to have Guidance Counselors from the elementary level through high school. As a district, we have established a comprehensive school counseling program addressing the academic, career, and personal/social development of students. The Guidance Counselors are in place to work directly with students to offer support to students at various times in their lives. Guidance Counselors work with students to resolve interpersonal problems, behavioral problems, improve organization skills and time management, and at the high school level, advise on career and college planning. In many cases, Guidance Counselors do not work with just students. Guidance Counselors often involve a student's teachers or parents in the counseling process. Guidance Counselors may also refer students to external agencies that are equipped to dealing with a student's concerns.

With that said, the role of the Guidance Counselor is ever-changing and depends on a variety of factors within the school. For example, while I am writing this blog post, Erik could be preparing for the ACT test administration; Anne could be writing a college letter of recommendation; Amanda could be meeting with a parent; Gennie could be working on schedule changes; Russ could be counseling a student; Matt could be teaching "Embracing Diversity"; Tracy could be working with her class on mindfulness strategies; Jen could be attending a cluster meeting; Lindsey could be teaching an Empathy workshop; and Kathy could be facilitating a leadership group. No
day is ever the same.

As the K-12 Content Specialist, I would like to publicly thank the Guidance Counselors for their hard work and dedication to the Medfield Public School community. Medfield is fortunate to have devoted counselors whose primary focus is the support and well-being of our students.