College ambitions cultivated early at York Country Day School

The school’s College Counseling program puts each YCDS student in charge of their unique college search, a system starting in Middle School in which expert faculty provide all the tools for a family to find that perfect fit. It also places students in real-time college classes.

WRITTEN BY: TIM STONESIFER

OYM_YCP_YCDS_08_4York Country Day School students Jack Huang and Darryanna Moore have worked directly with Jake Doll, Director of College Counseling, in the school’s College Connect program. (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

What if the college application process was as memorable as the college experience – something you would smile back on for the rest of your life? What if, years from now, you could remember that special time in high school not as a pressure cooker but as a promising prequel?

At York Country Day School, you can.

You can be the central piece in a process that puts each YCDS student in charge of their unique college search, a system starting in Middle School in which expert faculty provide all the tools for a family to find that perfect fit. It’s called College Connect, one of the five signature programs at the independent, college preparatory school in Spring Garden Township.

You control the conversation, and you can decide where you want the college admissions journey to end.

Here, you can climb as high as your ambition and roam as far as your imagination.

“I think what we do well at Country Day is setting students up with many important resources and then helping them how they want to be helped,” says Jake Doll, Director of College Counseling. “Ultimately, this process is about each student and his or her family making the right decision for all of them.”

Food for thought

Jack Huang sat in his class at York College of Pennsylvania pleased with his project. The 17-year-old YCDS student had just come up with “Brain Food” – a marketable snack pack of high protein foods, spearmint gum, and other study aids – for a project on entrepreneurial innovation.

The Upper School curriculum at York Country Day includes college classes for all students, an experience meant to introduce young people early to the nuances of a college campus: everything from getting to class on time to the rigors of the curriculum.

Through College Connect, students earn college credits even as they become more comfortable with life away from high school.

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Many YCDS students will graduate with more than the experience of being in a college classroom. They’ll leave with a semester’s worth of credits and a jumpstart to a college education that puts them well ahead of their peers. It’s that partnership with York College that makes College Connect so unique.

“The access, the availability of faculty, and the fact you can be more independent is what I really like about Country Day,” Jack says. “You have to be more responsible, and that’s really important.”

But at YCDS, the first steps toward a college classroom start years earlier, with a program in eighth grade to introduce Middle School students to the college counseling office.

Upper School brings personalized standardized testing prep, mock interviews, regular one-on-one family meetings, and help with applications and financial aid.

“The key is to have that constant dialogue from early on,” Doll says. “You’re always tapping them on the shoulder, making sure they’re comfortable and on track.”

The shuttle transportation between York Country Day School and York College of Pennsylvania is part of the partnership between the two schools. (Photos by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

‘College on my mind’

Darryanna Moore stood looking across the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, having just changed her mind. She had spent the day traveling with her YCDS classmates, visiting both UMBC and McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.

“I didn’t think there’d be much difference in terms of the feel of campuses,” 17-year-old Darryanna says, “but I really liked the more urban campus when I saw it.”

In ninth grade, all Country Day students begin visiting the campuses of local universities, getting a better feel for their preferences.

But colleges visit YCDS as well.

Each Year Country Day welcomes representatives from more than 70 colleges and universities from across the United States and beyond to its annual college fair. Students also meet individually with college representatives who visit campus throughout the school year.

“Before I felt like I was getting nowhere, so when I came to Country Day, from the first day, I had college on my mind,” Darryanna says. “I think they’ve made me a better student, and I think now I’m prepared for college.”

At York Country Day School, the first steps toward a college classroom start in eighth grade to introduce Middle School students to the college counseling office. (Photos by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

Your journey

Look across an Upper School classroom at York Country Day School, and you can see the stories, still in their first chapters; you can imagine the amazing journeys to come.

Jack Huang’s early decision application will make its way to the admissions office at a top tier school, as he hopes to follow his older brother north. He’s thinking of something in engineering or finance, and maybe law school after.

Darryanna Moore’s top choices are varied but at all three she plans to pursue a degree in nursing on the horizon after she fell in love with an anatomy class she took as a high school student.

“We’re prepared to offer something different to every student to suit their individual needs,” Doll says. “At the end of the day, for us, it’s about each family’s unique journey.”

And your journey at YCDS?

It will wind through sunlit hallways and classrooms, past dedicated faculty and good friends, then out into a world where you can chase whatever hopes Country Day has sought to grow, all of those dreams they’re proud to help nurture.