Saddle River Day School Offers College Counseling that Empowers Students for Success

Gretchen Lee

If there is one thing that parents know when they enroll their children at Saddle River Day School, it’s that they’ve put their kids in good hands. From world class educators and thought leaders who maintain the highest academic standards, to Chef Mark, to an administration that models, supports and encourages innovation and creativity, the team at Saddle River Day School prepares students for a future we can only imagine.  This vision-in-action becomes particularly clear when students in the Upper School begin their college search process.

The guiding principle for Karen Ferretti, Director of College Counseling and Robert Kettlewell, Associate Director is to “Always think of the students first and always see them as individuals.”

Which means that initial sessions with 9th and 10th graders involve discussions around class schedules and grades. Students are encouraged to build an ambitious academic schedule of Honors, AP and College Prep classes that will be both challenging and fulfilling. This ongoing conversation is particularly important in a time when the future of SAT and ACT testing is uncertain. As Ms. Ferretti says, “Nothing replaces the transcript. Success in the classroom is critical.” 10th graders also complete assessments that enable the College Counseling Office to get to know each student individually. These assessments help identify and define students’ interests, strengths, talents and dreams.

After laying the groundwork, it’s time to buckle up! Junior year kicks into high gear with College Night in October. Initial strategy and planning meetings begin in December and the mandatory and invaluable College Counseling Workshop starts in January during which students build their individualized list of colleges. As they research schools, SRDS students are encouraged to become savvy consumers, critically evaluating college and university websites to extract valuable information about a school’s character, vision and philosophy. It is this scrutiny that will enable students to make the hard decisions about a school’s cultural, academic and geographical fit.

Guiding them on this very personal journey is Ms. Ferretti, a former college admissions officer who began working as a high school college counselor to make sure each student she comes in contact with has a positive, empowering experience. With her unique perspective, Ms. Ferretti advises students to think big about their futures, to envision the years beyond college and where (and who) they want to be. The College Counseling Office is successful in this because of the relationships and trust built during their years of close contact with the students. It is this access that differentiates and elevates the Saddle River Day School process so much that SRDS alums willingly return year after year to share their insights and experiences with current students.

Juniors also complete their Common Application and brainstorm, write and polish their all-important College Personal Statement, otherwise known as The Essay. The familiarity the College Counseling Office has built with each student is a critical advantage as they oversee the crafting of an essay that does the important work of defining or rounding out a student’s personal narrative.

Essays, applications and profiles in hand, Seniors spend their fall coming to terms with their impending transition, writing supplemental essays, putting the final touches on their application and then proofreading, proofreading, proofreading. Ms. Ferretti is there every step of the way, even hosting a Get Your Application Done Sunday open house just before the first round of deadlines. In non-COVID years, this Sunday is a little work and a lot of play as students bond over a home cooked meal as they finally, finally hit “Submit”.

When asked, families list a number of things to love about Saddle River Day School. They cite the rigorous coursework, emphasis on the individual, the open-minded embrace of new ideas, the nimble response to change, and the cutting-edge enrichment opportunities that not only make SRDS a unique learning environment but that also make SRDS students one-of-a-kind. Nowhere are these factors more in evidence than during the college counseling process. Parents can be sure that their child will be seen and promoted as the exceptional people they are. Parents can be sure that their kids are in good hands.