At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the High School student body was introduced to a restructured and expanded counseling team, helmed by Dr. Nicole Cook, Director of Counseling and University Admissions. Supporting Nicole is a team of three University Admissions Counselors and two Social-Emotional Counselors. “By having staff specialized in either academic or social-emotional counseling, students are provided with varied support throughout their journey. It also allows for counselors to professionally develop and hold advanced skills and knowledge,” shares Nicole. This restructure and expansion recognizes the importance of abundantly preparing graduates for success beyond SFS, while also supporting students through the unique challenges of High School.
One of the team’s core activities is the seminar program. Counselors plan and implement lessons in a variety of grade-appropriate areas. For Grade 9 students, seminars focus on the social and academic transition into High School and encourage students to get involved with extracurriculars and explore their passions. Moving into Grade 10, students are beginning to think about their futures and careers - refining their personal interests and their academic interests through IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) course selection. Counselors support the transition into the DP in Grade 11 and begin university research with students. Finally, Grade 12 seminar sessions dive deep on the university admissions process with the counseling team supporting students every step of the way, ensuring they find the place or program that suits them best.
However, Nicole and the team counsel in a way that they hope will support students well beyond graduation from SFS. “I believe that High School counseling does not just lead to an endpoint outcome of university. Our role is also to facilitate the development of students so that they have the self-knowledge and other skills needed to thrive in their lives after High School. Our team’s success is demonstrated not only by where students achieve university enrollment, but also their happiness, success and thriving through university and beyond.” Special care is given to ensure students are able to learn and grow throughout the university admissions process, helping them to be more independent going forward.
It might be easy to judge whether or not SFS students are “doing well” after graduation by looking at a list of the universities they attend and assessing them by ranking or prestige. After working with students for 20 years though, Nicole knows success is defined by so much more. “Behind that list of colleges and universities lies a group of young people who have been striving to understand where they want to fit into the world, what they want to focus on in their careers, and how they want to make an impact. They are often choosing their next step from the entire globe, considering a variety of countries, subjects, cultures, and much more than a name can convey.”
At the end of the day, the High School counseling team aspires for students to move on to their next chapter with no regrets - to go for their dreams and fully embrace the journey ahead, equipped with what they need to succeed. Counselors are hard at work each day working towards that outcome for all SFS students.