Learn more about current school issues and trends from Sanford School’s educational experts.  Sanford’s blog is sure to help you navigate your child’s educational journey.

Parent Advice for Navigating the College Process During COVID-19

Posted by Katie Trachtenberg '06 on November 20, 2020 at 5:00 PM

The college search process can seem daunting even in the best of times. This year, there are even more questions and unknowns for parents, as well as for admissions officers and college counselors. With an open mind and a degree of patience, you can still navigate this milestone with your students.

Here are six tips to guide you through the college process:

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Topics: College Guidance, Parenting Tips

5 Tips to Help Your Child Transition to Middle School

Posted by Courtney Gregor on May 30, 2020 at 1:46 PM

Going to middle school is a big change, and even though your child may be excited, there’s also probably some anxiety about moving up to the next level. This Scholastic article notes that some of the common fears that kids have about starting middle school. Parents can support their children by taking kids’ concerns seriously and, as much as possible, being proactive before the school year begins so that the transition is a smooth one. Read the following five tips that you can use to help prepare you and your child to make the move to middle school.

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Topics: Education, College Guidance, Academics, Parenting Tips, Middle School

The College Application Process:Writing College Essays

Posted by Katie Trachtenberg '06 on September 19, 2019 at 1:30 PM

Writing college essays is a daunting task for most high school seniors and the cause of much friction between students and their parents in the middle of the college application process. Parents want to see applications completed and submitted well before admissions deadlines while students find thousands of ways to avoid writing their essays. Writing about oneself is never an easy task, but it is especially challenging for teenagers who are just beginning the process of self-reflection that insightful writing requires. These young writers are often apprehensive about putting pen to paper because they believe that their words, which will be evaluated by unknown admissions officers, will determine their college choices and their success in life. 

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Topics: Education, College Guidance, Academics

Top Tips for Preparing for The College Application Process

Posted by Olivia Civiletti on August 23, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Senior year of high school can sometimes feel like the perfect storm. It is the moment in which all that the students have worked for the past three years is put to the test. College admissions anxiety can often cloud the eyes of many 12th graders as well as the sadness that comes with leaving the comfort and security of all that they have known. Though the latter cannot be avoided, there are many strategies that revolve around early preparation and anticipation that can be put towards preventing the former. Here are a few simple steps that, when taken in sophomore or junior year, can help ease the stress of the college application process:

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Topics: College Guidance

4 Ways To Help Your Child Navigate The College Search Process

Posted by Katie Trachtenberg '06 on February 8, 2019 at 12:22 PM

For many seniors, figuring out the college process is like aiming at a moving target. Students have to navigate a challenging dynamic that is both created by their own emotions and expectations and impacted by the results of their last three years of high school and the wishes of their families. As college counselors, we consider it our job to educate, guide, and gently remind our seniors (and their parents) about the various steps along the path to college, but ultimately we know our students will be well-prepared and successful no matter where they go.

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Topics: College Guidance, Parenting Tips

Benefits of an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum

Posted by Lynn Casto on November 11, 2016 at 5:01 PM

When selecting high schools, multiple factors weigh into a family’s decision: size, location, the strength of the program, and programmatic choice, to name a few. The presence of an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum within a high school signals a respected level of educational excellence. AP courses offer rigorous college-level content within a secondary school setting.

A school with an AP program may provide many benefits to students and families: 

  • Students develop the habits of mind and skills required to be successful in college courses while still in high school.
  • In-depth study of a particular field often leads to students discovering a passion and pursuing that field as a major in college.
  • College admissions officers often view students who score well on AP exams as being more prepared than those who have not experienced AP to handle college-level academics thus predicting a higher rate of success in college.
  • Students within the AP program are viewed by college admissions officers as hard-working, and self-motivated.
  • AP provides a standard measure by which students applying to college can be compared. Students can distinguish themselves within an elite group of students.
  • Students who score well on AP exams may receive college credit for their high school coursework.
  • With enough credits accumulated through AP, some students are able to graduate a semester or a year early, decreasing college expenses for families.
  • Earning introductory college credit through AP credits may open room in a student’s schedule that would allow the pursuit of elective courses in an area of interest or room for a minor study.

The AP designation offers a benchmark for academic excellence and teacher professional development. For a school to offer the AP designation, the teachers of the course must complete the audit process and be approved by the College Board. Schools must provide adequate resources to AP students and professional development to AP teachers. In addition, the teacher’s content must be approved by the College Board in order to be authorized to use the AP designation.

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Topics: College Guidance, Academics, High School Experience

What Makes a High School Writing Program Successful?

Posted by Brianna McCoy on October 25, 2016 at 5:30 PM


Writing is the foundation of much of what students will do in school and in their post-academic lives. As such, it is important to find a school that has a good writing program. A strong writing curriculum allows for flexibility so students can learn in multiple ways and encourages them to stretch and reach. We see the following as the key components of a successful writing program.

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Topics: College Guidance, Academics, High School Experience

Applying to College: Advice for Students and Families

Posted by Catherine Kaser on November 24, 2015 at 3:00 PM
Casey Zimmer, Director of College Counseling at Sanford School, shares thoughts designed to create a favorable outcome for college-bound high school students and their families.

Q: Word on the street is that it's harder to get into college now than it used to be. Truth or myth?

A: The most selective schools are receiving more applications than ever, so their acceptance rates continue to decline; however, every college is seeking students. If we look past name-branding, there are plenty of great schools out there! The key to finding schools that will be a great fit is for each student to have the self-awareness to determine what factors and practical considerations, including affordability, matter most. Communicate these things to the school guidance or college counselor, who has the current knowledge and experience to help steer students toward some great options and resources. No matter where students attend college, what matters most for their future success is what they do once they're there.

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Topics: College Guidance

Liberal Arts and STEM are not Mutually Exclusive

Posted by John Ramsey on November 17, 2015 at 3:00 PM

The term “liberal arts" is used a lot but often misunderstood. STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is the latest buzz word in education. To hear people talk about these two concepts, they seem at odds with one another. But are they really?

Liberal arts is a shortened version of liberal arts and sciences. It refers to a philosophy of education embraced by many American colleges and universities. A key point here is that the sciences are an important part of a liberal arts education. For example, a biology major in a liberal arts program will devote about one-third of his or her overall college curriculum to biology. The other two-thirds, spread over a wide range of disciplines, offers educational breadth and is the hallmark of a liberal arts education.

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Topics: College Guidance, STEM