Smaller Schools, More Staff, More Help

by NYC Firm Schools on November 12, 2009

IN a recent NY Times blog, Ralph Figueroa, a former admissions officer at Wesleyan and Occidental answer questions about the necessity and relatively usefulness of hiring an independent “college coach” for high schools assistance on their college applications.

His answers were insightful and showcase some of the differences in a low student/teacher ratio:

Are college coaches truly needed? No, they aren’t. Can they be helpful? Absolutely, depending entirely on your individual circumstances.
It is perfectly reasonable for a student and his or her family to navigate the admission process entirely on their own. There are still many students who do just that every year.

I work for an independent school with a senior class of 157 students. I am one of three full-time college advisers, and our upper school principal is also a part-time college adviser. We have a full-time college guidance coordinator, as well. Students here at Albuquerque Academy have all the resources they need for assistance with the college search. There is absolutely no need for any student here to ever use an outside college coach. And for the most part, they don’t.

At one local public school, on the other hand, the senior class of 450 students is served by a single counselor, who also has other responsibilities. There is no way that counselor can spend the time on the college process that I have the luxury of providing. Clearly, students and families at that very strong school might be justified in seeking outside assistance.

Understanding the difference that a student teacher ratio can make in the classroom and on educational guidance is a key factor in choosing the right school for your older child. Even if your child is an excellent student who has no problem keeping up in more crowded classrooms, there will still be a lesser chance of guidance and assistance in moving on to a college or university.

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