High School Counseling

Planning for high school is exciting. Our mission, to discover and nurture what is finest in each child, guides the process through which our students graduate and move on to their next steps. The high school admissions counselor works closely with families and students to help find a good fit and to serve as a resource, an advocate, and a supporter.

Experience shows that our graduates are well prepared academically and developmentally, and in many ways, the research, application, and decision making associated with the high school process is a culmination of the skills and attitudes your child has cultivated during their years at Mark Day School. We see our success in the fact that graduates attend up to 15 high schools each year and consistently report academic success, personal confidence, and positive engagement in school life across the board.

For many families, the high school selection will be the first big decision they make together, and the process can be an opportunity to reflect on your values around education and to help your child engage constructively in a life decision. Click below for some “pearls of wisdom” as well as practical first steps.

Dave Hickman

Upper School Director of Student Life and Learning
High School Placement Counselor

Helpful Perspectives

Exploring and learning about different schools can be very exciting. Visiting campuses, calling parent mentors or alumni, attending open houses, going to an athletic event or concert, and surfing through the schools' websites all contribute to a deeper understanding of what each school has to offer.

  • Take the opportunity to discuss all aspects with your child. This will help illuminate important aspects of the decision. Does the size of the school matter? How about location? Are there certain sports, artistic opportunities, academic emphases, use of technology, teaching practices, or clubs that are of particular importance to your family?
  • Avoid making the decision based on hearsay or stereotypes. Use the parent mentor list to call parents and ask your questions directly. They are eager to share their experience and support our families in any way.
  • Likewise, help your child make a decision based on his or her knowledge, values, and experience. Have him or her envision life at different schools and explore how to maximize the opportunities available at each. When I was choosing where to go to college, I told my parents, "I am worried that if I choose the 'wrong door,' I'll be unhappy and regret my decision." My dad replied, "Think of it this way: Whichever door you open, you will shortly see a whole new set of very interesting doors." He was right. Long after college, I am still opening doors and walking through to more.

The Process

There is an information night held in May for 7th graders and their families. During the summer before 8th grade, families meet with the counselor to learn about their options, the timeline, and practical concerns. They receive a handbook detailing the entire process, including a comprehensive list of schools, alumni and alumni parent ambassadors, and the “to-do” list—including how to handle letters of recommendation, test scores, and more.

Students are supported up to and beyond the time of decision making. There are a lot of steps, but we work together to stay organized and on track, while also empowering the students to take responsibility. We take pride in seeing that all of our students have found themselves in the schools that feel right for them and experience great personal and academic success.