Graded’s New College Counseling


On Thursday, May 30th, Superintendent Richard Boerner and High School Principal Stuart Kent met with the Graded community through Zoom to introduce Graded’s newest college counseling pathway as well as the three full-time College Counselors themselves: Phyllis Clemmensen Halton, Jeff Neill, and Janan Sabeh. The Talon attended and brings you a run-down of what you might have missed. 

Phyllis Clemmensen Halton, with over 50 years of experience in education, worked at Graded for 30 years from January 1981 until 2011. She has now returned to Graded after being in Bombay and has worked with this year’s Seniors. From India and Portugal to Thailand and the United States, Ms. Clemmensen Halton has had a wide variety of experience supporting applicants and will continue to work with Graded students. She will work with students whose last name starts with A through G.

[email protected] 

Jeff Neill has worked at six schools in four continents. In total, he has 21 years of experience in education; he’s been involved in the social-emotional side of learning as well as college counseling. Mr. Neill has worked with students in both the United States and Taiwan and now comes from Senegal to Brazil. He will work with students whose last name starts with H through Q

[email protected] 

Janan Sabeh, pronounced SAH-BEH, comes to Graded from Los Angeles with 10 years of experience. Having worked with students in Egypt, Jordan, the United States and now Brazil, Ms. Sabeh is looking forward to working with students at Graded. She speaks Arabic and some Spanish, and she can’t wait to learn Portuguese. She will be working with students whose last name starts with R through Z

[email protected] 

The college counseling pathway refers to the process through which college counselors will guide and support both students and parents in regard to university applications. Though it is more centered around the US application system, the pathway is still useful for international universities given it provides an overview that can be tailored to specific student needs. Some universities accept applications far later than the US deadlines while other universities may ask for everything to be done by October of 12th grade, so the pathway provides a middle ground. Divided into grades, each step is different from the last but all complement each other such that students are ready to apply to college in their Senior year. A general trend described by the counselors is that the process becomes more personalized as one gets closer to graduation; however, attention to academics is always a constant regardless of which grade you’re in. 

In grade 9, the focus is the transition from Middle School to High School. The most important thing is the development of good academic habits that students will be able to continue throughout their high school careers. Some things freshmen can do right now is to get involved in activities to develop interests and passions. Counselors will help you explore career opportunities and get accommodated with Maia Learning, the online software utilized to support students in the college application process. 

In sophomore year students will become more involved with universities. Grade 10 will be the time for them to continue exploring future careers with an eye out for possible majors, colleges, and the general application processes. Counselors will support students through family meetings, parent workshops – where parents will be guided on how to support their children through the application process –, academic advising, and standardized testing like the PSAT. Moreover, students will be advised on their IB course selection. 

As students enter Junior year, there will be college counseling seminars where counselors will introduce expectations, timelines, application processes, and such. From more general guidance, the work students will do with counselors will now be more individualized – for example, you will discuss more in detail what countries you’re interested in applying to. 11th graders will be asked to reach out for recommendation letters, as well as to prepare a potential college list and essay. 

Seniors will revise, revisit, reframe, and submit essays – probably more than once! They will review their college acceptance outcomes and make the final university choice. Lastly, counselors will help you prepare for the transition into university life. For soon-to-be Seniors, some things you can do now and during the summer to prepare for college applications are: write a draft college essay either in the US or UK style (the UK style is a good basis for international applications), have a list of around 15 universities you’d like to apply to, research universities that both fits your criteria and that you fit theirs, and reach out to your college counselor. Use Google Calendar to book meetings or send them an email. 

To conclude, the Graded college counseling team is excited to be working with Graded students and parents with a pathway to navigate through the college admissions process. If members of the Graded community have further questions, please contact Mr. Kent: [email protected]