By Rus VanWestervelt, NDP Dad of Maddie, Class of 2020
Three years ago, my wife and I joined our daughter in making the rounds to find the right high school; one major advantage emerged that put NDP as our top choice: the promise of a solid focus placed on college counseling and finding the right school for her.
It was more than a blanket assurance, though, for all of their students. You can find such promises anywhere. NDP expressed clearly that their focus was on what was the right post-secondary school for each student. In other words, NDP let us know early on that what was right for one student might not be right for another, and they would not wait until junior year to begin the process of finding that right and individual fit.
I remember how scary it was knowing that we were making a 4-year commitment to a preparatory school, entrusting a team of counselors with our daughter to lead her to the right college. We weren’t sure how they were going to do it, but through their presentations and proven history, we trusted that they were the best at the game.
So, as my daughter now enters the second semester of her junior year, and as we have watched this wide-eyed freshman transform into a responsible, focused young woman, we have no doubt that the decision we made three years ago was the right one.
Here’s what I’ve learned about how NDP prepares our daughters.
It’s All About Each Student: Probably one of the most significant shifts we experienced at NDP since our daughter’s very first day as a freshman was being taught the importance of academic independence and accountability. This ownership of learning is a critical foundation for “owning” the accomplishments and, at times, consequences, of academic effort. Our daughters are taught a variety of learning strategies and skills, and it is up to them, as freshmen, to be responsible for their own learning. Later in their NDP education, when our daughters are introduced to the complex and potentially overwhelming experience of college admissions, they are far better prepared to tackle the challenges of a college search with self-confidence and determination. Instead of looking for a college that will merely accept them, they are researching the schools — critically — to find what will be the ideal fit with their career plans. in other words, NDP has prepared them well to be equal players in the game of finding the right college.
It’s All About A Full Four-Year Program With The Faculty And Staff: It’s not just about the junior and senior years; we’ve seen firsthand that NDP implements a very strategic 4-year plan that ensures our daughters will be in control of making appropriate and demanding college choices. In attending back-to-school nights and meeting with various teachers in these past five semesters, it’s clear to us that the faculty is invested in the bigger picture of our daughters’ education experience at NDP and — importantly — beyond.
In addition, the academic and college counseling programs at NDP provide the best individual services to our daughters. In our situation, the counselors have listened to our daughter’s evolving and refining focus for what she wants to do beyond high school and in her career. As a result, her college choices seem logical; they are challenging, aligned with her learning styles and abilities, and in sync with her social and ethical missions. Because of NDP’s focus on academic success beyond NDP — and seeing our daughter as an individual — this experience in searching for a college is enjoyable for all of us.
It’s All About Educating The Parents: As much as NDP is a college preparatory school for our daughters, it has done a more than admirable job preparing us as parents. When they were firm with our daughters in owning their education, they were firm with us in taking a step back, trusting the process, and letting our daughters be accountable for their learning and their successes.
While we were biting our fingernails and lifting more than a few prayers, NDP continued to provide us with clear communication about the process, the plan, and the outcome of what an authentic 4-year college preparatory program is really all about. They have presented themselves with quiet confidence, assuring us (and our daughters) that everything has a purpose, and we would all know from our experiences in our daughter’s junior year that we are exactly where we need to be.
Times have changed since we’ve been in school, parents. Our daughters are faced with a multi-million-dollar marketing machine targeted to convince them that they are a “best fit” for virtually every school that’s out there. NDP empowers our daughters to see through the college courting process and make smart, informed, and self-specific decisions about the universities that can really make a difference in their careers.
But, to be honest, it’s more than that. NDP so values our daughters, that the focus goes beyond any career; the teachers and counselors never stray from their ultimate focus in fostering academic excellence, spiritual growth, and the practice of social justice as our daughters become women transforming the world.
To do that, NDP must put our daughters first; in my opinion, as my own daughter enters the second semester of her junior year with ever-evolving independence and responsibility, I would say that we made the right choice three years ago — a choice that will forever make a profound difference in our daughter’s life.