Director of College Counseling: Reaching for new heights requires a plan

Joe Rulewich is the director of college counseling.

Peddie students reach. It’s coded in their DNA and it's what most excites their curiosity when they first read Peddie’s Mission, which includes our school’s commitment to “challenge our students to reach beyond their expectations.” 

Reaching requires a plan. The timing of when we officially begin the Peddie college search experience is intentional. During their freshman and sophomore years, supported by their individual advisors, students are encouraged to immerse themselves in their academic journey and to discover their strengths, pursue their interests and set their course for their Peddie experience. Sophomores are assigned an academic advisor in the winter term; this relationship is specifically geared toward planning coursework over the remainder of their time at Peddie that aligns with their strengths and personal goals. Students are assigned a college advisor in their junior year, when they are best positioned to reflect on their Peddie experiences and when they are most prepared to think ahead and engage in dynamic college conversations.

There is also a strategic coincidence in our timing. Our college search kickoff collides with the early winter days when many of our seniors hear their initial Early Decision and Early Action college admissions news. We take advantage of these overlapping moments to remind our juniors that those college decisions don’t just happen. Their college search and application submission will be the result of many months of thorough research, thoughtful conversations and, often, some tough choices.

Head of College Counseling speaking with student

According to Director of College Counseling Joe Rulewich (left), the college process for Peddie students involves many months of thorough research, thoughtful conversations, and often, some tough choices.

True to our mission, Peddie prepares each student, both in the classroom and beyond, for the rigors and rewards of college. Our seniors will practice tremendous courage in line with our school’s Core Values as they navigate a college admissions crucible, which can be fraught with external pressures, unfair expectations and a process driven seemingly and solely by outcomes. With a commitment to respect, honesty, scholarship and balance, seniors bravely, and with wonderful encouragement and support, consider and pursue what might be possible. They stretch. And they reach.

In a current college admissions culture held hostage by the “where” questions – where did you apply, where did you get in and where are you going, at Peddie, we will always define success by how our students reach. Not if they reach (they will) or where they reach (that is about personal fit and individual goals), but rather how they thoughtfully consider their choices and how authentically they share their voices.

In a current college admissions culture held hostage by the 'where' questions – where did you apply, where did you get in and where are you going, at Peddie, we will always define success by how our students reach.”

Reaching in the college search requires our students to envision the best versions of themselves, develop a plan for how they might get to where they want to be and consistently demonstrate the courage and confidence it takes to achieve something remarkable. Peddie students do not embark on this adventure alone. With guidance from the College Counseling team and the support of teachers, advisors, coaches and mentors, Peddie students reach during, what for all students will be, their collective capstone experience. Along the way, students practice many of the things they learn at Peddie – open-mindedness, decision-making, appreciation, reflection, resilience and the highest quality of citizenship. 

Together as a community, we celebrate all that students accomplish at Peddie, and anticipate with great enthusiasm the impact each individual student will make on his or her college campus. Reaching for new heights is nothing new for our soaring Peddie Falcons. It’s that DNA thing again!