May 24, 2017 PTA Meeting Minutes

By Jung Min Lee, Hunter Life Parent Chair

Pre-Meeting Notes: Grades 7-9

PTA Meeting and College Admissions for the Class of 2017 Presentation (slides and handouts are attached below)

PTA Meeting Business
The out-going PTA co-president Michele Weisman addressed the group and reflected on her service with the PTA.

The slate of the Executive Board was announced and elected, as follows:
Co-President -- Paul Radvany
Co-President -- Carin Barbanel
1st VP Communications -- Philip Jung
2nd VP External Affairs -- Ruth Firester
Treasurer -- Vivian Tang
Other Voting Board Positions
Recording Secretary -- Linda Kahn
Corresponding Secretary -- Scott Chosed
Programming Chair -- Hayley Gorenberg
Information Technology Manager -- Marc Zampetti
Hunter Life Parent Chair -- Jung Min Lee
Exec Rep Grade 8 -- Sabrina Chosed
Exec Rep Grade 9 -- Anna Lehmann
Exec Rep Grade 10 -- Michele Weisman
Exec Rep Grade 11 -- Sam Maser
Exec Rep Grade 12 -- John Lei
Events Coordinator -- Helen Hwangpo
Legal Counsel -- David Goldberg

The meeting transitioned immediately to the College Presentation given by Ms. Hennessy, Chair of the Counseling Department.


Ms. Hennessy, Chair of the Counseling Department, introduced the College Admissions presentation. The college presentation was handed out (see below). Ms. Hennessy thanked the PTA for all its support. Parents are considered part of the team. The audience represented all grades from 7th-12th grade. Ms. Hennessy advised that parents speak to their child's counselor. The following comments augment the presentation.

There were three fewer students in the senior class than last year. The students are attending 8 more schools than last year, therefore they are a little more spread out. The rates of acceptance, applications, and rejections have remained stable over the past six years.

The number of early applications (86%) is an increase compared to last year.

91% of students were satisfied with the process. Reasons that students are not satisfied include comments such as: the school (I am planning to attend) is not aligned with expectations for Hunter student, is not one of the Ivy League schools, and "I am not proud with family and friends." More than 50% of kids mentioned finances as a reason for dissatisfaction. Ms. Hennessy asked parents to please talk about finances early in the process. Students feel that there is too much pressure around the names of schools. 67% of seniors reported that they felt their parents expected them to attend an Ivy League or similar school. 86% of seniors felt pressure from other Hunter students to attend an Ivy League school.

College Admissions for the Class of 2017: Panel Discussion and Presentation

A panel of eight students of the Class of 2017 and recent alumni discussed their thoughts on the college admissions process. Ms. Meyers of the Counseling Department posed questions to the panel. The panelists were Jonathan (to attend Dartmouth); Sarbjit (Class of 2016, attending Hunter College: Macaulay Honors College); Hannah (Class of 2013; attending SUNY Geneseo); Yuuto (to attend Ithaca College); Ben (Class of 2016; attending Hamilton College); David (to attend American University); Julia (Class of 2016; attending Cornell); and Adelle (Class of 2016; attending SUNY Binghamton).

1. How did you make the decision about where to go?

One panelist attending SUNY Binghamton reported that the orientation was the deciding factor even though the school was not her first choice. The kindness of the representative had a big impact. Now that she's on campus, it's beautiful and has nature walks. There is a breadth of opportunities - so much to choose from.

The student attending Cornell reported that her sister already attended the university and therefore it seemed that the decision was already made for her. It was the best school she got into though she was excited to go to any of the schools that were on her list.

The student attending American University stated that it was the geographic location of the school. He wanted to be in Washington DC. The school was the one he would most likely get into and one that was not too urban.

The student attending Hamilton wanted small liberal arts college that is relatively close to NYC. It has a strong writing program.

Ithaca College has a good exploratory program: one that would allow her to try a number of creative majors. The student was not willing to compromise on program in the arts.

One panelist reported that finances were the primary limited factor. She also wants to attend grad school. Her mom is a college guidance counselor and thought that her confidence would benefit from feeling like a big fish in small pond.

The student to attend Macaulay is planning to be Pre-med. Macaulay is completely free. It is located in NYC and was the best fit for her. It felt like welcoming environment. It has strong advising with the ability to have close relationships.

Dartmouth felt like a small liberal arts college. The student wanted to do something completely different from his family. When he visited, the people were so welcoming. The programs spoke to him.

2. What opportunities did you take advantage of at Hunter or wished you had?

The SUNY Geneseo student regretted that she didn't take advantage of many opportunities at Hunter. She feels like she can at her university, which is a smaller school. She was part of Geneseo’s ambassador program. Also, because it is a smaller school she was able to start something new and bring Tedx to Geneseo.

The Ithaca College-bound panelist took the school college tour for juniors. They visited SUNY Binghamton, Ithaca College, Cornell University and Vassar.

The American University-bound panelist took an off-campus course at Hunter College in Political theory.

The student attending Hamilton joined the ultimate frisbee club. He suggested looking at the fraternity system at the colleges you look at, to see whether, they could play a role in a student’s social activity on campus.

The Macaulay student is major in Biology but taking courses outside of her major. She also takes summer courses since they are all free.

The Dartmouth-bound panelist used an essay he wrote for a Hunter English class. He brought essays to his Hunter teachers so that they could make suggestions. He didn't know much about Dartmouth until the college fair and was impressed with the admissions officer. He would recommend going to the Hunter guidance counselors, as they were very helpful.

The Binghamton student was helped by Mr. Napolitano's connecting her with Hunter alumni who are attending schools she was interested in. She got an enhanced sense of the college experience from the network of Hunter graduates.

3. What do you do on the weekends at your colleges?

The Cornell student loves exploring the town of Ithaca. She volunteers at the Ithaca Activity Center with first graders. The town is very sweet.

The Geneseo student had a bit of a shock when she realized that the town is basically a farm. The closest city is Rochester, which is a 1/2-hour away. She is able to see stars in the sky and hike in state parks.

The town of Hamilton College has a population of 1900. It is located 45 minutes from Syracuse and is a cohesive college community. It is a very particular environment.

4. How often have you communicated with your parents?

The Geneseo student reported that it depends on the student. Some communicate constantly with their parents. She likes being far away from home.

The Cornell student finally accepted her mother's friend request on Facebook. She communicates with them once a week.

The Binghamton student has a scheduled 2-hour FaceTime call every week.

Another panelist has a FaceTime call once a week and texts a few times a week. It is a good idea to block out a time to talk to parents. Some kids spoke to their parents 2-3 times a week.

The Macaulay student understands that her parents are feeling like empty nesters. So she speaks to them every day.

5. What advice do you give on the process? What do wish you had known?

The American University-bound student has a twin sister who organized the schools to tour. So he did not tour the schools he was interested in. He appreciated looking at schools that Hunter kids don't usually go to.

The Ithaca-bound student recommends making two lists: 1) school qualities that one is not willing to compromise about 2) school qualities that are desired but willing to do without. The college decision is supposed to be the first big decision of a teen and that the student is supposed to take charge. But it could be the last choice you make as a kid. Her parents were afraid to ask for help. Her relationship with her mom changed to be more person-to-person, rather than parent-to-child, especially when it came to financial aid. It's ok to ask for help.

The Dartmouth-bound student wrote 8 out of 10 applications over the summer. His parents were very supporting and didn't push him which helped a lot. He was very attached to his first choice school but the other schools are also great.

The Geneseo student advised that students be more realistic and be honest with themselves. Some schools are out of reach. Go forward with level-headedness.

The Macaulay student gave a reassurance: it will be fine. She didn't believe it before, but it really does work out.

The Cornell student advised that you won't know what it's going to be like. Her sister's experience is so different from hers. College is what you make of it with a positive attitude.

Talk to older kids at that school. They have a more objective view. Choose safety schools that you love.

Geneseo: Legacy - not a good fit because she wanted a non-city college

6. How did you maintain your emotional well being during the process?

  • Make a conscious choice about what you are willing to share with your your friends. Some students share a lot about the ups and downs of their college process but others don't.
  • Love your safety schools. It will reduce stress.
  • Make sure your have an outlet to escape thinking about college process.
  • Get sleep! It's the most important thing to reduce stress.
  • Don't go on the website, College Confidential. Don't compare yourself to others.
  • Hunter staff are very willing to be supportive. They can help see the positives of the situation.
  • Worry about yourself and not about others.
  • Don't be the kid who goes around and ask everyone where they got in.
  • Have home be a safe space. Avoid talking about the college process unless the student initiates the discussion. Set boundaries with parents.
  • Make a list of what to do. You'll be less stressed when you know what to do. It's stressful to be overwhelmed.
  • Sleep!!!!
  • Don't do 14 drafts of every essay. It's not worth stressing over.
  • It was reassuring to speak to student who already got accepted Early Decision. One day you'll be on the other side of the college process.

7. What made Hunter special for you?

  • Diverse interests and excited about other people's interests
  • Hunter kids' backgrounds. When the other students are G&T, everyone can relate to that and understand.
  • One's self worth is not tied to academics.
  • The whole school turns into a support system.
  • The people you are close to, you are really close to. It's the biggest reason that she won't regret going to school at Hunter.
  • I was able to discover passions here
  • I started do tech and theater here
  • The students are special and have passion. I had great discussions.
  • Teachers are very special and are willing to come to your aid.
  • "Wish I had done more at Hunter and met more people."
HCHS College Admissions Stats - May 2017 (1).pdf404.4 KB
HCHS College Admissions Presentation - May 2017 (2).pdf1.71 MB