From N.Y. Times by Jenny Anderson:
At Avenues, a for-profit school scheduled to open this fall in Chelsea, college counseling will begin with students in ninth grade. Similarly, Léman Manhattan, a for-profit school downtown, starts the formal college search process with its freshmen; in addition, seventh- and eighth-grade students can visit campuses on a three-day trip in the spring.

But at the Trinity School and Ethical Culture Fieldston School, two elite private schools, the college planning process does not get under way until 11th grade, a tradition administrators actively work to preserve. To begin any earlier, they say, would put undue pressure on students.

Established nonprofit private schools and new for-profit ones are taking divergent approaches to a question that vexes almost every parent and student headed into the college admissions thicket: Is it better to get a jump on the process but risk turning high school into a staging ground for college admission? Or is it preferable to start later, when students are more developmentally prepared but perhaps missing opportunities to plan hobbies, choose classes and secure summer internships?

That question has special importance for current juniors, as they begin to narrow their list of top choices and plan for college admissions testing.

Gardner P. Dunnan, head of the upper school at Avenues and the former head of the Dalton School and the School at Columbia University, is a proponent of beginning early. “I believe the process should start in the ninth grade in terms of really thoughtful planning of the high school career,” he said. An early start, he said, allows students to focus on an area of mastery — a critical tenet of the Avenues curriculum — and showcase that for colleges.

Larry Momo, head of college counseling at Trinity, said his school took a different approach. “We don’t want to turn high school into a staging ground for the college admission process,” he said. High school should not be about résumé building, he said, but rather “allowing kids to develop their natural talents and inclinations and support those inclinations.”

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