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Fall 2013


The start of each new academic year brings with it the thrill and potential of new personal adventures. At The Bertram Group, we feel the "journey" metaphor reflected in the column headings of our Directions newsletter is apt for the educational process because learning is a continuous part of life. Each phase involves preparing for challenges, taking new risks, and making wise choices about where to go next. As we travel through our formal education—beginning in grammar school and continuing through secondary, college, and graduate levels—we learn to navigate and set the compass of our lives. Each step is a small movement toward a destination, and we must keep moving forward—even though we can never completely predict where the journey will take us.

This issue offers a variety of information to apply during this busy season:

  • Holly shares a theory of success that is relevant for both selecting and settling in to new schools.
  • Jeremy shares resources available to families who are worried about teen behaviors and reports on school sustainability trends.
  • In our new "Action Steps" column, we present six savvy strategies for productive boarding school visits.
  • Deena steers candidates away from common blunders of college essay writing.
  • Collectively, we report on our recent trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong, where we encountered significant interest in U.S. and Canadian educational opportunities.
  • In addition, we introduce our newest professional affiliates, Linda Magnussen and Kristen J. Naspo.

As always, we look forward to hearing from you.

Cammie Bertram and The Bertram Team

From the Quad

A traditional recipe for happiness in our society is the following: if I work harder, then I... read more

The Flip Side

At this time of year, many parents pine over the arrival of the first report card—hoping for the best, but also knowing that it might not bring good news. First semester reports often serve as a wake up call to clarify boundaries, expectations, and goals for the future. One of the greatest dilemmas parents face is distinguishing between the trivial and the infinitely important so as to react appropriately. As teens grow and develop, the many changes of adolescence can sometimes leave... read more

Action Steps

1. Prepare before your visit.

Make the most of limited time on-campus by exploring the school’s website and promotional materials before you arrive. Jot down key points that make this school appealing, plus any questions or concerns. A visit is the opportunity to confirm or clarify these impressions.

2. Tune into clues about the school culture.

Students often find that multiple schools can serve their academic needs, but being academically successful depends upon finding those schools where they feel truly comfortable. Remember that in the 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week boarding school world, more time is spent outside than inside the classroom. As you tour the campus, soak up the intangible atmosphere of the architecture, the... read more

College Bound

The new Common Application this year changes things a bit in terms of the essay requirement. With no option to develop their own topics, students must choose among five new prompts, which in shorthand terms are: 1) The Significant Background Story, 2) Learning from Failure, 3) Challenging a Belief, 4) A Place of Contentment, and 5) A Transition to Adulthood. The good news is that these prompts allow for plenty of creativity and individuality. The bad news is that there is also ample room for a college essay to derail.

Having read thousands of essays in my former role as an admissions officer, I can point out some surprisingly common blunders to avoid:

  1. The Mountaintop Epiphany: It was a grueling physical and emotional challenge, but eventually the applicant made it to
  2. ... read more
The Right Road

Two years after the first Bertram Group journey to Asia, we have again crossed the ocean to discuss the variety of educational opportunities available in the United States and Canada. In September, Camille Bertram, Audrey Ludemann and Kristen Naspo spent two busy weeks in Shanghai and Hong Kong meeting with international schools, tutoring programs, learning centers, therapists, psychologists, and families.

The response to our visit was tremendous: A seminar we offered for families received so many RSVP's that we added another session to the schedule. Heads of school and institutional leaders arranged for key members of their faculty and staff to hear our presentation. Wherever we went, we were gratified by a warm welcome and the knowledge that the information we shared was valued by educators and families.

Core areas of interest were:

  • As we discovered on our previous trip, junior boarding school opportunities hold significant interest, and yet are still
  • ... read more
Bertram News

Two professional consultants joined our network of affiliates this season, both bringing a unique, global perspective on education.

Linda Magnussen, the president and founder of LM Educational Advisory, has developed a strong following among expat Americans and international families planning to attend college in the United States, as well as U.S.-based students who wish to explore summer programs or expand university options in another country. Linda recently stepped... read more

Worthwhile Detours

We recommend these books for their fresh perspectives on the educational journey:

In A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults: Executive Function ImpairmentsYale professor Thomas E. Brown shares the latest research on ADHD and concretely illustrates the impact of executive functioning on people’s lives. Brown poses that executive functioning—which affects the brain... read more

Sustainable Paths

In June the National Association of Independent Schools organized a three-day summit around environmental sustainability in independent schools. Educators, administrators and facility managers from around the country gathered to discuss the many facets of what sustainability means at a school. The group met at The Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, CT, and toured its recently opened ... read more