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Fall 2016


Plato once said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.” At The Bertram Group, we believe wholeheartedly in this—and we are privileged to work with families and schools who feel the same. Education plays an inspirational role in our lives, which is why finding the right school in the right place and at the right time is essential to lifelong learning and success. 

At this time every year we are thrilled to celebrate students who are settling into the next phase of their education…perhaps in a new secondary school, or in college or graduate school. We are equally thrilled to guide this year’s group of candidates as they grow in self-awareness and pursue their dreams by exploring educational opportunities. 

In this issue of the newsletter, we are pleased to feature a guest interview with Archibald Montgomery, Head of School at Asheville School in North Carolina. This continues our series profiling schools in different regions of the country. We are also fortunate to share tips for student interviews from William Leahy, Director of Admissions at Phillips Exeter Academy, and Erby Mitchell, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at The Hotchkiss School. 

Also in this issue:

  •  Deena offers valuable data to balance sensational media headlines about college competitiveness. 
  •  Holly explores the benefits of a post-graduate year.
  •  Audrey examines how boarding schools support key 21st-century skills.
  • Jeremy reports a 50-year survey documenting how college students make sustainability issues a priority. 
  • We introduce our newest Bertram professional affiliate, Elizabeth Cashel.
  • TBG is co-sponsoring an October 6 event at Westport Library where an acclaimed psychiatrist will discuss mental health strategies for teens and young adults. 

As always, we look forward to hearing from you.
Cammie Bertram and the Bertram Team

College Bound

Every fall a new group of high school seniors gears up for a college search and faces the hype of media headlines about competitive college admissions. I have excellent news for anxious families. An annual survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA indicates that 76 percent of first-time college applicants are accepted by their first-choice college. That number has not changed significantly since 2007. So while more people than ever are applying to colleges, it also remains... read more

From the Quad

As a follow-up to Cammie Bertram’s column about considering schools that are far from home, this is the second of a series profiling schools from different regions of the country. Asheville School, in North Carolina, celebrates high standards, community, and the great outdoors. Archibald Montgomery has been Head of School at Asheville since 2002.

Q: Where do Asheville School students come from?
A: The 285 students at Asheville come from about 20 different states and 16 international countries. When families visit our school from any region, they are impressed with the culture of our community. To build strong character, teens need to be... read more

The Right Road

Thanks to a constantly changing and increasingly technological economy, today’s children will face career choices that their parents can’t currently conceive. And yet, it is up to today’s adults to prepare students for these unpredictable futures. Thus policy researchers, business leaders and educational experts constantly seek to define the qualities needed for lifelong success in the 21st century. Such lists often highlight ways of thinking and behaving that have been... read more

Action Steps

With the busiest season for interviews coming up, we offer readers an inside look at how Admissions Officers see this element of an application. 

William D. Leahy, Director of Admissions
Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH

Q: How do interviews fit into the application as a whole?
A: The interview is often a candidate’s first impression because we haven’t yet received a written application. This is a student’s chance to tell his or her story, giving a strong voice to the application and framing other information that comes in. 

Q: How can candidates prepare?
A: Most importantly, they should relax. Some families put so much energy into preparing that... read more

The Flip Side

Traditionally, athletes were the most likely to consider a post-graduate year—an additional year between high school and college. For them, the appeal was and still is another year of growth and training before competing in larger, higher-stakes college arenas. It is also an extra year of being observed by and talking with college recruiters. In recent years, a broader range of students are pursuing this option—and they find that colleges respond favorably to applicants with an additional year of academic experience.

Increasingly, more students are choosing a post-graduate year for academic or social/emotional growth. Post-graduate students, or “PG’s” have maximum flexibility in course selection at the most advanced levels offered in secondary school... read more

Bertram News

Although her first career was in advertising, Beth Cashel now has close to 20 years of experience working in schools throughout the United States and Europe. For many years she lived internationally, with her family moving frequently. “I researched schools so often and in so many settings,” Beth explains, “that I really understand what kind of information parents need and how to get it.” Along the way, Beth served in a variety of roles at schools ranging from elite... read more

Sustainable Paths

Environmental issues remain a core concern of today’s college students—and student activism is on the rise—according to the recently released The American Freshman: Fifty-Year Trends 1966-2015. This report was produced... read more

Upcoming Event

When: 7-8:30pm, Thursday, October 6
Where: Westport Library, 20 Jesup Road, Westport
Event is free to the public. The Bertram Group is proud to co-sponsor this event with Skyland Trail.


Psychiatrist Ray Kotwicki, MD, MPH,  chief medical officer at Skyland Trail treatment facility, addresses challenges faced by students transitioning to college. These can include making new... read more