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Winter 2014


I hope you are enjoying cozy time with your family inside as the winter winds howl outside at this time of year. Many families are currently basking in the lull that comes once school lists are honed and applications submitted. Other families, however, are confronting a nagging concern that they may be too late to pursue new opportunities for their children for the next school year. Good news—the door is not closed. Although the busiest application season has just passed, the admission process for boarding and independent day schools continues year-round. Once students RSVP to acceptances, many wonderful schools still have room in their incoming classes and go through a second busy round of admissions beginning in April.

In this issue of Bertram Directions, we are particularly thrilled to feature a guest interview with Heather Hoerle, executive director of the organization that develops the SSAT, which is the most commonly used admission test for students applying to independent schools. We will run this interview in two parts, focusing in this issue on some of the many pressing questions that parents have about the SSAT test itself.

Also in this issue:

  • Audrey offers perspective and a short “to-do” list for the downtime between now and when school acceptances are announced on March 10.
  • Holly explores how the factors that build resilience in children relate to school environments.
  • Jeremy discusses strategies for keeping the lines of communication open between parents and teens.
  • Linda highlights the benefits of starting early in the college application process.
  • The Bertram News highlights summer options, including a unique international opportunity that we learned about on our recent trip to China.


Please do not hesitate to contact us at The Bertram Group at any time of year when you decide to explore possibilities for your child.


Cammie Bertram and The Bertram Team

The Right Road

Meet Heather Hoerle, Executive Director of the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB). Heather began her career working in the admission offices of the George and Westtown schools in Pennsylvania. She then worked at The Association of Boarding Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools for more than 20 years.

The Bertram Group is pleased to offer a two-part guest interview with Heather. In this issue we focus on questions about the SSAT.

Q: Many parents are familiar with the SSAT. What should they know about the organization behind that assessment tool?

A: The SSATB is a nonprofit whose board of directors is comprised of educational leaders from the world of independent schools. We focus on improving the... read more

Action Steps

Congratulations! You have worked hard all year, kept your grades up, taken the SSAT, and labored... read more

From the Quad

Resilience—the ability to pick oneself up, dust off, and get back in the game after a setback—is crucial to success in school and life. Thus psychologists have spent decades studying what fosters this personal attribute. Ben Foss, head of an educational advocacy group called Headstrong Nation, referenced two foundational factors in a recent talk about learning differences at Eagle Hill Southport in Connecticut: challenges commensurate with ability and unconditional love. As an... read more

The Flip Side

Educational planning requires honest, constructive conversation. Yet the topic can be fraught with tension even when parents and students have a positive relationship. Parents often feel the weight of major life decisions differently than teens. Plus, it is natural for parents to develop a set of hopes for a child’s future while coaching him or her toward adulthood. Meanwhile, adolescents are busy inventing and advocating for dreams of their own.

As educational advisors, we often... read more

College Bound

The number of students applying to college through early admission processes is on the rise, according to data released in December. Early applicant pools for Brown and Columbia are up 5 percent from last year. Northwestern and Boston University each saw a jump of 15 percent. Duke University saw a dramatic increase of 25 percent. The percentage of a freshman class filled via early decision can be quite staggering: 54 percent at the University of Pennsylvania, 47 percent at Duke and 45... read more

Bertram News

February is traditionally the month when parents begin looking for summer opportunities for their children. While The Bertram Group does not focus on traditional summer camps, we are a resource for identifying academic enrichment and leadership programs that are offered by boarding schools and colleges during summer months. These programs are often a microcosm of the boarding school experience—offering academic classes, followed by afternoon sports, and the fun of becoming part of a dorm community. Many students find such experiences a valuable way to try out boarding school life.

On our trip to China last fall, we discovered an exciting summer program that attracts students from the United States and around the globe. We met with Yale and Harvard Business School graduate Agnes Kong, who has created the Young Leaders of Tomorrow summer program in Hong Kong. The program is designed to help students... read more

Worthwhile Detours

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

All I Can starts out as a ski film with breathtaking landscape footage and develops into an exploration of how spending time in nature develops people’s appreciation of the environment. The film portrays the challenges of skiing as a thought-provoking metaphor to inspire people’s commitment to... read more

Sustainable Paths

One difficulty people face when contemplating sustainability is the increasing awareness that almost all aspects of our modern lifestyles are highly consumptive. Should we not take that family ski trip because of the fossil fuels needed make the ski gear and get us to the slopes? Should a student not pursue a foreign exchange program because of the plane ride to China? Or row crew because the team travels to Florida for pre-season training over spring break? People can easily become... read more