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Winter 2015


In some parts of the country, a deep layer of snow suggests that not much happens in nature at this time of year. But we know differently. Underneath the drifts, plants and animals store up energy, preparing for the next big surge. So it is in the school admissions season too.

Congratulations to the many Bertram families who have worked so hard to complete applications. For them this is a season of anticipation, rest, and renewal to prepare for decision-making in the spring. I particularly want to recognize the effort parents put into this process. I truly cherish reading the parents’ statements that accompany school applications because the understanding and love shines through as mothers and fathers craft the words to help others see the unique qualities of their children. I encourage parents to share these writings with their daughters and sons so that the entire family can bask in the glow of those words.

Meanwhile other families will emerge from this quiet season at the start of their journey to determine the next best step in their children’s educations. It’s not too early to begin planning for next year’s admission season, whether it be at the secondary or college level. And for those interested, there are still opportunities to explore new academic options regarding the 2015-16 school year.

In this issue of Bertram Directions, we are pleased to bring you the second installment of guest interviews with heads of school on the topic of honor codes. Katherine Windsor, from Miss Porter’s School, and William MacMullen, from The Taft School, discuss how integral these ethics are in guiding student life.

Also in this issue:

  • Deena offers tips for productive college visits.
  • Audrey provides an overview on the value of summer programs and how they fit into the big picture.
  • Holly discusses the limitations of school ranking lists.
  • I explore how influential the parent-child relationship is for teen decision-making.
  • The Bertram News column highlights the work of licensed family therapist Lisa Schwartz in supporting educational planning.

As always, we look forward to hearing from you.

Cammie Bertram and the Bertram Team

The Right Road

This is the second installment in a set of interviews with heads of school about how honor codes unite and guide educational communities. Boarding schools take on the task of helping students develop both inside and outside the classroom, and... read more

College Bound

With spring break and summer travel seasons looming ahead, now is a perfect time for families to plan their “grand tour” of colleges. It is easy for students and families to feel overwhelmed at this part of the process, so keep in mind that for most families, it is impossible to visit all the colleges that might hold interest for a student. Knowing how to focus these visits can make them much more manageable and enjoyable. Ideally, college visits should be fun, albeit productive... read more

Action Steps

Many families make summer plans long before winter snow melts. Summer programs offer a variety of experiences that significantly differ from what fits into a traditional academic year. Now is an opportune time to take stock of what an individual child might need or want to do next summer that would help balance his or her overall education.

For some students, summer brings the chance to film a documentary, program a video game, conduct scientific research on the ecosystem of whales, or... read more

From the Quad

School rankings and lists are alluring because they seem to offer efficient and authoritative data on the value of a school. But just as the potential of students cannot be reduced to an SSAT or SAT score, neither can the worth of an educational experience be distilled to a single number. This was reinforced this fall when Boston Magazine first tried to fix errors in its “top 50” list of area high schools, and then retracted the list altogether.

The original... read more

The Flip Side

Parents are acutely aware that adolescence is a time when peer groups rise in influence. What can be harder to see in the tumult of day-to-day life is that a parent’s word also carries weight with teens—even if the teens are reticent to admit it. Repeatedly, studies show that the opinions of parents figure prominently in children’s decisions about a wide variety of behaviors, ranging from drug and alcohol use to... read more

Bertram News

As a licensed family therapist, Lisa Schwartz brings a valuable perspective to our work. “Because I understand the psychological and emotional issues around educational planning,” she says, “I can normalize what families experience and help them understand the impact of their feelings on this process.”

When Lisa originally began serving Bertram families in 2004 as Director of Operations, she often was the first point of contact for inquiring families. As clients... read more

Worthwhile Detours

Boston Business Journal recently reported that the student bodies at many boarding schools are now more diverse than ever, attracting students from different social and economic backgrounds from throughout the United States and around the world. The reporter quoted Bertram affiliate Deena Maerowitz about this trend, and also called partner Holly... read more

Sustainable Paths

Recent years have seen a dramatic growth in colleges and universities offering degree programs relating to sustainability and environmental sciences. Some of these fields, and how they may lead to future careers, may be unfamiliar to the parents of current college students. Current college students (and their parents) may be very interested to know that the
U.S. Department of Labor predicts employment of environmental scientists and specialists to grow 15 percent between 2012 and 2022. This growth is faster than the average 11 percent growth predicted for all occupations during that time.

Much of this growth is expected to be in consulting and research... read more