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2018 Dean’s Letter to Counselors


Peaches Valdes
Peaches Valdes

The following was published in our annual newsletter to school counselors, which mailed in September 2018.

Dear Counselor,

Earlier this month I spent time with my oldest nephew, who is entering his sophomore year in high school. From his perspective, this was to be a summer of fun staying with his grandparents. He’s in that comfortable limbo where he doesn’t have the worries of a high school freshman, nor has he yet to step into the responsibilities of gaining autonomy as a junior or senior. However, his mother, my older sister, had different plans and masterfully mapped out his summer to make sure that he did not squander his time.

As someone who thinks about the college search and application process as a career and who has great respect for friends and colleagues who sit around the counseling desk, my goal was to encourage my nephew to find his voice in this process and see the expanse of opportunities available to him — to discover a place that would be the best fit. For my sister and brother-in-law, my hope was to have them stay in their lane and begin to see their son as someone who is preparing to make a place in the world for himself. I have worked with families for almost 20 years and counseled them about establishing roles during this process, so working with my own family would be easy, right?

Well, what was reaffirmed for me this summer is the fact that, just like there is no cookie-cutter Hamilton student, there is absolutely no template for the college search process. All students, and those who support them, enter this process at different points. Some are the first in their family to explore college options, while others are part of a long legacy of college attendance. Each experience has value as it influences students’ decisions as to where they see themselves thriving. As partners in this process, we collaborate to guide students to colleges and universities where we believe they will have a transformative experience both in and out of the classroom.

I know that the process my nephew began this summer is just the beginning. I can only imagine how the dynamics will change as he visits campuses and submits his college applications. What I am certain of, however, is that my nephew, like the many students we support through this process, will find a place to call home for the next four years. Whether it’s at Hamilton or elsewhere, every student will find a school that will help them realize all that is possible and where they can (to borrow from Hamilton’s motto) come to Know Thyself.

As we enter the new application cycle and I begin my second year at Hamilton, I would like to thank you for collegiality and partnership in guiding students through this process. On behalf of my colleagues, we look forward to working with you this year!

All the best,

T. Peaches Valdes
Dean of Admission

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