College Counseling


The college counseling process at SPA is focused on building relationships with individual students throughout their time in the Upper School. Every student is assigned one of three full-time college counselors in Grade 10, and the college planning process begins with counselors getting to know their students and encouraging them to establish a strong academic foundation and cultivate personal interests well before thinking about specific colleges. College counselors help their advisees plan academic schedules and extracurricular activities, and provide emotional support and encouragement as students identify the areas of study and engagement that truly excite them.

View the 2017-18 School Profile.

By the time students enter the junior year, college counselors know their advisees well, and can provide personalized guidance as the college search begins in earnest. Counselors work closely with the student and the family to identify key college criteria based on the student's interests and personality, suggest colleges to research and visit, develop a testing plan, review essays and applications, and personally advocate for students directly with college admission officers. Counselors also help students and parents understand financial aid and scholarship opportunities, and counsel seniors in making their final college choice.

Parents are a critical piece of the college search process. Through a series of evening programs and morning coffees, college counselors help parents understand trends in college admission as well as the details, timelines, and logistics of the college search and application process, and effective ways to support their student. Counselors welcome parents’ questions at any time, and meet with parents during teacher conferences and in family meetings in the junior and senior years.  By partnering with parents to help them understand the college process before their student is actively exploring college options, together we guide the student to gain independence and ownership of their college search.

The goal in the college counseling process is finding the college that is the best fit for each student.  Ultimately, the college counseling process is designed to help students cultivate self-reflection, critical thinking, communication, self-advocacy and decision-making skills--skills that will be vital to their success in college and in life.

College Counseling Staff

Mary Hill, Director of College Counseling and Academic Planning

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Mary Hill joined the SPA College Counseling staff in 2000. “I enjoy teaching students how to take stock of their own interests and abilities, discover options for their education, learn how to present themselves well in the application process, and generally learn something about complex decision-making.” In addition to College Counseling, as Director of Academic Planning, Mary oversees the process of guiding SPA students toward academic success. She plans and facilitates the course request process, and collaborates with faculty advisors and the college counselors to advise students about opportunities in and out of school that enhance their overall academic and personal development. She researches current trends and best practices in curriculum and learning among independent schools and colleges, and contributes to the dialogue among faculty and administration regarding curricular innovations that develop and promote students’ talents and potential.

Prior to SPA, Mary was dean of admissions at Colgate University and worked in admissions at Williams College. In professional associations, she currently serves as Program Co-Chair for the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools, of which SPA is a founding member. She held elected positions on the College Board National Guidance and Admission Assembly Council and chaired the Midwest Regional Council. She was Co-Chair and served nine years on the Board of The Common Application. An active member of National Association for College Admission Counseling, Mary received the President’s Service Recognition Award from Minnesota ACAC.

Mary earned a B.A. in philosophy and religion from Colgate University and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.



Karna Ivory, Assistant Director Of College Counseling

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Karna Ivory joined SPA in 2013 after serving at The Bush School, in Seattle, where she was a College Counselor for three years in addition to teaching Biology and Health to upper school students. Karna also designed and led experiential learning programs at Bush emphasizing discovery, real tasks with real responsibilities, camaraderie and risk-taking. Prior to her years at Bush, she worked as an education consultant and researcher for environmental action groups serving countries in Southeast Asia.  A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in International Relations, Karna holds an MA in Environmental Studies from Antioch University.


Andrea Sachs, Assistant Director Of College Counseling

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A member of the SPA History and Social Studies faculty since 2000, Dr. Andrea Sachs joined the College Counseling office in 2013. She enjoys working closely with SPA juniors and seniors as they look ahead to college. "I love witnessing the remarkable growth and development that happens during students’ junior and senior years, as they become more independent learners, take on exciting leadership roles, set long-term goals and strive to meet them," she says. As a college counselor and a history teacher, Andrea enjoys supporting that growth by guiding and encouraging students to reflect carefully as they move through these transitional years.  In addition to her college counseling role, Andrea teaches the senior Honors U.S. History Seminar and serves on the executive board of the Organization of American Historians.  She holds an an A.B. in history and literature from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband are the parents of an SPA student in the Class of 2021.


Carey Otto, College Counseling Assistant

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Carey came to SPA in January 2017 having previously worked at Hamline University in administrative and project oversight roles for six years. His responsibilities include supporting all college counseling operations and logistics for college counseling events, visits to SPA by admission officers, document management and online submission to support applications for college admission, as well as applications for scholarships and summer academic programs. Carey also oversees administrative software including Naviance Family Connection and is the first point of contact for parents in using their Naviance account.

College List, Class of 2017

The class of 2017 will matriculate at the following institutions, including 12 students taking a gap year before enrolling in college.

American University of Paris
Amherst College
Arizona State University
Augsburg College
Barnard College
Barrett Honors College at ASU
Boston College
Brandeis University
Carleton College
Claremont McKenna College
Coastal Carolina University
Colby College
College of Wooster
Colorado College
Columbia University
Cooper Union
Dartmouth College
Duke University
Earlham College
Elon University
Fordham University
Franklin & Marshall College
Goucher College
Grinnell College
Gustavus Adolphus College
Hamilton College
Haverford College
Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Ithaca College
Lake Forest College
Macalester College
McGill University
Middlebury College
New School-Parsons School of Design
New York University
Northeastern University
Northwestern University
Oklahoma State University
Rice University
Rose Hulman Inst. of Tech.
Saint John's University
Sarah Lawrence College
Savannah College of Art & Design
Scripps College
Skidmore College
Smith College
Southern Methodist University
St. Olaf College
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
Trinity College
University College London
University of British Columbia
University of CA, Berkeley
University of CA, Santa Cruz
University of Chicago
University of Denver
University of Guelph(Ontario)
University of Miami
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
University of New Hampshire
University of Puget Sound
University of Redlands
University of Richmond
University of St. Andrews
University of St. Thomas
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin Madison
Washington University in St. Louis
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
Whitman College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University

Information For College Admissions Officers

Welcome to St. Paul Academy and Summit School!

Arranging a visit to SPA in the fall:
Visits are 35 minutes long and open to seniors and juniors. We especially recommend visiting during our Tutorial period, which is 1:10 to 1:45 each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. No regular classes are scheduled during this time, so most students are free. Other times are available during our school day, which runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Please go to RepVisits to request an appointment to visit SPA. Because of limited space/time for visits, we will respond via email to confirm or adjust your visit after you submit the request. If you have questions about setting up a visit that are not addressed via RepVisits, please contact College Counseling Assistant, Mr. Carey Otto, by email or phone: 651-696-1417. 

Directions to the Randolph Avenue Campus:
Check your GPS!  SPA has two campuses; College Counseling is located on the Randolph Campus at 1712 Randolph Ave., Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55105 (not the Lower School or Goodrich Avenue Campus).  Enter from Davern St. (east side) or the Huss Performing Arts Center (west side). A Google map of the Randolph Campus is here

Construction Alert!
The Hugh K. Schilling Math and Science Building is under construction, slated to open Fall 2018. Construction may impact access from Randolph Avenue to our Davern St. entrance (closest to college counseling office). We do have visitor parking at the Davern entrance, or park in the large lots at the Huss Center entrance on the west side of the building, turning south on Wheeler from Randolph.

The SPA Experience:
Our School Profile describes the SPA experience and academic program. For detailed information about our curriculum, explore the Upper School Academic Departments section of this website.  

Quick facts about the SPA experience: 

  • 94 percent of recent SPA graduates reported feeling better prepared for college work than their college classmates. 
  • SPA’s small class sizes and discussion-based courses are key components of what we call the Accountable Classroom, where students take charge of their own learning while also contributing generously to the collective learning experience. Students also learn and practice discipline-specific modes of thinking across the curriculum. Some examples include discussion-based English courses where students to engage meaningfully with sophisticated texts and articulate their ideas with depth and clarity; an integrated fine arts curriculum that encompasses music, studio art, and theater; laboratory-based science courses where students frame research questions and design experiments to find the answers; in-depth history courses that invite students to explore sophisticated primary and scholarly sources for formal research papers; four World Languages (Chinese, French, German, and Spanish) that foster cultural competence while moving students from proficiency toward fluency; an innovative mathematics curriculum that focuses on logic, critical thinking, and quantitative communication. 
  • While SPA does not teach the Advanced Placement curriculum, the depth and sophistication of our courses matches or exceeds AP standards. Many of our students choose to take AP exams, and they score very well, with 93 percent earning 3 or higher and 61 percent earning a 4 or 5.

SPA is a small school with a big program, thanks to students’ avid participation in a wide array of extracurricular activities in athletics, the arts, journalism, debate, academic competitions, and student organizations. Learn more here.

Transcript/Report Card Request

For College Transfer Admission
  • Please make your request via Parchment.com  This service is free of charge and allows you to request a transcript for multiple colleges.
  • You may request SPA recommendation letters by contacting SPA College Counseling.
  • For advice on the transfer admission process, contact your college counselor or College Counseling Assistant Carey Otto at cotto@spa.edu or 651-696-1417.
For personal use by SPA graduates or parent/guardian of current students
  • If you are unable to complete this form, contact Rose Congdon, K-12 Records Assistant at rcongdon@spa.edu or 651-696-1315.
For Employment Verification
  • Contact Rose Congdon, K-12 Records Assistant, at rcongdon@spa.edu at 651-696-1315.

What information is on the SPA Upper School transcript?

The transcript is the official document of a student’s academic performance in Grades 9-12. It includes semester and year-end grades. Grades from UMTYMP are included. Unlike report cards, the transcript does not include quarter grades, exam grades, or attendance information.

The SPA transcript reports only SPA courses and grades. If a student was previously enrolled at another high school or participated in a semester away program, this enrollment is noted on the SPA transcript. The transcript from the previous school or semester program will be part of the academic records sent to colleges or other academic programs.

College courses taken through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option or other college programs are not listed on the transcript. If a transcript from these college programs is provided, we can attach this information to your SPA transcript when submitting to colleges or other academic programs.

The official transcript does NOT include results of college entrance exams such as SAT or ACT tests. Only AP exam results of 4 or 5 will be included on the transcript. When test scores are required to support applications for first-year or transfer admission, the student must order official online score reports to be sent directly to the college from www.collegeboard.org or www.act.org.

1150 Goodrich Avenue, St. Paul MN 55105
Main school line: 651-698-2451
Goodrich front desk: 651-696-1560 
Goodrich attendance line: 651-696-1414
1712 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul MN 55105
Main school line: 651-698-2451
Randolph attendance line: 651-696-1410
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