College counseling at SPA is centered on individual relationships with students and a partnership with each family to provide professional guidance and insight on the college search and application process. Every student is assigned one of three full-time college counselors in Grade 10. Well before thinking about specific colleges, 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 in and out of the classroom. College counselors advise on academic schedules and extracurricular activities, and provide emotional support and encouragement as students identify the areas of study and engagement that truly excite them.
By the time students enter the junior year, college counselors know their advisees well and 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 families understand financial aid and scholarship opportunities, and counsel seniors in making their final college choice. While educating and advising students, counselors foster a relaxed, positive and informed approach that empowers students as individuals to affirm their own values and direction as well as support others.
Our college counselors stay current on college options and admission trends by regularly visiting college campuses and through active engagement in professional associations including the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Each year SPA welcomes admission officers from nearly 150 colleges to visit our campus and meet with interested juniors and seniors. Admission officers get to know the strengths of an SPA education and look forward to seeing applications from our students.
Parents and guardians are essential partners in the college search. Through a series of evening programs and morning coffees, parents learn about 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. Audio recordings of our programs linked on our comprehensive College Counseling website keep this information accessible to all. Counselors welcome parent and guardian questions at any time and meet with parents during teacher conferences and 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.
Our goal in college counseling is to support the personal growth and exploration that ensures a rewarding path to higher education. Just as the SPA experience fosters skills and perspectives that benefit students in the college search, the college counseling process cultivates skills of self-reflection, critical thinking, communication, self-advocacy and decision-making, that will be vital to students’ success in college and in life.
Mary Hill, Director of College Counseling and Academic Planning
Mary Hill joined the SPA College Counseling staff in 2000. “I enjoy helping students take stock of their interests and abilities, discover options for their education, learn how to present themselves well in the application process, and navigate a complex decision-making process.” As Director of Academic Planning, Mary collaborates with upper school faculty and administration to support and develop students’ academic experience. She advises on curriculum development, student support systems, the course request process, and opportunities for students in and out of school that enhance their overall academic and personal development. She researches current trends and best practices in both college admission and the transition to success in higher education.
Prior to SPA, Mary worked in college admissions for 15 years at both Williams College and Colgate University where she was dean of admission. She was Co-Chair and served nine years on the Board of The Common Application, held elected positions on regional and national advisory councils for the College Board, is an active member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and received the President’s Service Recognition Award from Minnesota ACAC. As a member of the leadership team for the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools, she created professional development events for college counselors across the country.
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
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.
Evan Hancock, Assistant Director Of College Counseling
Evan Hancock joined the college counseling staff in 2019 after serving four years as Assistant Director of Admission at Boston University and Macalester College. During his admission career he read thousands of student applications, traveled to recruit students in the US and internationally, and led events and programs to educate students and parents on the admission process. As a graduate intern at Boston College High School he counseled students individually and in groups to address mental health and academic challenges, and co-taught guidance classes.
Evan earned a BA in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from Bates College, and a Masters in Counseling (M. Ed.) from Boston University.
Carey Otto, College Counseling Assistant
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.
Bowdoin College - 2
Brown University - 3
Bryn Mawr College
Carnegie Mellon University - 2
Coastal Carolina University
College of Saint Benedict
George Washington University - 2
Gustavus Adolphus College
Indiana University at Bloomington
Iowa State University - 2
Loyola University Chicago
Macalester College - 2
Miami University - 2
Montana State University
New York University
Northeastern University - 2
Northwestern University - 3
Saint Louis University
Sarah Lawrence College - 2
Skidmore College - 2
St. Olaf College - 2
Tufts University - 3
University of California, Berkeley - 4
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Chicago
University of Dayton
University of Denver - 2
University of Iowa
University of Minnesota, Duluth
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - 7
University of North Dakota
University of Notre Dame
University of Puget Sound - 2
University of Southern California
University of Vermont - 2
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin, Madison - 4
University of Wisconsin, Platteville
University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Villanova University - 2
Washington University in St. Louis - 5
Whitman College - 2
Yale University - 4
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.
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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-696-1417.
- Submit this Form to request a Transcript or Report Card.
- If you are unable to complete this form, contact Rose Congdon, K-12 Records Assistant at email@example.com or 651-696-1315.
- Contact Rose Congdon, K-12 Records Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.