The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

Staff Ed: BSM makes strides to prepare students for college

Kat Mulgrew
Junior students participate in Build Your Future Day.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s prides itself on its college preparatory qualities and extensive range of higher education level classes and extracurricular activities. The Knight Errant editorial staff believes these initiatives have truly given BSM students an advantage in their college application process and made the transition from high school to college more manageable. 

Senior high guidance and college counselor Amanda Anderson came to BSM 22 years ago through connections with her previous school, Fargo South High School. Anderson loves that BSM is large enough for every student to find something of interest to them, yet small enough to be personable. She sees this as an advantage to the students because it nurtures the opportunity to make connections that will benefit them as they look for future higher level opportunities. “[I appreciate] the connections that you can make with people and I love that I get to know each and every one of my students on a personal level,” Anderson said.

Since becoming a counselor at BSM, Anderson has noticed the atmosphere on campus is more motivating than other educational environments she has previously been involved in. Students are surrounded by a supportive system of their peers and teachers who make themselves available to assist students with additional time and resources outside of class. To ensure students thrive, BSM has instituted a math resource center, English writing center, tech help desk, and tutoring system where students can work one on one with their peers who are National Honor Society members. “[BSM] is a good transition, just preparing teenagers for college but not just thrusting them into that entire world,” senior Kevin Murnan said.

Each counselor is alphabetically assigned to a group of students, by the student’s last name, to follow throughout their time at BSM. The Knight Errant staff appreciates the smaller student to counselor ratio because it allows for more individualized attention. This is especially significant in that the counseling system is introduced to students as early as their freshman year with Freshman Friday class meetings, allowing the counselors and students to build a better relationship prior to big decisions in the college planning process. 

Anderson has watched her students grow and embrace the privileges of becoming a senior. Some of her favorite stories have been those of her most timid students finding what they are passionate about. She notes that when students share a common interest with their peers, they are encouraged to embrace the BSM community. “What’s funny is in Naviance, our college and career website, we [counselors] have pictures of our current seniors from when they were freshmen. It’s so interesting to look back [because] you’ve changed so much in four years,” Anderson said. 

Another initiative the BSM counselors have taken to ensure their students are ready for life after high school has been to introduce Building Your Future days. The Knight Errant staff recognizes that these workshops, and other counselor-led sessions and periodic check-in points, provide structure and resources for students working through the college search and application process. “The fact that we, as a college prep school, make it a priority to have the college portfolio as part of our graduation requirements for juniors [is very helpful]. So it just becomes part of the curriculum instead of something above and beyond,” Anderson said.

Beyond academic interests, BSM offers a wide array of extracurricular and athletic opportunities. Murnan found his place in BSM’s RED Capstone Program, a hands-on internship experience meant to simulate the workplace. Murnan has liked that the program offers a sense of advisory, yet also allows for more student-independence. Senior Emma Grniet agrees that these activities have been crucial in preparing her for the college experience. She has especially found her niche in BSM’s mock trial team as one of the club’s captains. Grniet also applies what she has learned from the club to her daily studies. “I think we do a good job in that sense by senior year when you go off to college, you already have good study techniques and know how to be a little bit more independent and not have someone holding your hand all the way, but Benilde still does a good job of if you need that academic support, they’ll provide it,” Grniet said.

Murnan and Grniet both take high level courses at BSM. They believe the rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) classes have given them a better understanding of what a typical college curriculum and workload will look like. “From my experience, almost all of my classes have felt like they would prepare me for college. And I have teachers who grade things on a college level. I have teachers who treat their courses like a college class where they give you assignments outside of the class, and your main homework is to take quizzes and tests,” Grniet said.

However, BSM also acknowledges that students are in different places in their studies and learn best using different learning techniques. To accommodate these individual needs, BSM has introduced a variety of courses. In addition to APs, BSM recently introduced College in the Schools (CIS) classes to provide students the opportunity to receive college credit earlier and hopefully save them the cost of paying for another college class later on. There are also blended learning style classes which allow students to pace themselves with more virtual learning methods. Lastly, the Spanish Language Internship Program (SLIP) establishes connections between its students and local elementary schools through mentorship opportunities. 

With programs like these, the Knight Errant staff believes that Benilde-St. Margaret’s lives up to its college preparatory title in the scope of academics and extracurricular activity opportunities, giving its students an edge in their college applications.

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