2022 college sweatshirt

College Counseling

A personalized journey to college and beyond.

Because of our small size, our College Counseling staff knows students and families on an individual level.

The staff in the College Counseling Office provides personalized guidance and up-to-date information throughout every stage of the college search and application process. They help students identify and apply to schools that are well-suited to their abilities and interests, with the ultimate focus on the “right fit.” While the student will determine the schools and programs to which they apply, the staff is here to provide guidance, answer questions, and alleviate any concerns.

With College Counseling staff as partners throughout the process, students have advocates they can rely on to be liaisons to the colleges of their choosing. By the end of the senior year College Counseling Seminar, students have enhanced their ability to self-reflect, think independently, and be resourceful and resilient — all qualities that will prove to be useful in their life in college and beyond. 


Our four-year college counseling curriculum begins in 9th grade with students exploring academic interests and extracurricular activities through the numerous opportunities available at Walker’s. In 10th grade, students will take the PSAT for standardized test practice, meet with the College Counseling Office to discuss course selection and summer programs, gain access to SCOIR (our web-based college counseling program), and be introduced to their individual college counselor. For students interested in playing sports in college, athletic workshops will introduce them to important recruiting terminology and NCAA requirements.
Beginning in the junior year and continuing through senior year, the College Counseling office meets regularly with the students as a class to provide instruction and guidance on all aspects of the college search and application process. We begin with exercises that will help them identify their interests and priorities as they build their college lists. Under the guidance of their college counselor, students attend workshops on topics including conducting college research, evaluating admissibility, application preparation and essay writing, financial aid, and scholarships. While these meetings serve to provide all students with the general information they need, the more focused work occurs in individual meetings between counselors and students. In these meetings, staff gains a deeper understanding of each student’s gifts, talents, and goals. This knowledge is informative when making college suggestions, and advocating for students in securing letters of recommendation.

Moving Beyond APs

Walker’s advanced courses spark genuine excitement about learning, create real-world connections, and allow for exploration. Our master faculty design a curriculum that is meaningful, rigorous, and inspiring. A robust offering of advanced courses stretches students to become reflective, analytical thinkers who are motivated to direct their own learning. By designing our own advanced curriculum, Walker’s offers a wider variety of subject areas without the confines of a culminating standardized test. Students, accordingly, are prepared to take AP exams if they so choose.


  • Equally rigorous and more engaging classes
  • Accessible to more students (AP recommendations are only given to students who can read fast and test well, not necessarily those who are curious, creative, or who collaborate and present well)
  • Better prepare students for college success because of the skill sets students develop
  • Students may elect to take the AP exams at Walker’s

Paying for College

Walker’s has partnered with two organizations, SMARTTRACK® and College Money Method, to help our families  plan for and understand the financial aid process, as well as financing options. Both provide resources and webinars throughout the year.

2022 college sweatshirt

English Speaking Union

Walker’s is one of a select group of independent schools who are part of the English Speaking Union Secondary School Exchange gap year program. If accepted, students receive a tuition, room, and board scholarship for a full year at a participating UK boarding school following their graduation from Walker’s. In the last six years, seven Walker’s students have been selected to participate.

English Speaking Union

Meet the Staff

Clarissa Basch P'15

Director of College Counseling, Co-Director of Community Partnerships

Clarissa Basch P'15


B.A., Bates College
M.Ed, Harvard University

Clarissa Basch has served as Walker’s director of college counseling since February 2004, where she guides students through the process of investigating, applying to, and selecting colleges.

Before joining Walker’s, Clarissa spent seventeen years as a college admissions officer at Drexel University, Endicott College, and Hampshire College. She was lured to “the other side of the desk” because of the opportunity to work directly with students on their post-Walker’s plans, and to be part of this vibrant boarding school community. With professional colleagues at colleges and universities all over the country, she loves to welcome them to Walker’s when they come to meet with her students in the fall.

Clarissa is an avid exerciser who swims and helps guard at the Walker’s pool on weekday mornings. She is an active volunteer for numerous organizations in the greater Hartford area and at Walker’s serves as one of the faculty advisors to the Community Partnerships Program. Clarissa put her college counseling know-how to use with her daughter (EWS ’15), and both survived the experience intact. Following graduation, her daughter enjoyed a wonderful gap year in England as an English-Speaking Union Scholar, before enrolling at Susquehanna University from which she graduated in 2020. Clarissa lives on campus with her family which also includes her husband and son, currently a senior at University of Connecticut.

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Bethany Davis

College Counseling and Testing Coordinator

Bethany joins Walker’s College Counseling team as an administrative assistant. While earning her B.S. in Aviation Business Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Bethany helped manage top private golf course pro-shops, golf tournaments and women’s leagues and later transitioned back to Embry-Riddle to work in the registrar’s office as an academic evaluator. Upon her return to Connecticut, she joined the College Counseling Office at The Master’s School where she worked as the college counseling assistant/student data coordinator. Bethany’s love for horses began right here at Walker’s at the age of 5 when she attended the Summer Riding Experience, which led to getting her first horse and she has been riding ever since.

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Jillian Mountford

Admission Associate for Athletics and Athletic Liaison to College Counseling, Head Lacrosse Coach

Julie Relyea

Assistant Director of College Counseling

Julie Relyea