So does our program.

“Know thyself.” It was Socrates’ motto, and we find it works well for college counseling, too. Self-knowledge is essential for the college process and for life, and we want our students to be as prepared as they can be for both.

That’s why, starting freshman year, we get students to reflect on what matters to them. What values they discover and what meanings they make shape their time at Greenhills and beyond. And as students figure out what they want from life after high school, our counselors serve as mentors and guides. They help students find the best college they can—the one that will stir the most growth and prepare them for a meaningful, fulfilling life.

One hundred percent of Greenhills graduates ultimately go to college—to places like Harvey Mudd and Harvard, the University of Michigan and Oberlin, and many dozens more. Greenhills grads also do more than just get in to college. They show up. They go to college ready to savor the intellectual and personal riches that it offers, ready to make the most of their four years.

Welcome from the Director of College Counseling

Thanks for taking the time to get to know us and what we do for our students. I’d like to tell you a little about how we approach college counseling at Greenhills.

As we see it, our main job is more than just helping kids fill out application forms, build college lists, or write essays. Our main job is to care about our students. It’s to take an authentic interest in them and their well-being. It’s to build relationships with them and their families. It’s to understand them, accept them, challenge them, and support them. It’s to help them know who they are, so they can become who they want to be, in college and beyond.

We try hard, in a number of ways, to get to know each student and their distinct talents, needs, and ambitions. We meet with students one-on-one, regularly. We talk to them in small groups—notably our series of junior seminars—to fill them in on everything to do with college applications. We even meet with seniors on the weekends at local coffee shops to work on essays and applications.. All of this helps us get to know students and do better at helping them find the right college or university—the one that offers, for them, the ideal challenge, support, and opportunity to flourish.

And they do flourish. Greenhills graduates excel at universities around the world. We couldn’t be prouder of our students, and we’re humbled and grateful to play a part in their lives.

We’d like to get to know your family and your child so we can help them on this journey. If you ever have any questions, just ask. We’re here to help.

We look forward to working with you in the college search.

Betsy Ellsworth
Director of College Counseling

Applying to college is a process of self-discovery.
So we begin in 9th grade.

This allows each student the time and resources to recognize the best-fit college for them. Here's how it works:

  1. 9th Grade – Introduction Throughout the year, college counseling partners with the Fresh program to promote student reflection and well-being. Fresh is a year-long initiative that provides ninth grade students with interactive experiences designed to deepen self-awareness, increase social connection, and develop the academic skills necessary to navigate upper school at Greenhills. The activities in Fresh help students gain a better understanding of their emerging identities and their journeys as learners, laying the foundation for the introspective work we’ll return to in junior year as we guide students through the application process. In the spring, ninth-graders are introduced to the significance of their academic records, and they look at what lies ahead.
  2. 10th Grade – Exploration Students continue to develop and reflect on their personal interests, both in and out of school. This process begins to point to college and what students hope to get out of it. We educate students about standardized testing options and explore reasonable timelines for taking them. Over the summer students are encouraged, if possible, to visit a variety of schools—public vs. private, urban vs. rural, big vs. small, research vs. liberal arts—either in person or virtually. They can then begin to form a picture of college life and what colleges may interest them. Parents and students gain access to Naviance and SCOIR, web-based college counseling resources, and learn how they help with the college search and college application process. Group seminars, focusing on these and other aspects of the college process, will be offered in the winter and spring.
  3. 11th Grade – Introspection Things get more specific. Students begin to think, in more detail, about how their individual reflective journeys relate to college, and they begin to construct college lists and prepare for applications. Counselors and students begin working together individually in November. In the spring, counselors work with students in a series of small groups—our Junior Seminars—to cover the college process top-to-bottom. Students develop a standardized testing plan based on the colleges and subject areas that they’re interested in. By summer, students are ready to embark on the application process.
  4. 12th Grade – Application During senior year, students finalize their college search and ultimately apply. From August through November 1, we focus exclusively on seniors and helping them navigate the application process. Essay and application workshops are held during weekends in the fall. Ultimately, the result is young adults with a number of options who are comfortable, confident, and prepared to excel in college.

Meet Our College Counseling Team

Betsy Ellsworth Director of College Counseling

Betsy Ellsworth's roots in independent school education are long and deep. She grew up on the campus of the Lawrenceville School, where both of her parents were teachers, and is a graduate of Princeton Day School. She majored in history at Mount Holyoke, and taught and coached at Detroit Country Day, Madeira and McDonogh, where she also worked as a college counselor. After earning her MA at Duke University, Betsy was the senior associate dean of admissions at Reed College for 10 years. In 2005 she came to Greenhills as the director of admission and financial aid, a position she held for more than a decade. She has served on the board of directors for the Association of Independent School Admissions Professionals, is the former chair of the admissions group for the Association of Independent Michigan Schools, has been a member of accreditation teams for the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, and has represented Greenhills on panels at numerous education conferences across the U.S. She's thrilled to be back in the exciting, challenging, and life-changing world of college admissions at Greenhills, where her twin sons, Johnny and Will, are proud members of the Class of 2020.

Joshua Chester Associate Director of College Counseling

Josh Chester is excited to serve as associate director of college counseling. He joins Greenhills from Duke University, where he worked as a senior admissions officer. A Duke graduate, Josh earned a BA summa cum laude in philosophy with minors in neuroscience and music. In addition to recruiting and selecting applicants for Duke, Josh wrote and edited prospective student communications and web content, oversaw new staff training, and supervised part-time application readers. He has been a frequently invited guest at high schools across the country to speak on such topics as writing college recommendations, writing college essays, on-campus and virtual college visits, and more.

Josh sees the college search process as offering plentiful opportunities to explore processes of self-reflection, discovery, and creation. He thinks that, when students ask themselves many of the questions the college process requires -- Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I value? -- they equip themselves with a valuable array of tools to make themselves and their world better. Josh is also an avid music fan and enjoys running, reading, and yoga in his spare time.

Liza Ruggiero Assistant Director of College Counseling;

Liza Ruggiero graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a BA in clinical psychology and child development, and later went on to earn her MA in professional psychology from William James College. She has served in a variety of counseling roles and has supported numerous adolescents and their families as they navigate decision-making processes and life transitions. Liza has a particular interest in helping students make choices that capitalize on their strengths, align with their values, and promote their wellbeing. As a former varsity level collegiate athlete, she also works with Greenhills student-athletes who are considering playing a sport in college.

Drawing on her expertise in psychology, mindfulness, and yoga, Liza is also the director of the school’s new Center for Mindful Wellbeing, which offers students access to mindfulness activities, guided meditation, and yoga, among other practices and tools. In addition, she is the head varsity field hockey coach at Greenhills. In her free time, you can often find Liza somewhere outside with her yellow lab, Charlie or teaching yoga in the Ann Arbor community.