The Altamont School graduates enrolled in 100 colleges and universities in the past four years

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Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

When you visit The Altamont School website, one of the most impressive web pages about the prestigious independent school on Birmingham’s Southside is tucked away under the category “College Counseling.”

You can check out the link here: www.altamontschool.org/academics/college-counseling

On the site is a graphic listing over 100 different universities and colleges throughout the nation where Altamont students have been accepted since 2015.

It’s an impressive list. Go ahead and take a look for yourself:

Upcoming Open House

On Jan. 12, Altamont will be holding an Open House for prospective families. Information and registration can be found on their website: www.altamontschool.org/admissions/open-houses-and-shadow-days

As one of the region’s leading independent college preparatory schools, Altamont takes college counseling seriously. One hundred percent of the school’s graduates attend four-year institutions of higher education.

Begin in the 8th Grade

Altamont has two full-time counselors, Cameron Gaede, Director of College Counseling and Julie Beckwith, Associate Director of College Counseling. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

College counseling at Altamont is a journey with students and their families.

“It starts in the 8th grade,” explains Cameron Gaede, longtime director of College Counseling at the school. “We meet with parents and students, introducing ourselves so they know who we are and the type of services we offer. And we encourage students to explore some of the many extracurricular activities our school offers. We want them to pursue interests beyond just academics.”

Personalized attention

If a student says she wants to be an engineer when she graduates, the college counselor looks at her schedule to make sure she’s taking the types of classes that engineering schools expect to see in a successful applicant.

And of course, a student’s interests and career paths may change multiple times while in high school. The college counselor is on call ready to help guide the student and family.

“There is a real level of attention and service to the individual student—that sets us apart,” added Gaede.

For the past three years, Altamont has had student-athletes sign to play Division I-III sports as schools such as Georgia Tech, Auburn and Sewanee. Pictured are Mimi Davis ’19 and Abby Lowe ’19 who signed to play soccer and golf respectively at Sewanee. Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

Gaede and Julie Beckwith, a fellow college counselor, are careful to emphasize that college isn’t just an end goal, but the next step on a student’s path to being a successful, compassionate adult.

“We strongly believe that there are many colleges where our students can receive a great education; the name of a school is not our primary focus,” Beckwith said. “We want to make sure our students land at a school that is well-suited to their particular interests and needs. We emphasize the importance of finding a college that fits our students academically and socially, and that fits our families financially.”

College Trip

College Tour Fall Project Week trip at UPenn. The Altamont School will be hosting an Open House on Sunday, January 12 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Photo from The Altamont School.

Also unique to Altamont is the annual school-sponsored tour of colleges during Project Week. Each year, the school takes dozens of 10th and 11th graders on a tour of colleges in different regions around the country. One year, they might visit universities in New England. The following year schools in and around Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Some years, they travel to places closer to home like Atlanta, Tennessee and North Carolina.

About 70-80 percent of Altamont graduates attend universities outside the state of Alabama. So the college trip is an opportunity for students to explore a wide range of schools and see what learning, and geographical, environment is right for them.

“We travel to different parts of the country so that our students see different types of schools, ranging from large state, public universities to small, private liberal arts colleges,” said Gaede.

Since Gaede has visited countless colleges over the past 13 years, she has a network of personal relationships with admissions staff throughout the country. This helps her guide students in the right direction.

College application support

Along with personal counseling, classroom work and college tours, Altamont prepares and supports its students through the college application process.

This includes:

  • Preparation for the ACT and SAT during a student’s 9th, 10th and 11th grade years
  • Encouragement and support for extracurricular activities
  • College Application workshops
  • Scholarship and financial aid options

For the past ten years, Altamont has been a test site for the ACT. Taking standardized tests at the school seems to make the students more at ease.

Interested in learning more about Altamont School

Photo by Altamont School

The secret to Altamont’s success placing students at the more than 100 colleges nationwide?

Perhaps Cameron Gaede summed it up best.

“Julie and I have the best job in the school. We get to work with amazing kids and have super positive outcomes.”

Interested in enrolling your child at The Altamont School? Alternatively, do you know a family member, friend or neighbor who might like to attend?

Register for the January 12th Open House today.

Sponsored by:

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.