Counseling & College Advising


The SMR Counseling Team

The SMR Counseling Team supports students socially, emotionally and academically throughout their four years. One counselor is assigned to each grade and stays with the students through graduation, which helps the counselors develop a personal relationship with each student.


The SMR Counseling Team provides services to students in classroom and individual settings. From left: Alexandrea Nunez, Christine Jaffurs, Heather Nobary and David (Butch) Hamilton

Concierge services provided by the SMR Counseling Team include:

  • Small group counseling based on students’ needs
  • Classroom guidance lessons
  • Parent-only events that cover topics such as technology addiction, course selection, making the most of summer vacation, etc.
  • A college and career readiness program to aid students in identifying strengths and interests for post-secondary goals
  • Robust college preparation and application process curriculum integrated into academic classes
  • College night events with appropriate content for each grade level and parents
  • Annual on-campus college fair with over 45 colleges represented
  • SMR-sponsored college tours during the school year
  • Student workshops on how to write college essays, apply for scholarships and choose and apply to college

College Advising

Students begin the path to college the moment they become a member of the St. Mary's Ryken community. The SMR Director of College Advising (Certified Educational Planner), along with each grade-level counselor, guide students beginning freshman year for their college career.

Our team of counselors and Learning Resource Specialists, help students navigate the demands and challenges of the classroom.

Counselors work one-on-one and in groups to identify a student's strengths and to guide them in course selection. Students work with the freshman counselor their first year, then one counselor for the next two years, and with the college counselor for their senior year.

Preparing for College Starts Day 1

  • Student workshops on college essays, scholarships, admission, choosing a college, and service academies are available throughout each year
  • Separate college night events are hosted for freshmen/sophomores, juniors and seniors and their parents
  • College preparation and curriculum about the college application process are integrated into academic classes

“St. Mary’s Ryken prepared me incredibly well for college, in every aspect—academically, socially and spiritually. My teachers and the AP curriculum helped me to move immediately into upper-level classes and take advantage of the opportunities in my college’s Honors Program.” —Jacob Halterman ’17, attends Saint Anselm College and is pursing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in international relations and theology


Juniors and seniors were treated to a special visit by a few of our young alumni from the Class of 2017. The recent SMR grads shared insights about college, including how to balance academic, social and spiritual life in college. From left with Principal Rick Wood: Sarah Sears (College of Southern Maryland), Jacob Halterman (Saint Anselm College), Dargenae Somerville (Spelman College), Tiffany Tran (University of Maryland) and Jake O’Hara (University of Notre Dame)

Mike Ma University of St. Andrews

“St. Mary’s Ryken gave me the opportunity to do independent research projects, play instruments with professional musicians and take college-level classes such as AP Art History. With these experiences, I am very prepared to attend the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.” –Xintian “Mike” Ma ’18





Here's a quote from Katherine, class of 2017, about how the essay writing workshop helped her with the application process:

"The workshop gave me great confidence in my college essay writing. There were so many faculty available offering support and guidance. I was able to organize my thoughts with the help of all the teachers in the English department, and of our counselors. I now feel prepared to approach my college essays. The information I received at the workshop, I believe, will definitely help me stand out when applying for admissions, honors programs and scholarships."


“SMR provides incredibly helpful resources to assist throughout the college search and application process, which can be incredibly stressful. I could always go to SMR faculty to ask questions and to help build up the confidence. Now, I’m studying animation and film and couldn’t be happier with my decision!” Emily Rawson '16, attending Loyola Marymount University.





For additional information and questions about the college advising benefit to your child’s SMR high school experience, please contact Mr. David Hamilton, Director of College Advising and Certified Educational Planner at