At MCDS, we work together to help students open doors to enriching experiences that will help them choose the next step in their education and future career paths. We focus on helping each student find several “best match” colleges. 

A best-match college provides an environment that addresses the student’s intellectual, social, emotional, and cultural needs in such a way that the experience of being in college is life changing. While some students find such a match in a liberal arts college, others find it in a research university or a professional school. As part of the counseling task, I provide information about these different educational settings. But more importantly, I encourage students to reflect on their past learning, their interests, and their goals.

I look forward to working with each and every student in our community, helping them to plan activities and coursework in high school, providing information and personal knowledge of a variety of colleges and careers, and facilitating the college application and decision-making process. High school students are welcome to drop by the “CAC” (College Advising Center) during their free periods to talk with me and parents are always welcome to make an appointment for a college planning meeting. 

Applying to college is an exciting process and I look forward to partnering with you!

Matt Koehler
Director of College Counseling

2023 College Acceptances

Matt Koehler, Wisconsin College Counselor of the Year


The process:

Grade 8

During the Grade 8 Year, students meet in their advisory groups with the college advisor. This time is focused on the interests, both academic and extracurricular, of the students themselves. While recognizing that plans can change, this information is used to help them foresee their ideal life as an MCDS high school student. Ultimately, students will enter high school armed with general information about different types of colleges and what they have to offer, but more importantly, with a fuller understanding of themselves.

Grade 9

The Grade 9 Year is designed to help students think about how to make the most of their high school journey. The college counselor will meet with Advisory groups quarterly and discussion topics include career exploration, how to choose meaningful extracurricular and summer activities, and how to lead a balanced life. In order to practice taking standardized tests, all grade 9 students take the PSAT.

Grade 10

Now that the students have a taste of high school life, the Grade 10 Year grows more focused on the process itself. Students attend presentations from visiting colleges and they use that information to begin researching potential colleges and universities. Students are counseled in how to pursue leadership opportunities in meaningful extracurricular activities with potential connections to their post-MCDS plans. Grade 10 students all take the PSAT in order to continue their standardized test preparation. Students have the opportunity to travel with the MCDS college counselor to visit a diversity of institutions in a rotating US geographic region as part of the annual Campus Tour program. As the year closes, students and their parents are personally guided through the process of choosing appropriate Grade 11 and 12 IBDP courses based on individual interests and goals.


Grade 11

Understanding every detail of the actual college application process is the primary focus of the MCDS college counseling program for all Grade 11 students. During the comprehensive year-long IB Creativity, Action & Service and College Counseling course, students become familiar with available resources, including the Common App and Naviance Family Connection. Topics covered in this course include identifying best-fit criteria to build an appropriate list of potential colleges, recommendation requests, how to create an impactful annotated extracurricular resume, and how to write a compelling and personal college essay. Students have regular individual meetings with their college counselor, both with and without their parents, to discuss their individual research and plans. In addition to taking a final PSAT for National Merit consideration again in the fall, students create an individual standardized test plan. As in the previous year, Grade 11 students continue to attend visiting college admission representative presentations and again be able to participate in the annual Campus Tour program.

Grade 12

The Grade 12 Year is the culmination of the comprehensive MCDS college advising process. Students begin the year participating in the MCDS off-campus College Application Retreat during which they complete the Common App, work with writing specialists and peers to revise their college essays, explore effective and appropriate college communication strategies, including interview prep and mock interviews, and solidify their college list. Students also participate in a mock college application reading simulation facilitated by an admission representative from a highly selective university. In the second year of the IB and College Counseling course, students will discuss scholarships and college/personal finances, demonstrating interest, understanding admission decisions, maximizing earned IB credits, and navigating the high to college transition.

At MCDS, college advising comes down to personal attention. The college application process is a highly personal one, and as such, it takes time and attention paid to the unique aspects of each student. Our knowledge of each individual student—both academically and personally—as well as the time and resources we dedicate to the process make MCDS highly unique in the Madison area.