Rigorous and Full of Heart: College Advisory Program Nurtures Students for Success

As another year of college acceptance letters have rolled in, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is proud to announce that its Class of 2023 was overwhelmingly accepted into the most selective University of California (UC) campuses: Los Angeles, Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, Irvine as well as top technology and engineering programs at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and selective private schools. 

While MMS is celebrating its bright and talented seniors and their accomplishments; this news doesn’t surprise Shannon Kelly, upper school director at MMS. That’s because for years, MMS high school seniors have been offered admission at top UCs in the program of their choice. In fact, for the 2021-22 school year, Mount Madonna School had the highest UC-acceptance rate of all private schools in Santa Cruz County and ranked third among the private schools in Santa Clara County.  

The process of building a college list, writing entrance essays, applying for scholarships and financial aid, and choosing extracurriculars to round out a strong application can be daunting for students and parents alike. That’s why MMS offers an exceptional college advisory program to guide and nurture students to their fullest potential. 

The program, which is mandatory for every high school student, formally begins the spring of junior year with a semester-long class that breaks down the process into attainable steps, as well as one-on-one meetings with Kelly.

“Over the last several years, we have seen UC and California State University admissions become extremely competitive,” Kelly said. “The minimum requirements no longer get students into the UCs. Now that the UC/CSU system is test blind, all other aspects of the application take on even more importance.”

Students are expected to conduct self-exploration, independent research, and follow through on deadlines. But they are never alone in the process; students are supported by faculty and encouraged to reach out for assistance without hesitation. 

“Many larger high schools have one college advisor for every four hundred students,” Kelly said. “Our small class sizes make it possible to truly understand the needs and desires of each student we work with.”

The MMS college advisory program is rigorous and holds students to their highest potential, but is always full of heart and humanity. MMS understands that “success” looks different for each person. Therefore, the college advisory program is always based on a student’s individual passion, strengths and unique identity.            

For a look at where MMS graduates have attended college for the years 2018-2022, explore this map.


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.